Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Standards-Based Approach and Domain 3

Gratuitous 80's reference to keep up with the trend.
The Ties that Bind
The name of the blog is "Widening the Hoop," so I want to show you how a standards-based approach is tied to other elements of our District's school improvement efforts.in order to illustrate how the standards-based approach is merely part of our journey as opposed to "one more hoop we have to jump through."

This post will focus on the connection between a standards-based approach and Domain 3 of our Teacher Evaluation Document--specifically, the importance of the students' role in the learning process. As you are aware, many of the Distinguished level descriptors in our Evaluation document suggest some level of involvement/responsibility on the part of the student in monitoring the classroom environment and their own learning progress.

What I have attempted to do is explain how these established, effective teaching descriptors connect with practices typically found in a standards-based classroom. Below, I have listed descriptors from the Distinguished category for some elements in our Teacher Evaluation document. The last column, then, is how I see the standards-based approach connecting to our document. 

Distinguished Teaching Characteristics
Distinguished Category Descriptor
Connection to Standards-Based Approach
3b  Discussion Techniques
Students assume considerable responsibility for the success of the discussion, initiating topics and making unsolicited contributions.
In a standards-based approach, students are responsible for monitoring their own learning. A discussion may offer evidence about the students’ level of understanding, so student involvement is important.
3c  Presentation of Content
Students initiate connections to knowledge, experience and school culture.
Connections are a big part of understanding. Can students describe how new learning connects with old? Can they explain how new learning fits into broader contexts?
3c  Activities and/or Assignments
All students are cognitively engaged in the activities and/or assignments in their exploration of content. Students also initiate or adapt activities and projects to enhance understanding.
Just as we need to communicate the standards in a way that all students can understand, we need to look for ways to structure activities that offer flexibility to students as they pursue mastery of the CLSs.
3c  Instructional materials and resources
Students contribute to or initiate the choice, adaptation, or creation of materials to enhance their own purposes.
Students all have different strengths and weaknesses. Assignments should regularly provide some flexibility for students to build on their own individual skill sets.
3d  Quality: accurate, substantive, constructive, and specific
Students regularly use feedback to enhance their learning experiences.
Obviously, the feedback referred to here is about how students are doing on a particular CLS. Once a student receives that feedback, there is an immediate opportunity to practice with this feedback. This is not just about redo’s. It’s also about additional learning experiences.
3d  Timeliness
Students are empowered to make prompt use of the feedback in their learning.

The use of our evaluation document is ONLY for the purpose of drawing on our common understanding of distinguished teaching behaviors. I don't intend to imply that a person can only be distinguished through the use of a standards-based approach. For example, a teacher can give high quality feedback without using a true standards-based approach. All students can be cognitively engaged without the overt focus on standards.

What I would suggest, though, is that the standards-based approach--when implemented correctly--naturally leads our students into these roles where they are more responsible for monitoring their own learning. I think we can all agree that this is a characteristic of distinguished teaching.

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