Do you know a non-reader or someone with difficulties learning to read?

Reading With Ease: An Alternative Method provides a great way to develop and increase reading skills!

Reading With Ease: An Alternative Method is available as an eBook

OR Softcover Book (dimensions: 21.59cm x 27.94 cm / 8.5” x 11”)

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Assessment and Improvement of Instruction – Learner Materials and Activities

The examples of learner materials and activities for the unit lesson about numbers and their word representations were part of my artifact collection of evidence that supported my Professional Growth Plan (PGP) besides the informal and formative assessments.

Learning materials included:

1.:

A) An Identifying, Reading, and Writing Whole Numbers reference chart containing the number words for the ones place (0 to 9) with visual quantity equivalences

B) number words for the teens place (11 to 19) with visual quantity equivalences

C) number words for the tens place (10 to 90), and the numeric and word form of one hundred with visual quantity equivalences

2.  samples of a formal wedding invitation or birthday or other type of formal invitation

3.  sample of a written cheque

4.  samples of imitation currency in the form of coins and dollar bills

5.  National Geographic Kids magazines

6.  children’s Movie magazines or other special interest children’s printed media

7.  The Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Canada informational text or Canada Year by Year or similar texts

8.  Magic School Bus graphic novels  or similar

Learner activities that generated learner work products to verify student understanding about whole numbers in their numeric and word forms included:

  1. Create Your Own Whole Number Words Puzzle for others to solve
  2. Unscramble the Scrabbled Tiles with a game chart a learner uses to print the whole number word they unscramble from the pre-selected tiles that fit within categories of numeric numbers 0 to 10, 11 to 19, 20 to 29, 30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 to 59, 60 to 69, 70 to 79, 80 to 89, and 90 to 100
  3. Numeric and Word Form Whole Number BINGO
  4. Numeric to Word Form Whole Number Word Searches in three different levels of complexity plus an opportunity for a student to develop their own Whole Number Word Search for others to solve
  5. a Whole Number Numeric to Word Form Crossword puzzle plus an opportunity for a student to create their own for others to solve.

 

The following are examples of Learner Materials:

  1.  a through c

identifying reading and writing whole numbers reference chart pg1 of 3identifying reading and writing whole numbers reference chart pg2 of 3identifying reading and writing whole numbers reference chart pg3 of 3

2.  Formal wedding or birthday invitations or similar to show number word representations

formal wedding invitation - sample 2 re_word representations of numbersformal wedding invitation - sample re_word representations of numbers

3.  sample of how numbers and their word representations are written on cheques

sample of cheques - 3

4.  samples of imitation currency (coins and bills) – active exploration

imitation currency - learning materials for number sense.PNG

5.  National Geographic Kids magazines – active exploration

national geographic kids magazings

6.  children’s Movie magazines – active exploration

 

7.  The Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Canada informational text or Canada Year by Year or similar texts – active exploration

canada year by year - replacement for everything you every wanted to know about canada

 

8.  Magic School Bus graphic novels or similar – active exploration

 

 

The following are examples of Learner Activities:

  1. Create Your Own Whole Number Words Puzzle for others to solve by putting the puzzle pieces together – “Number It Up” – learners cut their puzzles along the dotted lines, solve their own, then switch with peers.

Number it up - puzzle pieces numbers and their word representations

2.  Unscramble the Scrabbled Tiles with a game chart a learner uses to print the whole number word they unscramble from the pre-selected tiles that fit within categories of numeric numbers 0 to 10, 11 to 19, 20 to 29, 30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 to 59, 60 to 69, 70 to 79, 80 to 89, and 90 to 100

unscramble the scrabbled tiles game chart - learner activity pg 2 of 2unscramble the scrabbled tiles game chart - learner activity pg 1 of 2

3.  Numeric and Word Form Whole Number BINGO

number word bingo pg1 of 5number word bingo pg2 of 5number word bingo pg3 of 5number word bingo pg4 of 5number word bingo pg5 of 54.  Numeric to Word Form Whole Number Word Searches in three different levels of complexity plus an opportunity for a student to develop their own Whole Number Word Search for others to solve.

word searches re_ finding number word representations pg 1 of 4word searches re_ finding number word representations pg 2 of 4word searches re_ finding number word representations pg 3 of 4word searches re_ finding number word representations pg 4 of 4

5.  a Whole Number Numeric to Word Form Crossword puzzle plus an opportunity for a student to create their own for others to solve.

crossword puzzle re_ numberic to word representation pg 1 of 2crossword puzzle re_ numberic to word representation pg 2 of 2

Assessment and Improvement of Instruction:    Types of Informal Assessments

  1. Hand Signals:

Ask student(s) to display a thumbs up to indicate they understand a specific concept, principle, or process; a thumbs down if they do not understand; and a waving hand if they are not completely sure about a specific concept, principle, or process.

  1. Visual Representation (Web, Concept Map, Flow Chart, or Time Line – as appropriate to the lesson):

Ask student(s) to create a visual representation in the form of a puzzle, crossword, word search, and/or cryptogram to show the elements or components of a topic or process (their choice of whole numbers from zero to one hundred as a numeric and as a word representation) to check for relationship understanding among the elements.

  1. Oral Questioning:

Use follow-up questions and probes to check for student’(s) understanding of a specific concept, principle, or process.  Examples include:  What are the parts of the word representations of various whole numbers?; In what other way might we show/illustrate when whole numbers as word representations are used in various texts and printed media?; What are the clues to decipher how to write a number’s representation as a numeric?; What are the clues to decipher how to write a number’s numeric as its word representation?; What is the rule for writing a two-digit number that isn’t a “teen” or a multiple of ten? (example: 21, 34, etc.).

  1. Follow-up Probes:

Ask student(s) to explain or give reasons for what they wrote as the word representations of a numeric; or explain or give reasons for what they wrote as the numeric for a number’s word representation.  In addition, ask the student to give an example of where they can expect to find a word representation of a date.

  1. Misconception:

Present the student(s) with common or predictable misconceptions about number word representations such as one-hundred, ninety nine, ninty, fiveteen, etc.; as well as numeric representations of written number words such as that for eleven, fifteen, and one hundred.

  1. Summative Index card summary or questions:

(on side one):   Today’s lesson was about…

OR …   What do you think today’s lesson’s focus was about?

(on side two):  I do not understand…

OR …

What do you not yet fully understand about today’s lesson?

References:

Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (2005).  Understanding by design (2nd Edition).  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

EXAMPLES OF INFORMAL ASSESSMENTS:

student interests-preferences survey - page 1 of 10 - Artifact Collectionstudent interests-preferences survey - page 2 of 10 - Artifact Collectionstudent interests-preferences survey - page 3 of 10 - Artifact Collectionstudent interests-preferences survey - page 4 of 10 - Artifact Collectionstudent interests-preferences survey - page 5 of 10 - Artifact Collectionstudent interests-preferences survey - page 6 of 10 - Artifact Collectionstudent interests-preferences survey - page 7 of 10 - Artifact Collectionstudent interests-preferences survey - page 8 of 10 - Artifact Collectionstudent interests-preferences survey - page 9 of 10 - Artifact Collectionstudent interests-preferences survey - page 10 of 10 - Artifact Collection

========================

These pre-assessment quizzes can be completed electronically using adaptive technology if a learner has fine motor medical challenges.

Post-Instruction, these assessments can be used as Formative Assessments for all learners (using adaptive technologies for learners with fine motor medical challenges).

pre-assessement quiz - match whole numbers to their word representation pg 1 of 2pre-assessement quiz - match whole numbers to their word representation pg 2 of 2

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pre-assessement quiz - match number words to their numbers pg 1 of 5pre-assessement quiz - match number words to their numbers pg 2 of 5pre-assessement quiz - match number words to their numbers pg 3 of 5pre-assessement quiz - match number words to their numbers pg 4 of 5pre-assessement quiz - match number words to their numbers pg 5 of 5

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pre-assessement quiz - match number words to their numbers - overall

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My KWL Chart - Artifact Collection

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word searches re_ finding number word representations pg 1 of 4word searches re_ finding number word representations pg 2 of 4word searches re_ finding number word representations pg 3 of 4word searches re_ finding number word representations pg 4 of 4

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crossword puzzle re_ numberic to word representation pg 1 of 2crossword puzzle re_ numberic to word representation pg 2 of 2

==============================

summative index card for student - learner feedback

Assessment and Improvement of Instruction – Artifact Collection Summary

My artifact collection of evidence that supports my Professional Growth Plan (PGP) included informal and formative assessments, learning materials, as well as learner activity work products.  In addition, the artifacts I collected helped to inform me of the progress I was making toward my PGP.   Moreover, my variety of evidence provides higher measures of accuracy, validity, and reliability on which my instructional performance analysis was based (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005).

The informal assessments in my artifact collection included:

  1. A learner survey that assisted me to know each learner’s processing strength(s) and ascertain their general interests, which helped determine what learning materials and activities would elicit more focused engagement.
  2. A pre-assessment of matching whole numbers in their word representation to their numeric form.
  3. A KWL Chart for both student pre-assessment and feedback about what they learned.
  4. An Observation Checklist to track informally chronologically when a student showed they were able to identify numeric numbers from zero to one hundred, match word representations of numbers to their number form, and write whole numbers in their number and word form.
  5. The use of thumbs up, thumbs down or a hand wave by the student to indicate whether they understood, did not understand, or were unsure about a specific concept, principle, or process.
  6. Opportunities for a student to create a word search or crossword puzzle based on transferring knowledge about whole numbers in their numeric form into their word form.
  7. Follow-up questions and probes to check for a student’s understanding of a specific, concept, principle, or process.
  8. An informal assessment regarding Misconceptions About Whole Number Words.
  9. A Summative Index Card to obtain student feedback about the lesson and what they perceived they learned.

The formative assessments in my artifact collection included:

  1. A post-lesson assessment of Matching whole numbers in their numeric form to their word representations and Matching whole numbers in their word representation to their numeric form.

The informal and formative assessment techniques were not graded as they were intended to provide timely feedback on a student’s current conceptions and/or misconceptions, thus, informing me about the instructional adjustments I needed to make to improve the student’s understanding. Moreover, the informal and formative assessments, as well as the learner activities, helped me to identify instances when instruction had not met a student’s learning style requirements necessary to gain understanding.  In such instances, I would re-teach or provide additional support through differentiation of instruction and/or materials that tied the lesson unit’s concept to a student’s own life experiences.

Learning materials included:

  1. An Identifying, Reading, and Writing Whole Numbers reference chart containing the number words for the ones place (0 to 9)
  2. number words for the teens place (11 to 19)
  3. number words for the tens place (10 to 90), and the numeric and word form of one hundred
  4. a sample of a formal wedding invitation
  5. samples of checks
  6. samples of imitation currency in the form of coins and dollar bills
  7. a National Geographic Kids magazine
  8. a children’s Movie magazine
  9. The Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Canada informational text
  10. Magic School Bus graphic novels.

Learner activities that generated learner work products to verify student understanding about whole numbers in their numeric and word forms included:

  1. Create Your Own Whole Number Words Puzzle for others to solve
  2. Unscramble the Scrabbled Tiles with a game chart a student used to print the whole number word they unscramble from the pre-selected tiles that fit within categories of numeric numbers 0 to 10, 11 to 19, 20 to 29, 30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 to 59, 60 to 69, 70 to 79, 80 to 89, and 90 to 100
  3. Numeric and Word Form Whole Number BINGO
  4. Numeric to Word Form Whole Number Word Searches in three different levels of complexity plus an opportunity for a student to develop their own Whole Number Word Search for others to solve
  5. a Whole Number Numeric to Word Form Crossword puzzle plus an opportunity for a student to create their own for others to solve.

I focused my lesson preparation time on providing a variety of learning materials to support learner exploration centered on the identification of whole numbers in their numeric and word forms.  More specific to my PGP, I developed several informal and formative assessments, as described earlier in this summary, to determine and check for student understanding about the lesson’s big ideas.  Efforts were placed on selecting a variety of learning materials children and adults see and use regularly such as money in the form of coins and dollar bills, high interest informational and fiction texts such as children’s magazines, rhyming and illustrated storybooks, formal invitations, and graphic novels.  These materials helped me to hone into the student’s natural interests to improve learner engagement in exploring the ways whole numbers are represented in various kinds of texts.  For example, a student showed a strong interest in exploring the currency, formal wedding invitation, and general informational text about Canada.  Through her interest in these items, she discovered that whole numbers in their numeric form were found often within information texts, and in their word representation form within descriptive texts such as formal invitations and story books or graphic novels.

After examining my artifacts, in particular those directly related to my PGP;  that is, the variety of informal and formative assessments I created for my first lesson about identifying whole numbers in their numeric and word representations, as compared to those I did not prepare for the second lesson on the distributive properties of multiplication, and reflecting; I learned that I must be more consistent in my development of informal and formative assessments for specific unit lessons (Danielson & McGreal, 2000; Danielson, 2007).  This would enable me to better determine and check for the student’s knowledge, understanding, and ability to show that learning regarding all concepts and processes.  For example, though I utilized the KWL Chart and the Summative Index Card for both lessons, I did not have as many supportive learning materials or formative assessments that tied the lesson’s concepts to real-life experiences prepared for the distributive properties of multiplication lesson as I had for the identifying whole numbers in their numeric and word forms lesson.  I came to realize that ongoing preparation takes diligence, perseverance, patience, and fortitude; all traits that would benefit me to develop to a higher degree as part of my efforts to improve my instructional practices for the sake of my learners.  As Danielson (2007, p. 89) attests within Domain 3d regarding the use of assessment in instruction, a distinguished level of performance is attained once a “teacher actively and systematically elicits diagnostic information from individual students regarding their understanding and monitors the progress of individual students”, a level of instructional performance worth striving towards for the sake of all learners.

Examples of the Informal assessments, Formative assessments, Learner Materials and Activities appear in my next blog.

References

Danielson, C. (2007).  Enhancing Professional Practice.  A Framework for Teaching (2nd Edition).  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Danielson, C and McGreal, T.L. (2000).  Teacher Evaluation to Enhance Professional Practice.  A Blueprint for Teacher Evaluation.  Education Testing Service.

Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (2005).  Understanding by design (2nd Edition).  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

 

Assessment and Improvement of Instruction: Professional Growth Plan

The purpose of the exercise to utilize a tool such as the Professional Growth Plan is to use data appropriately in documenting and assessing instructional performance as well as to support professional learning.  This process of planning and implementing self-directed professional development will help educators / administrators identify areas needing improvement and provides opportunities for the application of research-based best practices knowledge and understanding to support the development of exemplary instructors who think critically and reflectively.  Thus, improving effective team communication, professionally helpful rather than hurtful feedback, and ultimately to assist individual instructors / administrators and their peers in the improvement of instruction.

professional growth plan p 1 of 7.PNG

professional growth plan p 2 of 7

professional growth plan p 3 of 7

professional growth plan p 4 of 7

professional growth plan p 5 of 7

professional growth plan p 5 of 7

professional growth plan p 6 of 7

professional growth plan p 7 of 7.PNG

 

Assessment and Improvement of Instruction: Classroom Observation

This work represents my first use of classroom observation criteria to focus and guide my observation of a primary educator’s botany lesson, which had been previously video recorded for this type of instructional viewing.

classroom Observation pg 1 of 3

classroom-observation-pg-2-of-3.png

classroom-observation-pg-3-of-3.png

The Reflections section of the Classroom Observation Form will be the topic of a future blog post.

References

Danielson, C. (1996). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Assessment and Improvement of Instruction: Focus of the Observation  

The formats for focusing observation about an educator’s efficacy and effectiveness in the classroom used in my own school board district in Southern Ontario is restricted to the comprehensive framework outlined by the Ontario College of Teachers’ Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession through the implementation of the Teacher Performance Appraisal (TPA) system (OCT, n.d.; OME, 2011a).  The Ontario Ministry of Education develops the policies, guidelines, and other resources to assist the implementation of the TPA in boards and schools throughout Ontario.  However, learner/student work and learner/student provincial assessments provided to grade 3, 6, and 9 students through the Education Quality and Assessment Office (EQAO) were in recent years, since 2008, beginning to be utilized to guide the collaborative formation of a school’s School Success Plan that must be developed annually.  The criteria used to develop the School Success Plan, since 2008, became aligned with the Ontario Ministry of Education’s goals that include numeracy, literacy, pathways to learning, climate for learning, and collaborative teaching K through 12 (OME, 2011b).

The focus for an observation in my own school board district was determined entirely by the Ontario College of Teachers’ Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession (OCT, n.d.).  According to the Ontario Ministry of Education (2011a), the Ontario Teacher Performance Appraisal (TPA) system was established in 2002 and revised in 2007 when the New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP), a means to appraise new teachers, was developed.  In short, according to the Ontario Ministry of Education (OME, 2011a) the TPA and NTIP, for new and experienced teachers, respectively, were developed to:

  • Enhance student learning by promoting teacher development;
  • provide meaningful appraisals of teachers’ performance that encourage professional learning and growth;
  • identify opportunities for additional support where required; and
  • provide a measure of accountability to the public.

Teachers who have successfully “completed the New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP)”, or “24 months have elapsed since the date on which they first began to teach in a board”, or those who have held permanent positions in Ontario’s publicly-funded schools prior to the NTIP’s implementation in September 2006, as well as temporary teachers (those teaching on a Letter of Permission) are appraised as experienced teachers” (OME, 2011a).  The NTIP teacher appraisal focuses on eight of the 16 competencies outlined in the OCT standards.  The eight competencies exist in the domains of Commitment to Pupils and Pupil Learning; Professional Knowledge; and Professional Practice, all of which are similar in content to the framework outlined by Danielson (2007).  The remaining eight competencies, totaling 16 on which experienced teachers are appraised, occur within the domains of Learning in Learning Communities and Ongoing Professional Learning (OCT, n.d.).  Unfortunately, the original robust and explicit competency ratings of unsatisfactory, satisfactory, good, and exemplary were removed and replaced by only two ratings:  satisfactory or unsatisfactory as per the TPA document dated September 2010 (OME, 2011).

A pre-observation conference meeting is setup between the teacher and the school’s administrator to review the OCT standards by which they will be assessed.  Generally, the teacher appraisal, which is performed by the school administrator, looks at aspects of a teacher’s behaviors that include teacher-student interactions and an actual teaching demonstration.  According to J. Robertson (personal communication, January 19, 2011), the principal at a public secondary school in my local school district, novice teachers are appraised twice during their first year of their practice throughout the school district and are matched with an experienced senior teacher who acts as a mentor-coach.  Whereas, experienced teachers who have taught full-time for five years are assessed once every five years.  Furthermore, J. Robertson (personal communication, January 19, 2011) stated that the appraisal form is laid out like an observational checklist with examples of what to look for as indicators of each element of each domain or OCT standard.  The ratings available for experienced teachers is then either a satisfactory or unsatisfactory, with remediation and supports put into place for teachers who are ranked as unsatisfactory.  If a teacher’s ranking continues to be unsatisfactory by the next appraisal, which is set at the discretion of the school administrator, the procedure to terminate them as a teacher from the school board is commenced.  Once at the school board head office, the request to terminate a teacher must be voted unanimously by the district trustees upon review of documented evidence provided by the school’s administrator (OME, 2001a).  In contrast, new teachers’ performance may be rated as unsatisfactory, development needed, or satisfactory (OME, 2011a).  If a new teacher receives an unsatisfactory or development needed rating, an enrichment plan tailored to the teacher’s individual professional development needs is created with that teacher’s input.

Furthermore, according to the Meeting of the Board of Trustees Highlights of the October 8, 2002 minutes, my area’s school board “adopted a staged implementation to the teacher performance appraisal process, and requested modifications to the TPA and NTIP as follows:

  • The frequency of teacher performance appraisals, due to the significant growth in Peel region over the next few years, would be every five years;
  • For experienced teachers in their evaluation year, only one performance appraisal would be required, instead of two;
  • The parent/student survey would not be implemented in the 2002-03 school year. During this school year, the survey could be developed but not implemented, due to administrative time constraints;
  • The teacher rating reported would be either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” for the 2002-03 school year” (PDSB, 2011).

The above modifications were requested in 1992, and rather than implementing the OME’s vision of the TPA, Ontario’s Teachers Union and School Boards were able to renegotiate the rating system used by the OME such that only “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” ratings would be used to describe teacher instructional performance.  Imagine if students’ learning were assessed using just two ratings, a past or fail.  If high expectations are the key to student achievement, then high expectations must also be expected of the educators who are responsible for teaching students otherwise life-long learning is simply rhetoric.  Therefore, it is prudent that Ontario school boards go to full implementation of the original OME’s Teacher Performance Appraisal Program as outlined explicitly in the 2007 edition of the TPA manual, particularly as per the framework explicitly outlined in the Appendix G and H sections, Observation Guide and Rubric to Describe the Levels of Performance, respectively.  Perhaps the teacher union leaders and members are concerned about teacher ratings as a stepping stone towards merit pay.

The ways to focus on any one teacher’s instruction and professional learning during observation listed by Glickman (2002) that are not used in the school district as of early 2011 include open-ended questionnaires, learner work, and learner provincial assessment scores.  Furthermore, though teachers are appraised using the OCT standards, there are limited levels of proficiency.  Thus, teachers appraised as satisfactory are lumped together whether they are at a basic, proficient, or distinguished level as described by Danielson (2007) in her Framework for Teaching.  This provides no higher goal to which teachers may strive and improve their practice; rather, allowing for only the attainment of a satisfactory level eludes to a build-in complacency factor.  Imagine if students only had to attain a satisfactory level of learning in any subject.  There would be no way to access the effectiveness of student learning and reflect on how to take steps to improve it.  The same is true of the Teacher Appraisal Program in Ontario.  There must be greater depth and robustness to the criteria that comprises effective teaching (Danielson, 2007).

Another focus on classroom teaching and professional learning that exists in my district includes the fact that experienced teachers are required to provide a record of their professional development activities at the time of the teacher appraisal.  In addition, after the appraisal, and following a post-observation conference meeting with the school administrator, teachers must complete an annual learning plan in which they describe the recommended professional growth goals and strategies based on the summative performance appraisal report by the school administrator.  In addition, the annual learning plan is required of teachers during the four years between appraisals.  However, there is certainly room to include open-ended questionnaires such as those that are presented in the OME’s TPA manual appendix G and H, which are similar in content to the Interview Protocol for a Pre-Observation (Planning) Conference and the Interview Protocol for a Post-Observation (Reflection) Conference in Danielson (2007, p. 171 – 173).  Such questionnaires are valuable tools to make the best use of an educator’s opportunity for reflection and self-assessment regarding their teaching practice; a process research has clearly demonstrated improves the practice of teaching (Glickman, 2002; Danielson, 2007).

Glickman (2002) and Danielson (2007) attest to the fact that a specific focus is necessary in a formal observation of teachers’ performance in the classroom.  For example, Glickman (2002, p. 35) states, “If the leader and the teacher don’t know what is being looked at together, then discussions predictably will move away from issues of teaching and learning to issues outside the classroom (such as individual misbehavior of students, parent needs, school politics, personal issues, and so on).”  Similarly, Danielson (2007, p. 2) identifies the need of having specific “well-established definitions of expertise and procedures” that serve as “the public’s guarantee that the members of a profession [such as teachers] hold themselves and their colleagues to high standards of practice”.  However, specific focus may not always be necessary, for example, in the case of a more casual, drop-in, unscheduled type of observation to provide useful feedback for an instructor.  This casual type of observation can provide useful data regarding what works and what does not across a school or district.

The 2+2 peer observation system or structure can be used in combination with the focus examples above by providing educators with the opportunity to join into small focus groups of their choosing where they would unanimously select a focus of the OCT standards on which they would focus to more fully implement in their own teaching practice.  Thus, educators would “participate with other professionals in intense, intellectual discussions over the nature of content and performance standards” the goal of which is to improve student achievement through the improvement of teaching practices (Glickman, 2002, p. 30 – 31).  In addition, the 2+2 peer observation format could also be developed to invite student feedback about classroom routines, climate, instruction, and assessments.

In conclusion, the work of examining educator instructional practice by developing a professional growth plan based on an agreed upon set of evaluative criteria is crucial to the improvement of instruction and hence student achievement.  Furthermore, focus on evaluative criteria is essential to have substantial professional dialogue that derives helpful feedback that can be implemented by educators.  This process can encourage educators to be more observant of their own practice, collect data on their work, observe the best practices of their colleagues, and analyze learner work and achievement data collaboratively.  Thus, collaborative reflection on instructional practices that increase student learning outcomes can strengthen educators’ focus on improving their instructional practice collectively in a continuous cycle of observation and discovery.

References

Danielson, C. (2007).  Enhancing Professional Practice.  A Framework for Teaching (2nd Edition).  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Glickman, C.D. (2002).  Leadership for Learning.  How to Help Teachers Succeed.  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

OCT (n.d.).  The Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession.  Ontario College of Teachers.  Retrieved on January 10, 2011 from http://ctc.ca.gov/educator-prep/CSTP/Ontario-Teaching-Standards.pdf

OME (2011).  Teacher Performance Appraisal.  Questions and Answers.  The Ontario Ministry of Education.  Retrieved on January 20, 2011 from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/teacher/faq.pdf

OME (2011).  The Teaching Profession.  The Ontario Ministry of Education.  Retrieved on January 10, 2011 from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/teacher/employ.html

PDSB (2011).  Meeting of the Board of Trustees Highlights of the October 8, 2002.  The

Peel District School Board.  Retrieved on January 20, 2011 from http://www.peelschools.org/trustee/high/b021008.htm

 

 

 

 

Assessment and Improvement of Instruction: Effective Teaching

One concept related to knowledge about effective teaching that I chose to summarize from the province of Ontario’s professional teaching standards, Costa and Garmston (2002), and the Danielson (2007) text is Community of Learners that Involves Families and Community Members.  This concept is referred to in two of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT, n.d.) standards:  Leadership and Community as well as Ongoing Professional Learning.  This concept (Community of Learners that Involves Families and Community) is also referred to in the Danielson (2007) text’s domain 4: Professional Responsibilities.  In comparison, within the sixth of six domains of inquiry: Knowledge of Collegial Interactions in the Costa and Garmston (2002, p. 181-182) text, the community inclusiveness concept is only partially developed.

In Ontario, a governing body called the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) was established in 1997 by legislation entitled Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 (OCT, n.d.).  The OCT’s mandate is to certify teachers through a licensing process as well as govern, set standards of practice and conduct for teachers, provide for the ongoing education of teachers, investigate complaints against teachers, and accredit teacher education programs (OME, 2011).  According to the OCT (n.d.), standards of practice for the teaching profession include (1) leadership and community as well as (2) ongoing professional learning.  Each of these two standards is further defined by three key elements to which educator-members of the OCT are expected to adhere.  These six key elements include (for the standard of leadership and community) responsibility and service, creation of a learning community, and sustaining learning through innovation and change; followed by (for the standard of ongoing professional learning) teacher learning and student learning, professional growth, and improving practice.

Similar in content to these two out of the five OCT standards and six out of the twenty key elements is Danielson’s (2007) framework for professional practice’s domain levels of performance.  For example, Danielson (2007, p. 42) states that the most distinguished level of teacher-practitioner, the highest attainable goal educators should be striving to reach, is defined by highly developed “ethical standards and sense of professionalism, showing perceptive use of reflection, effective systems for record keeping and communication with families, leadership projects, and extensive professional development activities.”

Similarly, the OCT standard entitled Teaching Practice relates to Danielson’s (2007, p. 42) professional responsibilities domain, as they both refer to the keeping of “effective systems for record keeping and communication with families” or colleagues.  However, the OCT standards do not mention or refer to educators allowing and encouraging students to “contribute to the systems for record keeping and family communication” where appropriate, as is described in domain 4: Professional Responsibilities of the Domain Levels of Performance by Danielson (2007, p. 42).  Whereas, the Danielson (2007) text does not mention under Professional Responsibilities the importance of “inviting parents [/guardians] and members of the community to share their knowledge and skills in supporting classroom and school activities”, as does the OCT (n.d.) standards.  In this regard, they are somewhat complementary as they provide slightly different perspectives on a consistent point of view.

Comparing the OCT and Danielson concept of community of learners, which includes the elements of leadership, community, ongoing professional learning, and responsibilities, to the domain of inquiry mentioned as “Knowledge of Collegial Interactions” by Costa and Garmston (2002) was revealing.  Clearly, the concept of community of learners is restricted by the latter authors to that of the educators in the school environment, and does not include the students, their families or larger community, as do the OCT and Danielson concepts.  In other words, the Costa and Garmston (2002) text restricts its focus to only the collegial interactions between educators, excluding the strong positive influence families and community members have shown through research to have on promoting and supporting improvements in student academic achievement (Williams, 2003; Weiss, Kreider, Lopez, and Chatman, 2005).

Another concept related to knowledge about effective teaching is that of an educator’s reflective practice, which according to Costa and Garmston (2002, p. 179) should include self-knowledge in “the areas of values, standards, and beliefs.”  In contrast, the OCT (n.d.) refers to educator’s reflection as the kind that focus on pedagogical methods.  Whereas Danielson (2007, p. 42) refers to highly developed “ethical standards.”  However, all three resources, Costa and Garmston (2002), Danielson (2007), and the OCT (n.d.), are similar as they agree that pedagogical instruction must include a persistence by the educator in finding and applying instructional approaches that meet every student’s needs.  In addition, they all three concur regarding the importance of content knowledge, as well as the ability of the instructor to tie that content knowledge to the curriculum standards and to each child’s real-life experiences.  This is where the relationship between the development of teaching standards and the professionalization of teaching intersect.

Curriculum standards exist as the big ideas about what students are to know and be able to do to become contributing citizens in their communities, province or state, country, and perhaps even in the world.  Well-written curriculum standards come with exemplars in the form of essential questions that act as guides for teachers who must unpack those curriculum standards and develop practical yet flexible lesson plans that include a variety of instructional approaches for all types of learners.  In my opinion, The Ontario Ministry of Education (OME) does an adequate job of assisting educators to unpack the curriculum standards.  Though there is room for improvement, the OME curriculum standards are of a practical value in the real world of instruction.

References

Costa, A.L. and Garmston, R.J. (2002).  Cognitive Coaching: A Foundation for Renaissance Schools (2nd Edition).  Norwood, Massachusetts: Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc.

Danielson, C. (2007).  Enhancing Professional Practice.  A Framework for Teaching  (2nd Edition).  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

OCT (n.d.).  Ontario College of Teachers. The Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession.  Retrieved on January 10, 2011 from http://www.ctc.ca.gov/educator-prep/CSTP/Ontario-Teaching-Standards.pdf

OME (2011).  The Ontario Ministry of Education.  The Teaching Profession.  Retrieved on January 10, 2011 from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/teacher/employ.html

Weiss, H.B., Kreider, H., Lopez, M.E., and Chatman, C.M. (2005) Preparing Educators to Involve Families From Theory to Practice, Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications Inc.

Williams, B. (2003).  Closing the achievement gap: A vision for changing beliefs and practices (2nd Edition). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

Introduction: Assessment and Improvement of Instruction

Studies of communities of professionals determined that they have common beliefs or behaviours associated with the idea of professionalism.  These common beliefs or behaviours include the sharing of a common body of knowledge (curriculum) as well as the use of standards of practice put into practice when exercising their knowledge on behalf of their clients (students).  In addition, professionals strive to “improve practice and enhance accountability by creating means for ensuring that practitioners will be competent and committed.  Professionals undergo rigorous preparation and socialization to that the public can have high levels of confidence that professionals will behave in knowledgeable and ethical ways”, stated by Darling-Hammond and Goodwin, 1993, p. 21, as referenced in the article Systemic Reform in the Professionalism of Education 1995.

The expectations for new and senior educators learning about research-based best practices for assessment and improvement of instruction should include having a clear understanding about how to make informal and formative assessments as well as how to make professional growth plans that are self-directed with some helpful critiquing from their peers.  Such expectations are applicable to all educators no matter who their learner demographic happens to be.  Such expectations will ensure the likelihood of improvement and refinement of instructional practice.  The ultimate result will be seeing an increase in the level of student academic achievement no matter what the demographic.  The knowledge and skills likely to be acquired after educators learn about research-based best practices are how to effectively improve their instruction through the application of differentiation of instruction and assessment to all academic and/or special education curriculum.

The vital questions answered through the next several blog posts include:

What is good teaching and how do we know it when we see it?

What are the key elements to the improvement of instruction?

Why are educators responsible for improvement of instruction?

How do educators and administrators support each other in improving instruction?

Throughout the next several blogs, I reference the Framework for Teaching developed by Charlotte Danielson (1996), based on the five core propositions of the 2002 USA National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.  Danielson has stated, “Decisions that teachers make in designing and executing instructional plans are far from trivial.  Professional educators must assume responsibility for understanding content, the cultural environments from which their students come and the design of coherent instruction.  Teaching is a profession – we mush have no doubt about that.  But if it is to be treated as a profession, then the responsibilities as well as the benefits deriving from that status must apply (Danielson, 1996, p. 27).  Therefore, self-assessment geared to reflective self-improvement of instructional methods must be part of the process.

An outstanding approach to learning best practices of assessment and improvement of instruction is observation of experienced teachers, either in-class or through viewing pre-recorded instructional sessions from video or DVD.  Three questions educators can reflect upon while observing an experienced teacher’s instruction are:

  1. What did you find as evidence of effective teaching?
  2. What could you suggest to the instructor to improve the lesson or as an alternative instructional strategy?
  3. How would you choose to provide feedback to the instructor?

My first observation was of an experienced elementary teacher since this was the age group to which I was oriented.  The instructional video I viewed was entitled:  Integrating Primary Botany Lesson

The evidence I found of effective teaching in the video, Integrating Primary Botany Lesson, included:

  1. The educator’s planned use of a community newspaper to grab the children’s attention showed some of the instructor’s understanding of the available resources familiar to the students, thus igniting meaningful connections in the children, drawing on prior knowledge, and engaging them with an object they had previously seen and/or even explored in their family environment (Danielson, 2007).
  2. The teacher guided the children’s discussion with intentional, purposeful, and well prepared essential questions. The essential questions were experienced fully selected to kindle meaningful connections, as well as to encourage the transfer and integration of the previous science lesson’s vocabulary about plants.  In addition, the teacher included a brief spelling patterns review, with a language arts story about gardening the children read previously as well as with their real-life experiences doing gardening activities external to the school environment.  Thus, integrating science with literacy and connecting to authentic real-life individual experiences outside of school time.  Because of the teacher’s questioning technique and clear communication, the resulting instructional class discussion was engaging to the children (Danielson, 2007).
  3. The teacher encouraged the children’s deductive reasoning processes using strategized verbal sequencing about what is necessary to grow healthy plants, though this was unsupported by visual images of what plants need to grow, “a generally overall strategy suitable to the students as a group” (Danielson, 2007, p. 41).
  4. The interactions between the students as well as between the teacher and students were respectful indicating a positive climate for learning. As well, the teacher’s act of printing the children’s answers on the chalkboard reinforced and validated their answers thus increasing the probability that they would answer questions more often.  It was clear from the children’s quiet, calm, and relaxed sitting manner they had been pre-taught acceptable behavior in such group discussion situations.

Here are the suggestions I would share with the instructor to improve the lesson or as an alternative instructional strategy:

To improve the lesson, I would suggest the instructor provide as a visual aid a large poster representation of the steps necessary to grow a plant using both images of each step paired with text containing the essential vocabulary that is aligned with the unit’s curriculum.  As an alternative instructional strategy that would serve to integrate the primary botany lesson with reading and the actual experience of gardening, I would suggest to the instructor to involve the children in an authentic performance activity of interest to each of them such as planting a seed of their choice to grow.

For the example of integrating a primary botany lesson, the learning activity I would suggest creates high interest for the children personally so that their natural curiosity is stimulated.  Natural curiosity occurs due to either connections children make with their own lives, or something that is mysterious to them.  In addition, the children ubiquitously agreed they enjoy playing in dirt, and some in mud.  Therefore, there is strong evidence supporting the enjoyment and fun an individual gardening project would provide.  The activity I would plan is the growing of a fast-growing edible plant of each child’s choice.  Examples of edible plants include the leaves of dandelion, pot marigolds, gem marigolds, borage, daylily, nasturtium, pansy, squash blossoms, as well as Herb flowers like Anise Hyssop, Basil, Bee Balm, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, and Garlic (TWSG, n.d.).  This gardening activity would provide practice and experience for each student to be able to transfer the knowledge learned in science botany and the readings about gardening through the activity of gardening.  Each child would daily log in a personalized journal the sequence they followed to grow their edible plant as well as reflections about each day’s observations as well as what they enjoyed and what they did not, using either traditional writing or electronic methods.  This experience would also encourage their use of reflective and higher-level evolving thinking skills as well as help them retain the knowledge and essential understandings through the process of transfer by way of doing (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005).

The following is how I would choose to provide feedback to the instructor:

I would provide feedback to the instructor through a 2+2 peer review method where I would offer two positive comments about her/his instructional methods with one or two suggestions to try out as an action-research investigation.

References

Danielson, C. (2007).  Enhancing Professional Practice.  A Framework for Teaching (2nd Edition).  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Merrill/Prentice Hall (2004).  Case 4:  Integrating Primary Botany Lesson.  Elementary Video Case Studies.  Merrill Education Media Series.  ISBN:  0131186426.  Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

TWSG (n.d.).  Fastest Growing Vegetables.  Retrieved on January 13, 2011 from http://tightwadsurvivalguide.com/TightwadTipsGrowingVegetables.aspx

Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (2005).  Understanding by design (2nd Edition).  Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

Standards Based Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment:  Synthesis and Summary of Daily Self-Reflections

As educators transform their daily practices and their experience shifts in the way they think about the process and procedures of teaching and learning, it is important for them to take time to consider how these changes impact their environment, their students, and their colleagues.  Keeping daily self-reflective logs focused on considering:

  • how one’s perspectives and practices are changing
  • how best to improve the integration of curriculum standards within curriculum instruction that is meaningful for students
  • how best to incorporate relevant strategies and ideas that are researched-based best practices

Strong educational research correlations have been repeatedly found between the success of all learners and the effectiveness of individual teachers (Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock, 2001).  It is this connection between teacher effectiveness and student achievement that highlights the significant differences that can be made in any student’s quality of life and degree of learning, regardless of a student’s learning style or multiple intelligences.  For these reasons, educators should consider how learning strategies, curriculum standards, and accountability impact their teaching practice.  In addition, strong consideration about the benefits of professional collaboration, re-assessing teaching and learning goals, strengthening the connections between assessment and instruction through the ongoing reflective process of thinking about teaching and planning for instruction.

Some essential reflective questions educators can consider include:

  1. How do your personal perspectives and biases influence your approaches to change?
  2. How has your instructional practice changed to meet the needs of your students?
  3. How has your thinking changed about the ways students prefer to learn and show what they have learned?

Oakes and Lipton (1990) warned that educators not seeking deeper understanding about how students learn and match their instructional and assessment practices with that reality, the failure of schools to teach students would be inevitable.  Most education systems do not connect what is known about how students learn with corresponding educational practice.  Clearly, the responsibility for improving all student outcomes is a shared one that lies with policy makers, administrators, educational researchers, parents/guardians, community members, taxpayers, students, and teachers.  Though eminent educational and psychological researchers such as Seymour Sarason, posit that the responsibility for improving the delivery of curriculum through instruction and assessment lies squarely on the degree to which teachers are trained and prepared to teach students whether they are neurotypical or atypical.  Sarason, a Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Yale University, where he taught from 1945 to 1989, is considered to be one of the most significant American researchers in education, educational psychology, and community psychology (Weinstein, Repucci, Levine, 2010).

The effective education of neurotypical and atypical students is believed by many educational researchers to hold the promise of the future since a nation’s economy can falter if students do not learn the problem-solving skills necessary to compete in an economically connected world (Harris and Carr, 1996).

Here are some qualities of teachers that educational researchers find increase student achievement:

  1. Classroom instruction is filled with creative ideas and engaging strategies that have been nurtured over time
  2. Teachers takes courses or attend workshops or conferences focused on research-based best practices that help to keep them informed and allow them to remain innovative in their planning, assessment, and instructional approaches
  3. Teachers stretch and alter their instructional strategies and tools and add new ones based on research-based best practice new ideas
  4. New learning is tied to what teachers know and what they know continues to evolve because they do not allow their professional growth to stop
  5. Teachers’ commitment to their students and their learning is matched by teachers’ attention to their own learning and reflection about their instruction and assessment planning
  6. Teachers engage in daily self-reflection about how their instruction and assessments impacted every student’s success or failure, adjusting as necessary
  7. Teachers implement systematic reflection, collect data about each student, and conducts pre-assessments about what each student knows, wants to know, how they learn best, and how they prefer to express/show what they learned
  8. Teachers make planning decisions based on desired results that focus on what students should know and be able to do
  9. Teachers understand how to work with curriculum standards, tying them to instruction and assessment
  10. Teachers are assessment literate such that their knowledge of their students is integrated into their instruction
  11. Teachers are well-versed in aligning standards, assessment and instruction
  12. Teachers share their expertise and collaborate with other teachers, third-party professionals such as itinerant teachers, special education teachers, speech-language pathologists, etc. in examining student work, planning instruction as a team member, and tracking student assessment to inform further instruction
  13. Teachers act as advocates for their students
  14. Teachers hold high expectations for their colleagues and their students
  15. Teachers actively seek information and resources that help them reach at-risk and neuro-atypical students

Well-trained and prepared educational professionals that embrace the above characteristics, provide a model for how individual teachers can make a difference in the quality of life for neurotypical and atypical students.  As educational researchers posit, it is the individual teacher that brings innovation and transformation to education.

I have believed for several decades that teaching should be considered a profession, not just by taxpayers, but by those that enter the career of educator.  Unfortunately, based on my personal experiences and those of my children and my friends’ children from different regions of Ontario, there are disparities between policy and practice.  There is far too much rhetoric; and there is not enough follow through to ensure developmentally appropriate research-based practices are indeed practiced in public education classrooms. While studying during my Masters of Education program, I came across readings focused on impactful education research findings.  Paired with interaction with my peers and course instructors provided a solid framework with which I was better able to express my views to political, education, teacher unions, and teacher department leaders about standards, the standards movement and the planning of instruction using differentiation as being incredibly important when policies, programs, and practices are planned and enacted that affect children and youth development with achievement in learning problem-solving skills as the major goal of all stakeholders (Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock, 2001; Tomlinson, 2005).

References

Dana, N. and Silva, D. Y. (2003).  The reflective educator’s guide to classroom research.  Thousand Oakes, CA:  Corwin Press.

Harris, D., and Carr, J. (1996).  How to use standards in the classroom.  Alexandria, VA:  Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Marzano, R., Pickering, D. J., and Pollock, J. E. (2001).  Classroom instruction that works:  Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement.  Alexandria, VA:  Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Oakes, J., and Lipton, L. (1990).  Making the best of schools.  New Haven, CT:  Yale University Press.

Sarason, S. (1990).  The predictable failure of educational reform.  San Francisco:  Jossey Bass.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2005).  The Differentiated Classroom, Responding to the Needs of All Learners.  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson Education Inc.

Weinstein, Rhona S.; Reppucci, Dick; Levine, Murray (2010). “Seymour Bernard Sarason (1919–2010)”American Psychologist. 65 (9): 922–923. doi:10.1037/a0021194ISSN 0003-066X. Retrieved 2016-03-16.