On the evening of March 29, 2017 a group of OCSU students, teachers, administrators and board members gathered in the multi-purpose room at Lake Region to brainstorm and imagine what a student who is prepared for the world looks like. The meeting was facilitated by Beth Cobb, superintendent of the Orange East Supervisory Union. After a brief discussion of OCSU’s mission and vision statements, participants watched a video about schools and students in the 21st century. Beth then facilitated a fishbowl activity with students and teachers discussing what students need in order to be prepared for life after high school.
After this, we divided into small groups to have deeper discussions and to create a picture of a student who is prepared for the world.
As groups shared their pictures it was amazing how many commonalities there were. The wordle below shows the qualities and skills the groups felt were essential. Before we went our separate ways we identified some next steps, one of which is figuring out how to support schools so that all students truly are prepared to be successful.
We’d love to hear from people interested in being part of this work in the future. Please comment below to share your thoughts!
One major focus area in Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) is student engagement. During the last two years over 40 teachers and administrators have read and discussed the book Total Participation Techniques by Himmele and Himmele. Administrators and teacher leaders have modeled total participation techniques (TPTs) in meetings with colleagues, teachers have created TPT folders to use with students, and learners across OCSU are participating more actively in their own learning.
What does engagement look like in the OCSU environment?
In last year’s TPT class, Michelle Bonneau (Brownington School) created a Buncee presentation that describes the TPTs noted above as well as others from the Himmele and Himmele text. You can view Michelle’s Buncee here: https://app.edu.buncee.com/buncee/02dd97c6fb074c6f967a3b2087b2604a
How are you engaging students in your classroom? Post a comment below to share your ideas!
As teachers and administrators in OCSU continue to deepen their knowledge of formative assessment, many of us are focusing on having students engage in self-assessment. Why is self-assessment important? The website eduplace.com has this to say:
"When students are collaborators in assessment, they develop the habit of self-reflection. They learn the qualities of good work, how to judge their work against these qualities, how to step back from their work to assess their own efforts and feelings of accomplishment, and how to set personal goals (Reif, 1990; Wolf, 1989). These are qualities of self-directed learners, not passive learners. As teachers model, guide, and provide practice in self-assessment, students learn that assessment is not something apart from learning or something done to them, but a collaboration between teachers and students, and an integral part of how they learn and improve."
And the site, studentsatthecenterhub.org, has lots of information on self-assessment. I’ve taken some key bits directly from that website:
"Self-assessment is simply a matter of having students identify strengths and weaknesses in their own work and revise accordingly. Effective self-assessment involves students comparing their work to clear standards and generating feedback for themselves about where they need to make improvements. It is a tool that can promote learning if it is used while the learning is taking place. In order for self-assessment to be effective, students must be able to use their self-generated feedback to revise and improve their work before it is due for grading. After students self-assess and revise their work, they can turn it in for teacher feedback.
Effective self-assessment involves at least three steps:
1. CLEAR PERFORMANCE TARGETS
In order for self-assessment to be effective, students must have clear targets to work toward. In other words, students must know what counts! Clear criteria for assignments that will be graded should be made available to students before work on the task begins. The assessment criteria can be created by the teacher or co-created with students. The criteria can be arranged in a simple checklist or in a rubric.
2. CHECKING PROGRESS TOWARD THE TARGETS
This is where the actual self-assessment takes place. Once students know the performance targets (step 1), they create a draft of the assignment, compare the draft to the targets, and identify areas of strength and areas for improvement.
Using the self-generated feedback from step 2, students revise their draft, trying to close the gaps between their work and the targets. This step is crucial. If students don’t have the chance to revise and improve their work, they are unlikely to take the self-assessment process seriously."
Check out studentsatthecenterhub.org for more information about self-assessment, and leave a comment below to let us know how you are engaging your students in self-assessment.
This blog post was written by Monique Schneider, kindergarten teacher at Glover Community School. Thanks Monique!
Do you want to take your ordinary lesson to the next level, incorporating movement with your teaching concepts that will enhance student engagement and understanding? In watching the video Dramatic Interpretations of Poetry on the Teaching Channel (https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/dramatic-interpretations-of-poetry), Mr. Wasse takes concepts such as vocabulary acquisition, comprehension of text, character perspectives and peer relationships, and utilizes movement and drama to captivate and motivate student involvement. In listening to the interviews of Mr. Wasse and his students, I am inspired by the creativity and depth this lesson illustrates.
Mr. Wasse uses a familiar movement game (Fox and Hare) for his students at the beginning of the lesson to review and deepen the understanding of the word exclusion. After the game ends, there is a class discussion of the term exclusion, how it was used in the game, and his prompting helps to make this term relevant and connected to what students have experienced in their lives (higher order thinking). He then takes text from poetry to help make connections to this term, and introduces a new vocabulary term, status, to the children. Again, Mr. Wasse scaffolds this new vocabulary term by having students pose their bodies in ways that show someone has a higher/lower status, which is a concrete representation of something that may seem abstract or hard to understand from a sixth grade perspective. Students use an excerpt from poetry to make connections with these terms, and then are given opportunities to create “tableaus” in small groups. These tableaus are frozen scenes of the characters from the excerpt, and how they might be depicted and why. The discussions by students are very powerful to watch, and students are seen working together to justify why they pose in the way that they do. They have the chance to “perform” their tableaus for their classmates, and are given feedback from their peers based on questions/prompts on a teacher-created peer assessment form. They even have a chance to “role play” their character’s perspective by taking questions from the audience about how they feel or their response to other characters in their tableau. Mr. Wasse brings in another technique of asking children to think forward from a character’s perspective. How might a character look ten years from now? What characters would be involved in this new tableau/scene?
After viewing this video, I felt empowered as a teacher to find ways to use movement throughout the day with the students I teach. This video depicted middle school students participating in an “ideal” way, fully engaged and acquiring skills that will be carried on through adolescence and beyond. This video reminds all educators about the power we have when creating/crafting our lessons. What we do and how we do it is the art and science in our profession, having huge implications on student engagement and learning. What Total Participation Techniques are you using to craft your daily lessons? How engaged are your students? I highly recommend taking the time to watch Mr. Wasse and become inspired by his participation techniques.
Note: The Teaching Channel video is about 16 min. long. Total Participation Techniques refer to the text of the same title written by Himmele and Himmele.
Implementing a new program can be stressful for both teachers and students. One way to mitigate some of the stress is to embed student engagement strategies and formative assessment practices throughout each lesson. Ensuring that all students are actively engaged helps keep the focus on student learning and supports differentiation. Using formative assessment allows teachers to respond to student needs as they occur during the lesson, and this responsive teaching leads to improved learning outcomes for all students.
As part of a class on student engagement/formative assessment, Angelique Brown, principal at Glover School, has created a newsletter that provides suggestions for embedding engagement techniques and formative assessment in Eureka Math lessons. I hope you’ll read the attached newsletter, try some of these strategies, and comment below to let us know how they impacted learning in your classroom.
This blog post was written by Sue Cloutier a teacher in the Orleans Central Early Childhood Program. Thanks Sue!
With our district talking so much about formative assessments, student engagement, and total participation techniques, one may wonder where and/or how to begin. Well, here is a resource (book listed below) and a little support summed up just for you! Before I begin I want to assure you this process is easy! There is only one idea to keep in the back of your mind, and that is, “What do I want my students to get out of my lesson?”
First of all, I must let you know upfront that many teachers have already started their own personal journeys through this process of implementing strategies and techniques. I want to assure you that it will take very little time to start your own journey. One important bit of information before we start is: having fun with formative assessment is totally encouraged.
Just by reading chapters four and five in the book (listed below), you will already feel confident in making attempts to formatively assess your students; and support student engagement by using total participation techniques.
Chapter four includes: “On-the-Spot TPTs.” Chapter five includes “TPT Hold-Ups.” I have ranked the techniques extremely easy, or more challenging than others (this is because the technique takes a longer amount of time than the others).
Extremely Easy, no materials needed, and utilizing very little time:
*Thumbs-Up When Ready
*Thumbs - Up/Down Vote
Extremely Easy, writing materials needed, and utilizing very little time:
*Chalkboard Splash (need sticky notes and place to post notes)
Extremely Easy, but need premade cards; and utilizing very little time:
*Number Card Hold-Ups
*True/Not True Hold-Ups
*Multiple Choice Hold-Ups
More Challenging than others:
*Numbered Heads (analyzing)
More information about all of these techniques can be found in the text noted below.
In both chapters four and five, there is an extremely easy format to follow. It lists:
*Steps to how they work-this gives you step-by-step directions in how to use the technique.
*How to Ensure Higher-Order Thinking-gives you steps to ensure higher-order thinking.
*Pause to Apply-gives you ideas on when you might use the technique.
The resource I recommend is a book: Total Participation Techniques, by Persida and William Himmele. (2011)
What engagement strategies do you use to ensure total participation? Comment below to share your ideas!
Are you interested in incorporating peer assessment into your instruction? Are you wondering what peer assessment looks like for your grade level and/or content area? Are you not quite sure what peer assessment really means?
Peer assessment is actually just one of the four clusters of the Keeping Learning on Track Activating Peers pyramid. This pyramid refers to ways that students can act as instructional resources for each other. The four clusters are outlined in a bit more detail below.
These clusters are not exclusive; one technique can be listed under multiple clusters. The most important idea is to consider how the technique you are using is impacting learning and teaching.
How do your students act as instructional resources for each other? Share your ideas by posting comments!
During the months of October, November, and December teachers from around the country, including seven teachers from OCSU, participated in an action research project called the Book Basket Challenge. The purpose of the research was to measure the impact on student engagement, motivation, and enthusiasm for reading when classroom libraries were organized into topic baskets, rather than levels.
The project kicked off with all teachers participating in a pre-survey that asked questions about student engagement, motivation, and enthusiasm for reading. Teachers attended an after-school professional development session to learn about the research behind building knowledge and vocabulary about topics, and the effect on engagement, motivation, and enthusiasm. During this session teachers learned about how students can have many different reading levels, depending on their knowledge of the topic. Teachers were encouraged to offer students choice in what they were reading during independent reading time, rather than insisting that they read books only at their level.
As they began reorganizing their libraries, teachers asked students what topics they wanted to learn about. Some popular choices included: monster trucks, horses, weather, dinosaurs, and space. There were baskets that contained books in a series: Fly Guy, Magic Tree House, and the David books. One group of 1st grade readers was really excited about the Learn to Draw book basket.
Teachers collected observations, photos and quotes from their students during the course of the project.
"Just wanted to let you know that the library workstation went GREAT!!! The kids were so excited when they walked in and saw how different the library looked. They have been finishing their work quickly all day so they could get to the library during transition times.”
“Can we do this the whole time?” “Can I read this later?”
“I like the book boxes because then I can learn about different things.”
“ I like the boxes because they are in with “like” books instead of being scrambled about.”
“I like the book bins because I like to discover new topics.”
“I like the book bins because it doesn’t take that long to find a certain book.”
“It is good because I can find the books that I really like, like dinosaurs.”
I love this observation from a 1st grade classroom:
"I changed up some of my book baskets yesterday and I thought I would share a quote with you. HR came in this morning and was enjoying some free time in the library when he noticed that I had added a horse basket. He came running over, "There is a basket about horses, that’s what I asked for!" So funny, it was almost like Christmas morning and Santa had brought exactly what he wanted. I'm still not convinced he knows that it is me that is changing the library. Maybe a library fairy!"
Teachers involved in the project all noticed a positive impact on engagement, motivation, and enthusiasm for reading after reorganizing their libraries. More about the research behind book baskets and the survey results can be found here:
Reflections from a 1st grade teacher on the west coast about the project can be found here:
How is your classroom library organized?
To conclude our focus on the formative assessment strategy of sharing learning expectations we consider a couple of common misconceptions and some tactics for avoiding them.
Misconception #1: Informing the students of the learning target by telling them what it is or by writing it on the board is sufficient. The assumption behind this practice is that writing the objective on the board puts the objective inside the students' heads.
Misconception #2: Sharing a rubric with students will ensure they understand the criteria for success. Sharing a rubric with students is a good start, but as with the objective, you need to check for student understanding of what the criteria mean.
Tactics for Avoiding Misconceptions
Information from this post comes from:
More information about formative assessment can be found in the professional development school on the OCSU Rubicon Atlas site.
This blog post is from the Identity and Education group. We'd love to know how you will be celebrating Black History Month with your students. Please leave comments at the bottom of this page to share your stories!
The OCSU Identity and Education working group encourages you to remember that February is Black History Month! We would ask you to incorporate some recognition of black history in a meaningful way into your lessons and conversations with students. Posters, book displays, read-alouds, conversations, poems, music, art, content… all are great ways to celebrate black heritage and recognize the diversity in our schools, our country, and our planet. Especially in our majority white community, it’s important to expose students to the diversity that surrounds them.
Here are some lessons and resources you could look through for ideas:
If you want some more background, here’s a quick intro to the idea of multiculturalism in your classroom. If you want to dive a little deeper, check out this essay exploring the question, “what if all the students are white?”
If this is a topic that interests you, all are welcome to future meetings of the group! The next meeting will be Thursday February 9th at 4:30pm in the Lake Region Library. Agenda to follow.
Thanks for all your work!
Identity and Education working group
The place to find information about curriculum, instruction, and assessment in the Orleans Central Supervisory Union.
Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Grants