Exhibit 1: Third Grade Hot List for increasing and maintaining Benchmark Oral Reading Fluency
Type A: Educator Learning
Context: My building is a Title 1 school with a population just over 700 students and about 61% are on free or reduced lunch. We have 9% of the population in Special Education and nearly 20% are identified as bilingual learners. In 2011, 59% of third graders met (L3) or exceeded (L4) standards on the Reading MSP. This data shares that we as a grade level should be maintaining fluency practice within our Literacy group instruction. Five years ago my building began its three year journey with the Reading First Program; we applied for a special grant to help with the stagnant and/or decreasing scores of our WASL test. The grant included monies to help pay for all staff training, testing materials, instructional materials and guided monthly collaboration from the Reading First staff. It was a huge project and included all teachers and support staff jumping on-board to abide by the Reading First criteria and rules. One such item that was expected to be filled out by every grade level for each trimester was a Hot List. The Hot List included the names of students, who were a few points below or right on the mark for benchmark Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) score. For example, in my grade level beginning year 3rd graders are expected to read with a fluency of 77 words correct per minute (WCPM).
Planning/Engagement: Students who came into the year with 73-77 WCPM were placed on the Hot List and then are monitored throughout the trimester. These students were identified as Strategic, based on the Dynamic Indicator of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS). Strategic students are considered “Some Risk”, these students were very close to the benchmark point that with some added teacher observation and increased fluency practice, they could stay or be at the benchmark level throughout the year, they just needed a little extra assistance. The third grade team reviewed and analyzed data from DIBELs reports and decided together which students would be placed on the list. Literacy teachers of these hot list students then reviewed instructional strategies that would best benefit these students and best practices to help increase or maintain the increase in fluency throughout. Ideas shared and agreed upon are: phonics templates, vocabulary practice, phonics instruction on decoding text and one-minute fluency timing passages in all Literacy groups every day. Intensive, Strategic and Low Benchmark classroom teachers will be doing 2-3 fluency timings a day, while High Benchmark and Advanced will be doing fluency timings once a day with a focus on comprehension. After the Hot List has been made and instructional practices are in place we then coordinate with our literacy coach our goals and plans. It’s very beneficial working with our coach on our grade level reading goals not only in fluency but with other instructional activities and concerns. In Zepeda, she cites a source that, “the coach should be fluent about reading and instructional strategies and be able to shift the focus and use of different techniques” (pg. 171). Our coach is aware of every grade level’s goals and coordinates in-building trainings to meet the needs of teachers which will in turn help meet the needs of the students.
Timeline: Homeroom teachers do bi-monthly progress monitoring with students classified as Intensive, Strategic and students on the Hot List. This involves doing a running record on a third grade passage for one minute; students’ errors are marked as well as their accuracy. Teachers are looking for students to not only make an increase in fluency but also to maintain the benchmark accuracy rate of 97% or higher. Teachers use a Faculty shared file for keeping data, including the Artifact 1 I’ve included. This artifact shows sample students of this trimester and their scores for the bi-monthly progress monitoring, as well as their initial ORF score. The principal, counselor, school psychologist, literacy coach and every staff member all have access to this information. At the end of the trimester we look to see what percentage is on track to helping achieve our grade level goal. Our beginning of the year percentage for students at Benchmark in ORF was 64% and our goal by the end of January is 72%, which is an 8% difference. At the end of January we will have another benchmark DIBELs test and that data will tell us if we made our goal. Also, we will be designing a new hot list for students who at the January benchmark test are within 3-5 points. I’ve attached our winter hot list sheet as my Artifact 2.
Impact on Student Learning: Research shows that when students are fluent in their reading their comprehension increases. When students are spending time on decoding words and their meaning, they then lose out on comprehending the entire text. Third grade is a pivotal year for students to catch up to their peers, after third grade the achievement gap widens therefore making it almost impossible for students to catch up. Also, third grade is a transitional year for students to make in their reading and learning, they switch from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” which will carry them through the rest of their academic career. Hence, having these hot lists will help move those students who are “almost there” to get there and hopefully stay there so they can be successful during this important transition.
Zepeda, S. (2008). Professional development, what works. Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education
Exhibit 2: 3rd grade Math Parent Night
Type B: Community Involvement
Context: This year our entire district adopted a new math curriculum program by Pearson Education called EnVision. Teachers have been involved in trainings as well as Math Professional Learning Community (PLCs) to help overcome frustrations, share ideas and learn from one another to help benefit student learning. In 2011, 35% of third graders met (L3) or exceeded (L4) standards on the Math Measurement of Student Progress (MSP). As a grade level this disheartened us slightly, however knowing that we would be participating in a new curriculum it lifted our spirits that improvement was on the horizon. After the first few weeks of instruction we were all at our frustration level and knew that our students were having similar feelings. We anticipated that parents would voice concerns about math homework and new math curriculum and so decided that taking an informal survey of parents interested in a Math parent night to learn more might be beneficial. Following parent teacher conferences, which hosted many concerns as expected, we gathered data that shared that about 60% of parents conferenced with would appreciate a parent math night. It was decided as a grade level that having a parent math night would be valuable, especially since we had just learned that our curriculum hosted a parent-student website that could be used at home.
Planning/Engagement: We collaborated with our principal about our idea of having a Parent Math Night and she was in full support. We made sure to set a date and reserve the building’s media center that had a screen and document camera that could show the online website. It also features a computer lab which we learned parents could access the internet by using their child’s log in information. This would then allow parents, after the information was provided to go on to the website and explore what we would share and ask any questions. Together we designed a flyer to go home with students a week prior to the math night, we also discussed and reminded students daily in our homeroom classes. The flyer is attached as one of my artifacts. The principal also placed the math night in the monthly newsletter that goes home with students and our building secretary added it to the school’s monthly calendar that is shared on the district website. We tried to publicly announce the night as often and frequently as possible. During our PLC time we planned how the night would be structured, the night was to run an hour long with time planned in for questions and parents to go online and explore. We also made a handout that would explain in detail the various assessments students would be taking throughout the year and their timeline; I’ve attached this as another artifact.
The night of the event about 10 parents showed up for the occasion, out of 125 students in the entire third grade. Our expectation was fairly low based on previous parent organized nights. However, the parents that did show up learned a great deal about the online website that they would be able to access with their child at home. Parents who came to the parent night received an electronically devised parent letter from Pearson’s website that gave them log-in directions and information. The following day we sent the letters home with the students whose parents weren’t able to make in hopes that the students would take it upon themselves to go explore at home with their guardians. So far I’ve had a few students tell me that they’ve been able to access the website at home, even though their parents weren’t able to make it.
|Date and Time Needed||Participants||Description|
|3rd grade team||Math PLC: discuss time, date and information to be shared at meeting.|
|3rd grade team||PLC meeting: confirm time, date and information to be shared at meeting. Decide on materials needed for meeting and design flyer.|
|3rd grade team and 3rd grade parents||Parent Math Night|
Impact on Student Learning: Since having our Parent Math Night we’ve noticed as a team that students whose parents did attend now know how to access the website and utilize its tools to help support student learning. Recently I had a student who was sick for multiple days and was going to miss a lot of valuable information and lessons in math, fortunately his parent had come to the Math night and knew how to access the student book, lesson video and tools to help their child complete the missing assignments prior to coming back to school. I’ve also had students mention that they’ve already watched the lesson video for that day and knew what to expect, which is a great pre-teach tool. As time has progressed we’ve been able to make adaptions to our teaching strategies with this curriculum and fine-tune skills. Along with students having access at home to preview and review the math curriculum, test scores have shown that students are in fact learning.
Exhibit 3: How Full Is Your Bucket?
Type A: Educator Learning
Context: Towards the end of last year our Principal brought to one of our staff meetings a book that we were all going to get the opportunity to read over the summer. The book was How Full Is Your Bucket? written by Tom Rath & Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. The book was initially for business workplaces and focused on employee and employer relationship, it honed in on the absenteeism of praise and recognition in the workforce. Coincidentally it was adaptable for schools as well with its kid friendly versions. The idea behind bucket filling is that we all have our own invisible buckets that we carry around with us every day. When someone is doing something or says something positive it fills our buckets and we feel happy. When someone does or says something that hurts our feelings or makes us upset, we refer to that as bucket-dipping. The concept has many wonderful angles, such as when we fill someone’s bucket, we also fill our own. Or if we see someone dipping into someone else’s bucket and we don’t do anything to stop it or help, we ourselves are having our bucket dipped and are dipping into someone else’s bucket. It’s very positive way to view how to treat others and give recognition. Our school in the past has had its fair share of students whose behavior is at the Tier two and three level, this program along with our other “Eagle Eye” behavior incentive program would be introduced to bring those numbers down. This new approach to increasing positive behavior is also an attempt at decreasing the number of “bullying” incidents that occur daily all around the school campus.
Planning/Engagement: Most all certified and classified staff was given the book to read over the summer. Prior to school starting in September, at one of our building trainings, we reviewed all materials purchased to help start the program including: student-friendly books, bucket filling bracelets and posters. As a school we agreed how to use the materials and how teachers would teach the Bucket filling concept. Teachers would teach a bucket filling lesson weekly using the materials purchased and it would include: vocabulary, activities and reflection. The principal would put in the weekly bulletin for teachers what lesson they should be teaching in order to keep everyone on track. An artifact I’ve included is a student made bucket filling worksheet that was completed after I read How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids written by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer, Ph.D. It shares what my student would do to fill a friend’s bucket. After my students finished their “I Am a Bucket Filler” worksheet, I made it into a class book and put it in our class library. Teachers would utilize “bucket filling” slips in their own way with their classroom, my approach is that we have a class bucket and next to it I have bucket filling slips. I’ve included an example of one as an artifact. Students are invited to fill one out for a student who fills their bucket and they’re to list what that student did for them. Every morning I reach into our classroom bucket and pull two slips, I read them aloud and allow the student who received the slip to wear one of my brightly colored bucket filling bracelets for the day. In order to help teach the concept we also have PowerPoints to offer a variety of teaching methods and to engage the students. I’ve provided a PowerPoint as an artifact that highlights lesson 4: Drops. The principal has a similar approach with recognizing our student bucket fillers. She has an office bucket that students are allowed to place their slips into and daily over the announcements in the morning she draws a slip and announces the student’s name. The student then goes down to the office and collects a bucket filling bracelet to keep.
|Date and Time Needed||Participants||Description|
|Classroom teachers and students||Bucket filling lessons that include vocabulary, activities and reflections. Resources used: PowerPoint, books and coinciding worksheets.|
|Daily||Teachers, building staff and students||Bucket filling slips will be awarded by: teacher to student, student to student and newly added teacher to teacher!|
|Daily||Classroom teachers, students and office staff||Recognition of bucket fillers|
Impact on Student Learning: This program has been very successful thus far. The number of student minor reports and major reports has decreased as compared to the number of reports this time last year. With positive student behavior increasing, student learning has been impacted as well. Students are able to work in an environment that is safe and respectful which makes the ability to learn far greater than an environment that isn’t safe. Student relationships are better too therefore peer learning and cooperative groups can exist in a functional setting.
Exhibit 4: Math PLCs
Type A: Educator Learning
Context: This year Vancouver Public School (VPS) District adopted a new math curriculum by Pearson known as EnVision. The curriculum has been sharing great research data on student test scores and a positive impact on student learning in the content area of math. The VPS district for grades 3rd- 10th scored a low to high range of a 39.5% -58.2% on the 2009-2010 Math MSP and between a 50.3% -59.4% on the 2010-2011 Math MSP. The district’s math curriculum, since I’ve been a teacher, has gone through 3 different curriculum changes. From 2006 – 2009 we were using Math Central by Houghton Mifflin as well as supplemental materials to teach math. In 2009 we received Math Guides as well as a Math Coach to “build” our grade level curriculum based on the core (Bridges math or Math Central) and supplemental materials approved by the district to teach the Washington State Math Standards. For many teachers this was a nightmare, however I relished teaching math this way, I had a lot of freedom to add many components that I wouldn’t typically be able to have done in the past. Then this last year we received training on the new math curriculum of EnVision.
Planning/Engagement: There were all-district trainings during the summer and I’ve attached my course details as an artifact of this training. During these trainings employees of Pearson came to our district and introduced the curriculum, walked teachers by grade level through their teacher guides and the online materials. After the trainings we then had a district organized Math PLC with our grade level as well as our district “trainer” or coach that would lead for the rest of the year. We signed up for Math PLC trainings from Oct- June and I’ve attached this course detail registration as another artifact. To date we’ve had two Math PLCs at a building in the district and squeeze into a small classroom with over thirty third grade teachers discussing successes, strategies, problems, etc. The PLCs have proven to be somewhat beneficial in that we’re able to share new found information about the curriculum, how to go about using the math focus wall and other useful tips and tricks. In our building our grade level has done a great job of maintaining and updating current math data via an Excel spreadsheet on the Topic tests that our students take after each topic in the math program. As a grade level we’ve also been able to collaborate on how we utilize calendar placemats or packets as part of the math focus wall that allows us to re-teach, review and pre-teach math material. We also have 4 out of 5 teachers using the same math homework and review guides to support the practice at home; this increase in math homework has really strengthened our students practice with new concepts in math. Each third grade teacher is on pace and on track with where we should be in the topics and lessons that coincide with the curriculum; this will then ensure that our students have been exposed to pertinent math concepts that will be on the Math MSP in May.
Timeline: The Math PLCs will continue throughout the rest of the school year until our last meeting on June 5th. Our grade level also plans to continue to use our PLC time at our building to review math data and discuss important items as a team to solve problems or answer questions we may have as individuals. This will continue throughout the rest of the school year as well.
Impact on Student Learning: It’s difficult to make a comparison between this curriculum and the programs used in the past; it would be like comparing apples to oranges. However, I can share that my students have all made an increase in their score percentages on their topic tests from September to December. The students are well adjusted to the format of our topic tests which coincidentally mirrors the test format of our district’s Math Benchmark Assessment (MBA) as well as the MSP. Having this consistency will help students feel confident with the test question format on our high stakes state and district test. I’ve also noted the difference in competency my students have with the concept and skill of place value this year as compared to previous years. The program utilizes place value blocks to help describe and explore most math concepts and I’ve perceived that my students have a strong notion of place value for exploring these new concepts, which a Constructivist would argue is the learning process at its best. I’ve also observed my students excitement and enthusiasm for math this year as compared to previous years, they almost yelp for joy when it’s math time, definitely a first in my book. My students have also done a great job of adjusting to our use of math journals this year to document their progress with every topic and its lessons. In our math journals we keep track of our learning targets (Core Standards), problem-based interactive solving, guided practice and independent practice. Soon my students will be finished with our first journal and will have a mini-portfolio to take home and share with their families all their hard work for this past trimester. I’m so proud of all their hard effort and work ethic on learning alongside with their teacher this new math curriculum. If there are any people in this world who know that Miss Botz makes mistakes, it would be my third grade babies.
This week’s module focused a great deal on Communication with other professionals and the variety of ways to go about collaborating. I take great pride in the building I work in as well as the staff that makes it up, everyone there seems on board with the common vision and goal that is underlying at the beginning of each school year. The focus is on the students, their learning and how best to support one another so that all students achieve. It can seem very overwhelming, especially at the beginning of the year: prepping students for a new classroom environment, pre-assessments, School Improvement goals for the year, instructional planning, trainings and meetings. Having a supportive Principal, grade level team and staff seems to take the “edge” off during these times. With the ever-rising expectations that seem to always be coming, having an open line of communication and positive interaction is very key, in my opinion.
In our readings this week, our text by Zepeda reviewed: Critical Friend Groups (CFGs), Teacher Study Groups, Whole-Faculty Study Groups and Book Studies. While the readings were helpful in explaining the utilization of these groups, it was difficult for me to make a real connection based on the fact that I’ve not had experience with these and our school is in the middle of a new math curriculum implementation this year. Therefore it was hard for me to really take a stance on these simply because mine, my grade level team as well as my building are focused on our PLCs, AYP and math. Many of the groups described in Zepeda seemed to support the idea of job-embedded learning, which I highly support. The idea behind CFGs would be the most intriguing type group that I took away from this module, Zepeda credits Costa and Kallick (1993) who state that, “a critical friend can be defined as a trusted person who asks provocative questions, provides data to be examined through another lens, and offers critiques of a person’s work as a friend.” While this type of group seems to have beneficial outcomes, I feel that a PLCs’ goals are very closely connected to the goals of CFGs. With that being said I’m curious why there’s the need to have so many different groups that meet together but have similar goals. Many of my peers this discussion seemed to support many of the groups suggested and discussed in chapters 8 and 9 of Zepeda, which suggests to me that many schools are heading in a positive direction for Communication.