April 28, 2010

Please post your responses to the questions for this week's homework in the rows below.

Erin Miller
1) How, if at all, should "peer coaching" be tied to formal evaluations, the CDP and/or the portfolio?
I think that peer coaching should be tied to the CDP as an option for people. I would like to be able to say next year that I’m going to work on X strategy with my peer coaches. This group would then proceed to visit each other’s classrooms and meet to discuss how things are going and what improvements can be made. If this could overlap with Wednesday’s professional development (IE – have a professional learning community made up of the same people that I proposed on my CDP to be in a peer coaching group with), then that’d be great. I think there are people who would be willing to be in two different groups, but it’d be so much easier to do both. I’m not sure we are ready to tie this to evaluations. I think we should get people excited about this process and get them comfortable with multiple people coming into their classrooms before we tie it to evaluations. Long, long term I think it would be a good discussion to have. I also think we could use individual and possibly building TQ $ to pay for teacher’s time who meet outside of the contract day to have these peer coaching discussions, pay for subs to watch other teachers, etc.
2) How, if at all, should our group members be involved in mentoring other teachers? In other words, do we develop a "how-to" guide and let teachers do their own thing, or do we have a more active role?
I think that we should have an active role, but as a group participant, and maybe guide. Depending on the number of people who are interested in this, I think we could form groups of 4ish people, making sure that at least one of us are in each group. The groups could be homogeneous or heterogeneous, depending on what each group feels is most helpful. We could develop a packet with helpful tips that we discovered this year, evaluation strategies that have helped us, rubrics that have helped us, and a general overview of what we would like to see the groups achieve. If we are not going to receive $$ for this, I think the packet might also include some final requirements that have to be turned in (similar to a proposal and time sheet that we filled out for individual TQ $ this year) in order to keep things moving. If this is not tied to Wednesdays, then it might be harder for groups to stay motivated, but I think that’s where we come in.
3) What print materials (books, articles, etc.) should be provided as resources/background for teachers? (if not physically provided, at least provided in an annotated bibliography)
I think that the guides we have created or discovered that work well for in-class evaluations should be considered. Books we have read as an entire group should be in there as well. Maybe we could work on an annotated bibliography in class if we all bring the books we feel were especially helpful.
4) We are involved in this because we are people who are always looking for ways to improve our teaching. What do you see as the characteristics of an effective teacher?
I think an effective teacher is one who is aware of strengths and willing to improve on weaknesses. An effective teacher is willing to try anything (researched-based, of course) that will make an impact on student learning. An effective teacher keeps kids engaged with meaningful lessons that increase student achievement.
5) Once we have defined those characteristics, how do we evaluate ourselves (and/or our peers) in a way that provides constructive feedback?
I think evaluating all areas of effective teaching is overwhelming. I think each group picks a focus area (student engagement, discussions, assessment, planning, etc) and we start by doing a bit of research in that area. Then we gather baseline data on our own teaching. We work together to find new strategies that will help us in the area that we have identified as a weakness and go back into each other’s classrooms to monitor improvement.
6) We have focused on classroom evaluations of one another, but good teaching is also based on what happens before class. How can we incorporate evaluations of planning, assessments, homework, etc. into this plan?
Again, I think it relates to the focus area. I really feel that you can successfully evaluate homework by being in another teacher’s classroom. Maybe it takes a couple of consecutive evaluation days and some pre-evaluation meetings, but it can be done. The observer might monitor students rather than the teacher, but it will still be useful. I think that will be a benefit of allowing individual groups to choose their own focus area.
7) The plan I envision is a 3-year cycle, that culminates in the year of a person's formal evaluation. In part, I think it makes the work less daunting, and it makes personal development an on-going part of of the job. What schedule can we develop to guide teachers along the way, and to bring some closure to the process?
In an ideal world, you could work with your same group for those three years, and maybe even be on the same 3-year cycle for support. If you go with a topic based group approach, I think there could be a post-evaluation, self-reflection type of paper (that would very easily fit into a portfolio) that is completed by each member before moving on to the next topic. I think that might allow for some flexibility. For example, some groups might complete this form in six months if everyone feels confident, while other groups might not complete the form for three years (we could develop a period check-in to negate the imbalance of paperwork if this ever gets incorporated into a Wednesday thing). When your evaluation year happens, the evaluator can look specifically for either what you are currently working on, or what you have completed in the past (hypothetically, this would still be going well for you).
8) Should we continue working in our group next year, or should we try to "go public"? Why or why not?
I think that depends on principal support. If the new principal is supportive of turning this into a CDP type of thing, then I think we should try to “go public”. If we could get this into a Wednesday thing, even better. If the new principal is not supportive, then I would like to continue working with this group next year (assuming I’m still in the district). I really like interacting with other departments!
9) Add anything else that you feel is important or valuable.
An interesting alternative to what I’ve proposed here is putting us out there as “advisors” with a specific focus. For example, one or two of us could be engagement peer coaches. People that want to work on engagement would be in his group. As people felt better about their ability to engage students, then they could rotate to a different group. I would worry about even numbers, and rotating into a group that was already in the middle of something.

Stuart Sparkman


James Webb
1) How, if at all, should "peer coaching" be tied to formal evaluations, the CDP and/or the portfolio?
The most obvious ties are to our CDPs and portfolios – our work could move these into being something more meaningful and substantive. As for formal evaluations, I think it would be very difficult to arrange for this to be anything more than a voluntary program. It would be great if administrators got on board with this and helped facilitate a broader application.

2) How, if at all, should our group members be involved in mentoring other teachers? In other words, do we develop a "how-to" guide and let teachers do their own thing, or do we have a more active role?
The minute we develop a how-to guide, we become part of the machine rather than an alternative, progressive process. There’s a power to this being an interactive process, to adjusting on the fly, to pulling in and pulling apart ideas. Right now we’re organic, alive; once we’re published as a guide we’re static, fixed.

3) What print materials (books, articles, etc.) should be provided as resources/background for teachers? (if not physically provided, at least provided in an annotated bibliography)
I like the idea of a resources page on the wiki. It would ideally be an annotated bibliography and highlight some of the great books we’ve read this year. A professional library of sorts, with books teachers could check out, would make this even more ideal.

4) We are involved in this because we are people who are always looking for ways to improve our teaching. What do you see as the characteristics of an effective teacher?
This is a tough one to quantify, as what works well for one teacher might bomb with another. In general, though, an effective teacher is one who is passionate (about his subject, about his profession, about his learning, and about his students), engaging (well prepared, thoughtful lessons, multiple appeals, etc), knowledgeable (about current pedagogical approaches and educational philosophies of quality instruction, as well as his subject matter), and encouraging (using a variety of quality assessments to measure learning and communicating your findings to students in ways that spur their desire to improve rather than beating them down with what they don’t know. It also mean building up students, connecting with them and relating with them on a personal level)

5) Once we have defined those characteristics, how do we evaluate ourselves (and/or our peers) in a way that provides constructive feedback?
Continue our work on observation rubrics and peer feedback. Get administrators on board and using these same tools to provide meaningful feedback. Observe others both in and out of your subject area.

6) We have focused on classroom evaluations of one another, but good teaching is also based on what happens before class. How can we incorporate evaluations of planning, assessments, homework, etc. into this plan?
Susan would love for me to write “Curriculum Maps” here, but I think unit plans and the assessments towards which one is working is probably more effective. It would be helpful to have an assessment tool in place for this, as well.

7) The plan I envision is a 3-year cycle, that culminates in the year of a person's formal evaluation. In part, I think it makes the work less daunting, and it makes personal development an on-going part of of the job. What schedule can we develop to guide teachers along the way, and to bring some closure to the process?
I’m not sure what I think about this yet. Would it be a process that continues or does it stop after that initial three-year burst? I think it should be an ongoing thing. If we tie it to formal evaluations, ok; but, I don’t think we should allow the system to dictate our work.

8) Should we continue working in our group next year, or should we try to "go public"? Why or why not?
I think we should expand, allow another group to form. Let’s keep our group going because we still have a ton of work to do and more room to grow. We can add a separate group, though, to let the grassroots begin to spread and grow. We don’t want the movement to die with us. We’re all excited about it, so let’s keep it going and let it grow!

9) Add anything else that you feel is important or valuable.
I think we spent a lot of time this year spinning our wheels, but we seem to have better focus now and I see a lot of value in what we’re doing. We’re an interesting mix of pragmatists and idealists - as long as we all continue to compromise, we’ll continue to be valuable.

Kent Jahn


Michelle F
1) How, if at all, should "peer coaching" be tied to formal evaluations, the CDP and/or the portfolio?
Perhaps, informally, at least for the first year, teachers could request evaluations from other staff (we could offer ourselves as potenial observers if people would like). Being part of a peer coaching group could be part of the formal evaluation or CDP, but the evaluatons themselves wouldn't need to be part of the "formal evaluation". However, the evaluations could be part of teacher portfolios.
2) How, if at all, should our group members be involved in mentoring other teachers? In other words, do we develop a "how-to" guide and let teachers do their own thing, or do we have a more active role?
I like the idea of developing some groups based off of our initial group. I think a "how to guide" would be very ambitious and maybe not very useful to another group trying to start up. I feel we are still figuring out what we're doing and we would be better able to "lead" another group in person rather then in writing. However, I know the Mike has put a lot work and time into being the leader of our group, and I don't think I would have that kind of time next year.
3) What print materials (books, articles, etc.) should be provided as resources/background for teachers? (if not physically provided, at least provided in an annotated bibliography)

4) We are involved in this because we are people who are always looking for ways to improve our teaching. What do you see as the characteristics of an effective teacher?
Wow, that is a big question. I think a good teacher knows what the essential questions are for their content area (ie. what each student will know and be able to do by the end of the class). I also think that an effective teacher needs to be responsive to students needs. They need to be able to assess where students are in relation to those essential questions and find ways to reach students and find out what they understand. However, we also need to look at motivation and engaging our students and making what we're teaching interesting and relevant to their lives.
5) Once we have defined those characteristics, how do we evaluate ourselves (and/or our peers) in a way that provides constructive feedback?
Again this is a very difficult question. I think those of us in this group want to get better at what we do, and I don't doubt that there are others out there that also want to collaborate with their peers and
6) We have focused on classroom evaluations of one another, but good teaching is also based on what happens before class. How can we incorporate evaluations of planning, assessments, homework, etc. into this plan?
I think a portfolio with a reflection would probably be the best way to address the evaluation of planning, assessments, and other parts of teaching that aren't observable during a classroom observation.
7) The plan I envision is a 3-year cycle, that culminates in the year of a person's formal evaluation. In part, I think it makes the work less daunting, and it makes personal development an on-going part of of the job. What schedule can we develop to guide teachers along the way, and to bring some closure to the process?
I don't know really, I think we're still feeling our way through this process. It would be nice
8) Should we continue working in our group next year, or should we try to "go public"? Why or why not?
I think we could "go public" and see if there are more people that would want to join our group. When we know how many people are out there, we could decide how we want to proceed. Whether we want to split up into a couple or a few smaller groups or just continue as a bigger group. I think a much bigger group would be unmanageable, but I'm not sure there will be many takers as far as f

Carol V
1) The peer coaching concept is catching on in schools all over the country as teachers and other accountability partners realize that the current tenure and standardized testing methods do not promote best practices and researched-based changes of practice among the teaching profession. I believe we would be best served to expand the focus group to others, and begin a pilot of the project. Yes, I believe it ties to formal evaluations and our CDP, but at this point would need to be a voluntary project for those who wanted to be involved. We could look at the Chicago project that is getting exposure, and become an Iowa “center for change.” Portfolios could also be used to share information and best practices among peer teachers. We should at least offer a few portfolios and authors as a display before and after each staff meeting. Those teachers who are interested in seeing and discussing the portfolio contents (or viewing on-line ones) could do so with this type of opportunity. I am suggesting five per meeting—because of time. I have learned more from our staff members sharing their techniques, than many other professional development activities.
2) The mentoring concept is used in the induction process, but could be easily expanded to all teachers who want to be matched up with a mentor. Missy, from math, and I had different disciplines but each of us gathered useful info from the other as we spent two years together. “How-to guides” sound nice, but mentoring is basically relationship building. Perhaps a common “mentoring” wiki site could be used for general questions and feedback about resources that the “participating group” would be willing to share with each other.
3) I have been amazed at the works that we were exposed to this year. I think that these could be shared with all the staff, especially with the “notes” that our group members contributed earlier in the year. Sometimes just reading a person’s reactions to a study, book or report will help a person decide if they want to delve into in fully.
4) The more I know, the less I know, is how I can sum it up best. The effective teacher is not satisfied with how things are, but strives to improve on every lesson, activity and assessment. Not all opportunities are golden, but most need refinement. The “master teachers” in the orient who worked together to make the lesson effective, watched each other teach it and refined every intricate detail intrigued me. I have typically avoided “pre-packaged” lesson plans of textbook companies, because so many of the ideas are stabs in the dark, at best. To know how “effective” lessons are would really be insightful. That would be true research with practicality. As far as checklists of “effective” teacher qualities, I am now more respectful of the Iowa Standards and other published tools. Great thought and discussion was a part of the development of each one. Perhaps we need to expose more teachers to the works already published.
5) Honesty must be a baseline and open, fearless, communication would be the vehicle. A tool, or observation guide for conversations would be very helpful to both the observer and the observed. The voluntary participation with rewards of improved teaching techniques would still have to be intrinsically based. Extrinsic, merit pay may come some day, but it will take time to overcome all the issues that collective bargaining groups may have against it.
6) Great point—effective teaching is about the whole process, not just the 50-minute class time. Again, I think sharing the whole process through collaborative conversations, would make sense. Time is always a concern, but if you became more effective, wouldn’t that time spent be worth it?
7) I agree that a 3-year cycle would be good. Perhaps the last year is reflective, as the portfolio is updated. The first year would be research and professional goal setting; the second could be implementation and assessment of learning outcomes. Thus, each cycle would build on the previous cycle of learning and growing.
8) If I am still at Ames High, and the group is in existence (and willing to have me) I would love to continue with the “peer coaching” professional learning community. I believe we could expand the offering to others, and we could take on the mentor, observation, reflection and coaching roles as “tenets” of our group. Enthusiasm, during even dismal times may make our staff more cohesive and energized. The AHS staff does need an “attitudinal revival” of sorts. I confess that I have become negative and disillusioned, but I believe we are on the right track. Perhaps, we just need to get the new principal behind the effort, and merge ideas with the QILT team. Many hands do make work lighter.

Shaeley S.
1. I think the peer coaching we’ve done fits best with CDPs and portfolios, particularly with the evidence and artifacts we've cross-referenced to go with the teaching standards. If peer coaching is to be tied to formal evaluations, I think the whole system would need to be further refined and developed.
2. I like the idea of having our group divide up and serve as a core for a few other groups. I think the live interaction is even better than a “how to” manual for people to read on their own. One of the best parts of the class this year has been visiting other people's room and watching them teach. You can't get that kind of experience from reading a manual.
3. The Phase 1 books we read are a great starting place. The standards, rubrics, and information we have put together about good teaching are also key.
4. My list of effective characteristics is quite long. I think the essential part is an overarching system to organize them. We've done some work choosing a list of standards that is reasonable in length yet with broad coverage of what makes up good teaching and organizing that information in a logical fashion. Personally, I think we need to finalize the list and fill in the chart of supporting information.
5. We’ve been working on rubrics and various tools for giving feedback. Although there’s not a one-size-fits-all rubric, I think having a “menu” of several tested and "teacher-approved" rubrics is the best way to go. Then individuals can personalize the coaching even further where the need exists.
6. The cross-reference chart listing standards and artifacts to go with them is a start. This and the "menu" of rubrics/areas of focus for observations are two products we can begin with and build off of for future peer coaching at AHS.
7. A 3-year plan would link nicely with CDPs and portfolios. It seems like the portfolio would be a way to share the cumulative effects of peer coaching. As far as a schedule, focusing on a set number of teaching standards each year (2-3) so that all of them are covered over the 3 year period seems like a good way to divide it up. I think new teams or groups could be formed based on which two or three standards teachers want to work on for that year's CDP/portfolio work.
8. Given all the personnel changes between this year and next, I think it makes sense to open up the group with people from this year serving as the core for several new groups next year (see #2). I would like to continue working on what we’ve begun because I feel it has a lot of potential to lead to improvement in teaching.

Denny C
1) I do not believe that peer coaching should be tied to formal evaluations, in that this is a voluntary group, and the steps would have to reach the entire ACSD staff and negotiations. It does seem logical that this could contribute to one's CDP and portfolio.
2) We could offer to mentor other teachers. A "how to" guide would require research, time, and consensus to make it valuable to others.
3) Wikis are a good place to start with print materials
4) Effective teaching in my estimation involves generating student interest, preparation, engagement, delivering quality instruction, and assessment.
5) Become trained in AIW that has methods, techniques, rubrics, and feedback for the teachers we observe.
6) Preparation could be observed by having teachers examination the unit plans teachers have prepared. If not evaluate, at least suggestions could be made on engagement, homework, assignments etc., to make the lesson more effective.
7) There is no cycle regarding the improvement of instructional practices, as it is an ongoing process. As I stated before, I do not believe that this process should be tied to formal evaluation. Improvement can come quicker and more consistently by our peers who teach each day. Administrators, most who haven't taught in years, don't know our subject areas, and spend little time in classrooms can only provide limited feedback every 3 years. Why would we like to expand their role in evaluations?
8) I think that continuing the group should remain voluntary, but open it up to interested teachers. I believe that this group should advocate for the establishment of meaningful Professional Learning Communities within the Professional Development model.
9) Future value of this group would require the identification of specific targets and more coherent goals and practices before you could approach the issues of formal evaluation and guides for mentoring.

Susan N.


Ben M.


Mike Lazere
1) How, if at all, should "peer coaching" be tied to formal evaluations, the CDP and/or the portfolio?
I had favored this, but now think this should be postponed. Teachers who are involved in a peer-coaching (or other professional development) can place documents in their personnel files, and can use this as a basis for discussions with administrators when they are “on cycle.” If this grows and develops, it may naturally become part of the formal evaluation process. I would like to see this become an option for collaborative conversations on Weds mornings.

2) How, if at all, should our group members be involved in mentoring other teachers? In other words, do we develop a "how-to" guide and let teachers do their own thing, or do we have a more active role?
I propose developing a “how-to” guide to allow teachers to develop their own groups and structures. We need to provide:
(1) A “professional library” of books, articles and even magazine subscriptions
(2) A clear set of exemplary teaching standards
(3) Criteria and Rubrics for judging teachers’ work according to the standards.

3) What print materials (books, articles, etc.) should be provided as resources/background for teachers? (if not physically provided, at least provided in an annotated bibliography)
• Wagner, Tony. The Global Achievement Gap. Basic Books 2008
• Wiggins, Grant and McTighe, Jay. Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development, 2005.
• Newmann, Fred M., King, M. Bruce & Carmichael, Dana L. Authentic Instruction & Assessment. Prepared for the Iowa Dept of Ed, 2007.
• Marzano, Robert J., Pickering, Debra J. and Pollock, Jane E. Classroom Instruction that Works. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc., 2005. (by arrangement with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development)
• Ahead of the Curve: The Power of Assessment to Transform Teaching and Learning. Ed. Douglas Reeves. Solution Tree, 2007.
• Wiki site with articles (annotated)

4) We are involved in this because we are people who are always looking for ways to improve our teaching. What do you see as the characteristics of an effective teacher?
1. Planning and Preparation for Productive Student Learning → Backward Design
a. Start with Learning Outcomes. Define small set of Essential Q’s that are
provocative and meaningful to students
b. Develop a variety of assessments (including authentic tasks) to collect evidence of
student growth and learning
c. Lesson Plans organized in a logical & engaging manner about Big Ideas
2: Establishing a Learning Environment (Classroom Culture) Favorable for Learning
• Communicates High Expectations
• Demonstrate flexibility and responsiveness
• Establish and Maintain Rules
• Be proactive to avoid conflict
• Involve Parents
• Celebrate Success (based on Growth)
• Feedback and communication between students is routine
3. Instruction that Advances Student Learning
• Clearly Communicate Goals
• Engage Students
• Construction of Knowledge: Activate Prior Knowledge, Frequent Formative Assessments, Higher-Order Thinking, Questioning that requires students to elaborate., Wait-time, Authentic Tasks, Purposeful Homework
4. Professionalism: Reflective Practice, Professional Growth, Utilizes colleagues and professional literature to develop as a teacher, Participates actively in collegial activities

5) Once we have defined those characteristics, how do we evaluate ourselves (and/or our peers) in a way that provides constructive feedback?
This is where I draw a blank. I think this is what we need to develop next year.

6) We have focused on classroom evaluations of one another, but good teaching is also based on what happens before class. How can we incorporate evaluations of planning, assessments, homework, etc. into this plan?
I like ‘Backward Design’ from “Instruction by Design” by Wiggins

7) The plan I envision is a 3-year cycle, that culminates in the year of a person's formal evaluation. In part, I think it makes the work less daunting, and it makes personal development an on-going part of the job. What schedule can we develop to guide teachers along the way, and to bring some closure to the process?
Year 1: Choose a Unit and a group to work with. Plan the unit using ‘backward design’
Year 2: Implement the Unit. Invite colleagues to observe & evaluate lessons. Use videos to assess lessons.
Year 3: Make changes to unit based on gathered data, and try again.

8) Should we continue working in our group next year, or should we try to "go public"? Why or why not?
I would like to invite other people to join us, but I’m not sure we have developed a “package” that we can sell to our colleagues (I mean that figuratively!)

Homework for January 13, 2010


Name .
Are you in favor of this group working to change evaluation practices, as tentatively described in the document above? Why or why not?
Stuart I am generally in favor of this proposal. Would this new evaluation system be for everyone, or would it be "opt in," in which case some teachers could choose to keep within the old system? I like your rationale, but the role of our group is somewhat ill-defined. I suppose that's the topic of discussion this week.
Kent

Ben
I am in favor of working towards changing the teacher evaluation process. I think that teachers should be involved in helping to in lack of a better word "grade" other teachers on how well they are doing as a professional and as a educator.
Erin
I am also in favor of changing evaluation practices - that's the main reason I wanted to be a part of this group. I really like the part about incorporating multiple sources of data. It will take some negotiating to get it anywhere near a contract, but it's worth fighting for.
Carol
Yes, the justification is good, and I agree that we need more meaningful evaluations. We do need to clarify many things in order to execute the proposal. That may be a very good place to focus our creative energies!
Michelle
I would be in favor of this group working to change evaluation practices. I think that current evaluation practice, which is minimal at best, has given me no real guidance on how I can grow professionally. There a definitely some logistical problems with the proposal as it stands, but overall I can stand behind the rational for what this proposal would be trying to accomplish.
Denny

James
I think this would be a good focus for us. We continue to operate in a system that doesn't always put into practice what it teaches, and we know that meaningful feedback works. Lots of details, though, to work out...
Shaeley
Thumbs-up. I still have some questions about the specifics, but I see the value in having a permanent change come out of our work.


Outlines of "Phase II" books:

Authentic Instruction and Assessment by Fred Newmann

I. Criteria for Authentic Instruction

a. Construction of Knowledge
  • i. To solve problems that go beyond routine use of information or skills
  • ii. Organize, interpret, evaluate, or synthesize knowledge to solve new problems

b. Through Disciplined Inquiry
  • i. Use Prior Knowledge base
  • ii. Strive for In-Depth Understanding
  • iii. Develop and express ideas through Elaborated Communication

c. To produce outcomes that have Value Beyond School
  • i. Relevant to students
  • ii. Intellectual challenges that have meaning beyond complying with the teacher’s requirements.

II. Rubrics for Standards

a. Higher-Order Thinking (Instruction- Construction of Knowledge)
  • i. H.O.T. = Instruction involves students in synthesizing, generalizing, explaining, hypothesizing, concluding, interpreting info to produce new meaning/understanding
  • ii. L.O.T. = receiving or reciting factual info. or applying rules through repetitive routines
  • iii. Rubric rates 1-5 on frequency of LOT and HOT activities in the class period

b. Substantive Conversation (Instruction – Disciplined Inquiry)
  • i. Students engage in extended conversations with teacher and/or peers in a way that produces shared understanding
  • ii. 3 Features: Talk is (1) About subject matter; (2) Involves sharing ideas/Not dominated by 1 person; (3) Builds coherently on participant’s ideas to promote understanding
  • iii. “Interchange” = statement + response. “Sustained” = 3 consecutive interchanges.
  • iv. Rubric rates 1-5 based on Sustained Conversations and display of the 3 Features

c. Deep Knowledge (Instruction – Disciplined Inquiry)
  • i. Instruction explores connections/relationships to produce complex understandings
  • ii. Rubric rates 1-5 based on degree of focus on a significant topic and how well students demonstrate express reasoned conclusions and/or understanding of the complexity of the problem

d. Connections to World Beyond Classroom (Instruction – Value Beyond School)
  • i. Students make connections btwn substantive knowledge and public problems or personal experiences they are likely to face or have faced
  • ii. Rubric rates 1-5 based on whether or not students create products with aesthetic or utilitarian value and are connected to issues beyond the classroom

e. Elaborated Written Communication (Student Work - Disciplined Inquiry)
  • i. Demonstrates elaboration of understanding through writing)
  • ii. Rubric rates 1-4 based on quality and accuracy of arguments)

f. Disciplinary Concepts (Student Work – Disciplined Inquiry)
  • i. Demonstration of understanding of important disciplinary concepts
  • ii. Rubric rates 1-4 based on degree of understanding

g. Analysis (Student Work – Construction of Knowledge)
  • i. Work demonstrates thinking about disciplinary content through analysis, evaluation, interpreting, hypothesizing, considering other view points, etc.)s
  • ii. Rubric rates 1-4 based on the degree of analysis involved

h. Construction of Knowledge (Assignments - Construction of Knowledge)
  • i. Organizing or interpreting info in addressing a problem or issue relevant to the discipline.
  • ii. Rubric rates 1-3 based on degree to which students are asked to analyze, synthesize or evaluate information

i. Elaborated Written Communication (Assignments – Disciplined Inquiry)
  • i. Work requires written elaboration of their understaning/explanations/conclusions
  • ii. Elaboration can be prose, graphs, tables, diagrams, equations, or drawings
  • iii. Rubric rates 1-4 based on degree to which students have to explain their thinking

j. Connections to Students’ Lives (Assignments – Value Beyond School)
  • i. Addresses concepts, problems or issues likely to be encountered outside of school
  • ii. Rubric rates 1-3 based on how “real-life” the issue is.


The Art and Science of Teaching by Robert Marzano

10 Guiding Principles
I. Establish/Communicate Goals, Track Progress, Celebrate Success
II. Design Activities in which Students Interact Effectively with Knowledge
III. Help Students to Practice and Deepen Knowledge
IV. Have Students Generate Hypothesis about New Knowledge
V. Find Ways to Engage Students
VI. Establish and Maintain Rules/Procedures
VII. Recognize & Acknowledge Adherence & Non-Adherence to Rules
VIII. Establish Relationships with Students
IX. Communicate High Expectations
X. Design Cohesive Units

I. Establish/Communicate Goals, Track Progress, Celebrate Success
a. Differentiate Goals from Activities
b. Establish Rubrics for each Learning Goal (0-4 scale)
  • i. 0 pts - Shows no understanding, even with help
  • ii. 1 pt - Shows partial understanding of simpler goals, with help
  • iii. 2 pts - No major errors/omissions on simpler ideas, but major errors/omissions on complex ideas
  • iv. 3 pts - No major errors/omissions on simpler or complex ideas that were explicitly taught
  • v. 4 pts - Demonstrates in-depth inferences/applications that go beyond what was taught
c. Use Frequent Formative Assessments using Rubrics. Have students track progress.
d. Ask Students to Identify Personal Learning Goals
e. Celebrate Growth/Success, based on GROWTH

II. Design Activities in which Students Interact Effectively with Knowledge
a. Identify “Critical-Input” Activities
b. Access and Activate Prior Knowledge by Pre-Assessment or Previewing
c. Organize Students into Working Groups to Enhance Active Processing
d. Chunk New Information. Ask for Discussion, Predictions, Descriptions
e. Questioning that Requires Students to Elaborate. Wait Time I and II
f. Have Students Write Conclusions or Represent them Non-Linguistically
g. Have Students Reflect on their Learning

III. Help Students to Practice and Deepen Knowledge
a. Tasks that Require Examining Similarities and Diffs (Metaphors, Analogies, Compare/Contrast)
b. Help Students Identify Errors in Thinking
c. Provide Opportunities for Practice, with decreasing levels of support/structure.
d. Give Purposeful Homework
e. Have Students Make Systematic Revisions/Corrections in Notebooks

IV. Have Students Generate Hypothesis about New Knowledge
a. Teach Students how to Provide Support for Claims/Conclusions
b. Engage Students in tasks that GENERATE & TEST HYPOTHESES: (1) Experimental Inquiry Tasks; (2) Problem-Solving Tasks; (3) Decision-Making Tasks; (4) Investigation Tasks
c. Have Students Design their own Tasks

V. Find Ways to Engage Students
a. Manage Questions and Responses (Wait Time, Response Cards, Choral Response)
b. Physical Movement – Kinesthetic Learning
c. Appropriate Pacing
d. Friendly Controversy, Unusual Info, or Discrepant Events
e. Personalize/Relevance

VI. Establish and Maintain Rules/Procedures

VII. Recognize & Acknowledge Adherence & Non-Adherence to Rules
a. Catch Students Being Good
b. Involve Parents (especially in recognizing positive behavior)
c. Be Proactive to Avoid Conflict

VIII. Establish Relationships with Students

IX. Communicate High Expectations
a. Take Steps to Avoid Communicating Lower Expectations for some students

X. Design Cohesive Units
a. Write a Hypothetical Learning Trajectory, including Activities
b. Frequently Review Q’s for Daily Reflection (p. 190)

Enhancing Professional Practice—A Framework for Teaching by Charlotte Danielson 2007


Initially, this book was written by the trainer of Praxis III assessors, who noted that educators have little opportunity to discuss “good teaching.” Given the opportunity, as in the Praxis training, the educators became more reflective of their own teaching and more concerned that their teaching fulfilled the class goals. So the book was written to help all teachers, novice to expert have a glimpse of what good teaching may look like to a researcher.

First, the author, divides the teaching profession into four domains:
Domain 1: Planning & Preparation
  • 1a: Demonstrating knowledge of content and pedagogy
  • 1b: Demonstrating knowledge of students
  • 1c: Setting instructional outcomes
  • 1d: Demonstrating knowledge of resources
  • 1e: Designing coherent instruction
  • 1f: Designing student outcomes
Domain 2: The Classroom Environment
  • 2a: Creating an environment of respect and rapport
  • 2b: Establishing a culture for learning
  • 2c: Managing classroom procedures
  • 2d: Managing student behavior
  • 2e: Organizing physical space
Domain 3: Instruction
  • 3a: Communicating with students
  • 3b: Using questioning and discussion techniques
  • 3c: Engaging students in learning
  • 3d: Using assessment in instruction
  • 3e: Demonstrating flexibility and responsiveness
Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities
  • 4a: Reflecting on teaching
  • 4b: Maintaining accurate records
  • 4c: Communicating with families
  • 4d: Participating in professional community
  • 4e: Growing and developing Professionally
  • 4f: Showing professionalism

Under each of these domains the five or six components have a scoring rubric for each describing unsatisfactory, basic, proficient or distinquished characteristics. The most basic rubric has 16 levels of performance and the more detailed rubrics encompass 88 different choices of performance indicators.

The 2007 edition has now added rubrics for specialists such as instructional, library and media, school nurses, school counselors, school psychologists, and therapeutic specialists. At least this tool recognizes the fact that many educators have diverse responsibilities while still contributing to the educational environment. Inadequate performance assessments often lead to incomplete evaluations or frustration of the process by both evaluator and evaluatee. Finally, the tool notes that the most powerful use of the framework is for personal reflection and self-assessment conducted in the privacy of the teachers own classroom or home. Because thinking is stimulated by conversation, many users have reported that the tool is even more productive when used as stimulus for discussion and reflection—which is specific, systematic and analytical. By looking at these indicators, a teacher will not only recognize successful educational practice, but determine the cause and effect of the results, so that future lessons would be equally effective.

Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe

(partial outline)

I. Introduction
a. Twin Sins of Design
  1. Activity-focused teaching
  2. Coverage-focused teaching
b. Essence of book "How do we make it more likely - by our design - that more students really understand what they are asked to learn?"
c. Definitions of Key Terms as used in UbD (Understanding by Design)
  1. Big Ideas - concept, theme or issue that gives meaning and connection to discrete facts and skills (e.g. adaptation, distributive property in math, relationship between form and function in systems, need to focus on audience & purpose as a writer or speaker)
  2. Curriculum - specific blueprint for learning that is derived from desired results - content & performance standards
  3. Assessment - act of determining the extent to which desired results are on the way to being achieved & to what extent they have been achieved
  4. Desired results - intended outcomes, achievement targets, or performance standards
  5. Understanding - to make connections and bind together our knowledge into something that makes sense of things

II. Backward Design
a. Backward is best because of its results-focused design rather than content-focused design
b. Twin Sins of Traditional Design
  1. Activity-oriented design's error is "hands-on without being minds-on" fun & interesting activities without leading to insight or achievement
  2. Coverage's aimlessness has no overarching, meaningful goal at its center (talking about all the course material within allotted time isn't meaningful)
c. Design must provide clear purposes & explicit performance goals to students throughout their work
d. Key design questions
  1. What should students understand as a result of the activities or the content covered?
  2. What should the experiences or lectures equip them to do?
  3. How, then, should the activities or class discussions be shaped and processed to achieve the desired results?
  4. What would be evidence that learners are en route to the desired abilities and insights?
  5. How, then, should all activities and resources be chosen & used to ensure that the learning goals are met and the most appropriate evidence produced?
  6. How will students be helped to see by design the purpose of the activity or resource & its helpfulness in meeting specific performance goals?
e. Three Stages of Backward Design
Stage 1: Identify desired results
  • What should students know, understand, and be able to do?
  • What content is worthy of understanding?
  • What enduring understandings are desired?
Stage 2: Determine acceptable evidence
  • How will we know if students have achieved the desired results?
  • What will we accept as evidence of student understanding and proficiency?
Stage 3: Plan learning experiences & instruction
  • What enabling knowledge (facts, concepts, principles) & skills (processes, procedures, strategies) will students need in order to perform effectively and achieve desired results?
  • What activities will equip students with the needed knowledge and skills?
  • What will need to be taught & coached, and how should it best be taught, in light of performance goals?
  • What materials and resources are best suited to accomplish these goals?
"...the quality of the curriculum product is invariably enhanced when teachers participate in a structured peer review in which they examine one another's unit designs and share feedback and suggestions for improvement."

III. Understanding Understanding
a. Understanding as meaningful inferences
b. Understanding as transferability
c. Understanding as a noun
d. The evidence of understanding
e. Student misunderstanding & what we can learn from it

IV. Gaining Clarity on Our Goals

V. The Six Facets of Understanding
a. Facet 1: Explanation - understanding revealed through performances and products that clearly, thoroughly, and instructively explain how things work, what they imply, where they connect, and why they happened
b. Facet 2: Interpretation - meaning created by shedding interesting & significant light on current or past experience
c. Facet 3: Application - to understand is to be able to use knowledge
d. Facet 4: Perspective - to understand is to see things froma dipassionate & disinterested perspective
e. Facet 5: Empathy - to understand is the disciplined attempt to feel as others feel, see as others see
f. Facet 6: Self-Knowledge - to understand the world, we must first understand ourselves (and what we don't understand)


*See Discussion Threads (click on button above) for dates after Sept 2nd.
Meeting Date

Sept 2, 2009

Assignment:
1. What do you see as the purpose of this study group? What do you hope to achieve personally, and what do you hope we will achieve as a group
2. Considering your answer to Q #1, how do you think we can best accomplish these goals? How would you change the plan described in the course proposal?

Mike Lazere
I was inspired to start this because of my frustration with the current evaluation system, and the fact that administrators in our building make decisions with little of no data about teachers in the building. I was also inspired by models, such as the CIT system in Rochester, in which teachers play a huge role in setting professional teaching standards and helping new and experienced teachers to meet those standards.

My goal, as it has been for years, is to change the way we do education at AHS and in the ACS. We have the resources and staff to be a truly exceptional district. I want this group to develop a model of teacher pd that will become part of ongoing, formative evaluation in our building, and hopefully replace the current system, freeing up administrators to truly be educational leaders.

Mike Todd
I see the purpose of the group to explore ways to help teachers improve their practice throughout the building. I hope that we can come up with several ideas and help a few teachers out this year. I hope we can eventually propose something to our teachers association and our district similar to what Rochester did. For me, I hope that I can learn something from other teachers that will improve my student's experience and I would like to observe many teachers in our building.

Create a formal peer coaching program for our school that has the support of the administration and eventually work it into our contract - I like the schedule.

Stuart Sparkman
1. I'd like to explore the possibility of using a mentoring/peer evaluation type of program to alter/augment the way evaluation is done here. We can do this by learning what other districts have done in a similar area. I'm hoping we could develop a possible framework for doing something similar at Ames. I am wary of the group having unrealistic expectations about how soon and how sweepingly any of this could happen here, as it is a major paradigm shift (hate that term- grrrr.).

I think we can accomplish these goals by studying current programs, and trying multiple methods. If I had to change something, I might add in more time for trying out the methods we are studying...maybe it's built in to the schedule already and I missed it?

James Webb
1. I see this as an opportunity to collaborate with my peers across the curriculum, and to challenge myself to implement best practice. There are some amazing ideas floating around – I’m hoping we can some of them together and improve things from the ground up.
2. We can best accomplish this through a small focus group of committed individuals. We can challenge and sharpen one another and hopefully broaden our circle to include even more students in the future.

Erin Miller
I think the purpose of this course is to look at many different options available, to begin a peer coaching program, to try multiple ways of doing things, and to improve our own teaching! My personal goal is to learn as much as I can from the other teachers in this program, to get an honest opinion of my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher, and to get some ideas on how to improve my teaching. I think the group goal is to research and study different types of peer coaching programs and to develop a model to use at Ames High.

I think we can best accomplish these goals by studying current programs, and trying multiple methods. From the current schedule, I think we might need to add more time for trying out the methods we are studying…although maybe it’s built in and I missed it?

Jane Jurgensen
I may be over stating the obvious, but our overall goal is to better our teaching practices. This goes along with our meeting this morning. We have a group of students that is not performing. How can we help one another improve their success (or lack thereof)? I have been here for twelve or thirteen years, and I feel that our staff is more divided than ever. We must collaborate and this Peer Coaching in a method by which we can work together. We must put down our defenses and realize that we can all learn from other teachers. OK... I am done rambling. How can we do this? Maybe the administration would allow us to utlize our professional days to excuse us from teaching.

I just reread the question and I didn't answer the part of what I hope to achieve.
It may sound cliche, but all I hope is to become a better professional. I am quite shy (yes I am) and I don't really have time to socialize with fellow staff members. I keep to myself. Involvement in the group/class will require me to challenge my comfort zone, try new things in the classroom and challenge my classroom methods. How can one peer coach if (s)he can not objectively look at his/her own class?

Deny Cullinan
The purpose of this group, in my estimation, is to improve instructional practices, collaborate with talented colleagues, and perhaps mentor other teachers at AHS.

Personally, I look forward to receiving feedback from my peers pertaining to my lessons and instruction. I hope that we are able to initiate cross-curricular collaboration and peer coaching within our school.

Shaeley
Santiago
I am participating in this group for several reasons. I hope to interact more with other staff, to get new ideas, expand my repertoire as a teacher, and take an active role in my own professional development. Also, I'm a sucker for reading books and taking new classes. One of my core values is being a life-long learner. So, personally, I hope to grow and expand my thinking.

As a group, I hope we can institute some reform at a grass-roots level. I think our educational system today is outmoded and not as high a quality as it could be. I feel that way about my own teaching, even, so I hope that as a group we can enrich each other's teaching practice.

To best accomplish these goals, I think meeting together every other week is an excellent way to collaborate and keep the ball rolling. I think the selection of books looks very interesting, and I look forward to finding out more about them. Even though our goals are a bit lofty for a year-long study group, I think by shooting for the stars, we will at least reach the moon!

Carol Van
Waardhuizen
I have been an educator for 30 years, and I never grow tired of learning more. I know that some of the techniques that I use are effective, but I don't know what other educators-- even at AHS are doing. I see the purpose of our group as one mutual enlightenment. A collective force of minds can accomplish what one person can hardly imagine. Personally, I hope to gain new ideas from a group of professionals that I admire. As a group, I hope we can rise above the discontent that we all feel, and create a new enthusiasm for the profession we do actually love. I'm working with a new challenge this year, and it has made me feel more discouraged, disheartened and dreary than I can remember. During two of my four periods as an FCS teacher, I have the freedom to be creative and innovative. In two other periods, I feel that the curriculum, activities, tests and labs are dictated by another. In past years, I was an EA for special needs students on job site experiences. This year, I have four periods of Academic Support Center for ALP. I may have the opportunity to make a difference in those students' lives, but I struggle with their "games" and evasion of "work or learning"!!! I have never seen a group of students, who literally refuse to do anything with their time. I'm baffled. I'm looking for ways that all students will be encouraged to succeed and not give up on themselves, before they ever enter high school. I'm looking for a great deal of collaboration and peer coaching!