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.
The ELA Grades 9-12 morning session, “Introduction for Experienced Module Users,” focused on how the approach to examining student work impacts teacher learning. Participants began by discussing how an internal or external locus of control can affect teacher learning, student learning and school culture. The conversation focused on how perception of control over student learning varies and can impact student learning and achievement.
Following the discussion, participants read an article called “Looking at Student Work” by Angie Deuel, et al. and talked about the argument made in the article. Participants discussed different approaches to looking at the data from student assessments. When educators look at the specifics of the data, they can focus instruction on what the students need. This would be a shift from looking at data to “prove that students have learned” and to looking at data to “improve student learning.” Classroom instruction would have to change to reflect this shift which would affect what students learn and how they think resulting in deeper understanding and better performance on assessments. One of the goals over the next two days is to build this mindset in ourselves and then in our home districts.
On Wednesday morning, the ELA group for grades 9-12 kicked off with a focus on assessments in Module 10.1. These assessments are aligned with the Common Core, preparing students with the skills and knowledge that they will need outside of the classroom. Development of the module assessments first begins with an understanding of the learning progression — the skills and knowledge that students will acquire throughout a unit, lesson, or module. This then leads to a consideration of how the student will be asked to express that skill set and knowledge through the assessment.
In order to better understand this process, participants started by looking at the standards that are assessed throughout Module 10.1. These included:
Reading standards for both literature and informational texts;
Writing standards that focus on the writing process;
a Speaking and Listening Standard related to collaboration; and
Language standards that deal with command of conventions in writing.
In order to bridge the gap between the standards and the assessment, teachers must consider how they will know when students have learned what is necessary in order to succeed in other contexts. Teachers must keep in mind that there needs to be a logical progression of knowledge and skills that also are assessed along the way to the final assessment. Assessments should relate to each other and should be connected to the standards. The real-life skills and knowledge that the students will gain and demonstrate through the tasks should also be considered. To examine this process, participants looked at a chart of assessments embedded within the 10.1 module. They talked about how the standards are reflected in the tasks, how the assessments relate to each other and build upon knowledge and skills gained, and the frequency of the standards assessed. The final performance task is also aligned to the standards and is achievable for students. Reading and writing standards are evident in this task and it is a good example of a culmination of the learning progression through the module.
The session culminated with a deeper examination of the final performance task where participants had a clearer understanding of the content and skills students will need to acquire through the module and then demonstrate in the final assessment. This reinforces the idea that students’ learning progression should be at the forefront when developing assessments in the classroom. In addition to being aligned with the standards, tasks should build upon each other and should ask the students to demonstrate a specific set of knowledge and skills.
The first morning session (Traditional vs CCLS Approaches to Teaching Canonical Texts) included discussions about why we teach the literature we teach and what our pre-Common Core approaches were to teaching these texts. We talked about the potential pitfalls to teaching texts this way and discovered that in some cases too much time was spent on single texts. Our love for these texts would often make us lose sight of the instructional purpose of the literature.
Participants then looked at Unit 3 of Grade 9 Module 1 which focuses on Romeo and Juliet and talked about the different approach to teaching the play, starting with the prologue, including the assessments and standards addressed. The unit includes studying Marc Chagall’s work “Romeo and Juliet” and viewing scenes of the Baz Luhrmann film. This aligns with reading standard 7 which includes making comparisons between two mediums around a topic.
The second part of the morning ELA session was about aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessments. Regents Fellow David Abel talked about how the assessments in the modules are aligned to the NYS Regents Exam. Careful alignment of curriculum and classroom assessments to the Common Core will best help prepare students for the exam, including assessments like those that appear in the modules. The three parts of the Regents exam are aligned to the 11-CCR standards and include close reading and text dependent questions and responses. Reading comprehension, writing from sources, and text analysis make up the performance tasks required by the exam. A strong emphasis is placed on writing evidence-based arguments. Sample Regents items have been released on EngageNY.org.