Steven Weber

Superintendent or Asst Super

Fayetteville, AR

Interests: Curriculum design and...

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4th Quarter Mindset

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This is the fourth in a four-part series on March Madness.

(4 of 4)

At the end of the college basketball season, Americans become fixated on the NCAA Tournament. March Madness begins with fans and non-fans, who don’t watch college basketball during the regular season, completing their brackets. No matter who you cheer for on game day, you understand the importance of the fourth quarter. Coaches prepare their players for the fourth quarter through conditioning drills, sprints, weights, diet, and practice. A turnover, blocked shot, missed free throw, foul, or mental mistake can mean the difference between winning and losing.  As I reflect on March Madness it reminds me of teaching and learning.

What does the fourth quarter look like in your classroom? The traditional calendar is divided into four quarters in U.S. schools. We can wait to push students and accelerate in the fourth quarter, but that would be too late. Reflect on the last twenty minutes of class each day. What happens on Friday in your classroom? Another example of the fourth quarter is the end of each nine weeks. When you reach the fourth quarter, what does teaching and learning look like?

According to Bill Self, Kansas Jayhawks Head Coach, "There's not many things less important than the score at halftime." What does winning look like in your classroom? Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (2007) wrote, “To maximize learning, learners need multiple opportunities to practice in risk-free environments, to receive regular and specific feedback related to progress against standards, and timely opportunities to use the feedback to re-do and improve.” This description of maximizing learning sounds like hundreds of hours that college basketball teams practice. Every team has the goal of reaching the Final Four.

A fourth quarter upset can be the difference between advancing in the NCAA tournament and a season ending loss. When you see coaches call a timeout and draw a play on the whiteboard, they aren’t encouraging the players to win the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter preparation took place in pre-season, during morning workouts, in the video room, and lessons learned throughout the season. When the buzzer goes off at the end of the fourth quarter, one team advances. What can teachers do to help students finish the fourth quarter strong?

Points For Teacher Teams To Consider:

1. Do We Have A Fourth Quarter Mindset?

What do we want students to know and be able to do by the fourth quarter?

2. What Does Our Conditioning Program Look Like?

How can our assignments condition students to be prepared for the fourth quarter?

3. Do We Have A Standard Or A Measure Of Success For The End of Each Quarter?

How do we assess student understanding?

4.  When Students Are Winning In The Fourth Quarter (i.e., Already Performing At or Above Grade Level), Do They Know How To Finish Strong?

Do students know how to finish strong? Do students let up in the fourth quarter because they feel overconfident with their grade or with their ability to perform? How do we get the best out of students in the fourth quarter?

5. When Students Are Behind In The Fourth Quarter, Do We Have A Game Plan For Supporting Student Understanding?

How do we respond when students are struggling? What interventions and support does our school provide to struggling students? Do we provide the interventions in the fourth quarter or can students access interventions before the fourth quarter?

6.  What Does Winning Look Like?

Do we share the game plan with students?   

Do we have “I Can Statements” or Student-Friendly Learning Goals?

Do students have a clear understanding of what it takes to win?

This is the fourth in a four part series on March Madness.

(4 of 4)

Series Topics

1 of 4   Full Court Press

2 of 4   Productive Struggle

3 of 4   Number 1 Seed

4 of 4   4th Quarter Mindset

Dr. Steven Weber is the Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning with Fayetteville Public Schools (Arkansas). Connect with Weber on the ASCD EDge social network, or on Twitter @curriculumblog.

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