Recently in my Selection and Integration of Instructional Technologies class we were asked to look at our classroom and do a walkthrough evaluation based upon the characteristics of core instruction. Here is the walkthrough I completed with my classroom. I am personally very interested in authentic assessment, so that was my area of focus.
Note to reader: Highlighted bullets are the ones I do.
Characteristics of Core Instruction, the following topics and items were taken from Iowa Core Curriculum sessions and reflect the Characteristics of Effective Instruction outlined by the Iowa Core.MNW 1:1 program: Data on how and when technology is used in the classroom.
Student Centered Classroom
- Students at center of learning, teacher facilitating process
- Cooperative or collaborative learning taking place
- teacher leading students to the answer not giving it out
- students have choices
- students are engaged in challenging work
- teacher questions and probes
- Not visible during walkthrough
Specific comments about Student Centered Classroom
Students often are given choices on project assessments. They are presented with a variety of choices and choose one that is appealing to them. They work in collaborative groups and are always questioned to prove their knowledge. They have to be able to explain how they came up with their answers. Higher order thinking is often seen and is a goal of the teacher to encourage this type of thinking. Students are encouraged to challenge themselves and use available resources to acquire knowledge.
Teaching for Understanding
- problem or project based learning
- hands on, minds on
- students think and demonstrate understanding
- visual learning (conceptual models, graphic organizers, webs, etc.)
- factual knowledge is transferred to usable knowledge
- students involved in designing, problem solving, decision making, and investiagating
- summarize targeted concepts and skills
- multiple means of presenting information
- Not visible during walkthrough
Specific comments about Teaching for Understanding
I attempt project based learning in my classroom in a variety of ways through a variety of subjects. It is great to give students multiple ways to learn and present knowledge, which meets their individual needs. This also gives them a voice in their learning and helps them to teach others and while doing so opens the doors for more learning moments to occur with both individuals. I like project based learning because of the higher order thinking that is forced to take place.
Assessment for Learning
- formative assessment is used as a tool to adjust teaching
- essential concept and skill is clear and evident to the students
- teacher provides criteria of quality work
- teacher provides examples of both high and low quality work
- self or peer assessment is evident
- a collaborative classroom environment
- assessment for learning takes place DURING instruction
- variety of feeback to students (web, tapes, oral, written, video, etc)
- Not visible during walkthrough
Specific comments about Assessment for Learning
Assessment is something I’m always trying to develop new ways to accomplish. I do many projects and alternative type of assessments. Traditional book tests are often used as well. I think as far as summative assessment I am fairly decent at accomplishing. Formative is probably something that I could stand to focus on improving. I do it, but I want to do it in a variety of ways rather than walking around observing or doing the thumbs up, sideways, down approach.
Rigor and Relevance
- Quadrant A
- Quadrant B
- Quadrant C
- Quadrant D
- opportunity to set goals
- expands on prior knowledge
- Not visible during walkthrough
Specific comments about Rigor and Relevance
I aim for quadrants c and d, but we do a lot of a and b. The goal is to make the lessons into quadrants c and d, but this obviously takes more creative facilitating and thinking on behalf of the teacher. Students set goals in spelling by monitoring their progress. They set goals from the pretest to the postest. They usually have a goal to improve by correctly spelling all their words. However, we work on setting achievable goals. I now have changed things a little and we do individualized spelling. They no longer have pretests but rather are required to choose words that are just right for them. My co-teacher and I brainstorm words together using phonics as our guide and not only do students learn phonetics but they also are spelling more challenging words. They set a goal based out of how many of the twenty words they have chosen that they believe they can spell correctly on their test. Again most have a 100% goal, and usually achieve that goal due to the fact they chose the words and know what they need to do to achieve the goal, but there are those who struggle and getting 75% is good for them. They also set goals in math for timed facts. Before we start the timer for fact sheet two they have to set a reasonable goal based on their score from fact sheet one. Then from that point on they use a line graph to chart their growth from one test to the next. Students are always expanding on prior knowledge daily, due to the fact that I never move into a new lesson before first finding out what they know.
Teaching for Learner Differences
- plans for variance in learning
- assesses the interests and needs of individual students
- learning goals are clearly stated
- flexible grouping (supplemental and intensive)
- engages students in self reflection, collaboration, and learning choices
- works in variety of settings (large group, small group, individual)
- engages students in self reflection
- not visible during walkthrough
Specific comments about Teaching for Learner Differences
I plan with the special education teacher for the language arts parts of my lessons. We look at our flexible grouping of students and determine what we are going to teach based on their needs. We have a lot of project based, authentic learning happening as much as we can in our lessons. During this block of times students have chances to work in a large group, small group, and on their own. These types of groupings occur daily.
- web 2.0 tool being used
- technology used as a reference
- technology used as a textbook
- technology used to differentiate learning
- technology used for collaboration or communication
- Using technology to create a "product" or "project"
- technology was not being used during the walkthrough
Specific comments about Technology Infusion
I use web 2.0 tools as much as possible in my classroom and primarily use Google tools with my third grade students. I like using technology for differentiation because students can generally choose from a variety of tools to accomplish the same task. I also like to have them use Web 2.0 Tools to create products. We use tagxedo to evaluate prior knowledge, do a PWIM (picture word induction model), practice spelling words, or as an alternative assessment.
Joni’s Review of her Walkthrough:
I have what I would consider to be a student centered classroom because my students are the center focus of my classroom and are responsible for their learning. However, I think the definition of a student centered classroom leans more towards the idea that students are responsible for their own learning and I know that my classroom is not quite there yet and may not be for some time. I act as the facilitator as much as possible, but have not yet truly integrated myself into that role for a variety of reasons. These reasons range from being in a school district that is just slowly starting to embrace 21st century learning to not wanting to give up control. I have begun the process of becoming the facilitator but feel there are more times than not where I become more involved, direct instruction, and end up having to sometimes lead them to the answer. I use questioning techniques and allow students as much choice as possible in their learning. Do they have free reign? No. Students work in cooperative and collaborative groups when beneficial. Project based learning is often seen in my classroom but is not the only type of learning that happens. We also do as many hands on activities as possible, along with student demonstrations of their knowledge. This is where students often have choices. They have choices in project based learning, and are definitely involved in designing , problem solving, and investigating. They are exposed to information that is sometimes the same information presented in a variety of ways. Rigor and Relevant lessons are taught as much as possible for students to make connections between their learning and real life. Sometimes they work alone, with a partner, or with a group. Sometimes we do activities with the elderly at the local assisted living complex. High school students also come in and work with my students on a variety of projects. The one area that I noticed on my walkthrough that I’m personally weak on is doing a formative assessment during the lesson. I usually do a simple thumbs up or down, question time, have the students work through a question or two and show me, do a walk around, or just watch faces. I just generally feel that I need to find different ways to assess students on what they know.
My focus characteristic is assessment.
The type of assessment I’m specifically focusing in on is authentic assessment because it is very interesting to me and assessment is the one area I have been trying to improve on in the last three years. I have also included project based learning, which of course usually includes authentic assessment. I say this because students normally choose and create projects that interest them. They all have to show me that they have mastered the skill or concept being taught. However not all of my assessments are authentic. In fact to be honest, 75% of the assessments I do with my class are not what I consider to be authentic. We do DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) and MAPS (Measures of Academic Progress) in both the fall and spring. We also complete ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) and the (SRI) Scholastic Reading Inventory. The SRI is done three times a year. These are all standardized types of assessments. Since there are so many standardized tests given to students in the 21st century I think it is important to assess them on what is real to them. I want them to show me what they know. I can gather what they don’t know from all of the standardized tests that our district requires them to complete. I have used authentic assessment techniques in all the areas that I teach, but I would like to be able to do it more often.
Videos about authentic assessment:
Authentic Assessment in Special Education with Dr. Betty Wiggins
This video was of special interest to me, due to the fact that I co-teach with a special education teacher in the language arts area. We are constantly discussing authentic assessment and how to make our assessments meaningful to students. We both dislike standardized tests and hate that they are tests which have basically no meaning to the personal lives of students.
Changing Education Paradigms with Sir Ken Robinson
This video was mentioned in the video with Dr. Betty Wiggins, and discusses why education needs to and should change. Discusses the issue of schools producing students like factories produce batches. There isn’t much individuality, they are all pretty much seen as having the same amount of knowledge.
Aligning Authentic Assessment with Effective Teaching and Learning Practices
This webinar is presented Marc Chun, Director of CLA Education, CAE (Collegiate Learning Assessment) who discusses aligning assessment with our curriculum. Aligning what we teach and what and how students learn with assessment.
Information regarding Authentic Assessment from the University of Wisconsin-Stout
Awesome site! Full of resources and excellent information about assessment in the classroom.
This website was shared with me by Sara and has some available books and articles regarding assessment if you are interested in learning more.