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The Eighty Minute Challenge

Page history last edited by Bill 6 years, 7 months ago

Are YOU Ready to Take the Eighty Minute Challenge?


Direct link to these materials:  http://bit.ly/EightyMinuteChallenge 



One of the struggles for many novice learning teams is figuring out exactly what to tackle first.  Knowing full well that the collaboration done in professional learning communities is built around the notion that working together, we can improve learning for every child in our classrooms, taking the right first step can seem intimidating -- and that intimidation can leave learning teams stuck.  In this short presentation, sixth grade classroom teacher and learning community expert Bill Ferriter introduces teachers to The Eighty Minute Challenge -- a logical process for starting collaborative work.  



Session Handouts

Session Handouts - PDF

Session Handouts - DOC


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.


*Note: Session presenter Bill Ferriter has converted the complete session handouts into a Word Doc to make it easier for participants to edit files as needed.  Be aware, however, that converting from PDF to DOC is not a perfect process.  Some files may need some formatting before they are usable. 



Session Slides

Session Slides - PPT


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.





Rationale behind the Eighty Minute Challenge


In the eighty minute challenge, learning teams are asked to develop a student overview sheet detailing 5-8 essential learning targets for an upcoming unit of study.  Overview sheets should include essential learning targets written in student friendly language, a system that allows students to assess their own progress towards mastering the essential learning targets, and a section detailing vocabulary connected to the essential learning targets.


This is the right first step for novice collaborative teams because it centers around the first key question that professional learning communities should always answer:   What do we want students to know and be able to do?  Working together to answer those questions guarantees that regardless of teacher, every student in a building will have access to a guaranteed and viable curricula.  What's more, it sets teams up to tackle the more complex work of learning teams -- assessing student learning and intervening on behalf of students in need of enrichment and remediation.  The truth is that it is impossible to assess and intervene as a learning team until teachers share a common set of expectations for just what students should be learning.


It is also the right first step for novice collaborative teams because it encourages responsible practice.  Research shows that students achieve at higher rates in classrooms where they are aware of the expected outcomes for each lesson.  Research also shows that student self assessment can help to develop more successful, reflective and independent learners.  


But mostly, this is the right first step for novice collaborative teams because it resembles the planning work that teachers and teams are already doing as individuals.  Because this task feels familiar to teachers and teams, it is easier to embrace.



Step 1:  Identify a Handful of Essential Learning Targets for an Upcoming Unit

(Estimated time commitment:  40 minutes)


Teachers tackling the eighty minute challenge should spend the majority of their time working together to identify a handful of essential learning targets for an upcoming unit.  Essential learning targets are those that pass the endurance, leverage and readiness test.  That means they are skills that (1). prepare students to succeed in the same content area in future grade levels, (2). translate well and can lead to success in different subject areas and/or (3). will be important to students long after they have left our schools.  


Teachers should use tangible evidence -- observations, the experience and expertise of a team's teachers, data from team-based common assessments, data from end of grade exams or districtwide benchmarks, input and feedback collected from community stakeholders -- to identify learning targets that are truly essential.  What's more, teams must be ready to leave content from the required curricula OFF of their list of essential learning targets.  The simple truth is that teachers are already abandoning content during the course of the school year by stressing some objectives over others.  This step in the eighty minute challenge is about making decisions about what to teach together.  


Useful Resources:


The Identifying Essential Learning Targets handout is designed to help teachers identify truly essential outcomes for an upcoming unit.  


The Deconstructing Learning Targets handout is designed to help teachers identify the critical elements required in order to master complex standards.


This Deconstructing Learning Targets document is being used by the teachers in the Fremont Unified School district of California.


The Essential Standard Chart is designed to help learning teams think through how essential standards will be taught and tested.




Step 2: Writing I Can Statements

(Estimated time commitment:  10 minutes)


Once learning teams have identified a set of 5-8 essential learning targets for an upcoming unit, the next step is to rewrite those learning targets in student-friendly language.  By rewriting learning targets in student friendly language, teachers can easily communicate learning expectations to the students in their classrooms on a daily basis.  Similarly, by rewriting learning targets in student friendly language, teachers can easily communicate learning expectations to other interested stakeholders -- think parents, practitioners in other subject areas, special educators.  


To rewrite  essential targets in student friendly language, convert them into I Can Statements.  I Can Statements start with a statement of the expected learning that defines new and/or unapproachable vocabulary words in age-appropriate language.  I Can Statements should also include a task that students can complete to demonstrate mastery of the essential learning target.  


The Converting Learning Targets into I Can Statements handout is designed to help teachers turn complex objectives into language that students can understand.




Step 3:  Developing Student Unit Overview Sheets

(Estimated time commitment:  30 minutes)


Once teachers have identified essential outcomes and rewritten those outcomes in student-friendly language, they need to develop a handout that can be used by students to track progress towards mastering those outcomes over the course of a unit.  When used regularly, these handouts can become a valuable communication tool that keep parents tuned in to the progress that their students are making, keep teachers focused on the objectives that matter the most for each unit, and remind students that THEY should be assessing their own learning during the course of a unit as well.  


While there is no one RIGHT way to develop a student unit overview sheet, these samples might serve as useful starting points for your work.  Special thanks to Flynn Elementary School in Burlington, Vermont and the Fremont Unified School District for sharing their unit overview sheets as references for other elementary school teachers.


Ecosystems Unit Overview Sheet 

Revised Ecosystems Unit Overview Sheet 

Atoms Unit Overview Sheet

Fourth Grade - Place Value, Addition, Subtraction

Samples of Elementary Unit Overview Sheets

Kindergarten Learning Cards

Sample of Completed Unit Overview Sheet




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