Ken Wagner, Senior Deputy Commissioner for Education Policy, and Kate Gerson, Senior Regents Research Fellow, discussed the future at the Network Team Institute opening session this morning in Albany.
At the beginning of Tuesday morning’s session for grades 3-5 mathematics, participants described conditions that they would want to have in place in their “ideal” teaching community. Answers included the no “blame” game, common language approaches, vertical and horizontal teaming, time for data driven instruction and an endless supply of manipulatives.The goal of the day was to continue discussing intervention methods, specifically short-term and instant intervention within a lesson, and how these methods could help the participants’ ideal community become a reality.
Short-term intervention is based on the same cycle as the extended intervention: assess, analyze, plan and teach. After assessing, the analysis focused on different types of questioning strategies that could be utilized to determine where the error occurred, where the last place that the student seemed successful was, and what gaps might exist that could make the next objective difficult. Questioning or “break it down” techniques included providing an example, providing a context, providing a rule, providing a missing or first step, the roll back, or narrowing/eliminating false choices. Teachers need to exercise restraint during the questioning so as not to take too much time out of the lesson and lose the focus.
Strong questioning techniques come from a solid knowledge of the content, not just at grade level, but across the board. Content knowledge is obtained through text study, collaborative planning, peer coaching and professional development. Participants discussed how to plan short-term interventions, which used the same process described in Monday’s post, but on a much smaller time scale. Teachers need to decide when a short-term intervention is more appropriate for supporting a student than extended intervention. Teachers also need to determine what they need to develop in themselves so that they can quickly craft effective short-term interventions.
The session concluded with reflection on a professional reading by T.R. Wang. This one quote seemed to summarize the objective of the presentation: “…one is to study whom you are teaching, the other thing is to study the knowledge you are teaching. If you can interweave the two things together nicely, you will succeed.”
In one of Tuesday’s sessions for grades 3-8 ELA, “Supporting Students with Disabilities: The Modules and Beyond,” participants were introduced to the four A’s of Intervention:
- Anticipate – How do you anticipate student needs?
- Assess – How do you assess the results of the instructional decisions that were made in a lesson?
- Act – How do you plan to act to meet student needs?
- Analyze – What do you do to analyze the results?
The teachers then saw the four A’s in action by watching videos of teachers in their classrooms and talking about how the teachers used the A’s with their students. Much time was spent on reflection and considering the information gained in Monday’s sessions regarding intervention strategies. The goal was to learn about how teachers can use these strategies to support all their students, not just students with disabilities.
The focus of Monday’s session for grades 3-5 math was how to craft a teaching sequence for extended intervention. Participants worked through the entire process of developing a sequence of module lessons that could be utilized for remedial purposes, filling in learning gaps or supporting enrichment. The day started with examining three types of problems encountered in fourth grade. Participants were then asked to focus on just one of the problems and discuss/think of a sequence of related math problems that would lead to a student being successful at the problem at large. Discussions were centered on the idea of how teaching must be collaborative, not an isolated task. Teachers need to play off of the strengths of their fellow teachers in order to help solidify the vertical foundation being built through the Common Core standards. One highlighted belief was that ”A teacher’s pedagogical content knowledge of the grade levels preceding and following his or her own impacts students’ success daily and is the primary engine necessary to meet the needs of all students.” With that in mind, participants started learning how to build a ladder from a point of strength to the objective.
The process for developing the teaching sequence for intervention is based on a cycle that starts with assessing the student, analyzing, developing a plan, teaching and then re-assessing. After assessing the student (using the module assessment), teachers analyze student work using a mathematical practices protocol that helps identify strengths and weaknesses and also aids in developing questions that can be used to help identify the error or where the “lost” has occurred. In other words, teachers need to find where the crack in the foundation is located and where the last point of success is located. Once identified, teachers can read the corresponding module overview and find where in the overview of module topics and lesson objectives the breakdown occurred. At what lesson or lessons did the crack first appear? Once the crack is identified, teachers can now work on constructing a ladder of complexity, but keeping in mind that traveling up the ladder must be able to be done efficiently. Each rung of the ladder is intended for a 20 minute activity, with the top of the ladder being a task aligned to a final objective. Ladders or intervention plans should not exceed 3 weeks in length.
Strategies for finding the vertical links amongst grade levels included looking at the curriculum map, curriculum overview, foundational standards and the Common Core standards checklists found on EngageNY. Much time and energy was spent on researching within topics and lessons across grade levels to find activities or lessons that help aid in teaching the sequence more deeply. Groups made an illustrated poster to share the sequence and then spent time creating “second” chance assessment questions that allow students to experience and see their growth first hand.
Time and pacing came up as an area of concern. Most agreed that the process presented would work well in aiding AIS instruction. The point was really driven home that teachers need to utilize the strengths of their other grade level teachers on where to find foundational lessons in the modules that directly link to the final objective.
During today’s 3-8 ELA sessions, Expeditionary Learning focused on meeting students’ needs by providing participants with transcripts of actual moments observed in classrooms where the modules are being used. The transcripts included exchanges between teachers and their students of various levels of language acquisition. Groups discussed the intervention strategies used by the teachers in the transcripts. They also talked about other interventions the teachers could have used to help more students be successful. Discussions resulted in a great exchange of ideas and the sharing of strategies that have been successful for some and not so successful for others. Teachers reflected on the day’s learning about teachers’ questioning, probing and responding habits in the classroom.
Expeditionary Learning also provided an update on some of the ELA modules currently in revision:
- Grade 4 Module 1A (previously Module 1) is under revision by NYSED and will be posted this summer. This module will still focus on The Iroquois, but it will include Eagle Song as an optional independent read. A new addition will be The Keeping Quilt which will be used as a read aloud and will only require a teacher copy.
- A new option for teachers will be Grade 4 Module 1B, a module with a focus on poetry. Texts will include A River of Words: The Story by Jen Bryant (teacher copy only) and Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (one per student).
- Grade 5 Module 4 is also undergoing some revisions. The text Eight Days will remain, but Dark Water Rising has been removed. Unit 2 will be revised during the 2014-15 school year, with no new texts being required.
The Thursday afternoon ELA session for grades 6-8 focused on analyzing the intentional backward design process that scaffolds students’ success in the ELA modules. Resource materials were provided to help teachers build scaffolds for English language learners and students with disabilities as they implement the modules in their classrooms. The research modules (Grade 6 Module 4, Grade 7 Module 4, and Grade 8 Module 4) incorporate and connect to the Odell Education materials and connect to the Grades 9-12 ELA research modules. This provides continuity for middle school students when they go to high school and encounter material that uses similar vocabulary and research strategies. Focusing on Grade 7 Module 4A, participants discussed the teaching of research skills including how to identify a credible source, assessing sources (including for readability), and the importance of librarians in the research process. Discussion also included strategies for accommodations and scaffolding for all students in this lesson. This was an informative session that got everyone thinking about how they will teach research and writing in their classrooms.
The materials from this session are available here:
The focus of Thursday’s grade 4 presentation for mathematics was on the content of Module 6 and Module 7. Module 6, “Decimal Fractions,” allows students to extend prior knowledge of fractions by seeing decimals as an application of fractions. The progression of the module allows students to see that decimal and whole numbers behave the same way, and that working with decimals just increases their sense of number. Participants were reminded that that even though scaffolding is embedded in the lesson content, teachers may need to provide additional scaffolding measures. It is important that throughout any module, teachers amplify language. Teachers need to use academic language and be clear, effective and consistent. Teachers also need to develop conceptual understanding of the content matter by continually going from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract. Too many visual representations might be ineffective, so teachers need to be strategic when choosing the best modeling techniques to use for the pictorial. Lastly, teachers need to model strong questioning techniques and demonstrate how to speak and write mathematically. Sentence frames and turn/talk opportunities are some examples of how to accomplish this within a lesson.
Participants started off by looking at the end-of-module assessment and working on question 6. They discussed how they could use the assessment as a planning tool and how it would guide the delivery of the lessons.
Module 6 starts off with students exploring tenths concretely through length, weight and capacity. A scale and pre-filled bags of rice was used to demonstrate how students can decompose 1 unit (kg) into 10 bags or tenths. What does the scale say? 0.1. Other decomposition problems are discussed in this module and the number bond is used. The same methodology is used in earlier grades for bundling tens and working with teen numbers. Teachers saw a strong connection here and were excited, saying “We just need to give this process time.” The overall goal of Topic A is for students to build fluency in writing decimal numbers three ways: as a fraction, as a decimal or in words.
In Topic B, students decompose tenths into 10 equal parts to create hundredths. Students model the meter stick with a tape diagram and quickly learn that tenths make us more efficient when counting hundredths. Sometimes we need to adjust the model depending on our learners; therefore, students not only work with tape diagrams but with area models and number disks to see the equivalence of 1 tenth and 10 hundredths.
Topic C gets students to apply their knowledge gained in the first two topics in order to compare decimals. Students continue using tape diagrams and area models to show their conceptual understanding of the decimal comparisons. Participants did an activity from Lesson 11 that involved cutting out decimal flash cards and ordering the decimal numbers from least to greatest. The decimal numbers were represented in various forms. Participants then needed to plot the decimals on a given number line and determine the best endpoints for the number line.
Topic D introduces the addition of decimals with tenths and hundredths, without using any algorithm. Students become more fluent with their conversions between the two in order to add and use decomposition strategies in the process. Lastly, money amounts as decimal numbers are introduced. Money is used to extend the students’ conceptual understanding of decimals while providing an application of the skills learned. Participants ended the morning session by going back to the end-of-module assessment and discussing what they learned as they were going through the lesson that would need to be reflected in the teaching of the modules.
The afternoon focus for grade 4 was on Module 7 that deals with exploring measurement with multiplication. Since fluency for grade 4 is multi-digit addition and subtraction, core fluency differentiated practice sets are used in this module. Lesson 2 contains the master copies for the 4 practice sets. A great feature of these sets is that each one is broken into 2 parts, with part 2 involving problems that do not involve re-grouping. Both parts, however, have the same answer key, which makes for simple grading.
Module 7 allows students to develop an understanding of the two measurement systems (metric and customary) and allows them to become fluent with converting between larger and smaller units. Great application problems that reinforce the RDW process are found throughout the module and students get to connect their problem solving with mixed units. An interesting approach is taken to time, as conversion is taught with the clock being an unwrapped number line. There is a strong connection here with previous work with number lines.
The module ends with 4 lessons that have year-in-review activities that focus on the area of composite figures, more fluency activities and games designed to solidify vocabulary used throughout the year. The presenters gave ample time throughout the day to work on problems and discuss. This was a very informative presentation that once again demonstrated the progressive nature of the modules and how they are written to build off of the prior knowledge of skills.
The materials for this session are available here: