Ingredients for Success

FMS Teachers find ways to engage students

Making an Unmistakeable Impact

Jim Knight describes the ingredients for "dramatically improving instruction". In his book, Unmistakeable Impact, he says that this is accomplished through humanity, by maintaining focus & simplicity, and by employing leverage and precision. Every day, there are examples of these characteristics at FMS.

There is an art to SIMPLICIY and PRECISION

Big image
Ms. Jones teaches her 7th grade science students using simplicity and precision every day. The lesson above has a very clear and precise learning target: "I can explore how muscles and bones interact to produce movement by dissecting a chicken wing."

In a classroom without simplicity AND precision, students might simply be "having fun playing with raw chicken". However, this is not the case in her lesson. She has an appropriate amount of prior discussion to set the expectation and tone for the lab. She has organized groups with jobs and everyone understands their role and responsibility. She circulates to all groups and formatively assesses whether or not they are meeting the desired target. She then culminates the activity with questions that are targeted at pulling out the ultimate goal of the lesson. At the end of class, on randomly asking a few students about the lesson, the answers I received clearly told me they had learned the basic function and purpose of muscles, tendons, and bones, and that this was true in humans as well as chickens. This is true transfer of learning.

Jim Knight says: “A simple plan is one that removes distractions so that only what matters remains. A simple plan finds order in complexity. “

“Teaching…requires precise explanations. When we explain any new teaching practice, our explanations must be clear and easy to act on or they will not transfer…”

Using LEVERAGE to support teachers & learners

Big image
Ms. McAbee scaffolded the learning for her students in order to allow them to fully participate in a school-wide Bingo activity for Homecoming week. Rather than make excuses, she knew a few intentional efforts on her part could make a big difference to her students.

This is what Unmistakeable Impact refers to as leverage. Jim Knight quotes research found by Peter Senge (1990) who said, "Enormous influence comes from focusing on just a few vital behaviors. Even the most pervasive problems will often yield to changes in a handful of high-leverage behaviors. Find these, and you've found the beginning of influence" (2008, p.23). Our FCS Walkthrough form is about 20 vital behaviors that we have identified related to students being engaged in their own learning. Knowing that these will not happen at one time, it is important to leverage in every moment of instruction those that are most key to a particular lesson.

HUMANITY: FMS Staff and Students celebrate homecoming

Humanity by Jim Knight: "Being in the world with play and creativity. Seeking after what's possible. Being willing to learn and be surprised..." "...It acknowledges that we seek after meaning. It asks us to be less serious, yet more purposeful, about our work and lives. It does not separate play from the nature of being."

At FMS, teachers and students are intentionally focused on ways to build school culture. This is a culture of teaching and learning and what is best for our students.

Maintaining FOCUS

Jim Knight also says that in Impact Schools "educators need to engage in frequent, positive, useful, and humanizing learning experiences." At FMS, it is amazing to me how much love, spirit, and pride is shown by our staff.

All three of the above examples are only a few of the many examples of how much time, effort, and energy FMS teachers put into recognizing our students as not just numbers in a classroom, but whole people.