Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Growth Mindset with Assessments

By Mark Heintz

The AP World exam just transpired and I am in full reflection mode.  I asked my students a few questions about things they felt they needed based on the test they just took.  The students felt they needed more writing practice throughout the year.  They felt they needed more individual practice with feedback on their ability to perform on the spot.  To give some context on the test, the exam has four components. Part one is fifty-five stimulus multiple choice questions. Part two is four short responses.  Part three is one document based question (DBQ). Part four is one long essay exam.  While AP does give a course framework, the students do not know the prompts or documents ahead of time.

To adequeately gather enough assessment data for each component, it takes a lot of class time.  To prepare the students for each component and give feedback along the way so students feel success, it takes a lot of class time.  Despite the enormous use of classtime, I feel they are one of the best elements of the class because they require the students to think. Since they take a lot of class time, I have often taught small elements of the essays in the first few units, but never had hard checkpoints or summative assessments for each writing component in each unit.

Based off the student feedback and my feelings on the year, I created an assessment chart to ensure a linear progression of the skills required for each component of the exam.  I wanted to hold myself accountable to formally assessing each part in each unit with the exception of the first unit which is a very short unit.  I did not want to assess the entire essay in the beginning because it would be too difficult and too time consuming.

To give an example of the progression, in the second unit, I will give the students a two document DBQ.  The students will only be required to write a thesis, give contextualization, and connect the two documents to their argument.  This will not require fifty-five minutes like it will at the end of the year.  It only assess three skills, which I can easily provide feedback to the students to help them grow by the next assessment. Each unit I add a skill or documents to progress them towards the final product of seven documents. Unit three adds the synthesis skill.  Unit four moves to four documents.  Unit five adds source component and five documents.  Furthermore, it gives me data on what my students have mastered and need help on at a very early stage in the year.  They do not need to be able to write a DBQ until the middle of May.

I have selected the DBQ's for each unit already and tailored the documents to get at the skills being assessed.  I am hoping that this holds me accountable to ensuring that students are progressing in the skills to be successful.   Furthermore, my hope is that the students will master the skill in smaller doses so I can make them feel comfortable with the exam, hold them to a higher writing standard in the end, and not spend as much class time in the last few weeks leading up the examination.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Read, Speak, Listen and Write - All in one activity!

By Linda Ashida - Inspired by Kirsten Fletcher

First, A shout out to Kirsten Fletcher for emailing the Collab Lab team with an invitation to visit her French classes to see her students engaged in a Running Dictation Relay Race.

Intrigued, we stopped by to find some students wandering around the room reading the walls, other students sitting at their desks seemingly waiting, and small groups of students crowded around one of their desks.

Kirsten explained the "method to the movement" that got all of her students--collaborating in groups of 2 or 3--engaged in using the language in all modes: reading, speaking, listening, and writing.

Step 1) 
One student in the group goes to read one of numerous sentence strips posted around the room. The student reads the sentence as many times as necessary to memorize it.

Step 2)
The student who reads the sentence reports back to the group and recites the sentence from memory to his partner(s) who must listen and write the sentence accurately, exactly as it was written.  If the student who read the sentence forgets any part he can go back,  re-read, then return to help his partner fill in the gaps.

Step 3) 
The students repeat this process with each of the sentence strips around the room, until they have all of the sentences written correctly.

While this activity is great for World Language classes to get students up and moving and using all modes of communication, it could be adapted easily in any language arts classes.  The content of the sentences could be easily modified to adapt to any level of language learners.

The activity could involve varied extensions as well.  For example, sentences from a story could be posted in random order.  Once completely written, the students would have to put them the correct order, building an additional layer of reading comprehension.

Kirsten is thankful--and would like to give credit to--her #langchat colleague Martina Bex for sharing this activity. 

To learn more, read Martina's blog posts:
Running Dictation Relay Race
Running Dictation Extension

Thursday, May 4, 2017

#214EdPrep: Nicole Reflects on Her Experiences

By: Nicole Holubec

Image result for educators rising d214
Thanks to the District 214 Educator Prep Program I’ve gotten to experience so many great things. Ever since I was a little kid I knew I wanted to be a teacher. When I heard about the College Intro to Education course being offered at school I knew I had to join and be apart of it and that was one of the greatest decisions I had ever made because I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet so many new people and make new connections. 

In College Intro to Education I have learned the meaning behind what teaching is and I was able to create my own philosophy of teaching. I also got to take part in an internship which I am still currently in. Three days a week I get to go to Grove Jr. High and student teach. My rotations have been in 6th grade, Language Arts classes. 

I've taught lessons on annotations and have done “A Look Into High School” activity with my students. My annotations lesson is one that I actually have improved on. The first time I went through the lesson it was very simple, taking notes with paper and pen on an overhead projector, but the second time I taught it I changed things up and used technology. I created a Google Slides presentation for the students to take notes from, then a Nearpod activity to practice annotating, followed by a small quiz at the end to check for understanding. 

Besides going out on an internship, this class has given me many opportunities to work with different groups like Estudiantes Unidos, the Future Teachers Club from Devonshire Elementary, and first graders from Salt Creek Elementary. 

By working with these groups I’ve been able to get a first hand look into different ethnic and age groups which makes me more prepared for my future with the students I will have one day. Talking with these groups and hearing other students having the same passion that I do gave me even more motivation to continue in the field of education. 

Some of the greatest opportunities have also come my way thanks to the teachers in the Collab Lab. Ms. Ashida and Ms. Barry have come into my class, also along with Mrs. Miklusak and Mr. Heintz, and showed us different ways of teaching with and without technology and different styles of teaching. 

This collaboration with the Collab Lab led to an opportunity for me to present and take on the role of teaching the teachers at the EdCamp In-Service day at EGHS

Thanks to EdPrep I’ve gotten to grow as a person and as a future educator.

To learn more about the program, and the experiences of other EdPrep students, check out #214EdPrep on Twitter!