Friday, December 4, 2015

Getting an Outsider's Perspective

Written by Quinn Loch

At the last EGLLT meeting one of our focuses was on setting clear targets for our students. We saw lots of examples of how teachers communicate their learning targets to their students and it's always great to see how other teachers in the school do things in their classrooms. Sometimes I feel trapped in a bubble and it is inspiring to see things from another angle.

It got me wondering if my students could understand the learning targets that I provided them. This understanding is crucial for the student. If students don't know what they're aiming for, how can they succeed and meet the goals that you set for them? It can be difficult to step back and get an objective look at your own learning targets, so I turned to my colleagues from other content areas for feedback. If my colleagues couldn't follow or understand the learning targets, how could my students?

Inspired by Mark Heintz, I printed the learning targets for one of the freshman biology units along with some of the assessments, skills practice, and readings for the unit and taped them up to the whiteboard wall in the Collab Lab.

Over the next couple of days, some of the DTC's made comments and asked some questions. It was apparent that not everything was clear. There are areas where I am lacking specificity and some of the language isn't very student-friendly, especially for a freshman student. Of course I want my students to know words and descriptors like "differentiate", but I can communicate things in a more straightforward and unambiguous manner that would lead to less confusion.

Some of the changes are easy fixes, but should go a long way in leading my students' to success. The feedback that I received gave me a fresh perspective and would encourage my colleagues to do the same. 

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