Policy for Make Up Work
Please submit to Mr. Link by Wednesday of this week. It was due this past Friday. Thanks.
Lesson Plan Using Differentiated Instruction
Please note the deadline is December 2nd, end of the 2nd marking period. Teachers may submit what was crafted during Election Day PD or another differentiated lesson. Differentiated Lesson Plan rubric.
Teachers' Views on Technology in the Classroom
Robert Marzano on Effective Practice (Originally titled “When Practice Makes Perfect…Sense”)
In this helpful Educational Leadership article, author/researcher Robert Marzano says that getting students to practice skills, strategies, and processes (procedural knowledge) is a good use of time – provided it’s done right. Here are his recommendations:
• Decide if practice is necessary. If we want students to master a skill, strategy, or process so they can execute it independently, with little or no conscious thought, then it needs to be practiced. Not all skills, strategies, and processes need to be learned to the autonomous level.
• Mix up examples. Practice is more effective when problems using different skills are mixed; it’s less effective when problems on the same skill are presented together. Studies have also shown that giving students ten problems, five of which have been solved using good strategies, is more effective than giving students ten unsolved problems.
• Have students think aloud. It’s helpful for students to explain their thought process and causal relationships as they solve problems.
• Space practice sessions appropriately. Studies have shown that long-term retention is best served by spacing practice sessions with short intervals at first, then gradually increasing the amount of time between them.
Ideas on Improving School-Based Professional Development
In these two Education Week articles, Stephen Sawchuk reports on recent developments in PD. He quotes Hayes Mizell of Learning Forward (formerly the National Staff Development Council): “The hard truth is that, until recently, the field of professional development has been underdeveloped and immature. It has tolerated a lot of sloppy thinking, practice, and results. It has not been willing to ‘call out’ ineffective practices and ineffective policy… It has not devoted attention to outcomes.”
Sawchuk also quotes University of Kentucky/Lexington professor Thomas Guskey: “Every time the superintendent goes to a conference, the teachers get worried, because they know he’s going to come back with something he wants to try.” This top-down, flavor-of-the-month model of professional development, treating all departments and teachers as if they had similar needs, is now widely discredited.
“Professional learning communities” are a promising practice – teacher teams looking at common interim assessment results and student work, brainstorming ways to help students who haven’t mastered the material, and looking critically at teaching practices. “We should start where students’ weaknesses and shortcomings are and then seek strategies or techniques to help [teachers] understand those shortcomings,” says Guskey.
The problem is how professional learning communities are being implemented. Just putting teachers in a conference room once a week isn’t enough. “There’s probably not a district out there that doesn’t think it’s doing PLCs,” says Judy Haptonstall, superintendent of the Roaring Fork schools in Colorado. “But the heart of it has to be about planning for good instruction and evaluating teaching.”
Guskey believes there should be a balance between team-based problem-solving and external ideas. “Solutions can’t always come from inside,” he says, “and oftentimes the findings from research can be particularly instructive, but teachers need guidance and direction on what can be done to bring it to bear in their classrooms.”
Another big question is what role teacher evaluation should play in professional development. Some fear that including evaluation will cause PD to be seen as a remedial tool, but others believe that evaluations must be central to the process. “You can’t possibly have good professional development without a [formal] evaluation that tells you the skills that need to be developed and without a subsequent evaluation that lets you know whether they’ve been improved,” says Timothy Daly of the New Teacher Project. “It helps set the curriculum for professional development.”
One finding from the research is that short-duration professional development is rarely effective. Summer workshops lasting 5-14 hours had no effect on student achievement, whereas training that lasted 30-100 hours was correlated with positive gains. “Any serious teacher change or teacher learning requires intensive treatment of some topic of significance,” says Kwang Yoon of the American Institutes of Research. But there are still significant barriers to implementation in the classroom and student results. “Even if professional development is effective and a teacher learned something,” says Yoon, “what makes them really improve their practice in the classroom when they are so busy and so tired?”
“Professional Development At a Crossroads” and “No Proof Positive for Training Approaches” by Stephen Sawchuk in Education Week, Nov. 10, 2010 (Vol. 30, #11, p. S2-S5), no e-link available