I usually try to be more positive about division wide projects even if I don’t agree with the way they are carried off. Unfortunately there is no way to put a positive spin on the what the teachers in my schools have had to endure with the gradebook this first nine weeks. It’s been so bad, that I have been scheduled to do additional inservicing in BOTH buildings. In preparations for next week’s inservices, I have been creating a timeline of events, things that both the teachers and I have had to make adjustments for over the last 6 weeks. I felt the need to document this transitional period for them to validate what I know has been a really bad experience for most.
I’m using TimeRime for this timeline. It’s a free web2.0 aplication that I have known about for a while, but have never gotten around to exploring…seemed to be the right tool this time.
In preparation for the Pinnacle Gradebook rollout to the remaining elementary schools, I am taking some professional development. I went to 2 sessions today led by Rebecca, a very passionate educational consultant for the company. These sessions will lay the foundation I need to understand the sessions I will go to tomorrow. The first session was a little slow going. Rebecca walked us through a really detailed approach to curriculum writing. She also talked about the characteristics of High Performing schools. This is some research that I have heard about, but had not taken the time to actually read. This is it in a nutshell:
they focus on what they can do not what they can’t
they don’t leave anything about teaching and learning to chance
o They use rubrics and frequent assessments
o They inform parents about standards and student performance
o Teacher rubric for scoring & “student speak” version of rubric – allows students to understand what the goal is.
Set high goals
High performing secondary schools put all kids – not just some – in a demanding high school core curriculum
My most important “take-away” was this afternoon – Rebecca’s discussion of Marzano’s work. I was aware that Marzano has begun to do additional research (beyond the 9 strategies that we all know and love), but I haven’t really read a lot of his new stuff. I definitely need to take a look at The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives and Classroom Assessment and Grading that Work. I here they may have copies for sale later on this week and I might just pick them up if they do.
Most of us a familiar with the 9 instructional strategies that Marzano found most helpful in his research. I have encouraged teachers to use them whenever I can. Today I learned something about them though…The power in using the strategies is not just in incorporating them in our lessons. The power comes when you teach the actual strategy. Once students learn the actual strategy – learn to identify similarities and differences for example – they can then transfer that skill to any content area and that is when you see the tremendous gains in achievement. See, by teaching the strategy, we are helping the students to build schema and once that schema is laid we can help students see the same pattern in any content area. “Remember when we talked about how plant and animal cells were alike and different? We are going to do the same thing only today we are going to talk about how the First Americans were alike and different…” Definitely not the way that I have taught with these strategies before, but I’ll do better and will coach my teachers along the same lines.
I have only been here one day, and I’ve already learned something that will inform and change my practice…There are some concepts that Rebecca talked about I will try to get clarification for while I’m here as well – grading on a learning trend, leveling test questions, and the way she talks about using rubrics…This is going to be some week…