Monday, August 3, 2015

Blogging Challenge Day 3

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers

Day 3: Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.

Well I think this one goes back to my goals for the year. It's also something that we (in NJ at least) are required to do each year. It's called our Professional Development Plan (or PDP because we love acronyms). At the end of the year we look at our final observation and choose two standards that we'd like to improve further on and then outline a plan to do so. 

So below is the standard I chose: 

Standard 5. Teachers reflect on their practice 
A. Teachers analyze student learning. Teachers think systematically and critically about student learning in their classrooms and schools: why learning happens and what can be done to improve achievement. Teachers collect and analyze student performance data to improve school and classroom effectiveness. They adapt their practice based on research and data to best meet the needs of students. 
This is the evaluation criteria: 
  • Distinguished: Recognizes the need to improve student learning in the classroom.
  • Developing: Provides ideas about what can be done to improve student learning in their classroom.
  • Accomplished: Thinks systematically and critically about learning in their classroom: Why learning happens and what can be done to improve student achievement.
  • Distinguished: Provides a detailed analysis about what can be done to improve student learning and uses such analyses to adapt instructional practices and materials within the classroom and at the school level.
And this is the personal goal I created:
Refine standards based assessment methods in the Algebra 1 and Geometry courses. Create assessments with scaffolding to represent the different proficiency levels to better help the students and the teacher determine a student's level of understanding and what they can do to improve.

Really it's just the same thing I said a couple days ago about how I want to improve what I'm doing with SBG. A little more specifically, I'd like to try to start doing something I heard at a AMTNJ workshop this past January.

A group of teachers and administrators presented a session on Standards Based Grading. They had switched over as a district and worked together to develop a consistent system that they're all using. One thing they stressed was the need for collaboration. Or maybe not the need per se, but how much easier it made it. I attended the session with an awesome teacher from my school who had heard about SBG from me, but wasn't completely sold on it quite yet. The session got him a lot more excited about it though and now he wants to implement it next year. So this will certainly be a help for me. We're both teacher Algebra 1 & Geometry so having help with both will be super helpful.

My big takeaway, however, was the way that they designed their quizzes. Up until then I had put on a good mix of questions for each skill and graded over all their understanding. There wasn't a real system, just whatever I felt like belonged. What they do though, is more of a template for skill quizzes. All of theirs have five questions. They start their designing with the middle question and make that the most basic level of proficiency. Then they create two questions that get progressively more basic, and two that get more advanced. So instead of just a mix of basic questions, they have scaffolded quizzes. First of all, it makes it easier to write quizzes this way. I did it for the rest of the year and really liked it. Second it makes it easier to grade. By including the basic questions it makes it easier to determine if a students has some sort of idea of what they're doing, even if they're not yet up to being proficient.

I'm hoping that this will be manageable this year being that I'll have someone to work with and less courses to keep up with.


  1. Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for sharing this 30 DAy Challenge. I am in! A great way to stat the year. Wishing all the best for a productive, fun, learning year.

  2. Hi Sarah,

    I've been spending the past couple of weeks working with you ISN information. I'm diving into that this year. So excited to do something to get the kids more engaged in their learning! I've also been trying to adjust my homework policy along the same lines of scaffolding practice.

    Just a question for you. You said that you started making your quizzes based on the scaffolding process. Do you consider those quizzes as Formative? If so, do you use the same setup for Summative Assessments?

    1. I consider all of my SBG quizzes as formative because of the nature of SBG. They're using them to determine where they need work instead of using them as evaluation at the end of a unit. The only summative I really use is district common assessments that are given quarterly.

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