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Week 5-Digital Collaboration February 16, 2013

This week we explored the world of digital collaboration using an online wiki. So often I have used email to collaborate with colleagues and parents which can be cumbersome and difficult to keep up with. Usually, it was simpler to have everyone meet at one location to get the job done (often this was at Starbucks). Using a wiki is a great alternative. If I could introduce wiki’s to the parents of my students, signups for events would be so much easier. Wikis would also make collaborating with teachers across the district and across the globe much more feasible.

I was also able to look into using the Today’s Meet chat space. I am thinking that it may be a good venue for my kindergarteners and their parents to post comments in the evening regarding the school day, similar to Twitter comments. Using the Today’s Meet forum would eliminate the need for “following” a person in order to see their posts as you do in Twitter.  Today’s Meet posts will all be on a chat board that is specific to a day or week. I think it would be insightful to get a peek at the conversations that go on at home about the school day! I imagine that there would need to be clear parameters regarding the purpose of this forum in order to keep the content appropriate and useful.

 

Standard 5 Meta Reflection: Assessment December 1, 2012

Introduction: Meta Reflection and Assessment Philosophy

My perspective and philosophy of classroom assessment has transformed in many ways throughout my eleven years as an educator. Much of this transformation has occurred just within the past two and one half months as I process the information I have learned in the Standards Based Assessment graduate course at Seattle Pacific University. Where previously I had considered assessment mainly as an endpoint to a unit or an academic year, I now understand that assessment is so much more than that. Effective assessment practices are critical to the design of differentiated and ongoing instruction (formative assessment) as well as to the communication to others of student achievement at a particular point in time (summative assessment). In other words, assessment that is formative is assessment  for student learning and assessment that is summative is assessment of student learning (Chappuis, Stiggins, Chappuis, and Arter, 2012).

Two of the most profound concepts I have learned throughout this course are connecting assessments directly to learning targets and utilizing assessment methods that best support these targets. Understanding the type of the target is imperative to ensuring that the assessment will accurately measure the achievement of that target. Five types of targets are knowledge, reasoning, skill, product and disposition targets (Chappuis et al., 2012).  Knowledge targets, which relate to the factual information that support each content area, and reasoning targets, which relate to the thought processes required to make sense of and apply new information, embody most of the learning targets in place at the elementary level. It is on these types of targets that most of my assessment portfolio is centered.

Chappuis et al. (2012) describe the best matches when deciding which assessment method to use with the different types of learning targets. As I craft assessments for kindergarten writing learning targets I am inclined to use both personal communication and performance assessment methods because these match up well with knowledge and reasoning targets. Personal communication works especially well with formative assessments in writing due to the fact that, while more time consuming, it lends itself well to differentiation amongst different learning styles as well as informs educators in real time so that adjustments can be made in instruction (Chappuis et al, 2012, p. 96). Performance assessment is described as a partial match for knowledge and reasoning targets due to the fact that if a student is not successful in this type of assessment, it might be problematic to determine the cause of the difficulty. It is for this reason that I often combine personal communication assessment with performance assessment. Personal communication allows me to better understand a young learner’s thought processes along the way.

Both Chappuis et al. (2012) and O’Connor (2009) stress that the communication of assessment data to all invested parties (students, parents, community) is a critical component of effective assessment. While I have always agreed that this is true, I have not always been aware of the extent to which the students themselves play a role in this communication. O’Connor (2009, p. 231) illustrates this point clearly with a continuum that reflects level of student involvement during scheduled formal conferences. Student involvement ranges from the student is not present at all to the student leads the conference him/herself. Educators are encouraged to move towards such student-led conferences.

Chappuis et al. (2012, p. 32) describes effective practices that support student self-assessment and goal setting as well as facilitate two way communication between students, teachers, and parents. Students can identify their own strengths and weaknesses prior to teacher feedback, utilize a response log that states what was learned and what questions they still have, select pieces for a portfolio, offer feedback to fellow students, and set goals for future learning. I have included several of these recommendations in my portfolio artifacts. These practices also help students answer the “Where am I now?” question that is part of Chappuis et al.’s Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning (2012, p. 28).

The artifacts included in my Assessment Portfolio are designed to provide data that illustrates student progress towards specific writing learning goals in kindergarten. Several artifacts will demonstrate how this data is analyzed by the teacher, grade level team, and the students themselves, as well as reflect reporting systems that have been developed to track and report student achievement.

In my experience, technology has served as both a blessing and a source of frustration to my understanding of sound assessment practices. Currently, I use our district online grading system to record student grades for the report card. This system has provided consistency across the district in regards to summative reporting at the end of the semester. It has also provided an opportunity for some data entry to be pre-populated at the district level, thus reducing teacher work load. However, at first use this system seemed to be inconsistent with what I have learned in this class regarding linking assessments and grades directly to learning targets. Content areas on this system are graded according to “strands” such as Content, Organization, and Spelling for writing; and Number and Operations, Algebra, and Geometry for math. It seemed difficult if not impossible to record and communicate at the standards level using this system. However, after I was able to reflect on Chappuis et al.’s practice of deconstructing complex content standards (2012, pp. 60-66), I am better able to connect the strands listed in our online grade book with the content standards that give direction to our classroom instruction. The deconstructing process that they recommend uncovers and unpacks the standards and reveals common targets and categories of targets that the online system and the standards share.

The following section includes a compilation of assessment artifacts that reflect my growing understanding of assessment practices. Excellence in the craft of assessing students for learning is an ongoing endeavor and will continue to be a high priority for me as I plan for and engage in professional development and teacher leadership opportunities.

Artifacts and Analysis of Multi Assessment Approaches

     For the purposes of this portfolio, I will focus on the assessment and record keeping of learning targets that inform the writing curriculum in kindergarten. For my first artifact I am presenting a Writing Goals Checklist that would include student names and writing learning targets. This process will allow me to use a date and check off procedure to track when students have mastered a target. Likewise, I will be informed of students who have difficulty in one or more targets and be able to offer supportive instruction.

In September, students, parents and families work together to set goals in writing during our fall Goal Setting Conferences. After a couple weeks of exploring the craft of conveying a message through drawing and writing, students are guided to select one or more goals listed on a goal sheet that support writing learning targets. Through this activity students are introduced to the task of self-evaluation and goal setting as well as become more familiar with writing expectations and learning targets presented in kid friendly language.

In order to provide evidence of multiple assessment approaches, I am including the below artifacts along with a description of each as to the assessment context, the targets it addresses, an analysis of student achievement, a reference as to how this piece is supported by research and current professional literature, possible next steps for student instruction, and reflections on assessment revision (if applicable).

District Summative Writing Assessment (student sample)

Assessment Method: Performance Assessment

Assessment Context:

This District Summative Writing Assessment is a narrative writing activity.  Students are to write to the prompt “Write about Kindergarten. Tell about something fun or special you have done at school.” This assessment is given in the fall.

Resources: District CDSA and script, 45 minutes instruction time

Assessment Rubric: Writing Summative Assessment Rubric

Targets Addressed:  # 1-8 on Writing Goals Checklist

Analysis of Student Achievement:

As my teammates and I discussed the scoring of this kindergarten writing sample,  it first appeared that the student, while seeming to have a specific message to convey, did not have a clear idea as to how to organize his writing. There was no consistency in his retell and he did not seem to understand where on the paper the text of his story should go. (The shaded out text on the lines and in his illustration was where he put his name.) After further discussion, we came to the conclusion that the student DID place text in several speech bubbles which indicates a certain understanding of text versus pictures in his writing. Therefore his organization score will be a 2.

Literature Support:

Collaborating within my professional learning community in the scoring of our district writing assessments addresses Key to Quality Assessment #4: Effective Communication. (Chappuis et al, 2012, p. 8)

Next Instructional Steps:

Student will receive instructional support in including text in a story and letter-sound correspondence.

Assessment Revision/Reflection:

In order to preserve the integrity and consistency of district assessments, this assessment itself will not be revised. I will, however, incorporate professional collaboration in the scoring process on a more regular basis.

Competence Portfolio (student sample)

Assessment Method:  Portfolio

Assessment Context:

This assessment portfolio would provide summative evidence of mastery of the identified targets. This assessment method accommodates learners of all levels in that it recognizes that students will reach learning targets at different times of the year. To promote student investment in his/her own progress, students will take part in identifying which writing pieces best represent evidence of the target.

Resources:

Classroom instruction of volume 1 of Luch Calkins’ Units of Study (2003)

Student writing samples reflecting lessons from volume 1 of  Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study (2003)

Targets Addressed:  # 9 and# 15 on Writing Goals Checklist

Analysis of Student Achievement:

In order to consider a student’s writing as having a “developed topic”, our team decided that he/she must include 2 out of the 5 following “wh” questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why. Further, I decided that if I found at least 8 pieces that reflected competence of the two targets then we could consider these goals achieved and they could be checked off on the Writing Goals Checklist. It would be unlikely that 8 demonstrations of these writing behaviors would constitute “chance” rather than mastery. The writing samples are numbered in the bottom right hand corner in order of date, earliest to most recent.

Student A consistently demonstrates the use of beginning and ending sounds. I have therefore checked off the two learning targets on the Writing Goals Checklist.

Literature Support:

Competence portfolios demonstrate evidence of acceptable or exemplary achievement of one or more learning targets.  In order to be certain that enough samples are collected to rule out “chance” rather than mastery, an adequate number of samples needs to be collected (Chappuis et al., 2012, p. 367).   I determined that a sample of at least 8 pieces showing mastery of the above two targets would demonstrate enough evidence to check these targets off on the Writing Goals Checklist.

Next Instructional Steps:

This student is an above standard writer and has achieved many of the writing goals for kindergarten. I will work with him on adding details to his picture as well as to his writing. He will be encouraged to consider the reader and to provide enough details to “make a mind movie”.

Assessment Revision/Reflection:

As I reflect on this assessment type, I am aware that these same ten pieces of writing could actually serve as a competence portfolio for several other learning goals. I imagine that such a portfolio could have a checklist in the front that designates which targets are covered in this collection.

Missing Puppy Posters (Links to student samples are found below in “Student Sample Scores” section)

Assessment Method:  Performance Assessment

Assessment Rubric: Puppy Poster Performance Assessment Rubric

Assessment Context/Description:

I told students that a very special member of our classroom, our stuffed dog “Pip”, is missing and I asked them what we could do to get help in finding him.  The students were guided to come up with the idea of making posters to put around the school to see if anyone has seen him. We searched online for samples of other posters for missing items and determined that our posters needed a picture, words that described what our problem was, a description of what the missing puppy looks like, and who is looking for him. Students were given several different paper choices, one that had space for words above and below the picture, one that had space for words above the picture only, and another that had space for words below the picture. They were then sent on their way to create their posters.

Resources: Classroom instruction on lessons 1-10 in Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study (2003)

Targets Addressed:  # 6 and# 10 on Writing Goals Checklist

Analysis of Student Achievement:

In order to consider a student’s writing as having a “developed topic”, our team decided that he/she must include 2 out of the 5 following “wh” questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why. Further, I decided that if I found at least 8 pieces that reflected competence of the two targets then we could consider these goals achieved and they could be checked off on the Writing Goals Checklist. It would be unlikely that 8 demonstrations of these writing behaviors would constitute “chance” rather than mastery. The writing samples are numbered in the bottom right hand corner in order of date, earliest to most recent.

Student A consistently demonstrates the use of beginning and ending sounds. I have therefore checked off learning targets #6 and #10.

Literature Support:

Chappuis, et al. (2012, pp. 211 – 218) describe three critical dimensions pertaining to a well-constructed performance assessment.  These dimensions are task content, task structure, and sampling. As I considered task content I defined the learning targets (listed above) that would be measured through this assessment. I also wanted to allow for authenticity. Students were motivated to write and create these posters in order to locate our beloved Pip. Their writing had a specific purpose. Additionally, I incorporated student choice as they decided which layout they wanted to use for their poster.

This performance assessment addressed task structure (Chappuis, et al., 2012, pp. 213-216) as well. Students were aware of what they needed to accomplish – that is to provide other members of the school enough information to enable them to help find Pip the Dog. The timeline for completion was reasonable and accounted for the wide range of abilities in the class. Students who finished early knew to go to a quiet reading activity. Additional time was given later in the day in order to accommodate students who needed more time.

This writing assessment was formative and is intended to give information that will guide further instruction. Adequate sampling (Chappuis, et al., 2012, pp. 216 – 218) is accounted for as it allows students to demonstrate evidence that covers the breadth of the two learning targets. This assessment lends itself well to display sound-letter correspondence as well as adherence to a specific purpose.

Student Sample Scores and Next Instructional Steps:

Student #1

  • Scored a 3 for Writes for a specific purpose  because she included 3 of the poster components: a picture, a statement of the problem (“Pip is lost”), and who is looking for him (Miss Gale’s class).
  • Scored a 4 for Demonstrates sound-letter correspondence – Beginning, ending and middle sounds are represented and it can be easily read by the teacher.

Next instructional steps: Explore other purposes for writing such as “how to”.

Student #2

  • Scored a 2 for Writes for a specific purpose  because two of the poster components are included: a picture and a statement of the problem (“Pip is lost”).
  • Scored a 2 for Demonstrates sound-letter correspondence because much support was needed to get “Pip is lost.” on his paper.  Also, he happily admitted that he copied his neighbor for the bottom (illegible) portion of the text and didn’t know what it said.

Next instructional steps – Add details to picture/words, understand and use beginning and ending sounds.

Student #3

  • Scored a 4 for Writes for a specific purpose  because he included all four poster components and added one of his own, the date the dog was missing.
  • Scored a 4 for Demonstrates sound-letter correspondence.

Next instructional steps: Compare and contrast various purposes for writing.

Assessment Revision/Reflection:

I was pleased with the information that this assessment offered as it allows me to plan instruction accordingly. To improve on this assessment for next time I will clearly tell the students the criteria, in student friendly language, which I will be using to assign a score to their writing. I plan to create a related activity that incorporates student self-assessment.

Writing Conference Notes (teacher designed)

Assessment Method:  Personal Communication

Assessment Context/Description:

I conduct this formative assessment during writing conferences as part of Writing Workshop. On one side of the sheet I record writing behaviors that are already evident. In the right column I make notes regarding what I have taught the student during the conference. In order to track and keep records of who is to receive a conference and when, I schedule conferences on a Writing Conference Schedule.

Targets Addressed:  # 1 – 20 on Writing Goals Checklist

Resources:

Instruction and practice with independent writing, Carl Anderson’s (2005) Conference Notes template

Analysis of Student Achievement/ Next Instructional Steps:

On the dates specified on the conference notes I saw evidence that this student likes to be organized (disposition target), uses spaces consistently, and capitalizes the pronoun “I” (learning target #19). I will support this student in using lower case and capitalization appropriately, the planning process of writing (to include the purpose of a quick sketch), the use of blends and digraphs, and word deconstruction (phonemic awareness).

Literature Support:

This form of personal communication allows me to gain better insight into the student’s strengths and misconceptions. It also allows the student to feel “heard” and take more ownership in the direction of his/her learning. I am better able to tailor the lesson to the student’s particular needs. (Chappuis, et al. 2012, pp. 279 – 280)

Assessment Revision/Reflection:

I would like to link my writing conferences more specifically to learning targets. I will add a section to the conference sheet that indicates which learning target is being addressed. I also think that this would be a good opportunity to incorporate student self-evaluation. I will add smiley, straight, and frown faces for students to indicate where the student believes he/she is in regards to the target.

Resources

Anderson, C. (2005). Assessing writers. Portsmouth, NH: Heineman.

Calkins, L., (2003). Units of study (Vols. 1-7). Portsmouth, NH: Heineman.

Chappuis, J., Stiggins, R., Chappuis, S. & Arter, J. (2012) Classroom assessment: Every student a learner. Classroom assessment for student learning: Doing it right-Using it well (pp. 1-18). Boston, MA: Pearson.

O’Connor (2009). How to grade for learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

 

Standards 6 and 7 Meta-Reflection: Communication and Collaboration June 2, 2012

As I reflect back on this course I notice that much of my most meaningful learning is related to improving collaboration with my colleagues and the school community and communicating the fruits of these collaborations with others in the profession.

Effective collaboration is not possible without sincere trust and transparency amongst educators within a system. Hirsh. & Hord (2010) state that trust and transparency foster a sense of mutual accountability by teachers to all students in a school, rather than just focusing solely on one’s own class for one year. One specific example of fostering a trusting relationship with other educators is establishing a lesson study group to explore a research question. This job embedded learning involves inviting peer teachers to observe teaching techniques and strategies, evaluate the student learning, and give and receive feedback. (Zepeda, 2012) In order for this to be an effective agent for increased teacher learning, educators must take the risk of opening up their classroom doors and letting their colleagues in. Sharing our collective expertise as well as accepting and honoring feedback are powerful tools we can utilize as we work towards school reform and increased student learning.

As a teacher in Texas during the 2006-2007 school year I participated in a lesson study group that included teachers across all grade levels. We focused our study on a series of 4th grade lessons that addressed the genre of biographies. I appreciated the discussions we had as they were from the perspective of many different grade levels. The lessons were rich as a result of our collective input. It was also helpful to engage in lesson planning and analysis for a different grade level.  I was able to gain new learning and apply it to vertical alignment.

As I combine my learning from my lesson study experience in 2007 with what I have learned about lesson study as presented in Zepeda, I believe that this type of professional development can have the greatest impact on teacher learning. In 2004, Lewis et al. (as cited in Zepeda, 2012, pp. 228-229) defined seven pathways to instructional improvement through lesson study as well as their related challenges. Benefits such as increased teacher knowledge in instruction and subject matter, improved collaboration skills, stronger motivation, and improved quality of lessons were referenced and create a strong case in support of lesson study. The challenges included trust, fear of failure, feelings of isolation, identifying oneself as a researcher, time, and resources. Probably the most daunting of these challenges is time and resources, as is the case with many worthwhile practices of professional development. I believe that as we gain momentum in effective teacher learning, such as lesson study, and practice efficient use of money and time, we can realize the full impact of our efforts on the ultimate goal of improving student learning.

There is no doubt that effective collaboration between educators and the greater community is a worthwhile endeavor, to say the least. One aspect of this practice that I had not considered prior to this course is the importance of sharing our collaborative learning with others in the profession. Learning in isolation or in small cohorts can stifle the potential growth of teachers. This was clearly illustrated in 2 case studies we read about in this course. Michelson  (2007) gave an account of a small group of teachers who were undergoing a series of literacy coaching sessions with significant success. This had been going on for two years before efforts were put forth to bring other teachers within the school on board. There was some resistance, mistrust, and resentment from the rest of the staff which was due, in large part, to inadequate communication between the “coached” group of teachers and their peers. Kane (2007) described a situation in which a district math specialist was leading a group of teachers in a process to refine the district math standards. This teacher leader was dismayed that the district curriculum director did not invite more math teacher specialists, who were already in place in area schools, to participate. She did not see the value in allowing all teachers to have a chance to experience this form of professional development, rather than just the “expert” teachers.

In order to achieve the ultimate goal of maximizing student learning, teacher leaders need to not only foster collaboration with other teachers but also help create a system that allows for the communication of these learning experiences to other teachers.  Zepeda (2012) consistently conveys this important step as he describes the culminating activities of professional development groups such as learning circles, lesson study, action research teams, and critical friends groups. These teams can share their learning through publishing findings in a professional journal or magazine, conducting a workshop, or even simply making it an agenda item on a staff meeting. We should not keep our new learning to ourselves.

Facilitating participation by other teachers in various professional development activities, especially those whose voices are not usually heard, is another way teacher leaders can broaden the scope of teacher learning. However, as Moore and Donaldson state (as cited in Hilty, 2011), this can be met with much resistance if teachers are overly concerned with protecting their autonomy, reinforcing their seniority, or ensuring egalitarianism. Moore and Donaldson went on to describe several coping strategies teacher leaders employ to deal with such resistance such as waiting to be asked before offering their expertise, only working with willing colleagues, emphasizing their role as supporter rather than supervisor, and seeking more support for their teacher leader roles. Moore and Donaldson’s essay offered many insights into how teacher leaders can respectfully and tactfully influence other teachers in an effort to further the cause of increased student learning. These strategies will be helpful to me as I continue to work on my role as teacher leader in the ever changing landscape of education.

I have crafted a portfolio that reflects my learning in support of Standards 6 and 7, Communication and Collaboration, and have created links to these artifacts below:

Standard 6 – Communication: Scenes of Educator Learning Exhibit A

Standard 7 – Collaboration: Scenes of Educator Learning Exhibit B

References

Hilty, E., (2011). Teacher leadership: The “new” foundations of teacher education. (pp. 211-217) New York, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

Hirsh, S. & Hord, S. (2010). Building hope, giving affirmation: Learning communities that address social justice issues bring equity to the classroom. Journal of Staff Development, 31(4), 10-17.

Kane, D., (2007) Considering all voices. Leadership Cases 2007 School Level Reform, Retrieved from https://learn.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-755044-dt-content-rid-671379_1/courses/EDU6600_45677201123/CSTP.ConsideringAllVoices.pdf

Michelson, J, (2007) Filling a leadership vacuum. Leadership Cases 2007 School Level Reform, Retrieved from https://learn.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-755044-dt-content-rid-671378_1/courses/EDU6600_45677201123/CSTP.FillingLeadershipVacuum.pdf

Zepeda, S.J. (2012) Professional development: What works. Larchmont, New York: Eye on Education.

 

Contrasts and Parallels Between the Roles of Teacher Leading and Teacher Teaming June 1, 2012

Filed under: Standard 7. Collaboration — lkgale @ 10:17 pm
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During week 2 we read about the distinctions between teacher leading and teacher teaming. As I first considered these two terms, I assumed that they were two distinct and defined roles teachers take on in their school communities.  As we discussed this topic in class and read about it I have come to realize that these roles are fluid and the emphasis on leading or teaming ebbs and flows as teachers collaborate with each other. According to Conley & Muncey (as cited in Hilty, 2011) it is important to note that teachers tend to identify more often with one role over the other.

As I collaborate with my grade level team I notice that my particular role changes throughout the process. We each bring different experiences and expertise to the table so we will often assume leadership responsibilities according to these qualities. For example, my teammate has extensive experience in technology so she leads us in incorporating technology into our curriculum. Another teammate has had much success in partnering with our parent community so she takes on a leadership role in structuring our parent volunteer program. I have had positive outcomes in student writing so I tend to lead in this area.

Our discussions in class during week 2 helped me to understand that this type of leadership can be referred to as a type of “distributive leadership”. Distributive leadership is a good way to utilize the skills of all members of a team, whether the team is a grade level, a school, a community, or a district. Distributive leadership is an interactive process rather than a static one. The outcomes stemming from a team effort under distributive leadership reflect the talents of all, and are not due simply to the leadership of a great principal. This is encouraging to consider and empowers teachers to step up and take on more leadership responsibilities.

Hilty, E., (2011). Teacher leadership: The “new” foundations of teacher education. New York, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

 

Scenes of Educator Learning – Exhibit B May 30, 2012

Scenes of Educator Learning

Exhibit B

C&I Program Standard 7 – Collaboration

CONTEXT

School A is located in Sammamish, Washington and currently has 612 students enrolled. Our school has been named one of Washington State’s High Achieving Award Winning schools and this year has received the School of Distinction Award. School A staff enjoys a high level of involvement from parents and our school consistently reports 100% PTSA membership. School A also houses the district’s QUEST program for highly capable students.

School A staff strives to meet and exceed district and community expectations as well as our own expectations. A main component of our Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP) is to focus on the following guiding questions as we plan instruction:

  1. 1.      What do we want students to know and be able to do?
  2. 2.      How will we know when students understand?
  3. 3.      What will we do when students don’t understand?
  4. 4.      How do we best support students who already understand?

Maintaining a firm focus on these questions will help to ensure that the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) at the grade, school, community, and district levels work together towards the same goal and, therefore, more effectively impact student learning. (DuFour, et al., 2006.)

These exhibits will specifically address collaborative strategies to improve student learning that engage the community outside of the students and staff in our school. Our district is made up of 4 learning communities. School A is part of a learning community that has 6 elementary schools, one junior high school and one high school. In support of our school CIP, I will describe how my team plans to collaborate with and utilize the talents and expertise of educators across our learning community, as well as our parent community, to address guiding question #1 referenced above; What do we want students to know and be able to do? The second part of this exhibit will describe how we further incorporate our community of parents to help us address the fourth guiding question: How do we best support students who already understand?

 

Exhibit B: Part 1 – Goal Setting

PLANNING AND ENGAGEMENT

Goal setting is a strategy that most educators employ when planning instruction. Districts have provided professional development on this subject for many years and research supports the positive impact that goal setting makes on student achievement. Schmoker (as cited in Sullo, 2007, p. 16) goes so far as to say that “setting goals may be the most significant act in the school improvement process, greatly increasing the odds of success.” Furthermore, Bandura & Schunk, (as cited in Northwest Regional Educational Library, 2005) state that learning increases if students personalize the learning goals presented by the teacher. Students who take part in setting their own goals are more successful in attaining these goals. Additionally, our district recently implemented a revised fall conference process that is focused mainly on communicating student learning goals to parents. These research findings, as well as the district’s new goal setting process, have led my grade level to seek effective strategies to engage kindergarteners in goal setting. Such strategies support question #1 in the guiding questions referenced in our CIP: What do we want students to know and be able to do?

Our peer kindergarten teachers in our district Learning Community also recognize the value of goal setting strategies and how goals are communicated to parents during fall conferences. We decided to make conferences an agenda item in our March, 2012 LEAP PLC meeting. (See artifact # 1 below.) As a result of this meeting, our kindergarten team obtained some useful resources that will help us implement a goal setting process at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year and communicate these goals during conferences.

One such resource is a collection of goal setting sheets designed with young learners in mind. (See artifact #2 below.) This goal setting tool is one way teachers can inform students of specific learning goals they will be working towards in the early part of the year. Students also engage in personalizing their goals as they select the ones they want to work on. These goals are shared with parents during fall conferences and are re-evaluated and revised during winter conferences.

TIMELINE

Following is a timeline to further define our work towards incorporating goal setting into our curriculum and communicating these goals to the parent community:

(artifacts are noted in bold)

Date Action Resources
January, 2012 School A Kindergarten team identifies goal setting as a focus for improvement. Research data, district mandates
March 9, 2012 Establish parent conferences as an agenda item for an upcoming   district PLC meeting. (Fall conferences are “goal setting” conferences.) (Artifact #1) Communications via email
March 16, 2012 Share resources with district kindergarten PLC members. District kindergarten PLC members, Goal setting sheets for semester 1   and 2(Artifact #2)
August, 2012 Revise content goals as needed to align with current district   standards.Establish lesson plans to introduce goal setting to students in   September, 2012.

Revise semester 1 goal setting sheets as needed.

Current district power standards,School A kindergarten PLC members,

Semester 1 goal setting sheets

Sept. 10-28, 2012 Conduct beginning of year assessments Math CDSA, Reading and writing beginning of year assessments
September 24-28, 2012 Implement goal setting lessons, students complete semester 1 goal   setting sheets. Goal lessons established in August, revised semester 1 goal setting   sheets for students
October 1-4, 2012 Conduct Goal Setting Conferences with parents and students,   communicate current goals as established by student and teacher Completed student goal setting sheets
October, 2012 – January, 2013 Deliver differentiated instruction; link to established student   goals; assess, monitor and adjust instruction as needed Student goals, assessment data
December, 2012 Revise semester 2 goal setting sheets as necessary District math, reading and writing standards; assessment data,   semester 1 and 2 goal sheets
Jan. 22 – 25, 2013 Review goal setting with students, students complete semester 2 goal   setting sheets Goal lessons established in August, revised semester 2 goal setting   sheets for students
January 29 – Feb. 1, 2013 Conduct Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences, review year beginning   goals, review current assessment data, and revise goals as necessary. Semester 1 and 2 goal sheets, student performance data
February, 2013 Reflect on and analyze the effectiveness of the kindergarten goal   setting process. Compare conferences from 2011-12 to conferences from   2012-13. Set new timeline and goals to incorporate improvements. Notes and data from 2011-12 conferences and from 2012-13 conferences


 

ANALYSIS AND REFLECTION    

It is clear that we are only part way through the process of implementing an effective goal setting component to our kindergarten curriculum. It is likely that the timetable above will be revised along the way and will continue to evolve as we gain new teacher learning. Some hurdles we may encounter include new and revised district mandates, a changing kindergarten team, increased work load, or decreased parent interest in collaboration, just to name a few.  One thing that will remain constant, however, is my continuing quest to deepen my understanding of effective collaboration with experts in student learning both inside and outside of my school community.

EXHIBIT B: PART 1 – ARTIFACTS

#1- District Learning Community agenda email      #1agenda email

#2 – Semester 1 goal sheets; Semester 2 goal sheets     1st semester goal sheets  2nd semester goal sheets

 

Exhibit B: Part 2 – Learning Enrichment in Reading

PLANNING AND ENGAGEMENT

The 4th guiding question from our school CIP – How do we best support students who already understand? – is of particular interest to our school community. We are fortunate to have families in our community that are deeply committed to providing students with ample tools, opportunities, and resources to help them achieve learning at a high level. Much of this support is offered to children before they enter through our kindergarten doors. Early exposure to and interaction with print, language, and other meaningful experiences often send students to kindergarten with advanced reading skills and a desire to continue to grow in this area. It is these students on which we focus as we address guiding question #4.

A report by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2000), states that increased fluency in reading positively impacts comprehension. The report went on to say that reading fluency develops over time and with practice, rather than occurring in a predictable stage of development. For this reason, once students have mastered emergent skills in reading, it would be prudent to engage students in reading experiences that foster fluency.

The Read Naturally program is one such reading program that uses teacher modeling, repeated reading, and progress monitoring to foster fluency skills in students. The Florida Center for Reading Research (2003) found that, while Read Naturally focuses mainly on fluency development, it also addresses other components of reading instruction such as phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension. As a grade level, our PLC decided to offer Read Naturally to our kindergarten students who were reading at a Grade Level Equivalent of 1.0 or higher ( or Guided Reading Level D or higher).

Read Naturally, while a beneficial program for enrichment in kindergarten, is also a time intensive program. It requires trained adults to administer the sessions, a frequency of 2-3 sessions per week per student, and detailed record keeping. As demonstrated by other grade levels, this provides the ideal opportunity to collaborate with our parent community and bring in trained parent volunteers to conduct the sessions. Early in second semester, I consulted with our school Read Naturally coordinator and began the process of selecting willing parents and capable kindergarten readers to get the program up and running. (See artifact #3)

     By the end of February, 2012 most of the parent volunteers were trained and I was able to set up a schedule for Read Naturally. (See artifact #4) The past 3 months have been productive in regards to student fluency practice. All participating students have shown improvement in their reading fluency (Example: artifact #5), they look forward to their reading sessions, and the parent community is actively engaged in improving student learning.

TIMELINE

Here is a timeline to further define our work towards reading enrichment through Read Naturally:

                                                       (artifacts are noted in bold)

Date Action Resources
February 1-3, 2012 Contact parents to   garner interest in volunteering for the Read Naturally (RN) program.Submit parent names to   RN coordinator. (Artifact #3)
February 6-10, 2012 Identify students who   are at a reading level appropriate for the RN program.Submit student names to   RN coordinator. Reading assessments
February  15, 2012 Parent RN volunteer   training RN coordinator
February 20–24, 2012 Gather input for,   create, and distribute RN parent volunteer schedule. (Artifact #4) Parent volunteer input
February 27 – end of   year Conduct Read Naturally   sessions.Progress monitor.

Advance levels as   necessary.

Read Naturally   materialsStudent fluency data

RN coordinator

Parent volunteers

 

ANALYSIS AND REFLECTION    

So far in this process, I am pleased with the progress students are making in reading fluency. Several students who were not at a level appropriate for participation expressed a desire to participate in reading with the parent volunteers like their peers. I discussed this with the RN volunteers and we set up a protocol where if the sessions for the day were finished and there was time left, the volunteers would pull interested readers who were at or below grade level and read with them at their level. This opens up considerations for further parent volunteer opportunities that address the 3rd guiding question referenced in our CIP –  What will we do when students don’t understand?

EXHIBIT B: PART 2 – ARTIFACTS

#3 – Parent training emails     #3 Parent Training Emails0001

#4 – Parent Read Naturally volunteer schedule     #4 RN Schedule

#5 – Student Fluency Graph/notes     #5Student RN graph-notes

REFERENCES

Florida Center for Reading Research. (2003) Read naturally. Retrieved May 28, 2012 from http://www.fcrr.org/FCRRReports/PDF/read_naturally_final.pdf

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Northwest Regional Educational Library. (2005). Setting Objectives.  Focus on Effectiveness. Retrieved May 22, 2012, from http://www.netc.org/focus/strategies/sett.php

Sullo, B. (2007). Activating the desire to learn. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

Teacher Leaders Set the Stage for Effective Collaboration

I notice a commonality as we read about the teacher leader experiences in the materials for week 9.  Effective teacher leaders make good use of the resources and support that are available when they embark on a quest for reform. In addition, rather than steam rolling over opposition or turning around and calling it quits when faced with difficult circumstances or people, teacher leaders recognize the advantages, agreements, and common goals that ARE in place at a particular point in time and then work to build upon them.

In M. Colley’s “Preparing for the Future? Reliving the Past?” (2007), the teacher leader had to step back and focus on the one goal that both groups, the HiCap and AP teachers, had in common which was alignment, not rigor. This proved to be a turning point in the productivity of their meetings. Moore and Morgaen (2011) reference a teacher leader who chose to collaborate with teachers who sought her out, rather than deal with criticisms from teachers who were suspicious of her inexperience. These practices served to build strong groups  in the beginning, while shelving the more sticky issues for a time later in the process when all parties were better aligned in their goals. In both of these situations, the reader was left hopeful that these leaders eventually had even the naysayers on board. I am reminded that when facing a daunting challenge it is best to break it down into smaller parts and align these parts with the common goals of the team. This will strengthen and build rapport amongst the team members and better equip them to deal with the tougher issues down the road.

Moore, S. & Morgaen, L. (2011). Overcoming the obstacles to leadership. In E. Hilty, Teacher leadership: The “new” foundations of teacher education (pp. 211 – 217). New York, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

Colley, M. (2007) Preparing for the future? Reliving the past? Cases 2007 District-Level Reform, Retrieved from https://learn.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-758919-dt-content-rid-671295_1/courses/EDU6600_45677201123/CSTP-teacher.leadership.cases.pdf

 

Scenes of Educator Learning – Exhibit A May 17, 2012

C&I Program Standard 6 – Communication

CONTEXT

School A is located in Sammamish, Washington and currently has 612 students enrolled. Our school has been named one of Washington State’s High Achieving Award Winning schools and this year has received the School of Distinction Award. Samantha Smith staff enjoys a high level of involvement from parents and our school consistently reports 100% PTSA membership. School A also houses the district’s QUEST program for highly capable students.

School A staff strives to meet and exceed district and community expectations as well as our own expectations. After participating in and reviewing the 9 Characteristics Survey, our staff identified characteristic #4, Collaboration and Communication, as an area of focus for our Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP). Specifically, we will continue to develop strong collaborative relationships through the Professional Learning Community Model (PLC) as developed by DuFour, Dufour, Eaker, and Many (2006). According to DuFour, et al., a PLC is defined as “… an ongoing process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve.”

In addition to furthering our work in the foundations of PLC collaboration, our CIP also states that teams will formulate “specific, appropriate, and attainable” grade level SMART goals with strategies that support these goals.

Our Kindergarten team consists of two all day teachers and one half day teacher. We have a total of 66 students, 22 in each class. This is the second consecutive year that we have maintained the same grade level team and we look forward to the continued growth of our collaborative practices. In support of our school CIP, our kindergarten team embraced the PLC model of collaboration and put several PLC components in place during the 2011-2012 school year.  We also developed a SMART goal that pertains to the Numbers and Operations strand of our district math standards. The artifacts included later in this exhibit illustrate some of our work in these 2 areas.

Below is a timeline illustrating a series of tasks that address the 2 CIP goals highlighted in these exhibits, as well as the resources needed to accomplish these tasks.

TIMELINE                             (* denotes that an artifact for this item is included in this exhibit)

Date Task Resources
August, 2011 Create team norms *
September,  week 1 2011;Weekly   thereafter Establish weekly PLC team meetings. Common weekly planning time
September, week 2, 2011 Assess all students on number sense.   Identify students who are not at standard. Identify “specific, appropriate,   and attainable grade level *SMART goal”.   Analyze student data. CDSA, Number Sense*Gradebook   event scores
October, week 1, 2011;Weekly   thereafter Establish grade level intervention   block. Begin weekly RTI groups. Common math instruction time for grade   level, remediation and enrichment lessons/activities, (*interactive technology)
November, week 1, 2011; Monthly    thereafter Progress monitor number sense skills.   Adjust groups as necessary Progress monitor formative assessments
January, week 1, 2012 Assess number sense skills. Compare to   SMART goal.  Adjust groups as   necessary. CDSA Number Sense, assessment data
April, week 1, 2012 Assess number sense skills. Compare to   SMART goal.  Adjust groups as   necessary. CDSA Number sense, assessment data
June, week 2, 2012 Assess number sense skills. Analyze   data and compare to SMART goal.  Reflect   on whether or not goal was met. What improvements can be made for next year? CDSA Number sense, assessment data

ARTIFACTS

CIP Goal #1: PLC

Artifact: Team Norms

Our first step to establishing our grade level team as a PLC was to create a set of norms for our group meetings. DuFour, et al. states that clarification of team expectations promotes unity and collaboration within a team. To start this process, we simply discussed our “pet peeves” associated with meetings. Each of the 3 team members contributed to this list and, therefore, became invested in the process.

Artifact: Data Analysis

     As we met in our PLC group, my team and I would analyze data derived from student work. We share scores on common assessments, notice patterns amongst students and/or classes, and reflect on strategies we might have used to achieve positive results. Artifact #2 shows one format we would use when presenting data to the group. This screenshot comes from our online grade book which can display data in a variety of ways.

CIP Goal #2: SMART Goal/Interventions

Artifact: SMART Goal

As we moved forward with our PLC collaborations, our team developed goals in support of increased student learning in number sense. One particular SMART goal we developed states:

“We will use common assessment data to guide the content of our intervention times so that students that pass go from 62% at standard in Numbers and Operations in October 2011 (per CDSA  rubric, #1-3), to 97% at standard in June 2012.”

The goal sheet (link inserted above) includes a list of coded students who were identified as in need of remedial intervention, a list of intervention strategies, a timeline to administer the strategies and assess progress, and data sources used to track goal progress. This artifact our goal progress as of January, 2012.

 

Artifact: Number Fluency PPT

As we analyzed student data during our PLC meetings, we saw a need for student practice in number fluency and quantity. We used technology to offer practice that was both engaging and repetitive, such as the PowerPoint presentation featured in the above artifact. (To reduce the size of this attachment I only included a snapshot of 6 slides.)

REFLECTION

We are still in the process of carrying out our interventions within the PLC framework. We are monitoring student progress towards our goal that 97% of students will be at or above standard in number sense by June 2012. As we analyze our progress so far, we realize that we are within reach of this goal.

We have encountered several obstacles along the way and we will continue to reflect on them and work on how to address them in the coming year. Some of these obstacles include:

  • Need for more than 30 minutes per week for PLC planning time
  • Team time constraints relating to half day teacher schedule
  • Inadequate use of building support and administrative personnel

We acknowledge that progress has been made both in our commitment to the PLC model of collaboration and, most importantly, to student learning. We look forward to continuing this improvement process throughout the 2012-13 school year.