The following is a list of all entries from the Standard 03. Curriculum category.
O – Offer an organized and challenging curriculum. To demonstrate a positive impact on student learning, teacher-candidates, etc…
O1. Offer an organized curriculum aligned to standards and outcomes.
As a first year teacher there’s so much to learn and explore, then you start your second year and you learn even more! One thing that I learned into my second year is the importance of not just teaching the curriculum you’re given but to use the curriculum and materials you have to teach the standards. This became even more relevant to me my third year when our school district had teachers design their math program based on the state standards and using the plethora of resources and supplemental materials that were approved by the district. Helping my grade level team design our math units based on the standards really opened my eyes to aligning the curriculum to our standards and student outcomes.
Now that we’re moving towards the Common Core Standards instead of the state standards I plan on sticking to using the curriculums I have and the materials we’re allotted and aligning them. What’s been difficult for me is taking this idea and applying it to my literacy standards. We use Houghton Mifflin and typically I’ve just taught to the curriculum and didn’t use much else. I didn’t really look at the standards because I figured that what I’m teaching must be what my students are supposed to learn. Changing this is a goal that my staff and building is going to have for next year, which I’m very excited to be a part of and participate in.
This principle of HOPE is very important to me because it’s taken a lot of time and work for me to understand and work on. I appreciate learning new things every year and aligning our curriculum and standards together for positive student outcomes just makes sense!
In the past 2 weeks we’ve done a lot of reading, discussing and reflection about how we communicate student assessment results, I have to say that this year in teaching for me I haven’t been able to do as much as I have in the past. However, knowing that only encourages me to find a way to make it work so that I’m able to better communicate with my students and their parents for the rest of the year. Looking at the multitude of examples of communication such as: expanded format report cards, student-led conferences, portfolios and exhibitions. These give me something to look forward to and trying in my own way with my students and their parents. In the past I’ve used a strategy of communication known as an “I can” progress sheet, the purpose was to keep parents updated on the state math standards that their child either “M” (mastered) or “P” (needs practice) and the standards were written as I can statements or our learning targets. It was a very helpful tool for parents as well as students. This is something I’m considering using again this year but changing it a bit to fit the new curriculum. It is very important to me to be able to have an open relationship with the parents of my students, O’Connor states,” Schools and teachers have a responsibility to communicate effectively with parents and other who are interested in the achievement and progress of students”(O’Connor, pg. 234).
Portfolios involved with student-led conferences was another topic we looked at this last week. I’ve actually not had experience with portfolios or student-led conferences so I was interested in learning more and reading about others’ knowledge in this area of communication. Stiggins dedicates Chapter 11 to Portfolios and out of the types that he discusses, I would say that I would probably utilize the Growth Portfolio. A growth portfolio shows progress towards proficiency on one or more learning targets, it documents achievement and students choose the evidence over the course of some time to place inside the portfolio based on the learning target (Stiggins, 2006). Students should be making connections on the achievement shown for each artifact and its relation to the target. I think that growth portfolios would be best for student-led conferences because a student would be able to use it as a guide for an informal meeting or exhibition. I also don’t think I would use this strategy until the end of the year to give students time to gather the appropriate artifacts needs, complete reflections and annotations. After doing some research on the topic I found that Benson and Barnett (2005) state that there are many great benefits to student-led conferences with showcase portfolios, it “involves more parents, increases student motivation, helps meet state standards, improves student and teacher accountability, celebrates learning and makes teaching more satisfying”(p. 3). Another positive is the process that students, parents and teachers go through during the portfolio building and sharing procedure. During the course of time students can achieve high-order thinking and depth of knowledge skills due to the fact that they need to organize, make choices, explain and justify those decisions on the content of their learning. (Barnett and Benson, 2005). Regardless of what format, how often or who does it, the bottom line of this module is that communication is of the utmost importance, especially about results.
Barnett, S., Benson B. (2005). Student-led conferencing using showcase portfolios. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
O’Connor, K. (2009). How to grade for learning, k-12. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Stiggins, R., Arter, J., Chappuis, J., & Chappuis, S. (2006). Classroom assessment for student learning, doing it right–using it well. Princeton, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Unfortunately I missed out on this week’s discussion due to my total lack of attention to detail within our discussion thread. However, my peers in my discussion group lead a very powerful and enticing string of threads about our topic, thank you to all those who contributed. Zepeda states, “Action research is about change. The process of conducting action research propels change, and the results of action research can support teachers in making informed decisions about changes in practices” (pg. 264). This is the ultimate difference of action research compared to the multiple other formats of professional development as described in our textbook. A discussion that involved many different people asked what the difference of action research was as compared to the many other practices we’ve learned and discussed thus far. A few of my peers stated nicely that action research differed in that an educator would ask questions about their practice (typically an instructional strategy or possibly student learning), develop a research question and do research on the topic, discuss with a colleague or colleagues about best practice and theory, collect data (through student learning, observations,etc.), analyze data and discuss findings then reflect and make changes to practice. The big piece that Zepeda also touched on in this chapter was the importance of reflection. She states, “when teachers write and read their own narrative about an experience in the practice of teaching, the level of understanding and comprehension about what took place increases”(pg. 274). We know the power of reflection and the effects it can have on us as learners, it’s why we ask our students to learn and practice, we should be partaking in that strategy in the context of our own too.
In reflecting in my own familiarity with action research and the way I’ve conducted this strategy I would have to agree with my colleague Lara, who shared her own experience. She discussed the use of conducting research and collecting data to help inform about student learning rather than answering questions about teaching and learning. In my years of teaching I’ve been able to do some research on best theory and instructional practice, I’ve done data collecting and analyzed it with my co-workers, I’ve asked many, many, many questions in lieu of education, however I have yet to incorporate and use all these together to complete what would be considered action research. This is something for me to consider in the very near future.
This module we got to dive into our other textbook and really compare and contrast the two writers and the way they approach Learning. Stiggins and O’Connor, two very intelligent men both write about learning, grading, assessment and all that goes into teaching. O’Connor coincidentally enough, had Rick Stiggins do the foreword of his textbook as well as cite many of his ideas, quotes and opinions throughout the Introduction. Many of my peers recognized that both writers have many similarities in their approach to the topic of teaching, such as: grading, communicating grading, assessments of learning vs. assessments for learning, feedback to students and using grades as motivators. While there were many similarities there are also differences in the way the authors share and express their opinions, as one of my peers and I discussed O’Connor seems to put a lot more emotion and subjectivity into his writing, whereas Stiggins seems much more academic and objective in his presentation. Also O’Connor made heavy connections to the constructivist view on theories of learning and shared some insight on brain-based research.
Based on the need to review the issue of grading, O’Connor outlined eight different guidelines to provides some insight into the problems with grading. In the preface he states,”These are practical guidelines, not just broad general principles” (O’Connor, pg. xii). Practical they are, enticing as well. In sweeping through the 8 different guidelines, I found that the principle of grading that was of most interest to me was Guideline 1: Relate grading to learning goals. I found this to be the most intriguing guideline because as of a year ago, at my building we were expected to use core curriculum materials and supplemental materials to help students master the Washington state math standards. I found that using the standards to formulate lessons, learning targets and assessments gave most everyone focus on what specific learning should be going on in the classroom. O’Connor states, “Teachers must understand clearly what learning results are expected and then base their assessment and grading plans on these learning goals. Students must also understand clearly what the learning goals are so that they know what is expected of them” (O’C onnor, pg. 47).