O2. – Offer appropriate challenge in the content area.
Opener and Closer.-I observed in a first and second period 6th grade reading and writing class. The learning goals for the period were written up on the board as “Teaching points”. The first activity was a guessing game. The students had previously filled out small sheets of paper in which they had provided a written example of an action, dialogue, detail, and setting. The teacher read these out loud and the students tried to guess which student had written them. When prompted as to why they were doing this, the students replied, “it creates teamwork”, “helps us develop dialogue”, and “keeps our moral up”. For the beginning of new material for the lesson on “perspectives”. The teacher showed a cartoon of a man on a small island surrounded by water with hands raised saying “a boat!” and the person in the boat saying “land!” The students were asked to give thumbs up when they understood it, then talked to their neighbor, followed by sharing with the class. The closer was having the students write in their reader notebooks, ways in which the main characters perspective was influenced by some of the secondary character’s after silent reading.
Questioning– Both teachers used excellent questions. Questions that asked students to think for themselves and expand on their answers to describe why they thought or felt a particular way. Equal number of boys and girls were called on and participated in the discussion, always by raising their hands. Questions were also used for quick formative assessment. Show a thumbs up for when ready to discuss. Share with the group what was discussed. Questions were also asked requiring students to process the value in doing certain activities.
Classroom Management– This was an extremely well behaved classroom. Students were aware of the expectation of having their materials out and ready to go at the beginning of the period. If they didn’t they would be marked tardy. It was clear and well followed that students would raise their hands to participate in discussions. One teacher would be talking and the other teacher would make sure the other students were listening and following along. “1-2-3” was said out loud to bring the group back together effectively. There were posters on the walls that the students and teachers had co-created earlier in the year. These posters dealt with class expectations and also suggestions for learning; what does is look like to be prepared for class, how will we participate in discussions, appropriate and inappropriate dialogue, how to keep conversations going. A word wall with the alphabet and new vocab words that were added to the letters on the wall.
Instructional Strategies. Numerous instructional strategies were used that ensured an ability for the teachers to assess their students’ level of engagement. Show a thumbs up, think-pair-share, thinking prompt with a cartoon, guess which student wrote examples of; action, dialogue, setting, detail. Readers notebooks were utilized for creating interactions with content. For this day, the students were working on their seventh entry: Perspective- synthesizing and then writing prompt “how do the secondary characters influence or offer a new perspective to our protagonist”. It was also suggested that students could draw a picture that would help the visual learners. The teacher modeled a diagram of this for the students’. During the class, the teachers also handed back a writing project that the students’ had submitted. The writing assignment was graded on a rubric. The rubric for the writing sample was discussed and read aloud, detailing how students could meet the standards. Students that were not happy with their rubric score were given the option of re-doing some of their writing to improve their scores. Utilizing a rubric written in appropriate language, and allowing students to improve their score, are what I think are great examples of the HOPE standard –O2 – Offer appropriate challenge in the content area. The teachers were encouraging students to try and improve their scores regardless of where they fell on the rubric. This struck me as a positive way of challenging students to improve their skills for the writing assessment rubric while simultaneously achieving their writing goal for the day of “writers celebrate one another’s success & next steps”. Marzano (2007), says “Focusing on knowledge gain also provides a legitimate way to recognize and celebrate- as opposed to reward-success” (p. 27). The evidence provided for this post is below. These teaching points were visible, written in student friendly language, provided the students with a good focus for the class, and an appropriate challenge in the content area.
Use of Technology. The topic of the book that the students were working with dealt with migrant farm workers. Students were encouraged to go home and do internet researches on the author Francisco Jimenez, Cesar Chavez, migrant farming in Washington, or the grape boycott.
Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.