Tag Archives: learning target

Video Analysis Two

For my Instructional Strategies course, we were again asked to analyze a video. I chose to analyze this one; although it is well out of my age-range, it seemed like it would be an interesting new perspective I hadn’t yet considered in this course. The video shows a close reading of a text by 10th grade students. I found the teacher used two strategies very well in her presentation of the way in which students were to approach the reading. The video starts with a great introduction, connecting the lesson to other lessons and setting clear objectives, and the teacher provides guidance on how to take effective notes during a closed reading. I believe the teacher did well with putting students into groups, but find there could have been ways to improve the cooperative learning aspect of the lesson.

In the very beginning of the lesson, the teacher starts by stating what they would be doing, referencing what they had done before, stating how this instance would be different (nonfiction as opposed to narrative close reading), and explicitly stating the purpose of a close reading. This all took place within the first 20 seconds of the lesson. According to Dean et al, “clearly stating the learning objectives in student-friendly language helps students focus on what you want them to learn” (2012, p. 7), and the teacher in this instance does a great job helping the students understand exactly what she expects from them that day. She then links what they are learning to why they might need it in the future – she even notes that they are using a text she read in her time in college – which is what Dean et al refer to when they say objectives should help students understand “how they will apply what they are learning now to future studies” (p. 8).

In regards to note-taking, I wish I would have had a teacher who taught me how to take notes when reading a text in-depth. This teacher listed multiple different notations for different situations: Main idea? Underline it. Don’t understand a word? Circle it in orange or pink. Find something exciting? Put an exclamation point and write why you find it exciting. At one point, the teacher states that “There’s no wrong way to annotate this text,” which is very encouraging for those students who might not be so confident in their ability to tease out important information. Pitler and Stone note that “note-taking strategies are not intuitive” (2012, p. 185), so it is critical that the teacher provided so much structure for what to write, but also gave students a little bit of leeway in regards to where exactly they would mark. The annotations will also help students when they revisit the text, which they will likely do as the teacher noted what she wanted them to do when reading “the first time,” and will allow students to better understand their thinking from the first read-through as they re-approach the text to go further in-depth.

While I appreciated that the teacher had students work in small groups, I was never aware of any form of accountability. This may have been incorporated in their overall expectations during group work, but was never addressed in the video. The students seemed to have an understanding of their roles and helped others in their understanding as well, but it did not seem to have the “positive interdependence” aspect called for by Dean et al (2012).

Overall, I believe this was a great lesson. I would have never imagined being able to have such a deep discussion of a text like this when I was a sophomore in high school. It is clear that with a clear objective and guidance as to how to approach and annotate the text, the teacher allowed students to identify the main ideas of the text and to look deeper into the meaning behind the words.

References:

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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Video Analysis

In my Instructional Strategies course, we were asked to analyze a video based on the strategies we had focused on thus far in our readings and discussion. You can see many of them as blog posts on this blog (Objectives and Feedback; Cooperative Learning; Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers; and Note Taking). The video, link here, is a third grade class lesson on adjectives in which the teacher emphasizes the senses to give more detail to written work.

Very evident in the video was the teacher’s linking content to previous lessons and to prior knowledge. According to Dean et al, “Effective cues and questions help students access their prior knowledge and put that knowledge to use learning new information” (2012, p. 52). The questions, however, were fairly surface-level: recalling the definition of an adjective from previous lessons and how they would use them. As the lesson progresses, students have to become more creative in their responses, coming up with ideas of how to describe the ocean using the senses: how it smells, how it sounds, how it looks, how it feels, and how it tastes. This allows the students to continue reflecting on adjectives, but in a way that forces them to think more creatively and inferentially than the recall questions did.

The teacher did not, however, set a clear objective for the students. While it was simple to put together the pieces of what was going on, it might not have been so obvious for the students. She began to introduce what was to be learned, but then transitioned into asking what the senses were. She then noted that “Our senses help us describe,” but never explicitly states that the goal for the day was to learn how to write using our senses to think of adjectives that help describe. According to Dean et al, “It is important to communicate learning objectives to students explicitly by stating them verbally, displaying them in writing, and calling attention to them throughout a unit or lesson” (2012, p. 7). I wish the teacher would have taken a little time to directly and explicitly state the learning objective.

Something that I believe the teacher did really well was modeling note-taking for her students. Though she never explicitly taught the note-taking procedure during this lesson, she was exposing her students to the kinds of notes they would take from a brainstorming session. Initially, she wrote down the ideas that students were throwing out about the ocean in an organized way on the board. Like the biology teacher example in the Dean et al text, this teacher also “demonstrated one way to provide teacher-prepared notes: create notes for students as information is presented” (2012, p. 91). The teacher then does the same process while the students have a graphic organizer on their desks, which students then fill out using the class brainstorm of how to experience an Oreo using the senses. I am a fan of the “I do, we do, you do” format of learning, so I enjoyed that she modeled the format, then had students organize the information with her before they were then left on their own to write. I did think, however, she could have again been more explicit with the objective of and instruction of the note-taking, which she later said would be five sentences about experiencing an Oreo with all of the senses. Pitler and Stone state that “Students often struggle with this strategy because note-taking strategies are not intuitive” (2012, p. 185). By exposing them to this strategy during brainstorming, the teacher is getting the students used to the idea of note-taking that can be elaborated on later during an explicit lesson.

Overall, I loved the idea of the lesson. The students were thrilled to get to write about something they loved – to be honest, I wanted an Oreo after watching that. The students seemed engaged throughout the lesson and got their creative juices flowing in coming up with how to describe the Oreo.

References:

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Objectives and Feedback

The readings for this week in EDU 6526 – Survey of Instructional Strategies – focused on setting and communicating clear objectives for students and giving timely and detailed feedback on student work and ideas. Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone (2012) claim that objectives are important in education, as they link what students are doing in class to what students are actually supposed to learn. While to the teacher it may seem obvious, clearly stating the objective in both written and oral form allow students to clearly make the link between what is done and what is to be learned. The authors also state that feedback can help students “confirm, refine, or restructure various kinds of knowledge” (Dean et al, 2012, p. 3). In my own practice, I would consider setting objectives something I have worked on with great improvement, while providing students with feedback would be an area in which I would like to grow more.

In my experience as a student teacher, objectives were highly emphasized. My mentor teacher used objectives as titles for the lessons in order to better remember what students were to come away with at the end of the lesson. The objectives were posted on the board in the back, too, in second-grade language, sometimes denoting new vocabulary in a different color marker. Those words on the board, in and of themselves, were a great reminder to the teacher to stay on course and to keep the end goal in mind. The trouble I had, though, was trying to ensure students were on board with our target – that students were “getting it” and knew what we were doing and why. Using objectives as a tool for students, as well as for me as a teacher, can help everyone be on the same page in their understanding of what we are teaching and learning for the lesson. For me, writing objectives has been a good practice in how to plan units that align to Common Core – Dean et al state that “teachers must ‘unpack’ the statements of knowledge in their standards document to drill down to more specific statements of knowledge and skills” (2012, p. 5). This unpacking process allows me to organize the missions of each lesson in a way that better guides students to the overall goal of the unit: meeting the standard. Objectives are better, according to Dean et al, when students are informed of the objectives and can personally set their own objectives. While I have become much better at communicating objectives and having students discuss what the targets mean, I must improve on having students “buy in” to the objectives, possibly by better linking them to what students want to learn.

Feedback is an area in which I struggle. I want students to have a great deal of practice in what they are learning, so giving in-depth and timely feedback on what the turn in to me can be difficult. Dean et al (2012) recommend that feedback given to students be specific and timely: lets students know what they did correctly and on what they still need to work, references specific criteria such as rubrics, and comes in time to fix their misunderstandings before the confusion become integrated in their understanding. My next step in improving the feedback I give to students will be to create rubrics that specifically lay out what I expect of students in order to receive a given grade. This way, students will have more specific goals to reach a certain grade and know what is expected of them, but I will also be able to use it as a reference in discussing student understanding with the students and their parents. Pitler and Stone (2012) discuss a website called Rubistar in their vignette on criterion-referenced feedback. Rubistar allows teacher to create rubrics based on templates, making it simpler to give students the expectations and comment based on the same expectations for all students. This tool will be going into my bookmarked pages in order to use it this upcoming school year.

 

References:

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Aligning Lessons to Goals

In lesson planning, I have become accustomed to essentially planning backwards – starting with the goals and choosing lessons that will align to those goals, which helps me to offer an organized curriculum aligned to standards and outcomes (HOPE principle O1). My internship has emphasized the importance of learning targets and goals. According to Marzano, a learning goal is “a statement of what students will know or be able to do” (2007, Location 205). We sometimes refer to these as learning targets, which is more specific to an individual lesson. Each learning target is a critical piece of building towards the central focus, or goal for the series of lessons or entre unit.

When designing lesson plans in this way, starting with our central focus and learning targets, we ensure that every lesson has a purpose. By starting with what students are to learn before focusing on how they will learn it, each lesson, each question, and each activity will be focused on and aligned with a specific outcome.

 

Image 1 - A part of two consecutive lesson plans, each sharing the same central focus and standard, but whose targets build on each other.

Image 1 – A part of two consecutive lesson plans, each sharing the same central focus and standard, but whose targets build on each other.

Another benefit of this style of lesson planning is that students understand what they are supposed to be learning. As Jim Knight said, “When students understand what they are supposed to learn, the chances are much higher that they will actually learn it” (2012, Location 914). One of the areas on which I am still working is to ensure students have time to reflect on their progress toward the learning target at the end of the lesson. I believe this is critical because students should have a better idea of how confident they are in their abilities and where they may need to work harder.

References

Knight, J. (2012). High impact instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

EDU 6136 Reflection

In EDU 6136, we learned more about 9 key pieces to effective instruction: Assessing prior knowledge, student assets, academic language, scaffolding, supporting, deepening, feedback, student reflection, and teacher reflection. Since reading more on these ideas, I have found myself implementing them more in my instruction. My growth as a teacher through this course is evident in how I approach lesson planning. Many of the changes I’ve seen in my approach is in my questioning. I want to find ways to deepen student learning and do so through effective questions that leave students thinking more about the answer than I thought about asking the question. I feel this shift is closely related to HOPE Principle P1 – Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction. By ensuring my questioning is intentional, I can ask questions that bring about the kinds of answers that will help students better understand concepts.

For my Classroom Tips assignment, I created a Questioning Questions sheet that I, and other teachers, can look over when coming up with questions for a lesson. Inspired by Caram and Davis (2005), one of our readings for the course, it helps highlight the kinds of questions that do not cause deeper thinking and guides educators to use more effective questions. When used in conjunction with a goal of using multiple levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom et. al., 1956), questions can be designed to have students think in meaningful ways about the content.

Additionally, according to Caram and Davis, “Teachers need to go with the flow, using student responses to bring depth and breadth to the lesson” (2005, p. 20). Not only do we need to have questions planned, but we must also be ready to abandon some of those questions we took so much time to create in order to ask questions and elaborate on ideas that will better benefit student understanding. This is why I am beginning to create a scale of questions for each lesson. While each lesson does not need a full outline, it is important to have key questions prepared – the questions that must be asked, the questions that can be asked, and the questions that can be dropped. The higher-order questions should be in the first category, while lower-order questions are included in case there is time, but can be dropped should a more important discussion present itself.

Image 1 - Questions for an Upcoming Lesson in 3 Groups: Must Ask, Can Ask, Can Drop. The Must Ask questions help student progress to the goal while the Can Drop question reviews a concept previously taught.

Image 1 – Questions for an Upcoming Lesson in 3 Groups: Must Ask, Can Ask, Can Drop. The Must Ask questions help student progress to the goal while the Can Drop question reviews a concept previously taught.

Using this system, students will be asked the questions that will deepen their knowledge, will still be able to learn based on their immediate interest or needs, and teachers will be able to get students thinking more about important concepts.

References:

Bloom, B. S.; Engelhart, M. D.; Furst, E. J.; Hill, W. H.; Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay Company.

Caram, C. A., & Davis, P. B. (2005). Inviting student engagement with questioning. Kappa Delta Pi Rec 42(1) p. 18-23

Teacher Observation 1: Intentional Inquiry, Informal Assessment

P1 – Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction. Using questions in the classroom can help students think about what they are learning and how it applies to the world outside of the classroom. It can also help students better understand the processes and complexities involved in a concept. When I observed Mrs. L’s 4th grade class on September 16, I realized what a key role questions played in getting students thinking.

When listening to her line of questioning, I found that she hardly ever let a closed question rest. In math, there are typically only “right or wrong” answers, but Mrs. L has them explain their thoughts behind it. The students are shown a problem and asked to respond on mini white boards, as shown in Images 1, 2, and 3. If their work is not shown, it is considered wrong. This technique gives her immediate feedback on where individual students might be struggling, which she tracks on note paper for reference when there is time to conference with her math students or to better plan instruction.

whiteboards

Image 1 – Using whiteboards allows every student to answer a question and helps the teacher know which students might need more help.

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Image 2: Students write on their whiteboard using a dry-erase marker, which allows them to erase their answers using a felt cloth.

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Image 3: Having students write largely and in bold colors allows the teacher to see each student’s response from one location in the classroom.

Having the students explain their work also allows Mrs. L to know which key pieces might be missing from their overall understanding of the concept.

Before this summer, I thought that formal assessment such as quizzes and tests would be the best measure of student progress. When I read about the many informal formative assessment methods, I thought they might feel out-of-place and forced. Seeing similar strategies at work in a classroom make the idea of formative assessment less intimidating. Simply asking students to go deeper into content is an excellent way to get them thinking critically and to make sure they are understanding the content.

Organizing Curriculum with Learning Targets

O1 – Offer an organized curriculum aligned to standards and outcomes. To me, this standard means to plan based on goals as opposed to plan based on activities. Throughout the coursework, we have been told about the importance of communicating goals to students. A learning goal is “a statement of what students will know or be able to do” (Marzano, 2007, Location 205). We sometimes refer to these as learning targets, which is more specific to an individual lesson. The activity in which the importance of having and communicating these goals was solidified was in creating a lesson plan. In Introduction to Teaching (EDU 6918), as well as in other classes, we were asked to create a lesson plan starting with the standards and learning targets, as shown in Figure 1.

Image

Figure 1: A Lesson Outline from EDU 6918.
While creating a lesson plan, we were to decide what our standard and target were before planning the activities and assessment.

While this strategy was initially difficult, it became evident that having a clear goal was critical to having an organized curriculum, and that identifying the target can benefit students as well. As Jim Knight said, “When students understand what they are supposed to learn, the chances are much higher that they will actually learn it” (2012, Location 914). In order to make sure I give a clear target at which the students are supposed to aim, I plan on continuing to focus on what I want the students to learn before I focus on how they will learn it.

References

Knight, J. (2012). High impact instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.