Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Every Day in Every Classroom"

In the wake of our most recent professional development, I would like to post on an article in Educational Leadership (EL).  The article is titled, Every Day in Every Classroom.  The author, Laura Greenstein, gives some good examples of effective formative assessment before, during, and after a lesson or unit.  Greenstein emphasizes that formative assessment helps students focus, learn much more along the way, be secure knowing how grades will be determined, assess their own and other's work using rubrics, and more comfortable taking summative assessments and standardized tests.  The bottom line is that students are better prepared when the grade, assessment, or task really matters.

Forest Lake Elementary

In addition to Greenstein's article, Richland Two's very own Forest Lake Elementary was featured in an article/video titled, How Differentiation and Assessment Work at Forest Lake Elementary.  The article/video does a fabulous job of summarizing how teachers at the school use assessment tools and technology to differentiate learning and assessments.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oct 17 Inservice Day

Today was a great day of professional development for our teachers.  We were able to participate in a number of activities that helped us get a better understanding of what formative assessment is and looks like, what specific feedback looks like, learn about technology resources for supporting claims and evidence in the classroom, and how to recognize the math practice standards in a problem.

Teachers started out learning how to hit a forehand in two different settings.  Half of the teachers were in the gym being instructed, using individualized formative assessments throughout the lessons with specific feedback. The other half of the teachers were in the media center where they were exposed to a close reading, videos, and teacher modeling about the forehand with no formal assessment or specific feedback.  Teachers who learned in the gym with formal assessments and specific feedback were very enthusiastic about their learning experience. Those in the media center were a little disappointed that they missed out on such a fun activity.  Both groups were exposed to effective teaching strategies, but the group in the gym had reinforcement and feedback along the way which allowed for a much more effective experience.

Later, teachers were presented with the results of a survey that was given prior to the inservice to determine the understanding of the faculty and staff when it came to formative assessment and feedback. Approximately 70% of the faculty and staff had a good understanding.  Others had some misconceptions about the topic.  Following this activity, teachers were asked to determine whether or not assessment items matched or did not match specific content standards.

Next, teachers split up into two groups.  One group was made up of K-2 teachers and the other group was made up of 3-5 teachers.  K-2 teachers worked with our media specialist on age appropriate resources (Google Drive apps) and activities to help student support their claims with evidence.  The 3-5 group stayed in the media center and worked with our ITS on similar resources (Lucid Charts, Voice Thread, etc...).  Teachers were very engaged in these activities
and resources.  The resources generated some great conversation about other resources and strategies that can accomplish the same thing.

Our final session involved teachers experiencing the eight math practice standards in various ways.  We first asked teachers to accomplish the daisies in a vase activity.  This activity generated some passionate opinions and questions about the boundaries of the problem.  It was a great way to have teachers experience the math practice standards.  We then watched the Education Channel video about Leprechaun Traps.  The video sparked some great conversation.  Finally, we watched a Ma and Pa Kettle math video that reinforced some of the practice standards in a humorous way.  Teachers spent the last thirty minutes in their grade level or team groups discussing the days activities and completed a feedback survey to help us determine our next steps.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Watch D.O.G.S. @ NSE

Watch D.O.G.S.
I know that I have featured this program before, but I wanted to emphasize it again because of its recent growth and growing recognition.  Our Watch DOGS have been very active so far this school year.  First of all, the membership has doubled, the number of active participants have doubled, and the impact has quadrupled! These guys met in early September to kick off the program.  Immediately, they became involved in helping out at car rider (AM and PM), reading to classes, helping out with projects, going on field trips, checking doors to make sure they are locked, talking with students, teachers, and parents, eating lunch with students, hosting PTO performances, helping out with the walk to school day, and more.
Recently the NSE Watch DOGS were featured on WLTX and WOLO, two local news stations.  You can see the segments by clicking on the respective stations.  You can also view the WLTX story on YouTube.

The Watch DOGS program is very important to our school for a number of reasons.  In the absence of an on-sight school resource officer, the Watch DOGS serve as an extra since of security and safety for our students, parents, and staff.  Another reason is because elementary schools have a lot of great female role models, but do not always attract male role models. These guys serve as great mentors and role models for both our boys and girls.  In addition, boys tend to struggle in school.  Research (Leonard Sax) shows that many schools today are
not designed for boys to be successful.  The Watch DOGS program is one way to make these students feel comfortable in their learning environment.  I could go on and on about the benefits of this program, but I think that it would be beneficial if you explored it yourself at