Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Preparing the Data

Hi All

First thanks again for letting us visit your classrooms today.  Kelly & I worked with Emily, Tara, and Kerry to take a schoolwide snapshot of where we are in the school.  Many of you have made large strides in getting their Classroom Environment, Independent Work Time, Conferencing, and Unison Reading formats up and running.  All of us are still working on refining and improving our practice.  We have done so much is such a little amount of time.

We have come far

  • All classrooms have roughed out the formats (all mandated formats of conferencing, independent work time and unison reading (in LC classes) are up and running)
  • All teachers have established resources and taught into their classroom environments so that students are beginning to understand how to find and use them
  • All teachers have established unit arcs that include student choice and are aligned to state standards
  • All teachers have moved to making the standards transparent on JumpRope
  • All teachers have completed standards aligned mastery grading for the first Marking Period
Give yourselves a woot woot!

Now back to it, because we still do have a long way to go...

Initial analysis of grades and student opportunities (for conferencing and unison reading (in LC classes)) shows that many of you are struggling to meet mandates.

  • Some of you have met or are exceeding mandates (all students in the lowest third (L3) students have >2 conferences and they have participated in > 4 unison reading groups, and everyone else has had at least 1 conference and 4 UR groups)
  • Many of you are approaching mandates (e.g. the majority of students in the L3 had 2 conferences and 3 UR groups, and everyone had at least 1 conference with at least 3 UR groups).
  • Many of you are below mandates (e.g. the majority of students in the L3 and the rest of the class have 1 or fewer conferences and 2 or fewer UR groups)

I'm still gathering and analyzing JumpRope grade data and your tally data.  I'm aiming to complete this analysis by Friday.  I'll share this complete data set with you guys starting in our conferences and in PD next week.  As you move forward this marking period, please reach out to your peers who have strong tallies in yours or in other grade teams.

If you are struggling to figure out how to schedule your time to meet your aims and required mandates, please reach out to me, your team, another team, teachers in the middle school, and/or Tara/Emily/Nicia.  There are also many PD opportunities to help you better develop capacity in unison reading, conferencing, and independent work time.  I strongly, strongly encourage you to visit your peers and engage with them to find ideas of what to do to shift practice and meet your goals.

Keep checking the PD calendar and reach out to Colleen, our high school PD rep to request specific PD opportunities so that we can work together to meet our goals!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Unison Reading - Following In

In the upcoming weeks, I'll be visiting Learning Cultures classes to evaluate Unison Reading groups and all classes to evaluate conferences.  I've asked Emily to be a guest blogger today on the concept of Following In, a key instructional tool for both of these formats.  Thanks Emily!!

Follow-in, Joint Attention, Cooperative Reasoning and the development of Joint Intentions
by Emily Jarrell

When my son was just around one, he was using a few key words but they were “baby” words – nana for bottle, dada for all people, mama for me.  I hung on every word he said.  I remember so clearly the spring in the apartment complex we lived in at the time because we had cherry trees in our front yard.  One early Spring day, enjoying a post-hybernation day outdoors, Aydan and I were standing in the front yard and he was pointing emphatically at the cherry blossom tree.  I walked him over to the tree and he wanted nothing more than to touch that tree and to grad the blossoms in his small fists.  It was a moment worth remembering because we were both completely engaged by this tree and both of us were giving this tree our undivided attention.  While Aydan was grabbing the blossoms, I said, “Tree! That’s a tree.”  Aydan continued to touch and grab the tree and I continued to say, “Yes, tree! That’s a tree.”  Needless to say, as I would not be going on about this if this didn’t happen, Aydan said, “Chee.” I responded with immediate excitement and said, “Yes, that’s right.  That’s a tree.  Do you like the tree? It’s so pretty!”  Aydan and I were speaking to one another.  We had a dialogue around the tree. 

If you don’t have children, I’m sure you’re sitting there reading this and thinking, “Seriously?”.  But, what I’m trying to illustrate here is the hard-wired nature of human beings to learn new things when in a situation where there is joint attention – when the parties are all looking at the same thing and trying to make sense of that same thing.  I’m also trying to illustrate the hard-wired nature of humans to make qualitative and quantitative leaps in their understanding of the world around them when they are attending to something – selecting to attend to that something – and someone follows-in to their attention to name, direct, push, and challenge them.  It is in the moment of acting upon the world, that learning is so easy and possible. 

So, what does this mean for us, Learning Cultures teachers? It means that WE DO TEACH!!!!! But, instead of traditional, transmission instructional models, we put our students into the action – through UR, Learning Groups, Table Shares, by illustrating their strengths and needs in their work in conferences – and then we FOLLOW-IN.  We base our strongest instruction in the moments when our students are looking at the same thing, trying to figure that thing out, intentionally formulating problems and trying to determine best means of action to solve those problems.  It’s in those moments that we turn to them and say, “Can I suggest something here?” or “Can I teach you something new?” or “Well, that work you’re trying to do is in the standards, let’s take a look together to see if we can figure this out.”

But, here’s the challenging tension.  WE DO TEACH but WE FIRST NEED TO FOSTER INTENTIONALITY in our students.  In Unison Reading, we need to hold them to the rules and BREACH when we know they don’t fully understand.  We need to hold them to breaching so that they begin to see what they don’t know, they begin to STOP taking their own understandings for granted and INSTEAD BEGIN TO QUESTION.  Once they begin to be curious, to be inquisitive.  Then we teach them to cooperatively reason.  We teach them to tell each other their thinking – “I’m thinking that maybe….” or “What about…?” or “Maybe it’s….” AND THEN we teach them to respond authentically – “Do you get what _______ said? Well, tell him you need him to resay it” and “________said something, he put an idea on the table, you all need to respond.  You can’t just sit and stare!” and “He said __________, now tell him what you think.” 

Once they have joint attention and they are cooperatively reasoning…the magic mix is there.  They will go back and forth naturally.  And you will have opportunity after opportunity to help them close their breaches by giving them the precise terminology to describe their processes, or to describe their new insights and you will be able to easily say, “Can I say something here? Can I teach you something new?”  This is where joint intentions begin.  They will be curious, they will be focused, they will be trying to reason, and you will help push them to new levels. 

So, push.  Push them to speak up every time there is something in that text that you know they should not take for granted.  Stop them and say, “Wait, I know this word is hard.  This is a good place to stop to get smarter.” Or, “Wait, there’s a symbol here and I’m not sure that you all understand what the symbol really means.  Use this opportunity to discuss this together.  This is how you will learn.”  Then TEACH them to cooperatively reason. And FINALLY, follow-in with instruction that will stick.  And, I promise, it will stick so much more if it’s done in this way.  And, if your follow-in is succinct and clear, they will want to pursue more from where your instruction came from – the standards. 

Thanks Again Emily!

Monday, October 15, 2012

A New Marking Period

Today started the 2nd Marking Period.  Tomorrow, (16OCT12, Tuesday) during our extended PD (it's already the 3rd Tuesday of the month), we'll meet in the library to do the following

  • 1.  2:10PM-2:20PM - Full Staff Meeting
  • 2.  2:20PM-3:00PM - Independent Work Time to Complete Conference Tallies (and UR Tallies
                                       if you're a Learning Cultures classroom).  Here are some sample tally

Sample Conference Log (From Colleen!)
Sample Unison Reading Log (From Colleen!)  

  • 3.  3:00PM-4:00PM - Grade Team Meeting to review records, discuss trends, and make
                                       adjustments to conferencing schedules, strategies, and/or interventions.

I'll be coming around on Wednesday (17OCT) during the morning (during PSAT) to take a look at the conferencing & Unison reading binders. Please have your tally sheets at the front of the binder, and please have your binders readily visible in the classroom so I can find them.

In preparation for the 2nd marking period, please take  a moment to review these documents.

  • I've used new Progress Report data and discharge/transfer/group change information to provide you with an Updated Lowest Third list.  Please use this to make conference schedules for MP2.
  • Many of you have asked for guidance in calendarizing your marking period mandates.  Take a look at this document:  1st Marking Period Attendance & an Example How to Plan for MP2
  • With nearly all of you, I've had discussions about "Activities FOR Learning" vs. "Assessments OF Learning".  Take a look at this Example Unit Plan that I made during my residency with Tom to understand how to more clearly present the difference to students.
  • As we move into the 2nd Marking Period, we will begin focusing on the quality of Unison Reading and Conferences.  For LC teachers, please take a moment to complete this rubric as a self-assessment of your Unison Reading groups to date.  For ALL teachers, please self-assess your Learning Conferences using this rubric.  I will be coming into classes this week to observe conferences and Unison Reading groups.  In addition, I'll be providing continued feedback on the Environment
  • Today, we launched the UAI PD committee.  Colleen is your representative from the high school, and the committee consists of Colleen, Tara, Emily, Nicia, myself, Kelly, & a yet to be named middle school rep.  I'm in the process of developing a resource page for PD and High School News.  Please save this site as a bookmark and add the UAI PD calendar to your own calendars and/or see what's coming up for you this week:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mandates and Marking Period Ending

I just sent out the reminder of the Mandates that we issued at the beginning of the year.  Here's a snapshot of the Expectations Document I sent out at the beginning of the year.

In this 21 day marking period, the goal was to have at minimum

  • 2 conferences for students in the Lowest Third
  • 1 conference for students not in the Lowest Third
  • 1 Unison Reading group each day (which would be ~20 groups total)
    - NOTE:  the mandate is that students participate in (not lead) at least 4 UR groups
    - NOTE:  this mandate applies only to Learning Cultures classes
I'm relaxing the mandate on student-led Unison Reading groups for this marking period, but your goal needs to be to launch those groups for this upcoming second marking period.

For the first marking period, many of you shared with me your confusion about how best to align your tasks to state standards and some of you still feel fuzzy about how to approach varying task lengths in your subject area.  As we work through this, I'll also relax this mandate for MP1 with the expectation that we follow through on this one for MP2.  

Finally, it took us a few weeks to pull the ISS and Carrerra teams up to speed on how best to plug into the Learning Cultures classes.  If you have not already done so, your cooperating teacher and/or Carrerra Academic support team need to be conducting their own UR groups and conferences.  This mandate will also be in play for MP2.

All other mandates are in place for MP1.  

If you followed the schedule above and maintained accurate conference and unison reading records, you should be in good shape for meeting the mandates.  

For example, in this 21-day marking period, if you had 2 conferences everyday, you would have had a total of 42 conferences.  In a 25-student class, 8 students would require 2 conferences (16 conferences) and 17 students would require only 1 conference.  So the absolute maximum number of conferences mandate in the high school is 31 (because 25 is our largest class size).  Given that you have space for 42 conferences, you should be able to achieve 31.  

Similarly, in this 21-day marking period, if you had a unison reading group everyday, you have had a total of 21 groups.  The mandate is that students need to participate in 4 groups.  If you had 20 groups of 5 students, then each student in your class of 25 students will have participated in a UR group at least 4 times.

Here's what you need to check
  • Do I have at least 2 conference records for each of the students in the Lowest 1/3 for each section?
  • Do I have at least 1 conference record for each non-L3 student for each section?
  • Does each student in each of my classes appear on at least 4 of my Unison Reading records for the 1st marking period?
If so, you're golden!  If you're close, use the next 8 days wisely to get to the mandates.  If you're not close, please reach out to me ASAP, so that we can conference and figure out where the hiccups in your implementation seem to be.

Next marking period has 28 days, but the mandates are still the same.  So, you have more flexibility in how you might program the marking period.  Here's an example of how you might make your schedules.

*OPEN LC Format mean that you can do any learning cultures format that you want (Learning Groups, more conferences, more unison reading, etc.)

The bottom line is that you have to meet the mandates for the second marking period.  If you need extra support, please reach out to me, Emily, Tara, Nicia, and/or your grade or subject team members who may be excelling in areas in which you struggle.  Conversely, if you see a member of your team struggling, the community expectation is to reach out to see how you might support their work and efforts if the ask!

Additionally, please familiarize yourself with the LC rubrics.  They will help guide your implementation of the formats.  Just as I did with the Environment, I will be coming around this week to give feedback on Unison Reading.