Category: Reflection

Final growth review – I did it!!

So when looking at the initial overview one can see that all the scores are relatively close to 300 which is the midline of the cohort. Also the average score in the middle is exactly the same as my previous. While some of the scores increased others decreased slightly.

On the upside in the Care category the overall score increased. But more importantly to me overall 2 of the 3 went from low to medium. More of the students enjoy the way they are learning in the class, students felt that I gave more useful feedback on their work, and felt that I asked them more questions in class.

My areas of strength were that I give helpful feedback, ask students to explain and generally my classroom management. While to lowlights were that I don’t understand how students feel, the students feel they lear a lot and that I have several ways to explain concepts. However for these the individual response for understanding how students feel was an overall better response than in the fall.

Given that I was trying to improve in clarifying it was useful and good to see that I improved in several areas. It seems that students feel that I better understand when they actually understand the material. I did drop a little on the multiple ways to explain however this might be because that the last several week we were working on a project and that might have been the freshest in their minds.

Fall Clarifying .                                                            Spring clarifying

Overall I feel happy that some areas that I was looking at improved and overall the student feedback improved.

Survey ready!!

Well it is time to complete the second survey with my class and I think that I have made some changes that are beneficial to the students. My hope is that they have seen changes in my Clarifying and Consolidating over the term. I will be completeing these on Friday and then continuing my reflection once I get the survey data back.

With the Grade 10 team I feel that we have done a solid job of putting together activities and lessons that support the learners and engage them in the content. As a team we have worked well together and it has been a fairly smooth process. The key aspects that we wanted to focus on was making the learning hands on and engaging and put supports in place for EAL learners.

We worked on making key word lists with the students, these were kept up on the board in the class and posted on DX for the students to use. This I think was very helpful to the students, the words were left up for tests and I had students make quizlets for keywords to help them. I think next year I would like to maybe include more activities where we looked at the key words. As for hands on activities, every unit had several tasks. In fact I found that we rarely did any kind of lecture. If we did it was small, usually and intro and a review. I think that this was a bit of a tough transition for students, when I checked in with students half way through the year they wanted more notes and quizzes. Kind of a shocker since back home the students love this hands on learning. I am trying to think of ways that students can feel they get “notes” but we can still do hands on activities.

Overall I think we did well as a team and hopefully next year we can also incorporate more formative tasks in so that the students can see the checkins more explicitly. It will also be interesting as we will have more teachers on the team next year and that could lead to more brainstorming and unique ideas.

And the road goes ever on.

In the last post I talked about sharing the data with student and the steps to try and take action to improve some of what we identified as needing work

Besides my lack of blogging, one of the other struggles that I have found is that while I love working in the Grade 10 Science team on creating the course it has also limited what I can do in the classroom. We are trying to make sure that we are doing the same thing in our classes and doing the same activities and so there are some limitations to what I am able to do. I think that we have done a great job of the course but in some ways I feel like it has meant that there are compromises that I have made to what I would like to do mostly because we feel there is so much to get through and we were trying out best to make it engaging and hands on. This sometimes meant that we spent more time in some areas than others and limited how much time we had for the more physical checkins like mini quizzes vs checkins with students.

However, in the Evolution unit I felt that we had time to really questions students and I tried to make this more evident that these were formative checkins.. The projects that we worked on allowed us plenty of time to spending time with students talking to them and identifying areas that they were struggling with. I tried to go back to these areas and explore them a little more through class discussion as well. Most of all I felt like we allowed some creativity in the final project that was the culminating activity, where students created creatures that were adapted to specific biomes and predators. Most of all I felt like the students were very engaged and enjoyed the project.

In the Physics unit we looked at trying to implement more small checkins. While the other classes did not do as many I felt like since this was something that I really wanted to do with my class. After working on Kinematic equations in a previous class I gave students two short questions to answer, one multiple choice and one calculation. I started the class with this to help review from the previous class and check what areas we needed to work on. As a class we checked the answers and I had students come up and share answers off of the paper they were checking, I felt this allowed some anonymity as they were not sharing their own answer nor the name of the student who’s answer it was. I think we got some great questions out of the activity. However this meant that I did have less time for the following activity since we need to all keep the same pace between classes. Later, as a grade 10 team we decided to give an assessment that was based on the different achievement levels, the quiz had sections with questions that were beginning, approaching, meeting and mastering. This allowed student to identify what kind of question meant a given achievement and aim for a goal. It also meant that student has some choice over the questions they answered and the kinds of questions that they asked. The students seemed to like this as they could try various levels and identify on their own where they were and the achievement spectra and what they needed to work on. This also meant that it was easy to walk around and identify which students needed more attention and which students I needed to give some extension questions to.

In all I have realized that while we are working on a team that I will have to do some thing differently even though the team may not want to do the same task in class. I am looking forward to going though the course again next year with a better idea of the areas that students might struggle and some more ideas on where to add in small tasks that will allow for more clarification but also allow us to keep on the same schedule as the other classes. Also knowing the course better means that we know how much time we have and thus as a team we can change up sections to allow for more flexibility, this year since we were creating the course as we went it was often difficult since we weren’t sure how long to spend in some areas and then some topics took more time. In round two we will have a better idea of what to expect.

I think also some of these goals bled into my other courses, I found that in my SL and HL classes I did more formative tasks and checkins with student and I noticed when I checked in with my students that they noticed these as well and felt like they helped. While I may not have focused on those classes specifically, the fact that I was thinking more about formative assessment help in those classes as well, a great unintended consequence.

Thinking about what I have been working on…

Well I have clearly struggled with this blog posting. While I really thought I would do post more often I have often struggled to make it a priority. This isn’t to say I haven’t been working on various areas.

Since the last blog I have shared my thoughts and feedback with the students. I looked at the data with them and discussed some of the changes I wanted to make. I shared that I wanted to try and use more formative assessment in the class, checkins to see how they were doing. I think it was also useful to share with them what formative assessment might look like, everything from asking them questions in class, quick one question checks that they submit and worksheets to look at and allow the students more practice with what we are working with.

We looked the idea that it is both the students and teachers responsibility to check understanding and how I want the students to be proactive learners. This meant that I was going to try and check on them but I also wanted them to be comfortable letting me know that they needed help. I wanted them to know that I felt this was important part of being a learner, knowing when they need help and being ok to ask. I suggested ways that students might let me know they need help, this could be a coloured note card to indicate help needed, a raised hand, or email to make a meeting time.

I felt that helping the students to understand what we do in the class might help them with identifying when I am checking their understanding. I also want to work on being more explicit about that, letting them know that I am checking, this might be through homework checks, mini quizzes, things that the students identify as being formative. I suppose the other main part of that is then helping them to know whyI am going over certain areas. I want to try to make that more explicit as well. Pointing out things like “I noticed when I was observing the evolution DNA activity that there was a common misconception of…”. I hope that might help students realize that they are not likely the only one with questions and help those that understand the concept know why we are reviewing it. In all, the time to look at the data and provide feedback was useful and productive, as well as helping me to move forward with goals.

Moving forward with clarifying and consolidating will be trying to put these previously mentioned pieces in place. I also wonder how effective discussing what formative assessment can look like in the class is with the students and how this affects their perception of what is happening in the classroom. As well how does that look and work when working in the Grade 10 team.


The eye opening experience of student feedback…

Well I knew it would be a challenging experience to look at student feedback, to really look at it to see what students really think you are doing in the classroom and what I think I am doing in the classroom but I never expected to feel quite so deflated 🙁

Here I thought I was doing a good job of connecting to my students. I know what sports they play, I ask about their sports or other activities. We joke around. I email them when they are out sick to let them know what they have missed. Though I was unclear on this as the Question “My teachers makes me feel like she really cares about me” was ranked as low yet I had almost 70% give a favourable score. Now I would like that to be higher but I don’t know how that comes in low.

I have been looking at this data for a while now and I was really unsure where to even start. When I first looked at it, I felt hurt that my students didn’t recognized that I cared, that I put a lot into creating materials, I know what sports they all play, and I recognize when they are having a bad day. Then I was a little frustrated about it. Then I realized maybe we have different ideas about what this looks like in the classroom.

But for me the most disheartening part was that don’t seem to like the way they learn in the class. While they might think I make it interesting and enjoyable they just don’t like what we do.

I have never really felt before that average was going to be good enough but, on this survey, I was fairly average in most areas. I thought about all the things that I clearly had to work on to be a better teacher. After looking at the data for a while and thinking about it A LOT! I realized it was ok for now to be average in some places. Some of the areas that were High were ones that I felt were important like understanding and not memorizing.

I have finally decided that I would start by sharing this with my students. I am going to show them the results and highlight the areas that make me happy like the fact that they think it is clear that I value their thinking over memorizing and that they think I am doing a good job of explaining concepts in several ways to clarify.

I know I want to work on clarifying and consolidating as the two areas they felt were weak in these areas seemed to overlap. They said that they didn’t feel I checked for understanding. This may be because I often watch what they are doing in class and ask further questions and ask them to be more explicit in some of their answers. I used to use more formative assessment and stop lights but have struggled to make those work well in the classes. So I will be exploring more ideas to incorporate in.

So there it is, it took me long enough but I finally feel that I have figured out how to approach the topic and start making change.

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