I met TL Standard 4 through two different assignments in my Accomplished Teaching course. Both the Partner Reflection and Collaborative Analysis Instructional Plan were key to my learning in this standard. The following is overview of my work in this area.
My coaching session took place with a fellow 3rd grade teacher who approached me for help in planning and implementing a reading/writing (ELA) workshop model into her classroom. She knew that I had experience successfully running such a model in former 1st grade teaching role and now as a 3rd grade teacher as well. In preparation for our coaching session I knew that I had to clearly focus on my active listening skills in order to make this be successful and productive for both of us. I reviewed the SPACE acronym: Silence, Paraphrasing, Accepting nonjudgmentally, clarifying, and extending; and determined that I would be very purposefully in my use of that technique during our session. I also prepared by gathering materials, examples of student work, and descriptions of the systems I use during ELA workshop. These steps proved key to our success during this coaching session. I did not immediately utilize the materials, but began with a mindset of listening and understanding before we dove in and looked at how it all works.
Our session began with my colleague describing her past experience as a 6th and 2nd grade teacher in another school. Since coming to our building as a job-share partner to a current 3rd grade teacher, she has been frustrated by the pacing and schedule she has had to keep with her students. “I don’t feel like we accomplish much.” she explained. “We go through the material, but it is rushed to get it done in my two or three days a week and then I am gone. I want to know that they get it and go deeper with them.” During this time I listened to her and asked some open ended questions to gain further insight. I also thanked her for being so open and commented on her past successes to help her to see that these current frustrations are not what she is characterized by and can be worked through. In addition, I shared a personal connection of being in a job share and feeling a similar way.
I wonder now if sharing my story was a mistake. I feel that shifted the focus from her to me and that was not what I wanted. Doing some further research I found I was correct in my concern. “Coaching must be teacher-centered. Teacher-centered is different from coach-centered. When conversations are coach-centered, the coach’s expertise has the upper hand.” (Tschannen-Moran, Tschannen-Moran, 2011) I continued the session by asking her what she would like to see work differently in her classroom, that put us back on track of her being the focus and zeroed us in on the work we were there to do. Examples of other questions that I asked were, “When did you feel like you were the best teacher and had the highest student engagement/achievement?” “How do you think you could implement those ideas into your current teaching role?” “When you reflect back on last year, what are some things you would like to see work differently this year with your students?” These questions brought us to a solution based conversation where we were then able to brainstorm and plan how a workshop model could work in her classroom on her teaching days. It was only then that I brought out the materials I had gathered and we could collaboratively plan and discuss how we can use them successfully in our own classrooms.
In reflecting back on this coaching session, I know that there are some things I did well, but others I need to work on. I was good about focusing the conversation on her strengths and what she has done in the past and is currently doing well. I also think I was successful at creating a “no-fault” environment which kept this a coaching session and did not cross over into being evaluative. (Tschannen-Moran, Tschannen-Moran, 2011) For future coaching, my goal is to remain “teacher-centered and not coach-centered.” Withholding my own personal stories and connections will keep the focus on the person I am coaching and off of me. I would also like to see a coaching model where we utilize action research. Focusing our work on an action research project could heighten the collaborative process and provide ways for us to, “systematically reflect on and improve practice.” (York-Barr, et. al, 2006) Action research allows for a clear implantation plan and includes collecting and analyzing data in order to inform and plan next steps.
Coaching allows us as educators to discuss and analyze, “complex problems of practice” in a meaningful and productive way. (p. 119) Overall, this was an enlightening and positive experience that I am looking forward to participating in again.
Following this individual coaching time, I worked to utilize my collaborative strategies and engage my PLC team in the analyzing of student work. This was new learning for my team and I was eager to be a part of it. My 3rd grade PLC team chose to analyze our end of Topic 6 assessment for math. We know that research shows working in a team results in teachers showing, “significantly higher levels of knowledge about students, skill variety to their work, helpfulness and effectiveness within their work group, teaching efficacy, professional commitment, and overall satisfaction and growth.” (York-Barr, et. al, 2006) We have found this to be true in our own practice and this collaborative analysis again proved that to be true.
Topic 6 covered the standard Operations and Algebraic Thinking, specifically – 3.OA.A.1, 3, and 4 and 3.OA.B.5 and 3.OA.C.7. This is our second of two units on multiplication. The first unit covered overarching multiplication concepts such as equal groups and recognizing multiplication situations. This unit covered all the multiplication fact strategies and using all the factors 0-12 including problem solving, determining unknown factors, and using relationships and strategies to solve multiplication problems.
We began by analyzing student daily work from the unit which best related to the standard. (See attached) following that analysis we determined that the majority of our students were ready to be assessed on the summative assessment for this unit. Those who were still struggling with concepts were given extra review time in a small group and daily review and practice in their safety net math class. All students were administered the summative assessment the same day (see attached scoring guide with standard). We met the following day after scoring them to discuss our students’ results. My PLC decided to use the Analysis of Student Work Protocol from the New Teacher Center to drive our work. Following is the results of our analysis including what our students can do related to the standard, what their needs still are related to the standard, a differentiation and re-teaching plan for our students, and a plan for re-assessing the standard through the school year.
What Our Students Can Do –
80 out of 90 of our 3rd grade students met or exceeded the standard receiving a 3, 3.5, or 4 on the summative assessment on at least one of the two graded strands. Attached are examples of student work at a level 4, 3, and 2 (the lowest score out of all students.) All students at or above standard were all able to show with confidence a clear understanding and application of the multiplication standards under Operations and Algebraic thinking including problem solving and applying multiplication and division properties. Some clear patterns of strength appeared in their work as well. Students who met standard were clearly able to break apart multiplication problems into simpler problems and then regroup them back for a final answer. For example, 3×7 broken into 1×7=7 and 2×7=14 so 3×7= 14+7=21. (3.OA.B.5 – Apply properties of operations as strategies to multiply and divide.2 Examples: If 6 × 4 = 24 is known, then 4 × 6 = 24 is also known. (Commutative property of multiplication.) 3 × 5 × 2 can be found by 3 × 5 = 15, then 15 × 2 = 30, or by 5 × 2 = 10, then 3 × 10 = 30. (Associative property of multiplication.) Knowing that 8 × 5 = 40 and 8 × 2 = 16, one can find 8 × 7 as 8 × (5 + 2) = (8 × 5) + (8 × 2) = 40 + 16 = 56. (Distributive property.) These students were also able to apply their understanding into a new situation and demonstrated their understanding in more than one way (Question 13).
Students at a level 2, approaching standard, or below were still able to show some basic understanding, but they were unable to apply their basic knowledge into different and more complex multiplication situations. (3.OA.A.3 – Use multiplication and division within 100 to solve word problems in situations involving equal groups, arrays, and measurement quantities, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.)
One key group was identified in our below standard learners, these are our students that are new to our school this school year or have transferred in since the beginning of school. We addressed their needs in the next section.
What Our Students Need, Differentiation, and Re-Assessment –
The primary need of our students is continued practice and review of these concepts. The standards state that by the end of 3rd grade all multiplication basic facts, products of any 2 one digit numbers, be daily practice with the facts including written, verbal, visual, and kinesthetic practice through a variety of activities and hands on math games. Students will have choice over their activities as well which increases student engagement and has been shown to in turn increase student achievement. Students will need time and opportunity for this practice and as a PLC team we have committed to building that time daily into our schedules. In addition, our students need continued practice applying the multiplication knowledge they have into new and different situations. Using a series performance based problem solving activities in partners and small groups, students will be able to analyze situations, apply their knowledge and achieve a synthesis level of knowledge demonstration by creating a new outcome or solution to the problem. These activities will not only create a challenge for our level 3, 3.5 and 4 students, but give our level 2 students a peer coach to work with creating new learning opportunities for them.
Our target group of level 2 and below students will receive additional instruction and remediation in the standards areas in which they are lacking. We will do this through a variety of intervention strategies in addition to the ones listed above these will include: small group instruction with teacher, practice on Reflex math and IXL, Safety Net math group, Leopard Club (after school homework and tutoring club), working with LINKS or parent volunteers. Equally or even more important will be that each teacher will connect with those students’ parents and offer a take home math bag with flash cards, math games with clear instructions and materials included, and a parent letter translated in their home language which explains the standard in clear language and what their child needs to be practicing and working on at home. In our experience, these students have parents who want to help at home, but they either don’t know how or often don’t know the math or (understand how we teach it) themselves. We want to eliminate that barrier for them and create a home/school connection to help our students make the best progress and growth they can.
Our target group of students new to our school will be targeted in all the above ways, but in addition will receive a few directed lessons in what we are calling our “newcomers group.” We hypothesize that some of the struggles they are having are a result of a lack of knowledge and experience with our adopted curriculum. The math vocabulary, processes for solving problems and showing work, and even the structure of equations and test questions can all effect a student’s positive results. Once they have had this instruction we will expect to see their scores and understanding improve or we can accurately assess whether there are gaps in their number sense which need to be addressed with further instruction.
Re-assessment of this skill/standard will take many forms for our PLC team. We use ongoing formative assessment in a variety of ways throughout our lessons. We are constantly taking a “dip stick” of where our students are at and what our next steps will be. We meet weekly as a team to share student data and determine these next steps. We utilize flexible heterogeneous groups for our math instruction which allows us to further differentiate and discuss student successes and needs as a group because we at some point have taught all students in the 3rd grade. When one teacher finds a successful instructional strategy with a particular student or group, he/she shares it so we, and our students, can all benefit. In addition, because we have chosen this standard as our Professional Growth Goal for the year, we will be giving a series of assessments to track student growth over time. These assessment will come in January, March, and May. Finally, this standard is foundational to our continued work in math this year. Our next unit introduces division and students will be asked to apply their knowledge of multiplication to learn that inverse operation. In this way they will be continuing to practice, deepen, and broaden their math skills and understanding throughout this school year and beyond.
Houston, Paul D., Alan M. Blankstein, and Robert W. Cole. Spirituality in Educational Leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2008. Print.
“Preparing America’s Students for Success.” Home. N.p., 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
Tschannen-Moran, Bob, and Megan Tschannen-Moran. “The Coach and the Evaluator.” Educational Leadership 69.2 (2011): 10-16. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.
York-Barr, Jennifer. Reflective Practice to Improve Schools: An Action Guide for Educators. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2006. Print.