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Building on the Collaborative Foundation

Page history last edited by Bill 6 years, 2 months ago

Building on the Collaborative Foundation

 

Direct link to these resources:  http://bit.ly/BSDApril2014 

 

Dropbox folder with editable versions of all workshop resources:  http://bit.ly/BSDApril14 

 

While getting started as a professional learning community can be as simple as assigning teachers to learning teams and setting aside regular time for those teams to meet with one another, the real work of PLCs is dependent on collaborative groups that are willing to study their practice with one another -- and "studying practice with one another" means tackling tasks that are often new to teachers used to working alone.  Those tasks include identifying essential objectives, developing common assessments, and analyzing student learning data.  This page houses materials for a workshop designed to introduce the staff of the Burlington School District in Burlington, Vermont to a handful of practical strategies that can make tackling those tasks easier.  

 


 

Session Handouts

Session Handouts - PDF

 

This link connects to a PDF version of every handout that participants will explore during this workshop.  It is HIGHLY recommended that participants print a hard-copy of this file out to use during our time together.  While every handout is posted electronically in this session wiki, navigating the hard-copy can be easier than navigating the wiki for many participants.

 

 

Session Slides

Session Slides - PDF

 

This link connects to a PDF version of the slides for today's session.  Participants who enjoy following along with the slides during a presentation may want to keep this file open on their desktop during today's workshop.

 

 

 

Introductory Activity

 

Knowledge Cafe - Defining Literacy

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF

 

Most people would agree that restructuring as a professional learning community -- building a true spirit of collaborative reflection around practice -- has the potential to have a direct and positive impact on student achievement.  What's more, PLCs have the potential to have a direct and positive impact on teachers, making their work simultaneously more doable and engaging.  But most people would also agree that restructuring as a professional learning community can be incredibly challenging.  

 

To begin our workshop, we will engage in a Knowledge Cafe to get a better sense for just how successful our teams and schools have been at restructuring as professional learning communities.  What collaborative successes have you had? What collaborative struggles are holding you back?  What trends can you find in the successes and struggles of other teams in your school/district?  What feedback would you give to your school and district level leadership about the support that they are providing to learning teams?  

 

 

Session 1 - More on Defining Essential Outcomes 

 

The first step that any learning team should take together is identifying the essential outcomes for each and every unit that they teach.  Successfully moving students forward depends on having a clear, shared vision of just what you want students to know and be able to do.  More importantly, successfully moving learning teams forward depends on having a clear and useful starting point for collaborative work.  In this portion of the workshop, participants will (1). practice a process for deconstructing standards and identifying essential learning targets that can be easily implemented at the learning team level, (2). review a process for writing essential outcomes in student friendly language and (3). decide on a format for sharing essential learning targets with parents, students and other teachers.

 

 

Activity - Deconstructing Standards and Writing I Can Statements

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF

 

Regardless of the set of standards that have been defined for your grade level and content area, the chances are good that each individual standard actually requires students to master a wide range of content and skills.  The simple truth is that the writers of standards struggle to define essential content in a direct and simple way.  In this activity, participants will work through a process for deconstructing complex standards, determining whether or not the content and skills defined in those standards are truly essential for students, and then writing essential outcomes in student friendly language.

 

 

Activity - Reviewing Unit Overview Sheets

 

Once your learning team has nailed down a process for deconstructing standards and identifying essential learning targets, it is important to settle on a format for sharing those essential targets with parents, students and other faculty members.  Working with partners, review the unit overview sheets below and then decide on a format that you will use for each of your unit overview sheets.  Remember that it is okay to adapt these handouts so that they better meet your needs.

 

Handout - Unit Overview Sheet 1  - This overview sheet comes from a unit that Bill Ferriter's current learning team is teaching to students.  Notice that it includes essential questions, learning targets written in student friendly language, and key vocabulary that students are expected to master during the course of the unit.  Also notice that there is space for students to track their performance and level of mastery on each essential learning target. 

 

Handout - Unit Overview Sheet 2  - This overview sheet comes from a unit taught by the eighth grade science teachers in Bill Ferriter's school.  Notice how learning targets have been broken into two different categories - Important to Know and Be Able to Do and Worth Being Familiar With.  Also notice that key vocabulary has been included and that there is a system that allows students to track their current level of mastery on each essential learning target.

 

Handout - Kindergarten Unit Overview Sheet - This overview sheet comes from a unit taught by the kindergarten teachers at the Happy Valley Primary School in Adelaide, Australia.  It can serve as evidence that even the youngest students in our schools can be taught to use I Can Statements to monitor their progress towards important academic goals.  

 

 

 

Session 2 - Getting Started with Assessment

 

Once learning teams have clearly defined the essential outcomes for each and every unit that they teach, they must begin to develop shared assessments designed to measure progress towards mastery of those outcomes.  Without shared assessments, it is impossible to identify instructional practices that are working or to provide interventions when students are struggling to master essential outcomes.  In this portion of the workshop, participants will (1). examine their own core beliefs and feelings about the role that assessment should play in learning, (2). discuss the basic assessment practices that are embraced by successful learning teams and (3). experiment with practices that can support learning teams who are interested in moving forward with shared assessments.   

 

 

Activity - Surveying Your Current Assessment Reality

Handouts - PDF

 

One of the core practices in classrooms where students make the most learning gains is formative assessment.  Bob Marzano's research has shown that timely and directive feedback is the second most important school-level factor for improving student achievement.  John Hattie argues that "the simplest prescription for improving education must be dollops of feedback."  And Mike Mattos believes that until we get to a point where mastery is tracked by student and standard, we have no real chance of effectively intervening on behalf of struggling students.  Use the survey linked above -- which was developed by Solution Tree assessment expert Kim Bailey -- to reflect on the current state of the formative assessment practices in your building.  

 

Additional questions to consider:

 

  • How frequently are students in your classroom/school given timely and directive feedback about their progress towards mastering essential skills?  What are the challenges that make providing timely and directive feedback to students difficult in your classroom/school? 
  • How effectively are teachers tracking progress towards mastery of essential skills by student and by standard in your school?  What are the challenges that make tracking progress by student and standard difficult in your classroom/school?
  • Are teachers on your learning team or in your school generally open to the notion of formative assessment?  If giving timely and directive feedback was doable, would teachers embrace the practice? 

 

 

 

Activity - Thinking Metaphorically about Assessment

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF

 

Assessment is simultaneously one of the most essential and emotionally loaded practices embraced by professional learning teams.  Often, the way that teams and teachers feel about assessment can fundamentally alter the way that they use data to drive their instructional choices.  Given the important role that assessment plays in moving student learning forward, it is incredibly important to surface your core beliefs about the practice before moving forward together as a professional learning team.  To do so, use the handout linked above to generate a metaphor for assessment that reflects your feelings. 

 

Additional questions to consider:

 

  • How would your students complete this metaphor?  Would their responses be the same as yours?  Is that something you should consider/be concerned about? 
  • How about parents?  Policymakers?  Principals?  Would they complete this metaphor in a different way than you?  Why does this happen?  What implications – positive OR negative – does that have for the assessment work you are beginning to do?
  • What do you think explains the root causes of your feelings towards assessment?
  • Do you think the majority of your peers feel the same way about assessment? What implications – positive OR negative – does that have on the assessment work that you are beginning to do?

 

 

 

Activity - Evaluating Assessment Strategies

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF

 

Before you can write an effective assessment, it is important to think critically about the three main assessment strategies:  Selected response, constructed response and performance assessments. In this activity, participants will review the definitions of each of these assessment strategies and then answer a series of reflection questions with their partners.  

 

 

 

Activity - Writing Scoring Rubrics and Proficiency Scales

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF

 

If your learning team plans to use constructed response or performance tasks to assess student learning, you are going to need to learn to develop scoring rubrics that can be used reliably by different teachers to measure mastery of essential targets.  In Formative Assessment and Standards-Based Grading ( 2010), classroom assessment expert Bob Marzano argues that the collaborative development of scoring rubrics should follow a simple process.  Use this handout to work through that process with your peers.

 

 

 

Activity - Unit Planning for Formative Assessments

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF

 

In order to get a better sense for the kinds of tasks that you are using to measure student progress, it is important to work up a unit plan detailing the number and type of assessments that your team plans to deliver during a unit of study.  Use the handout linked above to begin planning the formative assessments that you will need to develop for an upcoming unit.  Remember that a formative assessment ISN’T a 60 question unit test given after 4 weeks of instruction.  In fact, the best formative assessments often have less than 10 questions and are given on a weekly or biweekly basis, allowing teachers and students to take immediate action.  

 

 

 

Activity - Tracking Student Progress with Mastery Connect

http://www.masteryconnect.com/

 

Developed by a team of former educators, Mastery Connect's goal is to make formative assessment -- measuring progress by student and by standard in a timely fashion -- doable.  The free version of the tool allows teachers to create, administer, score, record and report the results of 10 question assessments that are tied either to state standards or to the Common Core in minutes using nothing more than the webcam of your computer.  In this activity, session presenter Bill Ferriter will introduce participants to the role that Mastery Connect is playing to redefine his assessment practices.

 

 

Optional Session - Looking at Assessment Data Together

 

To lessen the inter- and intra-personal issues of looking at student data together, teams must develop a clear process for conducting data review meetings.  Without a clear process for looking at data together, data meetings can become unsafe places where teachers unfairly judge one another based on the results that students are producing on common assessments.  Nothing can hurt the long-term health of a learning team more than meetings where people forget that looking at data is designed to help teams make judgments about instructional practices -- not people -- with one another.  In this portion of the workshop, participants will look at two different templates for structuring data conversations and decide which would best support their current work.  

 

 

Activity 1 - Exploring Data Analysis Tools and Tricks

Data Meeting Template - http://bit.ly/18Ua9WD

Protocol for Data Meeting - http://bit.ly/1k0U2eM 

Structuring Team Data Conversations - http://bit.ly/1ftq8LZ 

 

Assessment experts Kim Bailey and Chris Jakicic have put together a simple template and protocol for conducting data meetings that can help teams to talk about results in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, and session presenter Bill Ferriter has put together a Structuring Team Data Conversations document that works to guide teams to the same end.  Review these documents to see if they could play any role in the work that you do with collaborative peers.

 

Questions to consider:

 

  • Do your learning teams currently have tools and/or practices in place to guide their conversations about student learning data?  How is that influencing -- either positively or negatively -- the work that they do on behalf of students?
  • What is it that you like the best about both data conversation templates?  Which data conversation template is likely to be the right starting point for your learning team?  Why?  
  • If you were to make changes to either of these data conversation templates, what would those changes be?  Why would those changes be important for your teachers and your learning teams?  

 

 

Final Reflections: SWOT Analysis on Assessment in a PLC

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF

 

Let’s take a few minutes to reflect on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that you will face when working to integrate better assessment practices YOUR classroom and/or the classrooms of the teachers that you are currently working with.  Use the template linked above to guide your thinking.  Then, work with partners to answer the following questions:

 

  • Did members of your reflective group identify any strengths and/or opportunities that you hadn't considered?  Are those strengths and/or opportunities available to you?  Are they strengths and/or opportunities that you can cultivate? 
  • Are there any common patterns in the weaknesses and/or threats that members of your reflective group anticipate facing as they work to integrate better assessment practices into their classrooms or learning teams?  Can you identify potential solutions to any of those weaknesses and/or threats?   
  • Whose support will you want and/or need in order to successfully move forward with your efforts to integrate better assessment practices into your classrooms or learning teams?  Are they already on board?  How will getting them on board make integrating better assessment practices into your classrooms or learning teams easier? 

 

 

 

 

 

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