Weekly Walker Staff Roar
Week #1 August 2019 Back to School
Focus for Walk Throughs
2. District Content and Lesson Plans are being followed. Everyone should have lesson plans in Google format please share with myself, Mr. Mejia, support staff, and SPED staff (use view only format to protect from others changing them).
3. Please stick to your schedules. Thursday, September 7th & 8th we will have visitors, district and monitor to ensure we are moving on the right track. Thank you for all your hard work the 1st two weeks of school.
4. Environmental check of anchors, classroom furniture and purpose. Make sure your walls are labeled by grade for departmentalized classes (3rd & 4th) and by subject (Math, Science, Reading, Writing) for self-contained classes in PreK, K, 1st, 2nd, & 5th.
5. Learning objectives are posted. Review with Ms. Dwiggins and Mr. Mejia or myself. Please take time to make sure students can answer in complete sentences when I ask or other visitors "what are you learning today?"
Two things that the Superintendent's office reminds us is "ALL MEANS ALL" and "MAKE NO EXCUSES - ACCEPT NO EXCUSES" Please make sure to use your time efficiently.
3 Ways Student Data Can Inform Your Teaching
The job of a teacher is to be faithful to authentic student learning. Currently, our profession is fixated on results from one test, from one day, given near the end of the school year. And, yes, that is data that can be useful, however, we teachers spend the entire year collecting all sorts of immediate and valuable information about students that informs and influences how we teach, as well as where and what we review, re-adjust, and re-teach.
So when we speak about student data, here's how teachers collect it and some of the ways we use it.
#1 From the Classroom
Checking for understanding with low-stakes assessments are really the most important and useful of student data. Using exit slips, brief quizzes, andthumbs up/thumbs down are a few of my favorite ways to gather information on where students are and where we need to go next.
The beauty of having a constructivist, student-directed classroom? The kids are comfortable with you walking around and sitting with them in their groups -- your "guide on the side" role. In other words, they don't freeze up when you step away from the podium or your teacher-directed spot by the whiteboard. This freedom allows you to be a fly on the wall, gathering data on individual students -- how well are they making sense of the content? Interacting with others? Are they struggling with a learning activity? Observation data then allow us to adjust pacing for the whole class or scaffold for those students who are still struggling.
Projects, Essays, Exams
Summative assessments, such as a literary analysis essay or an end-of-unit science exam, allow us to measure the growth of individual and whole-group learning. If a large number of students don't do well on a high-stakes assessment, we need to reflect back on the teaching and make necessary adjustments in the future.
#2 From Cumulative Files
It's difficult to find the time to do it, but if you haven't before, trust me it's well worth it. Much information is found in a student's file. Just from trekking to the counseling office, sitting down with a cup of coffee after school and reading through files belonging to students I had deeper wonderings about beyond the data in hand, I've discovered over the years, to name a few, some of the following:
- A girl who often missed class was homeless
- Several students identified as gifted but inaccurately placed in my general education English class
- A boy struggling to fit in had recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia
- More than a dozen students who never wore eyeglasses in class (or contacts, I checked) had prescriptions
From a child's cumulative files you can sometimes see a dramatic grade change somewhere along the road during their school journey. Perhaps prior to eighth grade, the child was an A student, then from there, D's and F's. You can express this concern, sharing this data with them. Students may then share with you a reason: parents divorced, they moved to a new city/community. I had one student share that she just gave up on school when her dad went to prison.
You then have an opportunity to provide empathy, acknowledge their hardship, and then set some goals together for the child to improve academically.
#3 From the State Test
Taking a look at previous standardized test scores for your current students is beneficial in several ways. A disclaimer: just as one grade does not determine all that a student is or isn't, nor does one test score. Use standardized test data results along with other data (i.e. in-class assignments, observations) when making instructional decisions. That said, here are some suggestions for using standardized test data:
- First, you can share the testing results with students individually and set some obtainable, realistic goals for them to work towards before the next test. (By the way, I don't agree with making this data public to all studentsas was done at one Orange County, Calif., high school recently).
- It reveals which of your students performed advanced, proficient, basicand below basic. This could help inform how you choose student groups, create seating charts, and differentiate for individuals. If I have a student who has historically scored below basic and she exhibits other signs of a struggling student, I like to place her in the front of the class so that I can easily access her when she needs extra support
- If you have a high number of students who scored advanced in your third period class for example and a high number of students who scored basicin period two, this may give insights as to why period three may be moving more quickly and more deeply through content. You can adjust the learning and support accordingly
- How about those ace students who didn't do so well on the standardized test? Possibly a nervous test-taker? Or it could simply be low motivation (since many students never hear hide nor hair about their standardized test results from previous years). Prior to the test, a brief pep talk or quick review of test strategies for lowering anxiety could be all that she or he needs
What are ways in which you collect student data and how has this benefited the instruction and learning in your classroom?
Teach Like A Champion: Technique 47
- STAR/SLANT. To maximize students’ ability to pay attention, use sticky acronyms to teach students key baseline behaviors for learning, like such as STAR (Sit up, Track the speaker, Ask and answer like a scholar, and Respect those around you) or SLANT (Sit up, Listen, Ask and answer, Nod your head, and Track the speaker).