Make Reflection a Priority
Reflecting on Your Teaching Practice
As teachers, we often intend on reflecting after teaching lessons or units by writing down notes or taking to colleagues. Sometimes this happens and sometimes we just get too busy and move on to prepping the next lesson. I have found that blogging about my learning not only helps me make reflection a priority, but allows others to also learn from my journey. Reflecting on your teaching practice is essential to helping you become a better teacher.
What does this look like?
Anchoring Phenomenon Unit 1:
Investigative Phenomenon Assessment 1.1:
After Thinking More About it..... (update July 2017)
- The four "Units" found in each grade level sequence are too broad to really find an anchoring phenomenon that can be used to anchor the learning. There are just too many concepts found within each unit to find a single phenomenon to cover them all.
- Each learning progression is a series of lessons that should begin with an anchoring phenomenon and revisited throughout the learning progression. Additional investigative phenomenon should be integrated at the lesson level.
- The piktochart I originally made as shown above for anchoring phenomena, is a good way to explicitly teach the idea of systems and subsystems throughout the unit. More on this in the next blog post.....
Rebranding the Assessments into Learning Progressions
Learning Progression Research
Learning progressions are simply a path a learner takes when trying to reach a particular learning goal. We all take these paths whether we are learning to play guitar or how to play a sport. Achieve uses the "stones across a river analogy", to describe the stepping stones that exist between a student’s beginning learning state and desired learning goal. However, learning progressions are not a linear path and students will need extra stepping stones added for their personal journey. To read more about learning progression research by Achieve, please read "The Role of Learning Progressions in Competency Based Pathways".
What We Learned
- We need more stepping stones including direct instruction and reinforcement activities.
- We need to shorten the parts of the learning progressions so they seem more attainable.
- We need to add the dynamic personalities of the teacher back into the learning progressions. Many teachers seemed fade into the background to allow students to direct their learning. However, sometimes the stage show the teachers put on is what engages the students.
- We need to add a pre and post assessment to each learning progression to let us know what students actually learned and if the students are able to transfer their knowledge to a test similar to the CAST.
This year we have observed:
- A transition in students to a growth mindset through the use of mastery grading, feedback and revisions.
- A transition in teachers to more of a facilitator role while students drive a more personalized learning experience.
- Evidence of much deeper and complex scientific thinking.
- Evidence of students becoming proficient in the use of science and engineering practices.
We have much work still to do, but what an amazing start. I could not be more proud of the teachers who took such a huge risk to try and figure this out together. Although almost all felt like new teachers again and many had sleepless nights, the work that has been accomplished this year is nothing short of extraordinary. Your students are lucky to have you all as teachers who model risk taking and true passion for life-long learning! Bravo
We Are Transitioning in Different Ways, and that is OK!
Understanding the Basics- Let's Take a Step Back
- Teachers should work in their PLCs to go through the curriculum to help guide the planning of their instruction.
- Teachers should provide additional lessons, activities, demonstrations, experiments or inquiry investigations to supplement the curriculum and help students understand the concepts found within the NGSS assessments.
- Teachers should provide an integrated and connected storyline between the concepts found in the assessments through big ideas and overarching questions.
- Teachers should use formative assessments (exit tickets, surveys, student products) to help adjust their instruction and provide additional resources and supports for struggling learners.
- Teachers should work in their PLCs to modify any parts of the assessments, including rubrics, to best meet the needs of their school site, classrooms, and students.
- Teachers should be cognizant of the performance expectations they are trying to reach when designing supplemental lessons or redesigning assessments and spend very little time on concepts that do not support those performance expectations.
- Teachers should be cognizant of using three dimensional teaching practices and looking for evidence of three dimensional learning in student products.
Since there are a lot of teachers creating resources and redesigning lessons out there to support this curriculum, PLEASE SHARE YOUR WORK on the Padlets found within the Overview and Description documents! This will help us revise the curriculum and provide insight into the various needs of school sites. In addition, your voice and expertise will be shared with others and integrated into the curriculum!
Implementing the MS NGSS Curriculum
The idea of following a path comes from the book "Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard" by Chip and Dan Heath. In this book, the authors use the analogy of people or an organization going through change as a person riding an elephant. Riding an elephant can be difficult because most of the time the elephant seems to disagree with the rider, making it difficult for the rider to go in the correct path. This is a comparison to the disagreement between the heart and the mind when faced with change. In our minds we see the value of the NGSS and agree it is a good direction for science eduction, but we emotionally hold on to our traditional ways of teaching and our tested and true lessons and resources that we have seen work in the past. Publication companies who sell textbooks and science kits are working hard to also change to meet the requirements of the NGSS. However, it appears that many companies are also holding onto some old habits. A complete redesign of how we teach science is necessary to really make the intended shift to the NGSS. Switch is an incredible book, and I suggest anyone struggling with change themselves or within their PLCs should consider giving this a read.
The one idea I want to share from this book is that the first step of change requires providing a path for the elephant and the rider. The curriculum on this website is that path. It scripts the critical moves like what three dimensional learning looks like and shrinks the change into pieces that teachers can handle. It is much easier to redesign a lesson that already hits the requirements of a performance expectation than to create one from scratch. The curriculum is not intended to make you feel restricted, but to help you move forward on your journey to teaching the NGSS. The way you implement the curriculum is up to you!
Choosing How You Ride Down the Path
We may also have a few teachers that are continuing to teach the former CA '98 science standards and have not jumped on the path or want to create a path of their own. This is inevitable that a few teachers will want to see all this new curriculum and change in action before they will transition. We are all unique individuals with individual needs. Just know that the support is there when they are ready within our district wide and department PLCs.
Going Above and Beyond
Defining the Problem that Needs to be Addressed
This project can be used by all grade levels and is an ongoing throughout the year. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like a more detailed explanation.
Click Here for Extra Credit Science Project
Explaining Our Shift in Grading
We will now be measuring learning instead of completion of assignments.
4 Point Rubrics Simplified
Comparison of Traditional Grading vs. 4 Point Rubric Grading
Here is an example of a traditional rubric that would assess this assignment:
Traditional Rubric: Part 4 Slide Show
Using a 4 Point Rubric, we would only access the learning goal of the assignment which was how Newton's Third Law of Motion helped them develop their design solution to best meet the performance expectations of the NGSS standard. The NGSS combine the scientific concepts (DCIs) with the how students should "Do" science (SEPs). In this assignment, students are "doing" science through asking questions, data collection, modeling, carrying out an investigation, and constructing explanations and designing solutions. (Four point rubrics for each of these science and engineering practices are found in my last blog post.) As a professional learning community, teachers will decide which of these practices best meets the learning goal within the NGSS standard. In this case, many of us felt that the 4 Point SEP Rubric for Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions best fit the learning goal of the assignment to show how Newton's 3rd Law of Motion was applied to their design solution. The rest of the assignment was a part of the learning process to be able to construct a proper explanation. Although teachers will not grade until students have completed the process, the process is not graded. In turn, students have more choice in how they complete the process and demonstrate learning while teachers will only assess the learning.
The checklist rubrics are used by students to make sure they understand what needs to be done in order to reach the learning goal. Checklist rubrics will also be used for self and peer assessment.
Here is an example of a checklist rubric for this same assignment:
Checklist Rubric: Part 4 Slide Show (with 4 Point SEP Rubric linked to measure learning)
Less Chance of Failing and More Accurate Grades
The B range is the largest because it rewards students who get a majority of 3's. These students are able to get a few 2's and still get a B. In order to get an A, they must earn 4s at least half of the time. This scale comes from Marzano and is explained in more detail in STEP 5 of the last blog post.
Below you can see the comparison of the two grading scales side by side.
Cari Williams has over 16 years of experience designing curriculum and teaching middle school science and STEM courses. After receiving her MS in Instructional Design and Technology from Cal State Fullerton in 2006, she has been focused on integrating transformative educational technologies and next generation teaching into science and STEM classrooms. She currently works as a Digital Learning Coach for middle school science and STEM in the Tustin Unified School District. She also serves as a member of the Science EQuIP Review Panel for Achieve in order to help identify lessons that best illustrate the cognitive demands of the NGSS. She is the lead STEAM curriculum writer for TPSF Summer Academy and leads the TUSD Robotics program servicing over 400 students in grades 4-12 and growing. To learn more about this program, go to www.tusdrobotics.com/