Standards-Based Assessments

P3: Practice standards-based assessment. This standard means not only aligning assessments to standards, but also using a variety of informal as well as formal assessments to elicit student voice and measure student progress toward learning targets and standards. During my internship, I frequently used both “Exit Tickets” as a way of encouraging students to self-asses their participation and personal progress toward the learning objective, but also to elicit student voice and receive feedback regarding what students learned during the lesson as well as where students feel they still need support or clarification. After reading through each “Exit Ticket,” I had a better understanding of where students were in relation to the learning objective and how I might tweak my lesson or activity for the following day in order to fill in gaps in academic knowledge or provide additional support or practice for the development of particular skills. When used effectively, student voice and feedback should inform teaching practices to improve student understanding.

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The example above is an “Exit Ticket” written by a junior student during our study of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. During the “Entrance Ticket” from the beginning of the lesson, students expressed confusion over the differences between themes and subjects, so I gave a mini-lesson on theme before we analyzed the first short story in the novel for potential themes. This student believes she successfully met the learning objective, evaluates her participation in the practice activity, and then explains how her understanding of truth was expanded, challenged, or changed as a result of the lesson activities and discussion. Moving forward, I will continue to use a variety of informal and formal assessments in order to monitor student progress toward standards and goals. It was encouraging to me watching students come to the realization that I was reading their “Entrance Tickets” and “Exit Tickets,” listening to what they needed and providing specific support. These informal pre and post assessments employ student voice in order to inform my teaching, but also teach students how to self-asses, giving them a stake in their own learning and achievement.

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Creating Organized Curriculum Aligned to Standards and Outcomes

O1: Offer an organized curriculum aligned to standards and outcomes. Organizing a curriculum around Common Core standards and outcomes, means choosing the standards and goals for the unit, as well as the desired end result or outcome, then planning lessons, activities, and multiples ways of assessing progress toward the chosen standards and goals. I had the opportunity to practice creating organized curriculum during my internship this year. Before beginning a unit on Debate—persuasive writing and speaking—I designed a unit outline identifying the three standards, skills I wanted to students to develop throughout the unit, and the way in which students would show evidence of learned skills.

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Mentally mapping out an entire unit in this way was challenging, but knowing what the end goal was, helped keep my lessons focused. Additionally, centering each lesson on specific learning targets kept lessons aligned with my chosen Common Core standards and ensured that each lesson was purposefully constructed to meet that learning objective. Furthermore, including learning objectives or measurable goals for each lesson helped make me aware of when to scaffold certain concepts or activities as well as to build on skills and deepen understanding as lesson progressed. Not only were daily learning targets beneficial to me as an instructor, but they also provided students with clear, purposeful, and measurable expectations for each day’s lesson. When students understand what is expected of them and why, they not only become responsible for their own learning, but also, they are able to self-assess their progress toward each learning goal. This opportunity for self-assessment teaches valuable skills in reflection and self-analysis by giving students a stake in their own education.

Why Teach a Unit on Debate?

Thesis: According to the International Debate Education Association, the process of debate offers profoundly far-reaching and long-lasting benefits for individuals, societies and for the global community.
Debate emphasizes important real-world skills such as critical thinking, effective communication, independent research and teamwork. Additionally, debate requires the development and practice of higher level thinking according to Bloom’s taxonomy as described in Effective Teaching Methods: analysis (requiring students to differentiate between credible sources, compare and contrast, recognize and support relationships between ideas and outline arguments), synthesis (requiring students to compile information from a variety of sources to form a unique solution to a problem or question, to formulate a logical and well-supported argument, and to predict and compose counterarguments) and evaluation (requiring students to judge the credibility of an argument based on specific criteria, defend and support their position on a topic or issue) (Borich, 2007, pp. 92-96). These skills not only contribute to the success of students within the classroom, but also in their future workplaces, in their social and political lives and in their responsibilities as citizens of democratic societies.

The development of these individual skills impacts the larger society by allowing individuals the opportunity to actively engage in a “more equitable, democratic, and dynamic society”—key justifications of a unit centered on developing civic awareness and navigating difficult social issues according to Smagorinsky, author of Teaching English by Design (Smagorinsky, 2008, p. 143). A debater must consider and study both sides of an argument of question. IDEA suggests that in this way, debate inherently “teaches the principles of tolerance, nonviolence and respect for different points of view.” Training in open-mindedness and the patient and purposeful consideration of varying perspectives is essential to developing well-informed opinions and views. In Carroll Lahman’s Debate Coaching, a Handbook for Teachers and Coaches, she quotes John Stuart Mill commenting on the process of developing informed judgments about crucial issues: “No man [or woman] understands his [or her] own side until he [or she] understands the other side” (1930, pg. 13). Debating fosters an energetic exchange of ideas and has the power to “break down national, economic, cultural and ethnic boundaries, showing that opposing views can be explored in a way that connects rather than divides people” (IDEA). Teaching debate is a worthwhile focus for a conceptual unit because the framework and skills developed extend far beyond the classroom experience, contributing to the development of responsible, respectful and reasoned individuals.

This learning we will be facilitated and guided by three Common Core State Standards regarding research and evidence for supporting claims, synthesizing multiple sources to formulate a stance or opinion on a topic or question, and finally, presenting that information, supported by evidence in a logical format suitable for a particular audience and purpose: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7 and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010).

While the process of researching and developing a well-informed opinion on any topic is clearly valuable, some worry that debate teaches students to be argumentative or combative when they disagree with one another. While this is a legitimate concern, the purpose of debate is to teach students how to think (rather than argue), how to analyze information and logically process and articulately present that information. While students will defend different positions on a topic, in order to defend their position, they must first consider and have researched the opposing view. This process shows students the ineffectiveness of blind argumentation and teaches students that in order to formulate a reasoned understanding or opinion requires considering and analyzing different perspectives. It is inevitable that students will interact with people who think, act and feel differently than they do and in preparation, it is vitally important that we equip students with a tools and skills so that they can interact in meaningful, respectful, well-reasoned, constructive exchanges. Without active engagement with whom we disagree, it is likely that elements of truth remain uncovered, as explained by Mahatma Ghandi: “honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress” (IDEA).

Bibliography

Resources for Rationale:

Borich, G. D. (2007). Effective teaching methods: research-based practice (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Merrill/Prentice Hall.

IDEA. “WHY DEBATE?” International Debate Education Association. 2011. Web. Idebate.org

Lahman, Carroll Polock. “Chapter I WHY DEBATE?” Debate Coaching, a Handbook for Teachers and Coaches. Vol. I. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1930. 11-17. Print. IV.

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards (English Language Arts). National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, Washington D.C. Web. http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards

Smagorinsky, P. (2008). Teaching English by design: how to create and carry out instructional units. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Texts:

Goodner, Bruce. (2008). “Persuasive Appeals: Ethos, Logos, Pathos.” Web. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4tTugqBkJU

Lang, Oliver. “Opening Pro-Vaccine Speech” (student example)

Lahman, Carroll Polock. “Chapter I WHY DEBATE?” Debate Coaching, a Handbook for Teachers and Coaches. Vol. I. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1930. 11-17. Print. IV.

National Forensic League. (2012). “A Guide to Public Forum Debate.” 1-3. Web. http://www.nflonline.org

Obama, Barack. (2014). “State of the Union Address” Web. http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/01/29/president-obamas-2014-state-union-address

Smith, Michael. “Evidence: An Essential Element of Debate.” Ballard High School. Handout.

Storey, Kristin. (2013). “What Constitutes ‘Good’ Evidence?” Ballard High School. Handout.

Hope Reflection: https://megannallenbportfolio.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/hope-reflection/

Disruption Theory and the Evolution of Public Schooling

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This weeks reading begins with an explanation of disruption theory and how that applies to schools with the implementation of new standards and standard-based testing. In terms of “disruption in the private sector, society has moved the goal posts on schools and imposed upon them new measures for performance.” (p. 51). These new goal posts and new measures of performance require that “schools [to] pursue the new metric of improvement from within the existing organization, which was designed to improve along the old performance metric”—equivalent to “rebuilding an airplane in mid-flight,” which is a feet yet to be accomplished by any private enterprise (p. 51). And while the task seems daunting and requires new primary jobs and new energies focused in new directions, research affirms that schools do evolve and improve as new measures and goals are set.

 

We as human beings have survived and thrived heavily in part to our ability to adapt, to anticipate and to evolve. This is also the case for our schools as outlined in the chapter. One example of a major shift in our school system dates back to the founding fathers, whom, envisioned schooling as the best way to preserve and instill democratic ideals and morals in hopes of helping all citizens assimilate into the American culture as “functioning, self-governing members of the republic” (p. 52). Then, in hopes of competing with industrial Germany, schools were not only required to instill democratic ideals, but also to prepare every person for jobs and participation in the workforce (p. 53).  Not only was the primary focus of schools redefined, but also, that existing system was reconfigured extending high school to all students.

 

Reading that with time, and diligent effort, schools characteristically rise to meet new measures and standards was encouraging. As a preservice teacher, we are already bombarded with the present failures of our public school systems. Additionally, the current transition to the Common Core, the standardizing of curriculums and testing, brings with it new pressure to achieve for both teachers and students. We are entering the teaching profession in the midst of these growing pains and must do our best to adjust while remaining critical of both our existing organization as well as the reconstruction.

Source:
Christensen, C., Johnson, C.W., & Horn, M.B. (2011). Disrupting class: how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns (kindle). McGraw-Hill.

This week I felt more comfortable using the Kindle eReader to navigate Chapter 2. With that said, I stand by my preference and love for holding a book and physically turning each page. My only negative feedback for this week’s experience has to do with the process of making a note. A couple different times, (yeah, you’d think I’d learn my lesson after the first time) I would go to make a note, but after typing a small paragraph, I would decide the font was too small to proof-read what I had written. So, I moved to the full screen option and all that I had typed was lost. If moving from a smaller screen to full screen or visa versa, be sure to save your note first!

Goals, Standards, and Objectives

Goals are important expressions of our values and “give learners, parents, and the community the reasons [we] are teaching the lessons” planned. Effective Teaching Methods: Research-Based Practice by Gary Borich provides five factors worth considering when “establishing goals for what should be learned:

  1. The subject matter we know enough about tot teach (subject-matter mastery)
  2. Societal concerns, which represent what is valued in both the society at large and the local community
  3. Student needs and interests and the abilities and knowledge they bring to school
  4. Your school’s educational philosophy and your community’s priorities
  5. What instructional theory and research tells us can be taught in the classroom” (Borich, 2010, p. 81).

But goals are broad and do not necessarily facilitate or motivate successful learning. From goals, we derive standards which “more specifically identify what must be accomplished and who must do what in order to meet the goals” (Borich, 2010, p. 80). In more recent years, re-evaluations of standards reveal the importance of “commitment to developing a ‘thinking curriculum,’ one that focuses on teaching learner how to think critically, reason, and problem solve in authentic, real-world contexts” (p. 82).

 

From standards, educators derive objectives, “which convey specific behaviors to be attained, the conditions under which the behaviors must be demonstrated, and the proficiency level at which the behaviors are to be performed based on the learning histories, abilities, and current levels of understanding” of the learners (Borich, 2010, p. 80). Practically speaking, the purpose of an objective is to identify the strategies through which standards can be achieved and to express strategies in a way that allows one to measure their effects on students; a “statement that achieves these two purposes is called a behavioral objective” (p. 84). When organizing lesson plans and writing objectives, it is important to remember that using specific, observable, action verbs allows students to easily identify the task at hand and provides measurability of the observable outcome.

 

Borich, G.D. (2010). Effective Teaching Methods (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

A reflection on the relationship between the bPortfolio, the Principles of HOPE, and the WAC 181

Currently, with very few posts to our bPortfolios, there may not be overwhelming evidence of the interconnectedness of our bPortfolios, the Principles of HOPE, and the WAC 181. However, I am confident that as we continue to add various reflections and writings to our bPortfolios, the relationship between the Principles of HOPE, Washington Administrative Code (sec 181), and our professional online-portfolios will become more and more evident.

The Washington Administrative Code 181 outlines the state’s certification standards, and an important purpose of the bPortfolio is to document and provide evidence of competence on the Principles of HOPE, SPU’s vision for effective teaching based on the standards outlined in the WAC. SPU’s Principles of HOPE—Honor student diversity, development and their right to learn, Offer an organized and challenging curriculum, Practice effective teaching: inquiry, planning, instruction & assessment, Exemplify service to the teaching profession—are meant to encourage and instill a deep sense of responsibility, calling and purpose behind teaching.

The bPortfolio has many purposes, but in relationship to the Principles of Hope and WAC 181, the bPortfolio functions as a space for reflection on knowledge, skills, and growth attained throughout the teacher candidate’s journey toward certification, an organized demonstration of competency, and a collection of prepared examples of professional work and personal progress.