HOPE Reflection P3

P3 – Practice standards-based assessment. Teacher candidates use standards-based assessment that is systematically analyzed using multiple formative, summative, and self-assessment strategies to monitor and improve instruction. This means that teachers are regularly assessing students using standards that align with the goals of the class, the teacher regularly check’s for student understanding through formative assessment and standards based grading. Additionally, I believe that the teacher should help students assess their own learning and teacher request feedback from students and other faculty to assess teaching. While the evidence in this bPortfolio reflection does not capture all of these types of assessment, they are regular parts of my classroom.

The evidence being submitted is a copy of a practice edTPA Task 3. This assessment was a comprehensive final assessment from semester 1 where students were asked to demonstrate understanding of several learning targets throughout the 20 weeks of learning. In this task, I identified the standards being assessed for each item of the exam and used three student work to provide student feedback and collect student reflections of the assessment. The best part of this assessment was my ability to grade students on understanding of specific learning targets, rather than just correctness.

Assessment has been the focus of my internship since the start. My mentor teacher has guided me in learning how to grade based on students’ demonstration of understanding on the page and subjectively deciding how items should be graded. My largest piece of learning has come from the development and implementation of

TestRubric

this grading rubric which helps me identify the level of understanding of my students. My work in my internship and the assessment methods course have helped me in responding to the edTPA questions. For example, when providing analysis of what students understand, the above rubric helps me identify exactly what evidence is on the paper to support the students understanding. Since each question is related to a specific standard, students can clearly see the areas which need the most improvement. Writing the practice edTPA Task 3 has helped me gain insight into how to view assessment and evidence collection. Additionally, I was forced to provide written feedback to students (which is not a frequent because of the time it takes to respond to each student individually in writing). This was effective for students, they have a tangible piece of writing for them to reflect on. Finally, I learned about the value in asking students “what are your next steps for understanding?” While this seems logical to me to ask when I’m struggling, I have developed this skill over the years of learning and students need to learn to self assess and identify ways to improve their skills.

I think standards based grading is a smart way of assessing students, it helps them identify areas of growth. HOWEVER, through our study of standards based grading, the implementation of the system seems to have many failures and has been met with some resistance. Because standards based is highly subjective (rather than objective) it is increasingly difficult to match a quantitative score to a qualitative analysis of student work. The feedback is better, but often unfamiliar to parents. To improve, I hope to bridge the gap between quantitative and qualitative feedback. Students like to know “percentage grades,” but there is also value in providing specific feedback about how students can improve and in which areas. There is no easy solution, i’m sure this pursuit will be career long, however through a wide variety of feedback (including student reflection, teacher reflection, informal assessments, student journaling etc.) students, teachers, parents and administrators can gain a wider view of a students understanding of the content material.

M3 bPortfolio Reflection – STEM Research

My ideas of STEM have changed slightly, but significantly since beginning the course. I have learned about the different models of STEM (Henrikson, 2015):

  • SteM – Science and Math are the “bookends” and most important
  • STEM – Integrated focus for both math and science – T&E are integrated and focused on contend and application
  • S | T | E | M – each discipline stands on its own
  • s(TE)m – increased focus on CTE classes that help prepare for selected careers in science, math, technology an engineering.

The best model according to Lantz (2009) is that STEM should be well integrated into the curriculum and that teachers should be collaborating to create cohesive units of instruction that help students learn about all topics together. One tool for accomplishing a truly effective STEM model that was discussed in our class discussions was common planning time across disciplines to help teach similar concepts in different classes. Verlaine (discussion post in Module 2) shared her collaborative approach within her school district, a push for cross curricular teaching. Additionally, Verlaine supported her claims of this effectiveness of teaching similar subject by citing psychological research (Medina, 2008) for increasing long-term memory by repeating information multiple times, within a short period of time using different modalities.

Wiliams (2011) discusses how the use of questioning is important for teachers to formatively asses student understanding to inform next steps in teaching. I assume he would support the STEM model, where each element has an equal share of a given lesson. This assumption is based on his desire to ask inquiry questions such as, “What do you notice?” Earlier this year, I was introduced to an NCTM lesson called “The Hexagon Train Task.” I was part of a group of math and science teachers, we were given four yellow plastic hexagons and asked to line them up “end to end” where a long side would touch another. We were then asked to ]reflect on what we noticed about the aligned hexagons. Some mentioned the color, some discussed the perimeter, others discussed the shape, but overall our ideas were broadened to to accept the next question because of our ability to think abstractly was opened. Soon after, we were asked to think about perimeter and how this could be calculated for longer “trains.” We were just told the purpose of the activity (only slightly though, but the instructor had a clear academic purpose for the lesson, sequences). Having the opportunity to think generally before getting specific allowed both the math and the science people around the table consider a question without fear of being incorrect. Sometimes I struggle with IRE (Initiate, Response, Evaluate) which is off putting to many students, I think I can incorporate more of this open discussion and individual reflection into my lessons this coming year.

Some of our discussions in Module 2 & 3 were about purpose with instruction. STEM cannot be accomplished without clear purpose. Provided that many of us took a methods course about Understanding by Design by Wiggins & McTighe (2005) which stated the purpose of the lesson should drive the activities and goals should establish each lesson (rather than the other way around). This method (backwards design), is at the heart of educational research and is supported by Williams (2011, p. 61). In our class discussions for Module 3 about Project/Problem Based Learning, comments arose about the intent of the learning, rather than the activity itself. Lura’s post about the Rube Goldberg Machine commented on her investigation of PBL activities found on the internet. She mentioned, “Many so-called ‘STEM’ lessons that I did find weren’t anything new, just standard math or science lessons with some videos added about applications” I think this is part of the challenge with PBL is that the purpose should be the beginning of the project, not the act of completing a project, making a presentation or doing STEM. The purpose should be to meet educational standards where multiple modalities should be used to approach concepts. Projects could include multiple standards from a variety of subjects, but that’s not necessary.

Overall, I have learned that STEM should be well integrated. To accomplish this, teachers from different subjects need to work together and students need to work in collaborative groups facilitated by a teacher. The planning can be though common planning time (which is becoming more typical in schools) or it could be through another framework of providing collaborative work time for teachers. Lessons should be revised and adjusted based on formative feedback and through a teachers understanding of unique students needs. Finally, when planning projects, there is a general consensus (although not by all) that the purpose should come first and activities should support the learning of those targets.

Sources:

Henrikson, R. (Lecturer) (2015, June 22). Module 2 What is STEM. EDU6978 Module 2 Course Lecture. Lecture conducted from , Seattle, WA.

Lantz Jr, H.B. (2009). Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. What form? What function. Baltimore, MD:  Report, CurrTech Integrations.

Medina, J. (2008). Brain rules. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. (Expanded 2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Wiliam, D. (2011).  Embedded formative assessment.  Bloomington, IN:  Solution Tree.

HOPE Reflection – P3

P3 – Practice standards-based assessment. Teacher candidates use standards-based assessment that is systematically analyzed using multiple formative, summative, and self-assessment strategies to monitor and improve instruction. This means that teachers are regularly assessing students using standards that align with the goals of the class, the teacher regularly checks for student understanding through formative assessment and standards based grading. Additionally, I believe that the teacher should help students assess their own learning and teacher request feedback from students and other faculty to assess teaching. While the evidence in this bPortfolio reflection does not capture all of these types of assessment, they are regular parts of my classroom and are important for teaching and learning.

Practice edTPA Task 3

The evidence being submitted is a copy of a practice edTPA Task 3. This assessment was a comprehensive final assessment from semester 1 where students were asked to demonstrate understanding of several learning targets throughout the 20 weeks of learning. In this task, I identified the standards being assessed for each item of the exam and used three student work to provide student feedback and collect student reflections of the assessment. The best part of this assessment was my ability to grade students on understanding of specific learning targets, rather than just correctness.

Assessment has been the focus of my internship since the beginning. My mentor teacher has guided me in how to grade based on students’ demonstration of understanding on the page and subjectively deciding how items should be graded. My largest piece of learning has come from the development and implementation of grading rubric which helps me identify the level of understanding of my students.

TestRubric

My work in my internship and the assessment methods course have helped me in responding to the edTPA questions. For example, when providing analysis of what students understand, the above rubric helps me identify exactly what evidence is on the paper to support the students understanding. Since each question is related to a specific standard, students can clearly see the areas which need the most improvement. Writing the practice edTPA Task 3 has helped me gain insight into how to view assessment and evidence collection. Additionally, I was provided written feedback to students (which is not as frequent as I would like because of the time writing takes). This was effective for students, they have a tangible piece of writing for them to reflect on. Finally, I learned about the value in asking students “what are your next steps for understanding?” While this seems logical to me to ask when I’m struggling, I have developed this skill over the years of learning and students need to learn to self assess and identify ways to improve their skills.

I think standards based grading is a smart way of assessing students, it helps them identify areas of growth. HOWEVER, through our study of standards based grading, the implementation of the system seems to have many failures and has been met with some resistance. Because standards based is highly subjective (rather than objective) it is increasingly difficult to match a quantitative score to a qualitative analysis of student work. The feedback is better, but often unfamiliar to parents. To improve, I hope to bridge the gap between quantitative and qualitative feedback. Students like to know “percentage grades,” but there is also value in providing specific feedback about how students can improve and in which areas. There is no easy solution, i’m sure this pursuit will be career long, however through a wide variety of feedback (including student reflection, teacher reflection, informal assessments, student journaling etc.) students, teachers, parents and administrators can gain a wider view of a students understanding of the content material.

Bloggary #5: Writing Workshop for Math

Daniels, Zemelman and Steineke (2007) suggest teachers implement a writing workshop in classes providing critical feedback for emerging writers. Writing in a math class may seem foreign to an outsider, but writing can help students articulate their mathematical understanding. In fact, mathematical language is highly technical and best practices include direct writing with clear concise explanations and supporting graphics. The style of writing is very different from expository or novels and requires great attention to detail.

High school students taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes are exposed to a style of writing called Free Response Questions (FRQ’s). For math classes, many students are not previously exposed to FRQ writing which requires a direct style supported by evidence and facts. Educators wait until junior and senior level classes to present FRQ style writing which is unfortunate because the thought required to write such documents is invaluable. Teaching students to write FRQ’s using the Writing Workshop would provide students with tools to exceed standards on AP exams. Math writing tends to be a little bit more focused than expository writing since students are limited by their content knowledge. However, if teachers take a “toolbox” approach to the learning, students can access many previous skills. The “toolbox” approach is where skills are learned and then stored in a student’s toolbox as a collection to access when approaching challenging problems.

Implementation of a writing workshop would not be challenging for an instructor. FRQ’s are already written with grading materials easily accessible for teachers and provided by the College Board (the testing agency for AP tests). Since all previous tests are published and accessible online, students will have no problem selecting a topic of their choice to write a full response. Teachers can select specific criteria for grading the writing aspect while the published solutions can be used for the accuracy of the mathematics. Features math teachers may look for include; precision of language, supported claims (words, pictures or other) and organization of thought. In my classroom, I envision a workshop where each student works on up to five FRQ’s at one time and uses partner grading or teacher conferencing to work through many technical writing issues. Students would be presented with a model and brief writing instruction and their work packet would be graded for specific writing elements to help students articulate their argument and write clearly.

Since teaching a topic is a true indicator of understanding, the project could be extended by having students write their own FRQ’s and create a grading rubric for future students. Students could set goals for what they hope to gain from their writing, possibly understanding a challenging concept more deeply. Students need not be limited to the domain of calculus, but rather they could use their creative license to write a question for students in lower classes. This intense focus and peer review helps students engage in the material for a longer period of time which increases the chances of comprehending the content (Borich, 2014). Since the AP exam expects content mastery, the writing workshop technique can help students engage in challenging material for longer.

Sources:

Borich, G. D. (2014). Effective Teaching Methods: Research-Based Practice (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ.: Pearson Education, Inc.

Daniels, H., Zemelman, S., & Steineke, N. (2007). Content-Area Writing: Every Teachers Guide ( ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.