The DCMS Bat Signal: 11/18/19

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Tracking the Speaker: Why does it matter?

by Eyka Stephens, Managing Associate CT3 - As a teacher and reading specialist in Miami-Dade Public Schools, Eyka has seen first-hand the transformative potential of excellent teaching. A veteran of urban education, Eyka brings more than 15 years’ experience working in underserved communities.

Teachers often insist that it doesn’t matter if the student is tracking or looking at the speaker. “I can listen and not look at you,” are the words that made me stop and pause. The 25-year veteran teacher was absolutely right. She could listen without looking at me, as we were only 12 inches apart. In fact, many people do exactly that throughout most of their day. Why was I requiring what seemed to be an exercise in compliance from every student in the class?

As a Managing Associate for CT3, I get asked this question quite frequently. I realized teachers are asking this question because they aren’t seeing the bigger picture of what’s happening in their classroom. Here’s my attempt to break down “tracking the speaker”.

“The Tracking Continuum”

Picture a classroom where students are seated and all silently listening to the speaker. In this case, it’s the teacher speaking. Why would you want the students to track the speaker? Most teachers rattle off the following answers:

  • Showing respect for the person speaking
  • One way to show the student is listening
  • Visual check for the teacher
  • Relationship building
  • Life skill for both professional and personal settings
  • Tool for students who are acquiring English as a second language

Sure, all of these make sense. However, there’s more to tracking than what’s listed above. Consider the scenarios below:

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Is there a time for each scenario to be used effectively in a classroom? Yes! Consider using Scenario 1 with test review where students are answering quickly. Also, consider the seating arrangement. If students are seated with their backs to their classmates, it makes tracking the speaker a challenge. To keep the momentum in the classroom high and impact student engagement, teachers most often use Scenario 2. After students have built a culture in the classroom of tracking the speaker and sending nonverbal signals, they are ready for Scenario 3.

In essence, Scenario 3 is the rationale behind tracking as students are able to interact freely and respond critically to questions and responses prompted by both the teacher and fellow classmates. Vygotsky (1962) suggested that thinking develops into words in a number of phases, moving from imaging to inner speech to inner speaking to speech. Tracing this idea backward, speech—talk—is the representation of thinking. Classrooms with more opportunities for Scenario 3 are enriched with students thinking and carrying the cognitive load versus the traditional classrooms where the teacher is doing the majority of the talking aka “thinking”.

By the time I introduced the veteran teacher to Scenario 2, she was excitedly on board with “why tracking” is not so small after all. These actions were not new to the teacher. She was well-versed in having students use nonverbal methods to increase participation. The newness came with the connection of tracking as a prerequisite for more elaborate methods of engaging students. As I wrapped up scenario 3, her head nods were stronger and she wanted to create a chart to share with others who are still postulating over tracking. She left me with these words, “I guess I just expected them to do it. Instead, we should explicitly share why tracking matters and let students know what comes next.”

If your students are already tracking the speaker, consider moving between Scenario 2 and 3. Ask your students, what will you do if you are unable to track the speaker? How will you remain engaged? How will you let the speaker know that you are engaged?

Upcoming Events & Meetings

  • NO PLC - Tuesday, 11/19
  • Red For Ed Support Activities - Tuesday, 11/19 @ 7:45 AM in the gym; We hope you will join and plan to wear red (and blue jeans if you want!) with us to show your support for education. Donuts, coffee, and juice will be provided.
  • Faculty Mtg - Thursday, 11/21 @ 7:25 AM (Alertus Training)
  • 6th Grade Field Trip - Tuesday, 11/26
  • Thanksgiving Break - NO SCHOOL on Wednesday, 11/27 - Friday, 11/29
  • PLC - Tuesday, 12/3, @ 7:25 AM in the DCMS Training Room
  • Department Meeting - Thursday, 12/5, @ in the DCMS Training Room
  • School Board Mtg - Monday, 12/9, @ 6:30 PM at DCMS Training Room
  • Book Fair - 12/9 - 12/13
  • PLC - Tuesday, 12/10, @ 7:25 AM in the DCMS Training Room
  • 8th Grade Choir @ DHS - Wednesday, 12/11, @ 7 PM at DHS
  • DLTA Building Rep Mtg - Thursday, 12/12 @ 1 PM in Marsha's office
  • IC Q2 Window Opens - Tuesday, 12/17
  • PLC - Tuesday, 12/17,@ 7:25 AM in the DCMS Training Room
  • MS Band Concert - Tuesday, 12/17, @ 7 PM in the gym
  • MS 6 & 7 Choir Concert - Wednesday, 12/18, @ 7 PM in the gym
  • End of Q2/Semester 1 - Thursday, 12/19
  • NO Students - Friday, 12/20; Grades are due prior to leaving for the holiday.
  • Holiday Breakfast Pitch-In & Celebration - Friday, 12/20, in The Bat Cave @ 8:15 AM
  • Christmas Break - Monday, 12/23 through Friday, 1/3
  • First Day Back for Semester 2 - Monday, 1/6
  • PLC - Tuesday, 1/7, @ 7:25 AM in the DCMS Training Room

Final Exam Schedule for Semester 1

Thursday - 12/12 - Red Day Related Arts

Friday - 12/13 - White Day Related Arts

Monday - 12/16 - Science

Tuesday - 12/17 - English/Language Arts

Wednesday - 12/18 - Math

Thursday - 12/19 - Social Studies

12/19/19 Bell Schedule for Final Exams & Celebration Time

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  • Shorts, Longs, & Coaching Observations – Expect that we will be visiting frequently and maybe even multiple times in a week.

  • Attendance Must Be Taken EACH Period – Attendance must be taken each period. This is not optional and cannot continue to be forgotten. At this point, this is considered a minimum performance expectation.

  • 19-20 SLO/TLO Approval - If you haven't already submitted your SLO/TLO for administrative approval in Standards for Success, please do so by Tuesday, 11/26. If you need help, please see Dave or me.
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December Fun is Coming!

All activities are meant to be fun and not to offend anyone. No one has to participate, but it is more fun if you do. :)

  • Christmas Continental Breakfast Pitch-In & Secret Santa Reveal – Friday, December 20 @ 8:15 AM. Please pitch-in and join even if you did not do Secret Santa. We want to see all the ugly sweaters! Please bring bagels/cream cheese, donuts, pastries, fruit, breakfast bars, milk, juice, etc. If you choose to bring a hot item, we won’t be mad. But only do so if you feel inclined. Please sign up to pitch in using this link:
  • Christmas/Holiday Spirit Week – (for staff and students) Within reason, hats and other Christmas/holiday spirit wear are acceptable this week only providing the items are not a distraction to the learning environment. Should any item prevent teaching or learning, you have the right to confiscate the items. Please turn in any confiscated items to the office with a student name attached.

· Monday, 12/16 – “No Sweat Day” – Wear your favorite sweats!

· Tuesday, 12/17 – "Blue Christmas" - Where jeans and something holiday-ish.

· Wednesday, 12/18 – "Blue Christmas" - Where jeans and something holiday-ish.

· Thursday, 12/19 – "Blue Christmas" - Where jeans and something holiday-ish.

· Friday, 12/20 - “Ugly Sweater Day” – Does this need an explanation? Wear your ugliest Christmas sweater and jeans.

  • Holiday Treat Exchange – Friday, 12/20, right after the breakfast pitch-in in the training room. If you want to participate in the cookie/candy/treat exchange, email Marsha. No pressure to participate at all.
  • Secret Santa Gift Exchange - Information will be coming soon will be placed in your mailboxes. If you want to participate, please return your sheet to Tisha by Monday, 11/25. We will draw names on Tuesday, 11/26 before leaving for Thanksgiving.

About Us: Mission & Collective Commitments

We are a collaborative group of educators committed to ensuring high student achievement.

We commit to…

  1. Focusing on student proficiency of Indiana College & Career Readiness standards, not just coverage of material.
  2. Working collaboratively to benefit all students with a focus on results.
  3. Join forces to learn by doing on a daily basis.
  4. Using frequent common assessments that inform and drive our instruction.
  5. Providing intervention and enrichment based upon the formative data.
  6. Furthering a culture that uses value-added language, encourages one another, and celebrates successes.