Pages

January 30, 2015

Supporting Classroom Instruction - Growth Mindset with the Towers of Hanoi

As part of an effort to support a growth mindset in our classroom, Andrew Protz and I started today's Modern World History class with a game, The Towers of Hanoi. Included in the resources from Learning and the Adolescent Mind by The Charles A Dana Center at UT Austin, this puzzle encouraged students to engage in a productive struggle. Innovations' scholars were soon adding rings to their towers, seeing how few moves they could solve the puzzle in, and helping one another to complete each tower. It was a wonderful way to frame a discussion around the importance of learning from mistakes and the power of persistence.

January 29, 2015

Shifting Instruction to the Core: Text Dependent Tasks for History-Social Studies Teachers

As part of the revised professional  learning plan, Shifting Instruction to the Core,  History-Social Studies teachers and site administrators from Inspire Academy, North Star Online School, Innovations High School, and Turning Point met Thursday morning to explore materials that support the use of text dependent & specific tasks. Teachers reviewed reading comprehension research by David Pearson, shared strategies they use to engage students in complex text, explored in the instructional move 'Keep It or Junk It', and planned for continued instructional alignment to Core Action Two. Materials for the session are linked below.


January 27, 2015

Supporting Classroom Instruction - Growth Mindset

A recent set of experiences have reinforced for me the importance of a growth mindset when working in education reform. The first was in a professional learning session with administrators and program coordinators in which I heard the following: "It doesn't matter if teachers understand the Common Core and the Shifts if they don't believe students can do the work". Indeed! And I would add that students also need to believe they can do the work. Co-teaching with Andrew Protz at Innovations High School, this point has repeatedly been brought home. We note that our students regularly reflect a fixed mindset - 'I can't do that', 'this is too hard for a student like me'.

How might educators support a change in mindset? Part of this work we can do for ourselves as professionals and part we can do with students.  In the coming weeks, I will post resources educators might use to build their own capacity around a growth mindset and ones they might use to build students' capacity.

As a start in our own classrooms, Andrew and I are starting to include information, research, and activities to help build a growth mindset and culture in our classroom. The first of these was a video by Sentis called 'Neuroplasticity'  (embedded below) that we paired with discussion questions (What claim does this video make about learning? What evidence does the video use to support this claim? What does this information imply about learning at Innovations High School?).



A great start to building educator capacity around a growth mindset are a suite of Teaching Chanel videos and the Ted Talk embedded below featuring Carol Dweck, a Stanford University professor who has done a great deal of research around mindsets.





Instructional Moves to Support Social Emotional Learning

This week teachers gathered to focus on Social Emotional Learning during two convenings on Tuesday the 27th and  Wednesday the 28th. Both groups took time to engage in sessions that use instructional moves to bridge Social Emotional Learning and the Common Core. Tuesday's session included a math portion facilitated by Implementation Specialist Kellie Oliver and included the instructional moves Number Talks and You, Y'all, We. The ELA/Literacy portion included a version of Four Corners and used Keep It or Junk It with an article by Vicki Zakrzewski.  Materials for this session include:




January 26, 2015

Annotated Mini-Assessments to Support the Instructional Shifts


As a follow-up to last week's post, "Instruction as Test Preparation" , this post is intended to provide educators with resources to better understand the Common Core-aligned assessments. A recent update from Student Achievement Partners contained the following, 
"Facilitate discussions about what’s different about Common Core-aligned assessment with the new Before and After: Shifts in Common Core Assessment presentations for math and literacy. These materials include examples that illustrate what the Shifts look like in assessment items. You can also visit our collections of free math and literacy mini-assessments (K-12) for resources teachers can try in their classrooms."
This suite of resources provides teachers, administrators, and instructional coaches with a robust set of materials to better understand how high-quality, CCSS-aligned resources and instruction are preparation for next generation assessments. While the math and literacy presentations help to build educators' capacity around what is new about CCSS-aligned assessments, the annotated mini-assessments are a powerful example of CCSS-aligned assessment in a classroom setting. Using these resources in professional development and classroom practice can support educators as they continue to shift their instruction to the Common Core. 

January 22, 2015

Instruction as Test Preparation

As the new semester gets under way there are many questions about the Next Generation assessments that will take place this spring. While Nevada high school teachers are wondering about the changes in store this Spring, what remains centrally important is the role of  high quality instruction to prepare students for the Next Generation assessments. To teachers who ask me what they should do to prepare their students for the assessments, I answer that they should continue shifting their instruction the the Common Core and using the instructional practice guides to provide feedback on teaching and learning in their classrooms.

At the 2014 Literacy Leadership Symposium, Dr. Timothy Shanahan gave a talk titled, 'What Not to do to Prepare for the Assessments?'. If the Next Generation assessments and centrality of instruction is something you are curious about, it t is worth the hour plus to watch the whole presentation. If time is of the essence, I suggest reading Aaron Grossman's post, 'Shanahan on Test Preparation - What not to do', copied below. 

Shanahan on Test Preparation—What not to do 
Posted on January 21, 2015 
In a presentation titled, “What Not to do to Prepare for the Assessments,”Common Core Work Team Member Dr. Timothy Shanahan share some provocative insights into PARCC and SBAC. Among these is his claim that test preparation likely does not work. This assertion begins at minute 12:00 and continues with his contention that practicing question types (e.g. taking practice tests) has no effect on student achievement. 

At minute 31:13, Shanahan addresses the focus on test preparation materials from publishers. Again, he shares the evidence that practicing question types, without a strong emphasis on the passage itself, does not boost scores. 
So what does work? Jump to minute 36:39 to hear his answer. Not surprisingly, the explanation involves having students practicing reading with rich texts. This is consistent with what’s been shared by the authors of the Common Core and even one of its detractors. Shanahan is specific in also noting that you have to build stamina with longer passages (42:50) and that this can only be accomplished if its part of the instructional cycle (47:00)


January 21, 2015

Bridging Common Core and Social Emotional Learning

As part of their site-based support for Common Core alignment and Social Emotional Learning integration, Inspire Academy educators will be gathering bi-weekly to explore ways they might increase integration of Social Emotional Competencies into their core classes. Today's first session began with a review of the implementation of their school-wide annotation guide; teachers reviewed implementation evidence and discussed next steps. Participants then worked through resources from the American Institutes for Research and Nicole Frazier & Donna Mehle to explore the connections between Social Emotional Learning and the Common Core. Resources for today's session can be found below.


January 20, 2015

Options Leadership Team - Introduction to the Instruction Practice Guides

Washoe County School District's Options Area Leadership Team gathered this morning for their monthly meeting and spent some time engaged in professional learning around the Instructional Practice Guides. Team members from various programs worked through print and video resources from the Council of Chief State School Officers, Student Achievement Partners,  Kate Gerson, and Achieve. In anticipation of upcoming Instructional Rounds focused on the Core Actions of the Instructional practice guides, today's work focused on deepening understanding of the Instructional Shifts, the IPGs, and how  how school and program leaders might better support CCSS-aligned teaching and learning. Resources for today include:

January 15, 2015

Shifting Instruction to the Core: Text Dependent Tasks for ELA Teachers

Options Area schools in Washoe County have revised their professional learning plan, Shifting Instruction to the Core, so that content area teachers will be meeting each month to continue exploring the Instructional Shifts and Instructional Practice Guides. The first of these sessions was held Thursday morning as English Language Arts teachers and site administrators from Inspire Academy, North Star Online School, Innovations High School, Turning Point, and ATC explored materials that support students to engage with complex text. Teachers reviewed reading comprehension research by David Pearson, shared strategies they use to engage students in complex text, explored in the instructional move 'Keep It or Junk It', and planned for continued instructional alignment to Core Action Two. Materials for the session are linked below.




January 14, 2015

Quarter Three Intersession at RiSE Academy

This week is the third quarter intersession at RiSE Academy for Adult Achievement and teachers are spending time on Tuesday and Thursday engaged in professional learning. On Tuesday, the session supported teachers' continued learning about andragogy and resources for CCRS-aligned classroom instruction. Teachers began the session exploring materials from Becoming Adult Learners by Eleanor Drago-Severso to better understand Robert Kegan's Constructive-Development Theory. During the second portion of Tuesday's session participants engaged in a variety of workshops around support CCRS-aligned instruction. Thursday's session was devoted to training on the Promethean Boards now available in all RiSE Academy classrooms. Materials for Tuesday's session are linked below.

January 8, 2015

Massive Open Online Courses

An important aspect of being an educator is a commitment to life-long learning. While conferences, journal articles, and the like are all excellent sources for such learning, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are another source for free, relevant, and networked resources. While not a complete list of available resources, if you are interested in MOOCs check out: this article from BDPA for a quick overview of what a MOOC is along with a top 10 list for information about MOOCs, this webinar with a good overview of why a teacher might use a MOOC and excellent course sites, and the Coursera site for free online courses from top universities worldwide. 

Recently,  the Academic Language Development Network, Stanford University, UC Davis, and Sacramento State University have collaborated to offer a course focused on academic language,  "Seven Essential Practices for Developing Academic Oral Language and Literacy in Every Subject".  According to the course authors, participants can expect, "practical exploration and expertise-building of seven essential ALD (academic language development) practices that we have identified as being powerful for developing school language and literacy across grade levels and content areas and for supporting the implementation of new standards". The course runs from January 14th through June 14th and the full course description, including syllabus and registration information, can be found here

January 5, 2015

DC Core Task Project - Session 4

As part of the DC Core Task Project, educators in Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools gathered this afternoon for their fourth session, this time engaging in materials that support students to engage with complex text. Participants reviewed research from David Pearson, experienced the instructional move ‘Keep It or Junk It’, and an explored how they might use the Instructional Practice Guides to support the shifts. Materials for this fourth session are linked below.