Teaching Sequences for Short-Term and Instant Interventions

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.”

Materials for this session are available here.


Crafting a Teaching Sequence for Extended Intervention

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.

Materials for this session are available here.

Meeting Students’ Needs; Grades 3-8 ELA Module Updates

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.

Living an Elementary ELA Lesson

During Thursday’s afternoon ELA session, teachers took on the role of the student and started with a reading of the non-fiction article “Characteristics of a Multinational Company” in order to come up with the gist of the article. This activity led into another where the session participants could then read and find the gist of another text around which the lesson is based, “The Red Cross.” The participants then used a graphic organizer (3-column Note Catcher) to complete the tasks associated with the Taking Notes Task card protocol. Through close reading of the article, everyone was able to identify key vocabulary terms and find text-based evidence to justify their definitions, just as their students would do. The graphic organizer is a tool that helps students to define a new term/concept based on the information gleaned from the two texts. In this case, the two articles were used to identify what a multinational aid organization is.

Through a Chalk Talk, the participants discussed their own notes based on the articles they read. Then, through the Think Pair Share protocol, ideas were exchanged about the best way to respond when a community is struck by a natural disaster. Participants shared their ideas with the rest of the group in order to explain key ideas from the texts they read. After “removing their student hats,” the teachers discussed the benefits of the protocols and how they are an effective way to address the Speaking and Listening standards. One major benefit was that the protocols helped to grow their thinking through the sharing of mutual ideas and they can offer help to students who need their thinking redirected.

Session participants read the lesson that was the source of the day’s activities and looked for evidence of collaboration, protocols, and conversations. This lesson is a good example of incorporating the Speaking and Listening standards into a Common Core-aligned curriculum. A question was asked about the appropriateness of the protocols for various lessons. Each protocol in the list provided on EngageNY is prefaced with a purpose so that a teacher can decide which protocol to use depending on the goals of the lesson. The session concluded with teachers reflecting on what kinds of classroom management practices need to be in place in order to foster a collaborative environment.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent looking at how protocols can improve literacy skills and be effective in a collaborative classroom environment. Four Corners and Fishbowl were put into practice in this session. The teachers again played the role of the student for the Four Corners activity. Here, the teacher/students had to choose (from 4 options) the most important thing the Red Cross does when communities are struck by natural disaster. Conversations were text-based and gave the teachers an opportunity to see this protocol in action through the eyes of their students. They then participated in the Fishbowl protocol where volunteers discussed the purposes of the Red Cross based on the notes they had taken throughout the “lesson.” The emphasis here is on relevant notes, relevant information, and relevant evidence. Observers of the Fishbowl conversation had to look for evidence of relevance in the conversations along with other qualities including how the participants in the discussion behaved throughout the exercise. Everyone spent the remainder of the session developing a rubric for Speaking and Listening standards.

The activities and texts in these sessions came from Grade 5, Module 4, Unit 3, Lesson 3.

Module Focus: Grade 4 Math Module 3

The morning session for grades 4 and 5 math focused on Grade 4 Module 3: Multi-Digit Multiplication and Division, where students see multiplication and division in action.  The standard algorithm is introduced in grade 4, but it is not a fluency for this grade level.  Multiplication is a fluency in grade 5 and division is a fluency in grade 6, so the intent of the module is to allow for the deep conceptual understanding of the process through the use of modeling techniques.

Participants took a look at division through the use of number bonds, array/area models, and place value/number disk charts.  This exercise provided a great visualization of the process.  Language plays a key role, with the correct use of the terms, “whole,” “quotient,” and “remainder” (how many are left). Phrases like “distributing evenly” and “decomposing” are important in explaining the process.

Teachers need to pick fluency activities that tie into the lesson well.  Participants looked at an example:

How many groups of ____ are in _____? Prove it by counting by ______.

The fluency activity will lead into the concept of “remainders,” an important link to the lesson.  Teachers need to make sure there is a connection with the fluency to the lesson objective.

Exploring Algorithms in Morning Math Session: Grades PreK-5

The morning Math P-5 session began with participants getting warmed up, spending three minutes doing mental math problems. They discussed how to solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems not using standard algorithms, and to compensate and deconstruct numbers and use the “hidden” associative and distributive properties. The activity set the focus for the morning which was to examine and practice algorithms for the story of functions. These algorithms will provide a fall-­back strategy for students that will always work.

Participants saw examples of how to use the distributive property for multiplication and how algorithms are cyclic in nature: add ones, add tens. Multiply ones, multiply tens.

Participants looked at an array of examples for multiplication and saw an alternate algorithm for multiplying by multiples of ten. The session also covered decomposition and the role of the magnifying glass in subtraction. One participant said, “I wish my teachers explained what was going on behind the scenes as clearly as these algorithms do!”

Later, the session took a quick trip through division algorithms. Participants went over a place value chart, finding the missing side of the array, dividing by multiples of 10, and the final division algorithm covered in grade 5. Each algorithm builds upon the next step.

The second half of morning session focused on looking at Grade 5 Module 2 – multiplication and division of whole numbers and decimal and fraction operations. Participants read the progressions document for Numbers & Operations in Base 10. A question was raised about how to use the progressions in districts in the current form because they are challenging to read, so districts need to somehow make them more palatable for teachers. Participants reviewed the Module 2 overview and compared lessons 2 and 17. The lessons are very similar in approach, but one deals with multiplication while the other covers division. Both lessons place an emphasis on rounding, place value patterns, and fluency with multiplication facts, and both lessons use examples that clearly show what happens when increasing/decreasing by powers of 10 through multiplication and division.

Ideas from the Tuesday Morning Session: Grades 9-12 ELA

The ELA 9-12 morning session began with a comprehensive discussion about assessing student learning and how to use their work to inform instruction. Participants assessed the Evidence-Based Claims they developed Monday with the EBC Assessment Tool provided. These tools have proven to be a valuable classroom resource for students so that they can assess themselves and their own understanding of the EBC process. There was also a focus on analyzing student work, figuring out the issues students confront in their understanding and then developing solutions that focus on instruction, not what students “can’t do.”

A further conversation about teaching the standards with fidelity ensued. The talk was on Standard RL.3 and common mistakes teachers make when teaching the CCLS, specifically not teaching the whole standard or teaching the wrong standard. To avoid these mistakes, teachers will need to refer to the standard often:

  • don’t refer to just the number
  • return to it when you are teaching
  • understand the standard:
    • the anchor standard
    • the grade-level standard
    • the section the standard resides within
  • assess the standard:
    • vet the assessment against the above