Sunday, September 27, 2015

Effective Feedback

Excellence in Education:Feedback

Which of the following statements is FEEDBACK?

  1. “Great job Bart! That was one of the best presentations I’ve seen.”
  2. “You’re making a good point here, but remember the intended audience.”
  3. “That’s a beautiful poster. I love your visuals but you need more information.”
  4. “82/100,” written on a test.

Yeah, it’s a trick question. None of the statements are truly feedback.

The first and third statements express opinions. Statement 3 is a little more descriptive, but it really doesn’t provide the necessary information about the performance goal or objective of the assignment.

Statement 2 offers some advice but doesn’t provide much in regards to feedback.

The 4th statement provides little information for the learner in regards to what’s next.

So what is feedback?

First, feedback has one of powerful impacts on learning and achievement . True feedback means that the student can learn from the results. This past week I observed a great example of effective feedback--admittedly I didn’t provide the teachers whose class I observed with the effective feedback.

In this class, I saw students peer reviewing. Students were examining classmates’ writing samples and providing them with feedback based on a rubric, but that’s really only part of what made the feedback effective. It’s what I saw happen next that made it special. After reviewing their peers’ work, the teacher encouraged the students to go back to their own works and make modifications. Admittedly, a few students took the time to read the comments but the simple act of taking the time to review the work of others gave each student a clearer picture of what they needed to do to improve their work.

So looking at this, we can decipher what effective feedback is:
  1. It’s informative
  2. You’re able to take that information and act on it
  3. It’s directly linked to the task and the task’s purpose/objective
  4. It’s timely and guides the person

Weekly Shout Out
Steve van Epp and the cafeteria staff  deserve a shout-out for his condiment bar. I’ve heard several students stating their love for it--and a few lamenting when the sauces run out near the end of 3rd lunch. Student choice extends to our cafeteria!

Need To Knows
Please be mindful that we’re working diligently to cut down on hallway traffic at all times of day, especially Mustang Morning. If you draft or request a student, or a student is in your room for whatever reason, please keep him/her with you for the ENTIRE Mustang Morning.

If you haven’t watched the video on SBIT (special education, RTI, and 504s), please do so . We’re working hard to improve our SBIT process and to better serve the needs of all of our students. If you’re interested in participating on the SBIT team (would mean a minimum commitment of “sacrificing” one planning period per month), we’d love to have you join the team.

Oh yeah, one of the great things--something I didn’t mention--about Zaption is that it gives you a great snapshot. So from this snapshot I can see that only 20 of you have watched the video.

Positive Referral Link :

We’d love to have your help--plus it’s really awesome to see students in their homecoming outfits and they love seeing you outside of the class--with chaperoning homecoming. Please let Leta or Jen know if you’re available.

There are a couple of great conferences coming up.
Edscape Conference in New Jersey, October 17. Edscape is a conference focused on innovation and discovery.

Edcamp NJ on November, 21  

Calendar Items
September 28: Professional Development Day

September 29: Modified Lockdown Drill 1st period
                          Club Day with Club Schedule
1st Period
Mustang Morning
2nd Period
Lunch schedule:
3rd Period
**Club Period**
4th Period
**Students will remain in 3rd period if they do not have a club.
**Only teachers that sponsor a club should send their 3rd period students to the auditorium. Students will be sent back to class.

October 1 (4:30-7): Parent Conferences

October 5-10: Homecoming Festivities

October 3: Shannon Hutchison-Krupat, Michelle Kessler, and Peggy Smith

Worth Your Time

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Socratic Seminar with Tap-Ins and This Is Your Blog

Excellence in Education: Socratic Seminar with Tap-Ins
Earlier this week, I observed Mr. Rooks’s freshman geography students conduct a Socratic Seminar. Surprisingly, many of them had never--meaning in elementary or middle school--had never participated in one before.

Why it’s valuable:
  1. It promotes student thinking and discovery
  2. Higher-level thinking skills are required/acquired as students listen, debate, and use evidence
  3. It prepares students for life beyond the classroom as they have to discuss and “argue”

How’s it work?
Socratic seminars can take many different forms but the fundamentals associated with the Fishbowl Socratic Seminar as a follows:
  1. Teacher selects a topic that promotes discussion. This could be from a literary work, an historical event, a pro-con topic, etc. The only requirement is that the subject is rich with possibilities for many points of view.
  2. Open-ended questions that elicit differing perspective and complex thinking are developed. Mr. Rooks developed these questions and chose a student to facilitate the discussion, but with time the questions could be student-generated.
  3. Student prepare for the seminar. This could be accomplished in a variety of ways depending on student ability, the topic, etc. During this stage, it’s important to check-in with students who might need help. It’s also a great time to prompt students who might be shy and non-participatory. For example, as a teacher you might visit an introverted student and pose a question, listen to his answer and state, “Great answer! When that question is asked during the seminar, I would love for you to share that with the group.”
  4. Review and discuss the norms and expectations. If it’s your first time doing a Socratic Seminar with your students, you can use the Socratic Seminar format to discuss these and have the students set the norms.
  5. The seminar begins with students in the inner circle  and students on the outside. Only students in the inner circle may participate as students on the outside have to observe and listen.
  6. Outer circle members are allowed to “tap into” the inner circle to participate in the discussion, as long as they tap an inner circle member who has already spoken.
  7. The discussion becomes fluid with people moving from the outside to the inside.
  8. A debriefing and reflective process is used to encourage reflection and metacognition.

This is YOUR Blog
I’m sure some of what I’ll write about in this blog will sometimes agitate you. I’m a strong believer that discourse only strengthens our ability to educate. If disagree with something you read, please let me know. I’d love to include your opinions in a future blog!

How else is this YOUR blog?
If you have an Excellence in Education idea, whether it’s something that you do or something that you’ve seen or read, I’d love to invite you as a guest author. One of the things that makes education and educators unique, is that we’re not in competition with others, and we all benefit from sharing and learning from others.

If you have someone you would like to include in the Weekly Shout Out, please send me an email.

Weekly Shout Out
Great job by our counselors at organizing our College Readiness night. It was the best attended one yet and the parent feedback indicated it was extremely helpful. Thanks as well to all the teachers who manned a table and represented their alma mater: Molli Campbell, Veronica Price-Thomas, Geoff Parks, Shannon Deegan, Sarah Orme, Albert Jacoby, and John Baran.

Need To Knows
Please be mindful that we’re working diligently to cut down on hallway traffic at all times of day, especially Mustang Morning. If you draft or request a student, or a student is in your room for whatever reason, please keep him/her with you for the ENTIRE Mustang Morning.

If you’re interested in leading a session at next week’s PD Day, please let Ashby know today.

If you haven’t watched the video on SBIT (special education, RTI, and 504s), please do so . We’re working hard to improve our SBIT process and to better serve the needs of all of our students. If you’re interested in participating on the SBIT team (would mean a minimum commitment of “sacrificing” one planning period per month), we’d love to have you join the team.

Positive Referral Link :

Shameless plug: I’m co- host/moderator of #vachat, a twitter chat every Monday at 8pm. It’s a twitter chat for Virginia--and non-Virginia--educators. We’d love to have you with us. Tonight’s topic: Mastery Learning.

Calendar Items
September 24-25: Underclassman Pictures

September 24: Homecoming Voting

September 28: Professional Development Day
October 1 (4:30-7): Parent Conferences

Sorry, if you had a late August or early September Birthday and I missed you.
Deleanna Eddy: Sept 20
Madeline Michel: Sept 20
Carolyn Ramwell: Sept 24
Janet Whitmore: Sept 24

Worth Your Time
Why are They Disengaged? My Students Told Me. This blog article goes extremely well as a follow-up to our student panel discussion. Pernille Ripp is a great educator and her blog is worth reading. Follow her on twitter @pernilleripp

Growth Mindset: Telling Penguins to Flap Harder

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Zaption and SBIT

Tech in Education : Zaption
This is a two-parter. Within the next week, please watch this Zaption Tour/Video on SBIT (special education, RTI, and 504s).

Read below as to why I used Zaption for this presentation.

Several years ago as a classroom teacher, I made a decision to embrace technology or Web 2.0 tools as they were known at the time. At the end of the year as I reflected and came to an upsetting realization: far too often I used technology just for the sake of using technology. While several of my tech tools encouraged collaboration and communication (online discussions, crocdoc, etc.), many fell short. So, over the years, I’m constantly looking for tech tools that enhance learning. Technology should encourage students to be more active participants in their learning, allowing them to not just be content consumers but content creators as well.

This week’s tech tool may not encourage content creation, but I believe it enhances student engagement by requiring and encouraging student responses. Zaption is a great tool for flipping classrooms and it’s great for formatively assessing students, providing the opportunity for specialized instruction.

What is Zaption? A free (a more advanced, subscription model is available) tool that allows teachers to easily create and edit presentations (called tours) and add interactive features to them.

Why I’m Recommending Zaption
  • It’s all drag-and-drop, so it’s easy to use.
  • You can create your own content or search for content online (YouTube, Vimeo, pretty much any video, and from their own tours) to edit.  
  • Easily trim and edit the video. You can add subtitles, slides, images, text to the tour.
  • Add interactive features like open responses, multiple choices, checkboxes, etc. (The subscription model offers many more features).
  • You can easily share your video with your students.
  • The analytics page, allows you to see student answers to the questions you posted.

Weekly Shout Out
Great job by Lauren Hauser for collecting data and creating a “lesson” for our department chair meeting. Lauren shared reading data for our ninth graders as we begin the discussion of how we can meet the diverse needs of all of our students. For those of you who don’t know Lauren, she is our intervention specialist and will be working with our English department, our SBIT team and, most importantly, individual students to ensure their success.

Thanks for Nikki Eubanks for organizing our first club day, which probably would’ve gone a lot more smoothly if some idiot  I didn’t confuse everyone with the incorrect bell schedule.

Need To Knows
Maggie Sullivan who did sensational work with several of our students as our Y-CAPP provider has been promoted and transferred to CHS. Lori Stahl will be filling her position. We wish Maggie the best of luck and welcome Lori to our Mustang Family.

Positive Referral Link :

Monthly Recognition (Staff/Student) : (Ms Hatchett’s)

Calendar Items
September 14: US DOE CTE Visit
  Writer’s Workshop Meeting during Mustang Morning

September 15: Fire Drill (1st period)
Senior and Transfers History SOL Testing

September 16-18: Senior and Transfer Make-up SOL Testing

September 16 (5:30-8:30): College Planning Night  

September 17: Faculty meeting (afternoon only)

September 24-25: Underclassman Pictures

September 24: Homecoming Voting

Worth Your Time

What You May Miss When You Take Notes on Your Laptop (interesting implications as we move forward with DLI)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

100 Percent: Except Nothing Less

Excellence in Education : 100%
Before I discuss this strategy from Teach Like A Champion and one I saw used in Ms. Orme’s class, please allow me to share what happens when it’s NOT used.

Last year, I was sitting in a class next to a hard-working student who struggled academically and emotionally (I’ll call her Emily). Students were working on an assignment that required them to have multiple pieces of paper on their desks. Working diligently, but still behind her classmates, Emily was already a little frustrated, so when the teacher said, “1 more minute,” Emily began to panic and became more frustrated. When the teacher announced, “Time’s up,” Emily let out an audible, “PHEW!”

Then, matters became worse when the teacher within the next minute and in front of the whole class made two statements, “Emily, you need to have your desk cleared for this next assignment,” soon followed by, “Emily, we’re not going to be able to wait for you.”

Knowing Emily pretty well, I asked her to come into the hallway with me, prefacing that she wasn’t in trouble. I used the opportunity to boost her confidence and calm her down (she was almost in tears).

So what did the teacher do wrong?

Let’s see instead how Ms. Orme dealt with a similar situation.

The assignments were remarkably similar and as students were wrapping up their first assignment, they’d be transitioning to a second assignment with a significant state change. Like the other teacher, Ms. Orme provided a countdown but when students weren’t 100% compliant, they diverged.

While both teachers recognized there’s only one acceptable percentage of students who need to follow directions: 100% and neither was willing to move on without 100% compliance, Ms. Orme proceeded in a different manner. First, as she began the “countdown” she weaved her way through the classroom and provided nonverbal interventions. She then returned to the front of the classroom, where it was easy for her students to have eyes on her and vice-versa (I can’t tell you how important this is, but let’s just say how I learned from my own experiences).

She then provided positive group correction. “I have almost all eyes on me.” Followed shortly, by I still need 1 more set of eyes.”

Simply, Ms. Orme required 100% compliance by
  1. Using proximity
  2. Providing positive group correction; not singling a student out
  3. She made it easy for her students and herself by giving clear directions, “I need your desks cleared except for your composition books.” This made it easy for her to check for compliance but also made it easy for students to follow the directions.
  4. She followed through and “demanded” it from all of her students.

Weekly Shout Out
Thanks to all the students and staff who put in extra time to make our 1st pep rally of the year successful.
Mr. Dove who did a great job of MCing.
Ms. Price Thomas and Mr. Coston for leading the cheerleaders and the band, respectively
Ms. Seale and Mr. Pearman for organizing the athletic side of things
Ms. Johnson and Ms. Meade for the signs and organization
Our attendance office, Mr. Hunt, our counselors, Mr. Waller, and Mr. Morris for helping with check-outs and sweeping the grounds.

Need To Knows
We’re working on “cleaning up” the hallways during all classes, especially during Mustang Morning. Thanks to those of you who have peeked your heads out of your classes to move students along and have let us know of problem areas/times.

Calendar Items
September 9: Back to School Night (6:30-8)

          Senior (retakes) and Transfers Math, Science SOL Testing

September 10: First Senior/Long Lunch
Senior (retakes) and Transfers Reading SOL Testing

September 14: US DOE CTE Visit

September 15: Senior and Transfers History SOL Testing

September 16-18: Senior and Transfer Make-up SOL Testing

September 16 (5:30-8:30): College Planning Night  

September 17: Faculty meeting (afternoon only)

Worth Your Time