Assessments and Data

In my student teaching internship, I assessed students in a variety of ways.  These included informal and low stakes assessments, formative and summative assessments.  I did a unit on the American Revolution with my seventh grade social studies classes.  The formal pre- and post-assessments align with the central focus and essential question of the whole lesson sequence (Students are identifying cause and effect relationships between the events leading to the American Revolution. Their essential question is “What caused each revolutionary moment, and what effect did that moment have on the road to revolution?”).  It also aligns with two Washington state grade level expectations for social studies; GLE Social Studies 4.2.1 “Understands and analyzes how individuals and movements have shaped Washington State or world history” as well as GLE Social Studies 4.3.2 “Analyzes multiple causal factors that shape major events in Washington State or world history”.  The assessment asks students to identify three causes and effects (of their choosing) that led to the American Revolution, and then asks them to identify the four key events that are the focus of the lesson sequence (Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, Lexington & Concord, and Sugar Act/Liberty Incident).

The following bar graph  shows the pre-assessment scores (blue) and the post-assessment scores (orange) for each student.  The pre-assessment was taken at the beginning of the lesson sequence (Lesson 1) and the same assessment was given as a post-assessment (end of lesson 5).  I was very transparent with the students and told them the pre-assessment is identical to the post-assessment.  I made it clear that I was not trying to trick or surprise them and instead wanted to set them up for success. This data shows that all students made significant gains.

Graph 1

The bar graph below shows the class average on the pre-assessment compared to the post-assessment.  The class average on the pre-test was 17.69%.  The class average on the post-test was 74.70%.  This is class growth of 57.01% between the pre-assessment and the post-assessment.

Graph 2.PNG

All students scored highest on the Boston Massacre question and on their cause and effect question if they used the Boston Massacre as the event.  I believe this is due to Lesson 3 in which we spent a lot of time discussing the event in detail and then students did a blame ranking activity individually and in small groups.  This was followed up by a whole class discussion.  This was clearly effective in helping students remember the four groups involved in the Boston Massacre and in identifying the cause and effect relationship between events connected to it.  Students commonly confused the Sugar Act and the Boston Tea Party.  Both events involved taxes which caused students to get them mixed up.  I didn’t expect this because I thought the names made it obvious (Boston Tea Party involves a tax on Tea, Sugar Act was a tax on goods with sugar), but the data clearly shows that I did not effectively create a distinction between the two events in the minds of my students.  The whole class scored highest on the parts of assessment that involved the Boston Massacre.  This shows that the ranking activity in Lesson 3 was helpful to student understanding and knowledge of the event as well as the cause and effect within it.  This unit came at the end of my student teaching.  If I was there for longer, I would have used this data to inform future instruction.  It is clear that I need to clarify some of the content before moving on.

In my future classroom, I plan to collect and use data in the same way I did during my student teaching to best meet the needs of my students.

Assessment & Feedback: Reflecting on the Start of My Internship

These past weeks, I was able to gain some firsthand experience in things that I had only learned about in theory in classes and books until now.   Before I arrived, the seventh grade social studies students were studying the slave trade.  They were also learning about author’s purpose as part of the social studies department working with the English language arts department to promote crossover between content areas.  My mentor teacher uses an online program the school district pays for called Actively Learn to assess students.

actively learn 1

Here is a screenshot of the Actively Learn Post-Test.  As you can see in the image, it allows you to tag questions with learning standards so that you can collect data on how students are doing on specific standards.

I was able to give the students a post assessment using this online tool.  All students have laptops at this middle school.  They are able to log in and submit questions as they move through the test.  As the teacher, I can see all student progress and responses, and give feedback in real time.  The students were very engaged, and eager to make any needed revisions based on the feedback I provided.  The teacher dashboard allows you to compare the students pre-test scores to their post-test scores.  This report can be done for individual students or the class as a whole.  This is good for progress monitoring and collecting data to inform instruction.

Another way technology is utilized in the classroom is through an e-learning classroom called Canvas.  Students submit daily classwork and assignments into this learning management system, which I was then able to grade on my laptop and post quickly to the online grade book.  This allowed for a quick turnaround of feedback so that students could learn and make revisions to resubmit for a higher score.

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Teachers and other staff award the tickets for both behavior and academics.

There are two systems that are in place for giving positive reinforcement and feedback on a school-wide level at my school.  One is to give students High Five slips.  These are tickets that are given as a reward and can be redeemed for prizes during lunch.  I had the opportunity to hand these out to students who were working hard in class.  Students were very excited to receive one, and other students were quick to change their off-task behavior after seeing a peer being rewarded.  An additional method that the school uses, which I absolutely love is postcards!  When students do something good, teachers can look up the student’s address and fill out a postcard which the district then sends out in the mail.  The postcard is colorful and features the school mascot.  I had fun writing some postcards for students that were exceeding expectations in class.  The postcards are something I want to do in my future classroom, even if it is not something used school-wide.  I would have been really excited to get a compliment in the mail from a teacher when I was in middle school.

I have officially completed the first three weeks of my student teaching internship.  It has been a positive and informative experience so far.  In this short time, I have already learned a great deal, set personal goals, and made improvements.   I am excited to continue to grow as an educator.

 

How do we meet the needs of all our students in a diverse classroom?

A single classroom will likely have a combination of general education, ELL, exceptional, and SE students all together.  This means there are many different learners with diverse needs.  This can be addressed through the use of research-based instructional practices.  In other words, utilizing methods and tools that have proven successful.  The wide range of student abilities necessitates the use of scaffolding and differentiation.  Teachers ultimately want to be as effective as possible.  Meeting this goal requires changing and adapting instruction to best meet the needs of students.  Educators should aim to have classrooms that are learner centered.  Instructors need to make it a priority to create a positive learning community in their classrooms where all students feel safe taking academic risks.  If students are not comfortable making mistakes, they will not learn and grow.  There are many instructional strategies teachers can make use of to meet the needs of all their students.

When introducing new information, teachers need to segment or chunk the content into smaller pieces to make it easier for students to understand.  The teacher should model procedures, expectations, and strategies for their students so they are set up for success.  Students need opportunities for independent practice.  Additionally, teachers need to include frequent reviews throughout their units and the entire school year.

One method teachers can employ is the use of personalized agendas.  Each student is given an agenda, a list of tasks they need to complete within a certain amount of time.  Every student will not have the exact same tasks as they are modified to fit the student.  The student has the freedom to choose what order they will do the work in, and the teacher can monitor and circulate around the room conducting informal assessments along the way.  It is important for teachers to check student understanding on a regular basis.   Assessments are an essential component of effective teaching practices.  Teachers need to make their tests learner-friendly and incorporate a chance for students to revise and improve their thinking.  For example, after grading the test the teacher may allow students to do test corrections for partial credit.  Teachers should use different kinds of assessments, such as written, verbal, projects, and presentations.  Assessments should be used to inform their instruction and lesson planning.  Another method is orbital studies.  In this strategy, the students investigate a topic they select themselves independently.  The topics come from the curriculum.  The teacher provides guidance and coaching.  Tiered activities are another form of differentiation.  Figure one explains the process of creating a tiered activity.  It allows for all students to learn the essential knowledge and skills.  It is a way of helping students who are struggling and students who are excelling simultaneously.  This helps ensure that all students are learning and are getting the right amount of challenge.  In addition to individual learning, cooperative can also be beneficial.  Students will encounter diversity in their adult lives, so working with their peers prepares them for their futures.  They will have to cooperate with their team and come up with solutions as a group.

Tiered Activity

Figure 1

Having a diverse classroom should be viewed as an asset rather than a burden.  With so many different minds in one classroom there is ample opportunity for sharing and learning from each other.

The Teacher’s Toolkit

EDU 6526 Survey of Instructional Strategies – Course Meta-Reflection

It is important for educators to be equipped with a variety of tools to most effectively teach.  These tools can take many forms including strategies, instructional models, and techniques.  Teachers have many methods at their disposal from many different resources such as their teacher preparation program content, their coworkers, and the vast amount of literature that exists on teaching.  Following a teaching model may seem limiting, but exemplary educators are able to make them their own while still maintaining the essence of what makes the model effective.  They are also able to enlist an assortment of approaches so that both the teacher and their students stay active and engaged.  We know there is no one-size-fits-all in education, and within any model an instructor uses there will be accommodations and modifications when appropriate.

Student-centered approaches are a particularly potent device in the teacher’s arsenal.  This tactic takes into account the diverse needs of students.  Essentially the teacher personalizes and tailors instruction to accommodate student needs, level of ability and skills, and areas of interest. In today’s classrooms that include ELL, SE, SA and students with IEPs alongside general education students, this is especially relevant This approach involves scaffolding and differentiation content and support so that all students are learning and growing.  This method is characterized by equity, students all get what they need to achieve learning outcomes.  Teachers empower their students to take ownership of their learning and advocate for themselves.  An illustration showing this method can be found in figure one.

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Figure 1

A fundamental question teachers must frequently ask themselves is “are students learning?”.  If the answer is not clearly affirmative, then the teacher should use this opportunity to delve into their tool box and try something different.   Sometimes learning is happening but not at the level we were hoping to achieve.  In this situation it is important to consider Bloom’s taxonomy of learning.  We as teachers need to evaluate where students fall so that we can help facilitate deeper, lasting learning.  It can also be helpful with older students to ask them to self-evaluate where they are.  A visual representation of Bloom’s ideology can be found in figure two.

blooms_cognitive_domain

Figure 2

Teachers should not waste their own time or their students time.  This means that educators should give meaningful assignments and then provide detailed feedback.  There is no point in giving students “busy work” which will not assist any learning.  By the same token, if you are not willing to provide responses to student work, then the student will not know what they did well and what they need to work on.  Ultimately, a grade with no explanation is not helpful to learners.  This means more work for teachers, but also student growth and progress.

In a similar fashion, any type of assessment should be strategic.  The students should be able to look at their score on a test and see what they did well on and what they need to work on.  Teachers should look at their students test scores as a whole as their own form of self-evaluation.  If a lot of students missed the same question, then that is a sign that the teacher needs to re-teach that specific piece of content.   Perhaps this means the teacher will also decide to change their approach since their initial attempt was not effective.  Some strategies we looked at over the course of this quarter included asking students questions, making a distinction between concepts and facts, and using advance organizers.  All of these can be incorporated into a unit of study.

Teachers understand  the value of educating the whole student, in other words not only meeting their academic needs but also their emotional needs.  Teachers must help students develop good citizenship and the ability to work effectively with others.  We want our students to be equipped with important life skills for their futures.  Good teachers recognize and take into consideration the different personalities, intelligences and abilities that coexist within their classrooms.  They foster a sense of community and make their rooms a safe and inclusive place of learning for everyone.

This course caused me to reflect upon my experiences as a student, both good and bad.  I thought about teachers I have had that I want to be like and some others that serve as examples of what I do not want to be.   This class has given me yet another lens to examine effective educators.

Sources:

Dean, C. B., Pitler, H., Stone, B., & Hubbell, E. R. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement, Dean, Ceri B.; Hubbell, Elizabeth Ross; Pitler, Howard; Stone, Bj (2012-01-05). Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement (2nd ed.). McREL.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of teaching (9th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Students at the Center: Teaching and Learning in the Era of the Common Core. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.studentsatthecenter.org/about

Using a Learning Taxonomy to Align Your Course. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ucdenver.edu/faculty_staff/faculty/center-for-faculty-development/Documents/Tutorials/Assessment/module2/index.htm

EDTC 6431: Final Individual Project

Part of being a well-rounded educator is being flexible and adapting to change.  21st century students are living in the digital age.  Part of setting them up for success is ensuring that they have proficiency with technology, and possess digital literacy.  This is not accomplished in a single lesson plan, but rather developed over time.  Technology can be incorporated into lesson plans that promote greater student engagement, and allow for learning content and technology skills simultaneously.

For this class, I wrote my own lesson plan that incorporates common core as well as an ISTE standard.  I used the ASSURE model.

Analyze learners
State standards and objectives
Select strategies, technology, media, and materials
Utilize technology, media, and materials
Require learner participation
Evaluate and revise

Here is a link to the Google Doc containing my lesson plan.

Google Doc