Tag Archives: EDU6918

EDU6918, Academic Language, Parts I, II, III, and IV

Mary Alinger and I worked together on Parts I-IV of our Initial Study of Academic Language.

The final document is here.

EDU6918, Academic Language, Part V

How can you support all students, and especially English Language Learners, in developing their academic language literacy in your endorsement area?

It is very timely that the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) is having a regional exposition/conference in Albuquerque Nov 2-4, where one of featured presentations is from Sylvia Celedón-Pattichis entitled “Beyond Good Teaching: Meeting the Mathematical Needs of ELLs.”  In one place Celedón-Pattichis (1999) reported that it is important to use “students’ sociocultural and linguistic experiences to make mathematical connections between natural language and the language that is specific to mathematics.”  This was the conclusion of a study of think-aloud protocols on children of mexican immigrants.  I take from this that all students could benefit from good context to get academic language literacy, and that using a think-aloud protocol is one way to measure.

In another blog post, guest blogger Alexandra Rice (2011) writes about a study from the folks at the National Center for Research on the Educational Achievement and Teaching of English Language Learners (CREATE) which showed that “vocabulary instruction can have an important and lasting impact on student learning.”  I take from this that regular and focused work on vocabulary with my students can help them develop academic language literacy in mathematics.

All the sources which I investigated strongly urged that reading for the sake of better literacy was critical.  Doug Lemov (2010) urges that all instruction be measured in its utility against the gold standard of reading in class.  It gave me some pause to think that instead of doing some interesting or novel demonstration in the class, if I can’t show that the benefit derived from that demonstration would exceed the benefit of doing some in-class reading instead, then I should probably just do some reading.  Lemov calls this the “hurdle rate” and I have blogged about it before. 

This time as I read Lemov I was struck with the realization that reading something, anything, can have positive impact on students.  However, reading documents that will develop academic language literacy in math and science would be best.  Furthermore reading which is done using the strategies and techniques that Lemov outlines in chapters 10, 11, and 12, would be most effective, and especially more effective than those in Boyles (2004), which Lemov takes great length to criticize.  I take from the criticism that there are plenty of strategies currently employed to increase literacy that don’t actually help kids read better or want to read more.  This misguided strategies in fact actually hurt literacy or stunt growth in reading.

In my reading of Zwiers (2008, pp. 44-48), I was reminded that the modeling of academic language is key.  If the teacher holds a high standard for the use of appropriate vocabulary and sentence structure, then the students will follow.  Combining that with a Lemov (2010) techniques of “100%” and “Punch the Error” and students will quickly learn that they need to learn and reflect back the academic language that is being used around them.

I was glad that Thier and Daviss (2002, pp. 12-27) stress all of reading, writing and speaking as necessary to improve literacy, for two reasons.  First, since we are not just talking about reading anything or reading better (decoding, fluency, vocabulary), we are talking specifically about gaining content-specific literacy skills, we cannot forget writing and speaking.  Second, it is in guided inquiry in science and mathematics that students get real practice doing all of reading, writing and speaking new academic language.  I like their comprehensive approach and analysis and will definitely apply all three and try guided inquiry in my instruction to help increase academic language literacy.

Assuming now that I will be reading more in my math and science classes, Barton, Heidema and Jordan (2002) give three strategies that can help students be more successful in their academic language learning.  I summarize each one in turn below.

  • Activate Prior Content Knowledge:  topics that trigger or draw upon a learners experiences are inherently more interesting and can help keep the students engaged on a text or passage.
  • Master Vocabulary:  Students often need some way to organize the words  they are learning and two methods that help are semantic feature analysis, and nonlinguistic representations.  Both engage visual intelligences to help students incorporate new words and make them more their own.
  • Making Sense of Text Style:  even simple techniques such as pre-reading i.e. helping students see how a text is structured can help them deduce the hierarchy the author is using and thus find the key concepts.  This technique can even be applied with some success to word problems.

Finally, Coelho (2004, pp. 183-198) urges that any/all of the above techniques be practiced in an environment that is supportive of language learning.  This was a good source to read, and I put it at the end since all manner of techniques and strategies come to naught if we don’t provide:

  • comprehensible instruction, so students can follow
  • supportive feedback, so students can participate without fear of failure
  • a way to incorporate first languages, since that enriches the culture of all in the classroom
  • opportunities for cooperative learning strategies, since those are proven to provide necessary oral interaction

My goal is to provide the above tactics in a suitable environment so that ELL and other students can reach fluency in academic language.

References

Barton, M.L., Heidema ,C. & Jordan D. (2002). Teaching Reading in Mathematics and Science. Educational Leadership. 60(3). Pp. 24-28.

Boyles, N. (2004).   Constructing Meaning through Kid Friendly Comprehension Strategy Instruction.  Maupin House Publishing.

Celedon-Pattichis, S. (1999). Constructing Meaning: Think-Aloud Protocols of ELLs on English and Spanish Word Problems. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Coelho, E. (2004).  Adding English: A guide to teaching in multilingual classrooms.  Toronto, Ontario:  Pippin Publishing Corporation   

Lemov, D. (2010).  Teach like a champion.  Jossey-Bass.

Rice, A. (2011, August 16).  Report:  ‘Academic Vocabulary’ Lessons Boost Reading Skills. In Zehr, M. A. (2011) Learning the Language [guest blogger on web log]  Retrieved August 18, 2011 from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning-the-language/2011/08/create_brief.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LearningTheLanguage+%28Education+Week+Blog%3A+Learning+the+Language%29

Thier, M. & Daviss, B. (2002).  The New Science Literacy:  Using language skills to help students learn science.  Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann.  

Zwiers, J. (2008). Building academic language: Essential practices for content classrooms, grades 5-12. Jossey-Bass Teacher.

The Teacher I Hope to Become

If I were to focus on this first year of teaching, and in particular, my first year after a career switch to teaching, I would define the following success metrics and avoidable pitfalls.

A continual focus on the calling or the vocation in the job will help me keep the right attitude and help me be successful.  In particular, to help just one student to feel more capable or demonstrate more confidence in math and science will be worth it, especially to that one student.

Another concept that I would like to keep in front of me is the adventure of inquiry, the joy of shared understanding.  I am looking forward to getting reacquainted with “old friends” in math, science, engineering and technology.  I am looking forward to introducing my students to my “old friends” and hoping that they start up a relationship.  This is most invigorating for me, to see an equation re-derived, or to observe a law re-verified by experiment, and to be able to share that with others.

As my last success metric, it will help me to meditate on the human aspect that is fundamental to all education.  It is about relationship.  It is about mutual respect.  It is about remembering that all can learn, that all can achieve, that all want to be better.  It is about connecting incarnationally before trying to transfer knowledge.  My experience in technology has tended to stress that it is what you know and not who you know or how well you are known by others.

Next, the pitfalls I would like to avoid in the coming year are about attitude and response.  I am impatient by nature, and that is not a trait that is highly valued or linked to success in teaching.  I need to forge that impatience into a love of the process and the “journey” instead of the goal.

Lastly I would like to avoid the response that tends to see effort as black or white,  To find improvement in all effort, and not to categorize immediately as right or wrong.  Education is about process, it is about adding to proficiency and not fully realizing mastery overnight.  I need to be better at noticing the incremental progress and not expect immediate comprehension or fluency.

Harless, P. (2011). Scribing: A Technology-Based Instructional Strategy. Mathematics Teacher. 104(6). p. 420

We were talking on Friday 8/5 about student voice in the classroom. I was reminded of this technology and how useful it could be for fostering student interaction and voice in the classroom.

Check out a copy of the paper here.

Also let me put in a plug for joining NCTM, one of the benefits of which is you can view electronic versions of articles from their magazine Mathematics Teacher, including archives of the same.

Marzano, R. J. & Marzano, J. S. (2010). The Inner Game of Teaching. In R. J. Marzano (Ed.), On Excellence in Teaching. (10th ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

If you don’t–deep down–have an unshakeable belief (expectation) that your students can learn, and that you make a difference, then you will never be a successful teacher.  This is because you inner beliefs affect all of your outward actions and emotions, and without positivity in both of those, you will not positively affect student achievement.

That’s my impression after reading this chapter.  Oh, and to be a really good teacher you may need psychotherapy at some point.

Marzano and Marzano use a very instructive example in this chapter which helps to illustrate their points about how the inner game works, namely:

  1. We first start by interpreting a presenting event, i.e. students talking in the back of the room during a lecture.
  2. Next we select a desired outcome (situated goal), i.e. if we choose to react what tact do we take?

I like the example since I found myself tempted to get irritated at disengaged students at the back of the room, even though I don’t have anything in my background that would predispose me to fearing or resenting that event.  The trick is that you don’t really know why they are talking—since there are a host of motivations for that behavior—and you don’t know for sure if they are engaged or not.

Thus any defensive or personal reaction to the event seems inappropriate.  I felt a little like the Mr. Cannady (Marzano, Marzano & Pickering, 2003).  I probably would have called attention to their talking, and asked them to stop without even considering the other motivations for that talking.  At least that is what I would have done prior to reading this chapter.  Having read this chapter, I think I probably would have continued my lecture while drifting to the back of the room in an effort to get more information on what was going on back there.

Which leads us to the next points that Marzano and Marzano want to make in this chapter, namely that the inner game can be controlled metacognitively.  You must

  • First, use metacognition to control the interpretation, for which three questions are helpful.
    1. How am I interpreting this event?
    2. Does this interpretation help serve an important goal or an important principle in my life?
    3. If not, what is a more useful interpretation?
  • Then, use metacognitive control on the outcome selection.  Here, two questions to ask yourself
    1. What would this look like if it turns out well?
    2. What actions can I take to accomplish a more positive outcome?

Incidentally those of us who are parents can immediately try out some of these techniques in our parenting.  That’s a point which Marzano and Marzano don’t share, but which could be helpful to start practicing these metacognitive skills and especially under duress or on our feet.

Finally, Marzano and Marzano remind us that these metacognitive approaches can be practiced daily and benefits therefrom can be accrued over the long term.  In particular in classifying events we can get better at discerning how past experiences color our interpretations of current events.  Also, when it comes to examining our principles, if we detect a disconnect between how we act and what we claim to believe, we must should do some focused introspection, i.e “the ontological approach”.  Marzano and Marzano put it thus:

One of the ways to enact the ontological approach is through a reasoned examination of one’s behavior and the logical deduction of the basic operating principle that must be governing the behavior. Thus, a teacher would begin by examining what she actually does (as opposed to what she says she believes) and then deductively determine the basic operating principle that must govern such behavior. With a basic operating principle disclosed, an individual next examines the origins of that principle from the perspective that the principle was created by interpretations of specific life events. At the moment an individual experiences being the author of the basic operating principles governing his life, he simultaneously realizes that he has the power to change his interpretations of events as they occur.

Incidentally it all starts with reflection.  What happened in class last Thursday?  What did I want to have happen?  Why did what I want to happen, not happen?  What could I have done differently?  What prevented me from doing that, or why did I not see a better way at the time?  From that reflection we can uncover weaknesses in our metacognitive approach, or we might uncover a more serious gap in what we fundamentally believe.  This is the path to a more healthy inner game of teaching. 

P.S.  When I read the theories at the beginning of this chapter, I heard the following words of Jesus echoing throughout.

And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? (Matthew 15:16 English Standard Version)
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.  (Matthew 15:18-19 English Standard Version)

References

Marzano, R. J. & Marzano, J. S. (2010). The Inner Game of Teaching. In R. J. Marzano (Ed.), On Excellence in Teaching. (10th ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Marzano, R. J. (with Marzano, J. S., & Pickering, D. J.). (2003). Classroom management that works: Research-based strategies for every teacher. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Marzano, R. J. (2010). Developing Expert Teachers. In R. J. Marzano (Ed.), On Excellence in Teaching. (10th ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

For some reason, as I started reading this chapter, I was reminded of a story Rafe Esquith tells (Esquith, 2008).

Mr. Clever is a friend of mine at the Jungle who once infuriated the administration and has never been forgiven. At a mathematics staff development session, the speaker announced that our goal for the year was to have every child in the school raise his math score above the median. Mr. Clever pointed out that it’s mathematically impossible for everyone to be above the median—by definition, half of the school will be above and half below. For challenging authority in front of others, Mr. Clever, a very good teacher whose kids learn a lot, is held in disfavor by management.

In other words, if you try to push all teachers into the 98th percentile of effectiveness, you’ve basically achieved the impossible, for there will always be a 98th percentile on the effectiveness scale.  At least, that was my impression when seeing this chart (Marzano, 2010)

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Marzano (2010) claims that “ the inference from table 1 is clear: if the skill of teachers in a building or district could be raised dramatically, student achievement would be expected to increase dramatically.”  While I am  not arguing with his general point, I am taking issue with the adverbs “dramatically” and “dramatically”.  What I see is barely a 8-10-9 point percentile gains for students corresponding to  20-20-10 percentile jumps in teacher effectiveness.   I’m also worried that the last 8 percentile jump for teachers has to be subject to the law of diminishing returns.  So in the end for a 40 percentile jump in teacher effectiveness you are only seeing a 18 percentile jump in student percentile.

Undeterred by this statistical weirdness, I will grant Marzano’s point, namely that teacher effectiveness is a most powerful lever on student achievement.  How to quantify that in teachers and then how to measure the resultant impact to students is clearly something that researchers argue about, which was a major topic covered in our last reflective reading, (Good, 2010).

What struck me most about this chapter, was that Marzano breaks down all of effective teaching into 9 segments, gives us a sample rubric on how to score our skills in one of those segments, and then tells us to get to work improving our scores!  I should state here that the 9 segments in this chapter are really full-length chapters in another book by Marzano (2007).  I reproduce the table of contents of Marzano (2007) in an appendix below.

I wanted to take a look at each segment in turn, give myself a grade using the rubric (which is purely a guess at this point) and then brainstorm ways that I might improve on that by sharing it with my mentor teacher at the start of the internship.  Who knows?  This may become a tool we use throughout the coming year.

Segment

My commentary

My Score (est.)

Segments Involving Routine Events

 
Communicating learning goals tracking student progress, and celebrating success. I feel that communicating the goals of our instructional tasks is essential for keeping students of all abilities engaged, and the only way to be really transparent about progress towards proficiency, or lack thereof.   
Establishing or maintaining classroom rules and procedures Keeping the classroom running smoothly so that maximum time can be devoted to instruction is key.  The way to to do that is with clear rules and established procedures.  
 

Segments Involving Content

 
Introducing new content This is THE central art to the craft of teaching.  Making content come alive, in differentiated ways to students with different learning styles will be the daily and constant challenge. 1.0 (see rubric below)
Practicing and deepening knowledge Once new content is introduced this step of “walking around in the topic” is essential.  I agree, and think this is not done enough.  
Generating and testing hypothesis (applying knowledge) I love the concept of getting students to apply and extend their knowledge.  I think this is done best by harnessing interests the students already have.  
 

Segments Involving Real-Time Issues

 
Increasing Student Engagement The chapter in Marzano (2007) describes this extensively, and the most common tool used, games in the classroom.  
Recognizing and Acknowledging Adherence and Lack of Adherence to Classroom Rules and Procedures This is the discipline side of calssroom management, providing positive and negative reinforcement for behaviors.  I lean toward a more disciplinarian approach, and know that expectations for behavior must be set early and reinforced often.  
Establishing and Maintaining Effective Relationships with Students Lest we forget that relationships and connection between teacher and student are critical for good knowledge transfer.  This is an essential segment.  
Communicating High Expectations for Every Student “There are high standards to aspire to, you can improve and make progress, I am here to help.”  This will be my mantra as I intern in high needs schools.  

In the final portion of the chapter Marzano (2010) discusses the framework necessary to help teachers make steady progress towards mastering their grasp of the 9 segments.  In particular, deliberately practicing on clear and focused tasks with clear criteria for success will provide motivation for becoming an expert in the nine segments.  Bring it on!

References

Esquith, R. (2008). There Are No Shortcuts. Anchor. Kindle Edition.

Good, T.L. (2010). Forty Years of Research on Teaching 1968-2008: What Do We Know Now That We Didn’t Know Then?  In R. J. Marzano (Ed.), On Excellence in Teaching. (10th ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

Marzano, R. J. (2008). Getting serious about school reform. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.

Marzano, R. J. (2010). Developing Expert Teachers. In R. J. Marzano (Ed.), On Excellence in Teaching. (10th ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

 

Appendix 1:  Marzano’s Rubric Against the New Content Segment

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Appendix 2:  Table of Contents of Marzano (2007).

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NOTE:  another question in my mind is how Chapter 10 of Marzano (2007) did *not* make it into the 9 segments of effective teaching in this chapter Marzano (2010).

Appendix 3:  Rubric Design from Marzano

http://www.ssd.k12.ak.us/Docs/Rubrics_complexthinking.pdf

http://quality.cr.k12.ia.us/L2_07/Marzano_Rubric_Presentation.ppt

and lots of other free resources that greatly distracted from the completion of this blog post…

http://marzanoresearch.com/Free_Resources/tools.aspx

Good, T.L. (2010). Forty Years of Research on Teaching 1968-2008: What Do We Know Now That We Didn’t Know Then, In R. J. Marzano (Ed.). On Excellence in Teaching. (10th). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Since this was my introduction to Thomas Good, I appreciated that he did a quick recap of his career as a researcher on teacher effectiveness.  Moreover it seems like a bold stroke of humility for him also to say that after 40 years “the field’s progress has been modest and useful, but less than expected”.

The reason for this modest progress is primarily due to how hard it is to relate what teachers do to what students learn, at least in any scientific way.  Good puts it thusly.

Today, researchers have a greater appreciation of how difficult it is to isolate the classroom—to separate home, societal, community, school, teacher, curriculum, and student variables. Students’ achievement is affected by many factors other than what students and teachers do in the classroom; however, what teachers do in classrooms is open to influence and remains a critical policy issue. (Marzano, 2010, Kindle Locations 503-506)

That no one would refute that teachers still make a difference in student learning is posited next.  Along those lines, and endeavoring to answer the question of what exactly are the practices of above average teachers, a study that Good describes from 1970-1979 seems like an early pre-cursor to constructivism, or at least a rediscovery of constructivism.

These studies highlighted the value of the amount of time spent on understanding material and showed in several experiments that student achievement was higher when the ratio of time spent on exploring the meaning of the content was greater than time spent on practice (Dubriel,1977; Shipp & Deer, 1960; Shuster & Pigge, 1965; Zahn, 1966) as cited in (Marzano, 2010, Kindle Location 526).

I appreciated the connection that Good makes with Jacob Kounin, since I have just completed the course on classroom management (EDU6130).   In the textbook for that class Charles (2011) mentions Kounin as a forerunner of modern classroom management.  Good’s summary of Kounin agrees with that of Charles, namely that a well-managed classroom, with effective transitions and interesting lessons positively affects student student learning.  Thus another important ingredient of teacher effectiveness, besides constructivist approaches, is a well-managed and interesting classroom.

Good’s next point, that effective teachers waste none of the precious seconds allotted to them and their instruction, is a theme that is repeated often in Lemov (2010).  We may smile at teachers striving to get papers passed out in 8 seconds or less, and simultaneous paper separation and stowing, but that does not negate the results of Lemov and his disciples at Uncommon Schools.

That Good next cites some general principles of effective teaching from his long-time collaborator Jere Brophy.  What I noticed here is that Brophy’s list has a good correspondence to SPU School of Education principles of HOPE, with the exception of E.  Here’s the breakdown and the correlation as I see it.

Principles of Effective Teaching (Good & Brophy, 2008)

Principle H, O, P, or E?

Teacher expectations—Teachers who obtain good achievement gains accept responsibility for teaching their students. If students do not understand entirely, teachers are willing to reteach in a different way. They fully convey the belief that students can learn. 

I think this principle corresponds to Principle H, namely that effective teachers “Honor student diversity, development, and their right to learn.”  That an effective teacher honors the student means they accept responsibility for teaching or re-teaching as necessary

Proactive and supportive classrooms—Students learn best in supportive classrooms that offer a caring community in which academic and social goals are clear. Supportive classrooms allow students to take intellectual risks. In supportive classrooms, the focus is placed on learning, not simply on “knowing” or on right and wrong answers. 

I think this also is principle H, where the classroom is designed to be supportive.

Opportunity to learn—Opportunity to learn is a big variable in countries like the United States where there is no common curriculum (Porter & Polikoff, 2009). In countries with a national curriculum, opportunity to learn is not a major variable as students largely receive a known curriculum. However, in the United States, fourth-grade students in one class may receive a “facts” curriculum while students across the hall receive a “problem solving” curriculum. In America, teaching effects are a product of curricula as well as what teachers do.

I think this is principle O, especially O2, appropriate challenge in the content areas.

Curriculum alignment—In effective instruction, content is aligned to create a visible and coherent plan for achieving curriculum goals. Teachers carefully differentiate between more- and less-important content and allocate time accordingly.

I think this is Principle O, Offer an organized and challenging curriculum.

Coherent content—In effective instruction, content is organized and explained in sufficient depth to allow students to learn meaningfully. More important concepts need greater consideration, and major points should not be cluttered with inappropriate details. Good teachers achieve coherence both within and across lessons. 

I think this is also covered in Principle O.

Thoughtful discourse—Thoughtful discourse allows for the voicing of various opinions and the exploration of alternative explanations. Thoughtful discussion goes beyond defining what “is” to explaining why, solving problems, and considering future implications. Thoughtful discourse can occur in both teacher-led and student-led activities. 

I think this is covered by Principle P, namely P1 where intentional inquiry is encouraged.

Scaffolding students’ ideas and task involvement— Teachers actively support student learning activities and strive to help students understand concepts more fully. In many classrooms, discussions focus mainly on what is known or just found. Good student scaffolding can help learners move from their present knowledge to future knowledge, just as teacher scaffolding can help students to understand at a higher level.

I think this is principle H, especially if H2 is interpreted as scaffolding for involvement/access to content material.

Practice/application—Students need ample opportunity to practice concepts, and once they have firmly acquired the learning, they need opportunities to apply concepts in new contexts. Periodic review is needed to enhance students’ ability to apply key concepts.

I think this is Principle P, if the P2  differentiated instruction component is interpreted broadly as giving practice and context to concepts.

Goal-oriented assessments—Tests, quizzes, and papers need to focus on important curricular goals. Such assessments help students to focus upon important content. Students need to know that their daily activities are important. These activities serve as learning objectives for showing what knowledge teachers think is important and how students can best display that knowledge.

I think this is also Principle P, if P3 standards-based assessment piece is broadened to include activities that

Good continues his argument with a quick summary of international studies of teacher effectiveness and what they can teach us (not much we didn’t already know).  He proposes that more extensive research is needed, even though the trend is not for larger and more comprehensive studies.  He also makes an argument for curriculum and teacher practice reform, but acknowledges that teachers will essentially change when they are good and ready.

And finally, to point us a way forward in learning more about the problem before we propose a solution, Good reiterates his belief that we need more proactive research and less reactive behavior (NCLB) more “culture of evidence” and less “culture of assertion”.  It is when solid research tells teachers what they could be doing instead of what they should be doing that real change will occur.  He should know.

References

Charles, C.M. (2011) Building classroom discipline. (10th ed). Pearson.

Good, T.L. (2010). Forty Years of Research on Teaching 1968-2008: What Do We Know Now That We Didn’t Know Then, In R. J. Marzano. (Ed.). On Excellence in Teaching. (10th ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Lemov, D. (2010). Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College. Jossey-Bass. Kindle Edition.

“Hurdle Rate” and “Control the Game” from Lemov, D. (2010). Teach Like a Champion. Jossey-Bass. Chapter 10.

I’m reading an interesting chapter from Lemov (2010) about how you decide on what should do during classroom time.  It goes a little like this:

Although we also manage finite resources as teachers—in this case, time—we rarely think this way. We ask whether our actions will result in learning, but this is the wrong question. The right question is whether our actions yield a return that exceeds our hurdle rate—that is, yield more learning per minute invested than does the best reliable alternative use of class time. (p 254)

His question or thought experiment is highly interesting to me.  Are you providing more value to your students today then a solid 50-60-90 minutes of solid reading would for them in some quality book?

Furthermore, if you know you could always be doing meaningful reading—in any class, at any time—you can examine your other investments of time critically: Do they exceed the value of meaningful reading? … Surely not all of them, but probably some of them do not exceed your hurdle rate (that is, they are not reliably more productive than meaningful reading). It would be smarter to have them read meaningfully instead. (p 255)

This all reminds me of the Tuesdays that Franklin High School spends on SSR (Silent Sustained Reading) across the school.  Maybe they are on to something?

So in my math/science classes what should I be reading if I wanted to do meaningful reading in my classes?  Here are some ideas:

  • Math/Physics research papers.
  • Math/Physics magazine articles.
  • Popular books on science/math.
  • Novels about mathematical/scientific investigations or activities.
  • Biographies/Autobiographies of mathematicians/physicists.
  • Popularizations of topics in math/science.

I get a little excited thinking about these things.  And once I have a classroom full of readers and I have a great text, this is how Lemov (2010) suggests we do it in his strategy “Control the Game”:

  1. Don’t let students know how long they will be reading (aloud).
  2. Don’t let them know who will be reading next.
  3. A brief reading keeps energy up better than a longer one.
  4. Minimize the fuss created around the switch of a reader.
  5. Teacher can read a little to keep up the mix.
  6. “Oral Cloze”, you might want to leave out words to see who is paying attention.
  7. Feel free to ask all students to pause and discuss–all while holding their place—so that they can pick up and keep reading more easily

And finally here a video from the DVD in the book showing this technique in practice.

Lemov Champion Clip22 from John Weisenfeld on Vimeo.

 

References

Lemov, D.  (2010). Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College.  Jossey-Bass. Kindle Edition. p 254. 

Module 5: APA Style

In addition to the tutorial listed in the homework assignment, I also keep the the Purdue Online Writing Lab (Angeli, et al., 2010) handy, when I have a question.

This past quarter at SPU, I decided to get more of my textbooks in electronic form.  That raised the question on how to cite electronic books correctly in APA style.  To explain what I mean, when I read something on Kindle (even the Kindle application for the PC), e.g. one of my favorite quotes is from Rafe Esquith.

When all is said and done, a good teacher helps the student to improve the quality of his life. With so many children growing up poor, one of my major goals is to give that child a fighting chance to end the cycle of poverty that paralyzes hopes and dreams. (Kindle Locations 1976-1978)

The question is, does “Kindle Location” count as a page number?  The debate rages at the APA Style blog here.  Check it out if you are interested.

 

References

Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderland, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/

Esquith, Rafe (2008). There Are No Shortcuts. Anchor. Kindle Edition.

Module 7–Extended Investigation

K-12 Laws and Regulations

Title 28A of the Revised Code of Washington has Common (in the sense of shared by all) school provisions.  To read the chapters of Title 28 is to walk through key public issues in education for the past 122 or so years in this state.  Since the MTMS program is about math and science teaching lets see what chapters apply to those subjects, namely use the RCW search to look for math and science.  Here are two entries that I found.

Section 28A.300.515 describes a Statewide director for math, science, and technology – Duties – Reporting.

Section 28A.415.380 describe mathematics and science instructional coach program – Evaluation – Reports.

All positions at all levels are defined in RCW from lowliest aide in Kindergarten to the President/Chancellor of the University of Washington, impressive.

As far as the Washington Administrative Code, I found the following interesting, since I didn’t know you were breaking the law if you didn’t regularly improve your skills as a teacher.  Not that I was going to try and do that.

Chapter 181-85 WAC  Professional Certification Continuing Education Requirement.

Since the Bellevue SD is in negotiations on salaries for the coming year, I thought it instructional to review

RCW 28A.400.200  Salaries and compensation for employees — Minimum amounts — Limitations — Supplemental contracts.

Organization and Financing of WA Schools

This is a 164-page document on how schools are financed in the state here are my observations on the document.

I found the section on education reform history in the state very interesting as it essentially details how we have gotten to our current place.  For instance I did not know that the lottery and property taxes provide approximately $375 per FTE student in the state from the Student Achievement Fund. (OSPI, 2009, p 15)

I see that you can find out individual school financial information at the following web site:  http://www.k12.wa.us/safs/..

I found myself spending the most time on Section IV.  School Statistics and History section of the document.  Here are my observations from that section.

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State law describes minimum and maximum (lid) salaries that can be paid to teachers (certificated staff) based on seniority and education level.

Every school district board of directors has the responsibility to determine salaries and compensation for its employees. This is influenced, but not controlled, by state law and state salary allocations. State policy determines salary allocations to the school districts. Local collective bargaining and employment contracts determine how much any employee is paid. However, state law limits salaries paid to certificated instructional staff as described below.  (OSPI, 2009, p. 115)

Since I am a starting teacher, I found the difference between 1999 and 2007 salary tables instructive.

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Class sizes are legislated per 1000 students.  For the 2006-2007 school year, total teachers (certificated, instructional) for K-12 were 56.10 per 1000 students.  That number has been rising since its value of 48.62 for 1982-1983 school year.  It is interesting to note that schools such as a Big Picture survive on standard funding by reducing the number of non-teacher staff.

I found the history of enrollments interesting that overall we are increasing in the state if not by birth than by immigration to the state.

The breakdown of dollars spent per student broken down by source (state, federal, local) and then the costs those are applied to was also instructional.

Family Resources

In the center of the page is the Family Resources tab which discusses important topics that every parent should know if their child will be attending school in Washington State.  I briefly comment on each topic.

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  • Parent and Student Rights:  This page highlights some of the key privileges parents and students enjoy in Washington.  Since my daughter is special needs, I key in more closely to the section entitled “Services for Students With Disabilities”.  It is good to know that Washington preserves the rights fought for and won by those in the past who advocated to get their children into typical classrooms.  We all benefit from their victory.
  • School Report Card:  Every school in the state is required to post the results of their last round of standardized testing.  Teachers, parents and others can easily reference this information to start making sense of MSP (Measurements of Student Progress), HSPE (High School Proficiency Exam), AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress), NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) and so on.
  • Your Child’s Progress:  These are documents which describe the expectations for students from grades Kindergarten through 10th grade.
  • Test Resources and Handouts:  This page has numerous documents explaining graduation, math requirements, and options for further study.
  • State Testing:  MSP and HSPE:  This page describes the dates, timelines and natures of the 3 main exams given to students in Washington State.  The three main test are MSP, HSPE and EOC (End-of-Course).
  • Learning Standards
  • Equity and Civil Rights Office
  • Attendance and Truancy
  • School Safety Center
  • Traffic Safety
  • Special Education
  • Career and Tech Ed
  • Early Learning
  • CISL
  • Publications for Parents

 

Teacher Tools

This section of the web page describes resources for teachers in the state.

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  • Online Grade Level Standards
  • Certification and Renewal
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Assessment
  • Teacher Resource Tool
  • iGrants
  • School Safety Center
  • Navigation 101
  • Education Awards
  • AYP Tools
  • Events Manager
  • Migrant and Bilingual
  • Title I and LAP
  • CISL
  • K-12 Employment Opportunities

 

Learning Standards

  • Subject Areas
    • Reading
    • Mathematics:  I took a look at this section since it is one of my endorsement areas.  In particular I’ve signed up for the “Movers and Shakers” e-mail list for mathematics-related news across the state.  I also registered for the OSPI Moodle, and starting reading up on the alternative certification called Collection of Evidence (COE) which is relatively new in Washington State.
    • Science:  I took a look at this section, and found some interesting resources, such as science support staff designated at the ESD level, and some recommended lesson-planning resources.  On the whole it appears as though math education is more developed than science in Washington.
    • Writing
    • Communication
    • Social Studies
    • The Arts
    • Health Fitness
    • HIV Sexual Health Education
    • Early Learning
    • Educational Technology
    • World Languages
    • International Education
    • Education for Environment and Sustainability
    • English Language Developments
  • Programs
    • Reading First
    • Wash. Reading Corps
    • Running Start
  • Additional Resources
    • Washington State Learning Goals
    • Grade Level Standards and Resources
    • Common Core Standards
    • Instructional Materials
    • Curriculum/Course Alignment Tools
    • Response to Intervention (RTI)
    • Special Education Learning
    • Washington State Diagnostic Assessment Guide
    • Formative Assessment Comparative Guide – Consumer Report

 

 

References

Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  (2009).  Organization and Financing of Schools – 2009 Edition.  State of Washington.  Retrieved July 25, 2011 from http://www.k12.wa.us/safs/PUB/ORG/09/2009OrgFin_Final%20Copy.pdf

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