"In this project, the entire 6th grade learned about geometry, unit rate, expenses and revenue by designing and creating their own paper lanterns. At the same time, students explored various cultures around the world through the lens of important global issues. Their final product was an original paper lantern that was to be part of an auction to raise awareness and funds for a community improvement project of their choice through the non-profit organization, Lantern Projects. The exhibition took place at Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park.
In this project, the entire 6th grade learned about geometry, unit rate, expenses and revenue by designing and creating their own paper lanterns. At the same time, students explored various cultures around the world through the lens of important global issues. Their final product was an original paper lantern that was to be part of an auction to raise awareness and funds for a community improvement project of their choice through the non-profit organization, Lantern Projects. The exhibition took place at Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park.
"1. Mike Schmoker on three focus areas
2. Carol Dweck on fine-tuning the growth mindset
3. Maximizing high-quality teacher planning time
4. Effective and ineffective teacher teamwork in the Common Core
5. What gets professional learning communities working well?
6. Research findings on ability grouping and acceleration"
“It’s not just effort, but strategy. Students need to know that if they’re stuck, they don’t need just effort. You don’t want them redoubling their efforts with the same ineffective strategies. You want them to know when to ask for help and when to use resources that are available.”
the key to schools succeeding with all students is prioritizing – isolating and focusing on “only the most vital, game-changing actions that ensure significant improvement in teaching and learning” and then sustaining a disciplined, laser-like focus for a significant amount of time.
Teachers should have clear, specific direction on which skills and concepts to teach – the what and when – with discretion on the how to and some room each week for teachable moments and personal passions.
Of paramount importance is ongoing checking for student understanding (minute by minute, day by day, week by week) and adjusting instruction based on assessment insights. This is especially important for project- and problem-based learning.
“To succeed, students simply need vastly more time to purposefully read, discuss, and write about worthy, substantive literature and nonfiction across the curriculum (as often as possible, in the interpretive and argumentative mode)
“this should occur in a climate that emphasizes helpfulness and growth, rather than evaluation.”
“Nobody has a growth mindset in everything all the time,” says Dweck. “Everyone is a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets.
When students fail, teachers and parents should say things like, “Okay, what is this teaching us? Where should we go next?”
With praise, focus on the process that led to success – hard work, good strategies, effective use of resources. “Be matter-of-fact,” advises Dweck, “with not too strong or too passive a reaction… Effective teachers who actually have classrooms full of children with a growth mindset are always supporting children’s learning strategies and showing how strategies created that success.”
U.S. elementary teachers spend an average of about 32 hours a week with their students, secondary teachers about 30 hours, out of a 38-hour contractual week. Daily planning time ranges from 12 to 80 minutes for elementary teachers, from 30 to 96 minutes at the secondary level. The paucity of contractual planning time in most schools pushes a lot of teachers’ work into late afternoons, evenings, and weekends; including that time, the typical teacher’s work week is about 52 hours.
Teachers need two types of planning time, Merritt believes: (a) Individual time every day to prepare materials for upcoming lessons, assess student work, and communicate with specialists and parents about their students; and (b) common planning time once or twice a week with same-grade/same-subject colleagues to plan, implement, reflect on, and modify instruction.
The 30-32 hours U.S. teachers spend with their students each week compares to about 20-21 hours in other countries.
Shorter days for students
No-student days embedded within the school year
The number of such days ranges from two to 18 per school year.
Increased staffing – Core subject teachers can be given more planning time within the school day if their students go out to additional physical education, art, music, science, environmental education, and other specialty subjects – and also by increasing supervised recess and using instructional assistants and parent volunteers.
“we should trust teachers who are asking for more time, and make planning time a high priority in budgeting decisions. Instead of implementing costly interventions that yield minimal results in schools, we should pay more attention to the repeated requests from teachers about how to support them in their daily work… They need more time to identify problems they see in their schools or classrooms and work individually and collectively on solutions.”
Using inquiry protocols, they asked each other What do we want students to get out of the curriculum? and How can we get them there?
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->They collaboratively developed model curriculum units and adapted them as needed;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->They used a fishbowl approach to observe colleagues teaching new curriculum materials;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->They looked together at student work as students grappled with the new expectations and thought about the implications for unit and lesson planning;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->They jointly figured out ways to support students in material that at first seemed too hard.
Meaningful data – Static assessment results from benchmark assessments are not enough. To have truly high-quality discussions about their work, teachers need (a) open-ended assessment items from their ongoing instruction to identify student strategies and uncover their mathematical reasoning; (b) feedback from classroom observations; and (c) video clips of their own instruction and that of colleagues.
• Supportive tools – These include classroom observations and videos and having a facilitator with deep pedagogical content knowledge. It’s also crucial that the PLC sinks its teeth into one or two substantive and actionable math concepts or strategies.
• Supportive colleagues – Dissonance is not enough, say the authors. To truly improve instruction, teachers also need a collegial group that will hold their hands as they deal with their students’ struggles and criticism from observers:
“It is likely,” say the authors, “that repeated video recording and written feedback motivated Ms. Walker and other teachers to try out new instructional strategies and continuously assess and refine them so that they could demonstrate improvement in subsequent observed lessons.”
-<!--[endif]-->Within-class grouping (teachers differentiating instruction among several small groups) had moderately positive effects.
-<!--[endif]-->Cross-grade grouping (students from different grade levels brought together to learn a particular subject or unit – e.g., the Joplin Plan for reading) had small-to-moderate benefits.
-<!--[endif]-->These two forms of grouping benefited students with high, medium, and low achievement.
-<!--[endif]-->Special grouping for gifted students (pullout or honors programs) was very helpful for those students.
-<!--[endif]-->Acceleration (students skipping a grade or taking courses at a younger age than their peers) was the most beneficial of all.
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