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MAKING THE GRADE: Arriving at Quality Level Consensus in Reporting

The move from grade based learning to quality based learning means that we, as educators, need to be consistent in our measures and interpretations of work quality.  A lofty goal for sure, but well worth the undertaking.   Today we’ll explore the challenges and steps to achieving success.

Challenge #1: Experience Needed!

Our curriculum standards tell us what our students need to learn, but provide little guidance as to what the learning should look like.  Perhaps, after many years of teaching the same grade level, a teacher develops a good idea of the appropriate different quality levels of achievement for that grade in any given subject area. The experience of reading many grade three and four narratives over the years, for example, has taught me what to look for, what to expect at this level, and which qualities distinguish good achievement from exemplary. The challenge is , however, that not all teachers have the luxury of remaining in the same grade for several terms in a row.  Teaching assignments are shifted, new teachers are hired, etc. . Let’s be honest. As educators, we come to classrooms with a variety of personalities, experiences and biases. Teachers are as varied at the students they teach.  How, then, can we be sure that we assign quality based grades fairly and consistently?  We definitely need to recognize that we must arrive at consensus about what the “learning should look like” for each subject area and grade level.  If we don’t have a clear picture of what successful learning looks like, how can we ever hope to help our students achieve it? Furthermore, how will we know when they have reached it?

Challenge # 2: Building Bridges of Common Understanding

What do we need to build bridges of understanding so we can arrive at quality level consensus? We need a process; a blueprint for the bridge that will help us all arrive at the same destination.  This process must be actively engaged upon by colleagues with the same intent. Our goal is to provide our students and their parents the assurance that their learning is being evaluated fairly and consistently.  This will give them the confidence to put in the effort that it takes to reach their higher learning goals. We are setting the target before them and letting them know clearly what is expected and exactly how it will be judged. Bridges can’t be built in haphazard ways we must all follow the steps to get the job done so let’s get building.

Step 1: Gather samples of student work in that subject area. Each grade teacher brings several sample of work that they feel best represent quality work. Samples can include any form that shows evidence of learning: journal responses, maps, reports, projects, problem solving, videos of student performances or presentations, computer projects, etc..

Step 2: Dive into the collections! Look at the collections  and work together with colleagues to develop criteria, rubrics with common, yet age appropriate language.  The criteria should provide a clear description of what quality and success look like at each grade level.  How? Try this:

  • Brainstorm
  • Sort the work into categories
  • Make a chart
  • Use it in the classroom. Discuss and revise it. Use again and repeat the process until a consensus is achieved!

Step 3: Create and/or explore the results of common assessments. Using common assessments can also help teachers arrive at consensus of expected levels of quality.  Collecting student work on these tasks then allows teachers to select samples that demonstrate certain aspects of learning in each of the different levels of the rubric. These samples can then be annotated and redistributed to all teachers so they clearly illustrate student capabilities.

Teachers then take the samples and score them on the agreed upon rubrics and then compare their scores to those of other teachers and discuss any discrepancies. If needed, the language of  the rubric can then be adjusted as necessary. This is a process that needs to take place over time to continue to support and develop consistent teacher professional judgement.

To help you get started, pick up these free rubric descriptors and subscribe for more upcoming teacher resources: CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: Analyze the Data! According to our expected levels of quality, how many of our students are achieving success? What does that mean for our instruction?

Now we have a benchmark. If the results of any given assessment in relation to the agreed upon benchmark are surprising we have to ask ourselves important questions that will drive us to improve our instruction and/or assessment tools. What do we need to do more? What do we need to do less? Did we emphasize what we needed to while teaching? Did we clearly communicate the expected levels of learning to our students?  How should we change our approach? In short, we need to use the data to drive our instruction going forward.

Hopefully, these steps have given you food for thought and some practical steps to take in either your school, or at the district level to structure sessions in which you can come together with the common purpose and goal of developing common levels of quality in relation to the expected standards or learning outcomes. Just remember,

Together, Everyone, Achieves, More

Like this post? Sharing is caring. Comment below, tweet, post or have the conversation with your colleagues. We all learn from each other.

Best,

Sharon

 

References:

Herbst, Sandra. “Grading, Reporting, and Professional Judgment in Elementary Classrooms.”Connect2learning. Connect2Learning, n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.

 

 

 

Exciting Classroom Presentations with Evernote

logo200Last week I shared how to use Evernote for unit planning. Now it’s time to turn our efforts into great classroom lessons! Believe or not, Evernote can help with that, too!
Remember all the great resources you gathered for your unit by using the handy, dandy web clipper to save sites, videos, articles, etc? Now it’s time to present those resources to your students in your lesson plan. Evernote has a great little feature that allows you to do the teaching right from your Evernote notebook. It’s called the presentation mode and it’s so easy to use. When you’re in your Evernote workspace, just open up the note you want and click on the presenter icon that looks like this:presentericon You’ll find it in the upper toolbar.

Wallah! You are now in presenter mode and can present the document, web page or whatever else you’ve clipped. While in presentation mode, you have the following choices in the settings at the top right of the screen:

  •  blue, red/pink or green pointer
  •  Light (white) or dark(black) background
  • change the size of the text in your presentation
    Check out this video to see the presentation mode in action.

There you have it!  Evernote can help you gather resources, organize them, and present them with ease. I hope this tutorial proves helpful to you in bringing exciting learning opportunities to your students. Sharing is caring!  If you found this helpful please share with other teachers, or homeschoolers that might benefit.

Questions? Anything, I’m here to help and would love to hear from you.

Best,

Sharon

Technology for Teachers: Using Evernote for Unit Planning

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been talking about using the Evernote in my classroom.  This is the fourth in a series of posts so if you haven’t had a chance to read the previous posts on how to set up your class in Evernote, then you might want to take a moment to do that before reading this one. Today I’m going to highlight how to use Evernote for unit planning. Evernote is fabulous for gathering and organizing your resources for unit planning.  This short tutorial will show you how to add documents from your computer and from the web, in a flash.

1) Unit Planning: Evernote is fabulous for unit planning! Be sure that you have installed the Evernote clipper onto your PC or MAC, then set up a notebook for your unit plan. For example, if I wanted to plan a unit about Rocks and Minerals, this is what I would do:

A.  First make a notebook for the unit in Evernote. I make a stack labeled SCIENCE, and then make a notebook for each science topic.  Take a look at this short video clip to see how:

B.  The next step is to put everything (documents, websites, videos, etc.) into each notebook.

Here’s how to add documents from your computer:

Here’s how to clip information from a website or YouTube. Using the web clipper makes it easy to clip any web resource in just about any format. Here’s how to clip:

Once you’re done with the fun of clipping and adding your resources, it’s time to take a look at your resources in Evernote.  See how beautiful everything is organized? The SCIENCE STACK holds the NOTEBOOK called WASTE IN OUR WORLD, and inside that notebook are all the documents: pdfs, jpegs, websites (saved as articles, bookmarks or screenshots), and videos.  Neat and tidy in one place!

I hope that this tutorial has helped you see how easy it would be to set up your own organizational system in Evernote. Next week I’ll share how you can use the “presenter” mode to bring those resources to life in your lessons. Presenting lessons to the students in fun new ways will excite and engage young learners and that’s why we teach!

Until next time,

Work smarter, not harder… and enjoy time with your loved ones.

Best,

Sharon

Technology to Save Teachers Time: Part 3

evernoteiconWelcome to the third, in a series of posts, in which I’ll share ways for teachers to work smarter, not harder, using technology tools that will actually “save” time. Today we’re going to take a look at EVERNOTE.

One of our primary challenges as teachers is to provide feedback to our students in a timely, consistent manner. We know that keeping up with marking assignments and then giving the students the feedback they need to grow as learners, is paramount to their success. In fact, in John Haddie’s (http://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/) research on how classroom practices are related to student achievement, he ranks formative evaluation and student feedback as very effective means to increase student learning. The problem, however, is that the mountains of marking quickly add up. How do we keep up, keep our sanity, and get some sleep, too? Have no fear, Evernote can help.

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Technology Tools To Help Teachers Work Smarter

As promised, this is the second in a series of posts in which I’ll share ways for teachers to work smarter, not harder, using technology tools that will actually “save” you time. Today we’re going to take a look at setting up notebooks and tags in EVERNOTE.evernoteicon
First of all, if you haven’t done so, yet, download the Evernote app to your desktop and all your devices. It’s free for the first 60 MB of notes. You can find the various links here: Evernote. Note – I’m using a Mac, so it might look slightly different on a Windows PC, but the same features are in both versions.
Once you have Evernote, it’s time to set it up for your classroom.

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