The Latino Policy Institute released a report at the end of August indicating that RI has one of the worst Latino-White achievement gaps in the country. With significant ELL populations across our four core cities, it's important that we get ELL instruction right. What models and strategies are currently out there, how are they working, and what changes need to happen in order for these gaps to close?
For those of you who don't teach ELL's, please remember that good teaching is good teaching and many of the strategies that are used to reach our ELL's will help you with the work you do in any classroom, so be sure to join us Sunday night at 8 PM on #EdChatRI as we discuss what we need to do to better serve our ELL students.
There were many people who were asking me for more information regarding the DEEPER model of teaching and learning that we are following at Shea HS. Therefore, I thought this would make a perfect topic for this weeks discussion.
After reading an article at the end of last year about the great work being done by the Jackson Central-Merry Academy of Medical Technology, I decided as a school leader, going through transformation that offering a consistent structure to the classroom throughout the entire building is important for our students to having a common expectation and understanding of what is expected and where to look for guidance. With that in mind we have adopted a DEEPER mindset at Shea High School and adapted what JCM had created to meet the needs of our teachers and students. The following is a look at that article and how we have adapted it to fit the needs of our teachers regarding the evaluation system that we are using in Pawtucket, RI. Take a read and then join us Sunday night at 8 PM on #edchatri when we look at each section individually and assign one question to each part.
Perhaps the most important aspect of our plan to increase rigor and improve instruction is our expectation that teachers make the most of available learning time by teaching bell-to-bell, and that reading and writing will occur with every student, every class, every block, every day. We have emphasized that in order to improve reading skills, our students must spend the majority of the school day reading and writing. We designed an instructional model that facilitates bell-to-bell instruction, promotes literacy activities in every classroom, and provides opportunities for metacognition and assessment. The acronym DEEPER represents the deeper understanding required with the new Common Core State Standards and structures the lesson with the following components: In red are the RRIC Teacher Evaluation Standards that could be associated with DEEPER.
· Do Now: Each class begins with a brief lesson, often referred to as “bell work,” which teachers post before class begins. Students are expected to enter the classroom and immediately begin working on their “Do Now” activity with no direction from the teacher. (1.3a and 3b, 1.4, 2.3b, 3.1a, 3.2a, 3.3a, 3.4b)
· Essential question: Every lesson must have an essential question posted that invokes deep thought based on the lesson’s instruction and requires demonstration of skill/objective mastery to answer. The essential question must require higher-order thinking to answer. The essential question is different from a guiding question. A guiding question might ask a student to identify the extended metaphor in the poem, “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes. A DEEPER essential question would ask, “Use quotes from the poem to explain your answer to the following. How does the extended staircase metaphor contrast between the ‘crystal stair’ and the life the mother describes? What message is the author conveying to the reader with the shift in focus from the mother’s staircase to the son’s staircase in the last lines?” (1.1a, 1.2, 2.2a, 3.2a, 3.4a)
· Engage: Teachers must engage students for the acquisition of knowledge. A DEEPER lesson accesses a student’s “web of neurons” with creating meaningful learning activities that establish connections to existing neurological pathways (Pillars, 2011). DEEPER lessons include direct instruction that focuses on the learning objective with interactive lectures, authentic literacy activities, and frequent checks for understanding (Schmoker, 2011). (1.1b, 1.3a, 1.3b, 1.3c, 2.3a, 3.1c, 3.2, 3.3)
· Practice: After the application of knowledge, students must facilitate objective mastery through the application of knowledge. Practice can be guided, group, or independent and include activities that provide opportunities for students to use the acquired knowledge in a practical application with teacher guidance. During student practice, teachers collect data and adjust instruction as needed. (1.2, 1.4, 3.2, 3.4)
· Evaluate: A DEEPER lesson includes an assessment that provides evidence of student mastery of the skill or objective to the teacher. (1.4, 3.4)
· Reflect Now: A DEEPER lesson must include a lesson summary and closure. During the last 7 to 10 minutes of the lesson, students answer the essential question in written form. (1.3a, 1.4, 3.4)
Reading: Every Student, Every Class, Every Day!
As we anticipate the implementation of the Common Core, we have increased rigor by requiring reading and writing instruction for every student in every class, every day, and trained faculty members to identify texts with appropriate Lexile (quantitative measures) levels for their classes. The initiative includes the following evidence-based instructional strategies:
· A “close reading” activity in every class, every day. Our close reading design includes identifying challenging academic vocabulary, linking the text to prior knowledge, and relating the text to the course content. Students highlight, underline, and answer questions as they reread the text. As part of the pre-conference for observations, I require teachers to identify the Lexile level of their close reading activity, and we are communicating with students about Lexiles more frequently.
· Interactive lectures enable students to participate in learning and respond to guided questions so that they are able to identify relevant information in lectures. For example, in the past teachers would “give notes” by putting a PowerPoint on the screen and ask students to “take notes” or basically copy the information on their paper. In an interactive lecture, students use the Cornell method of note-taking. Teachers give guiding questions, which students record on the left side of their paper and record the answers on the right side of their paper as they listen. Also, as students generate additional questions, they record these questions in their notes as well.
· Academic vocabulary is emphasized in all content areas to teach root words, prefixes, and suffixes, and design teachable moments to reinforce vocabulary building skills. Each classroom has a word wall with vocabulary words for the unit of study.
· At least one essential question is created using Bloom’s Taxonomy and Costa’s higher-level thinking and questioning strategies to guide each lesson. Students are required to process the information from the lesson at a higher level, not simply recall facts from the lesson. Each lesson ends with a reflective writing activity in which students are asked to answer the essential question for the lesson.
Professional development: Professional development has shifted from relying on visiting experts to providing sessions developed and facilitated by our literacy council and instructional leaders. Mel Riddile, the associate director of high school services at NASSP, consulted with the literacy council to lay the foundation for collaborative professional development with a literacy focus.
Faculty book studies: Carol Dweck’s (2006) book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success(2006, Random House) provided the framework for addressing faculty and staff members’ fixed mindsets and for taking steps toward establishing growth mindsets. Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching by Robyn Jackson (2009, ASCD) and Quality Questioning: Research-Based Practice to Engage Every Learner by Jackie Acree Walsh and Beth Dankert Sattes (2004, Corwin) provided instructional strategies for addressing Common Core standards. And Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit has helped us address the organizational habits that we need to foster to ensure teacher implementation of the instructional model.
Engagement: We emphasize the importance of asking quality questions that require students to think beyond recall. The “cold calling” strategy, for example, increases engagement because the teacher asks everyone a question, allows time for all students to think and formulate an answer, then calls on one student to give the answer. Teachers are encouraged to occasionally have another student summarize the answer in his own words to help keep students engaged. Other strategies for engagement include real-world problem solving activities and research projects that require students to identify relevant information and make real-world applications.
Cross-curricular writing: The “do now” and “reflect now” components of the DEEPER instructional model require all students to write at the beginning and the end of every class in every block. In addition, teachers are required to include written responses to questions, note-taking, quick writing, and extended writing as part of their daily lesson. Basically, we tell teachers that when we drop in for an observation, we want to see students with pieces of paper on their desks and a pen in their hands, or a computer on their desks and typing fingers.
Consider how most classroom teachers receive feedback on their performance. Traditionally, a teacher gets feedback only from an administrator as part of an evaluation—often after the administrator has visited his or her classroom only once. The next observation, if there is one that year, usually isn't done until the following semester.
Would we consider this kind of feedback arrangement to be good practice with students? It's unlikely that we'd expect mastery from a student who received such paltry feedback and follow-up. With the traditional arrangement, teachers don't receive enough feedback to help them grow. How can we develop a model through which teachers get regular feedback on classroom skills—from one another?
Join us Sunday night at 8 PM for #edchatri as we discuss what good feedback should look like.
Don Miller -