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Teresa_Preston's Blog

  • When at First They Don't Succe When at First They Don't Succeed...

    • From: Teresa_Preston
    • Description:

      Welcome to the EL Study Guide on ASCD EDge. Each month, EL provides an online study guide to assist educators with their professional development. Here on EDge, we will regularly post excerpts from the study guide for EDge members to discuss.

       

      If educators' goal is for students to learn, does it matter if it takes some students a little longer than others? Allowing students to redo assessments is one way to give students another chance if they haven't demonstrated mastery of the material on their first attempt. In "Redos and Retakes Done Right" (p. 22), Rick Wormeli makes a case for allowing students to redo assignments until they're satisfied with their own performance. Myron Dueck explains how he got over his own reluctance to allow retakes in "How I Broke My Own Rule and Learned to Give Retests" (p. 72).

      • What's your current policy on offering redos and retakes? How did you arrive at this policy? Reflecting on the ideas Wormeli and Dueck present, how might you change your policy? If you don't offer retakes, what steps might you take to introduce them in your classes? If you do, what new ideas do you have for making the practice more effective?
      • Discuss some of the common objections to allowing redos and retakes. How would Wormeli, Dueck, and others counter these objections? Which arguments—for and against—do you find most compelling?
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    • 3 years ago
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  • EL Study Guide: What's the Poi EL Study Guide: What's the Point of Grading?

    • From: Teresa_Preston
    • Description:

      Welcome to the EL Study Guide on ASCD EDge. Each month, EL provides an online study guide to assist educators with their professional development. Here on EDge, we will regularly post excerpts from the Study Guide for EDge members to discuss.

      The November EL theme is "Effective Grading Practices," and today's study guide excerpt focuses on the purpose of grading.

      Before making changes to grading practices, it's important for educators to step back and ask some difficult questions about the purposes of grades. In "Starting the Conversation About Grading" (p. 10), Susan M. Brookhart suggests ways that teachers can begin the conversation.

      • What do you think the purpose of grading is? Is it to communicate students' academic achievement to students and parents? Is it to motivate students to put forth their best effort? Some combination of both? How might that belief affect your grading practices?
      • On p. 14, Brookhart offers a list of discussion points to begin the grading conversation. Using one of the conversation techniques on p. 13, start a conversation with your colleagues about one or more of the discussion points.
      • Once you've established, on your own or with colleagues, some ideas about the purpose of grading, consider what steps you might take to align your grading practices to these purposes. Who needs to get involved in the conversation? What additional training or support might you need? Thomas R. Guskey's article, "Five Obstacles to Grading Reform" (p. 16), lists several commonly held ideas about grading that you may need to consider as you move forward.

      If you've used any of these ideas to start a conversation with your colleagues about grading, please share in the comments how it went.

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    • 3 years ago
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  • EL Study Guide: Talking About EL Study Guide: Talking About It

    • From: Teresa_Preston
    • Description:

      Welcome to the EL Study Guide on ASCD EDge. Each month, EL provides an online study guide to assist educators with their professional development. Here on EDge, we will regularly post excerpts from the Study Guide for EDge members to discuss.

       

      The September EL theme is "Promoting Respectful Schools," and today's study guide excerpt focuses on discussing controversial topics in school.

       

      As tempting as it may be to avoid conflict altogether, several September EL authors encourage teachers to do just the opposite. By organizing open and respectful discussions of racial conflicts ("Confronting Racial and Religious Tensions"); religious beliefs ("Putting a Face to Faith"); and other controversial topics ("Discussions That Drive Democracy"), teachers prepare students to tackle these issues.

      • What do you think about having open discussions of controversial topics in school? What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks of having such conversations?
      • How do you respond when racial, religious, or other similar tensions arise in your school or classroom? If you chose to address the issue directly, how did you go about doing so, and how did students react?
      • In "Discussions That Drive Democracy", Diana Hess describes a model called town meeting for helping students talk about controversial topics. How well would this approach work with your students and your curriculum? What are some topics you might have students address in this way?
    • Blog post
    • 3 years ago
    • Views: 694
  • EL Study Guide: The Classroom EL Study Guide: The Classroom Climate

    • From: Teresa_Preston
    • Description:

      Welcome to the EL Study Guide on ASCD EDge. Each month, EL provides an online study guide to assist educators with their professional development. Here on EDge, we will regularly post excerpts from the Study Guide for EDge members to discuss.

       

      The September EL theme is "Promoting Respectful Schools," and this week's study guide excerpt focuses on creating a positive classroom climate.

       

      In "What's So Hard About Win-Win?", Jane Bluestein encourages teachers to build a classroom climate in which everyone's needs are respected. In doing so, she says, teachers will encounter fewer power struggles and less student misbehavior.

       

      • What is so hard about win-win? What do you see as some of the barriers to adopting such an approach?
      • Bluestein suggests several strategies for developing a win-win environment. The first is to offer students choices. Make a list of ways you could give students a choice. Try to come up several different kinds of choices, some involving curriculum, others involving work style or assignments.

       

      Please share your thoughts in the comments. For more questions on respectful schools, see the complete study guide.

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    • 3 years ago
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  • EL Study Guide: The Bully Prob EL Study Guide: The Bully Problem

    • From: Teresa_Preston
    • Description:

      Welcome to the EL Study Guide on ASCD EDge. Each month, EL provides an online study guide to assist educators with their professional development. Here on EDge, we will regularly post excerpts from the Study Guide for EDge members to discuss.

       

      The September EL theme is "Promoting Respectful Schools," this week's study guide excerpt focuses on bullying.

       

      The Bully Problem

      When you think of a bully, what sort of person do you imagine? Do you think of someone like Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons, a social misfit taking pleasure in others' pain? Or maybe you think of a group of popular girls who stay on top of the social scene by deliberately excluding others. Whatever image you imagine, it's probably only partly accurate, according to research cited by Philip C. Rodkin in "Bullying—And the Power of Peers." Bullies might be male or female, popular or unpopular, and their relationships with their victims don't always fit into neat categories.

      • Think about the bullying incidents you've witnessed at school. What did you notice about the bullies? The victims? Their relationships to each other? How well do your observations jibe with Rodkin's research?
      • How have you responded to the bullying that you've observed? In light of Rodkin's research, as well as the comments from students in "What Students Say About Bullying" by Stan Davis and Charisse Nixon, how might you change your approach?
      • What bullying prevention programs does your school have in place? How effective have they been? How might they be improved? (See the section titled "Using Peers to Intervene" in Rodkin's article and the section titled "How Can Adults Help?" in Davis and Nixon's article for findings related to what does and doesn't work.)

      Please share your thoughts in the comments, and for more questions on respectful schools, see the complete study guide.

    • Blog post
    • 3 years ago
    • Views: 985
  • Connie Moss on Learning Target Connie Moss on Learning Targets

    • From: Teresa_Preston
    • Description:

      Earlier this week, EL reader and EDge member Susan Smith raised a serious concern on the EL EDge group page about the March EL article "Knowing Your Learning Target" by Connie M. Moss, Susan M. Brookhart, and Beverly A. Long. She was concerned that in the use of "I Can" statements, as suggested in the article, amounts to the parroting of teacher-created objectives. We on the EL staff thought this was an important question, so we shared it with the article's authors.

      Connie Moss shared these thoughts:

      Hi Susan,

      Your comment is a powerful one and helps us examine an all too common misconception about shared learning targets. At first blush, it is easy to confuse shared learning targets with a simple restating of instructional objectives or curriculum standards. And we agree with you 100% that when teachers merely parrot curriculum standards in the form of "I CAN" statements they are short-changing their students.

       

      Shared learning targets are very different from instructional objectives or curriculum standards, although they are derived from them. Here is a specific example using a standard regarding mathematical functions, patterns and relationships to illustrate our point. The standard states: "Students will describe the relationships among variables, predict what will happen to one variable as another variable is changed, analyze natural variation and sources of variability, and compare patterns of change."

       

      Usually, benchmarks follow the standard to further describe the knowledge and skills that characterize achievement by program an/or grade levels. A benchmark for the mathematic standard reads: "Variability is represented in a variety of symbolic forms." Benchmarks describe specific performances for various developmental levels. A benchmark performance for the elementary grades reads: "Use tables, charts, open sentences and hands-on models to represent change and variability."

       

      School district curriculum teams design down these national and state standards to develop district curriculum/unit goals that clarify the district’s expectations for which of these standards students will master at specific grade levels during specific units of study.

       

      Classroom teachers, then, write instructional objectives for individual lessons or a series of related lessons to align their teaching with the district’s curriculum.  An instructional objective for an elementary level lesson derived from the standards and curriculum goals regarding mathematical functions, patterns and relationships might look like this: "Students will describe how the element of chance makes any set of data subject to variation."

       

      Clearly, instructional objectives and curriculum standards have the "right stuff" when it comes to framing the lesson or series of lessons from the teacher's point of view, but as you so rightly stated, they do little to help students understand what is important to learn or what they will be asked to do to demonstrate that learning in today’s lesson.

       

      If a teacher merely writes an instructional objective on the board and asks students to state it, we agree with you whole-heartedly that students will not be able to harness the workings of their own minds or develop powerful motivational factors like self-efficacy, self-regulation, and self-assessment.

       

      That's why our article advocates that teachers turn instructional objectives into clear, student-friendly, and developmentally appropriate descriptions of the "lesson-sized chunk" of essential content and skills that describe the exact learning intention for today's lesson—why they are asking their students to learn this chunk of information on this day in this way.

       

      Let's look again at the lesson about how elements of chance can influence a data set to illustrate what we mean. In the lesson, the teacher asks his students to mix a batch of cookie dough using, among other ingredients, 30 chocolate chips. He tells the students to separate the cookie dough into 10 cookies, count the chocolate chips present in each cookie, and graph their findings.

       

      To make sure his students understand why they are being asked to engage in this learning activity, he shares the learning targets for today's lesson using student friendly descriptive language and "I CAN" statements: Today we are learning to examine an everyday procedure, like making cookies, to analyze the many ways that the element of chance can influence the final product. These unplanned factors make it highly unlikely for us to predict number patterns. To learn more about this, we are going to follow a recipe to mix up a batch of cookies using 30 chocolate chips. In your groups, you will shape the cookie dough into 10 cookies. You will count and display on a bar graph the number of chocolate chips you find in each cookie. Then, in your groups you will think about what you did to make the 10 cookies and identify all the elements of chance that were part of the process.  We will get back together as a class to discuss what each of your groups discovered.

       

      We will know that we met our learning targets for today's lesson when we are able to say: I can describe the steps my group used to mix the cookie dough and form the 10 cookies. I can analyze each step to identify the elements of chance that are hidden in that step. And, I can use my own words to describe how the elements of chance I uncovered in each step work together to make it difficult to predict how many chocolate chips will be in each of our 10 cookies."

       

      With the learning targets clearly in their minds as they begin the activity, the students can be mindful of those targets and intentionally aim for them. The "I CAN" statements help students do exactly what you say is important—be mindful of their own thinking, analyze experiences so that they can assimilate, accommodate or create new schema, regulate their own thinking and performance, and take control of their own learning.

       

      One last thing—as we state in our article, the best way to share learning targets is through a strong performance of understanding—a learning experience that promotes content mastery, develops increased proficiency with specific reasoning skills, and provides compelling evidence of student learning. When "I CAN" statements are linked with a strong performance of understanding, they are very powerful indeed.

       

      Thank you for calling our attention to this important aspect of student learning.

      Sincerely,

      Connie Moss

    • Blog post
    • 3 years ago
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