After initially choosing “Clarify” as my area of focus for Tripod’s 7Cs for Effective Teaching during the 2019-2020 school year, I chose to change my focus to “Consolidate” after reviewing my fall survey results in October. “Clarify” continues to be an area of importance, as I strive to anticipate multiple explanations when we study new concepts as well as provide timely constructive feedback. I also, however, decided to focus on dedicating more review time at the end of classes for questioning, summarizing, and exit tickets. I also want to improve reviewing important, previously introduced concepts more consistently and incorporate them into newer units.
In teaching new ideas, techniques, and material to both children and adults, I have also felt learners begin to internalize concepts more effectively after multiple practice attempts and reminders over the course of the school year. In reviewing the reflection questions for Tripod’s discussion of consolidation, I feel my strength are making explicit connections between lessons and referring to relevant current events and making use of examples from the students’ own life experiences and knowledge, but an important weakness that I have struggled with my entire teaching career is time management. Therefore, when Tripod asks the question, “Do you summarize big ideas at the end of lessons and review them periodically?” the short answer is, “No.”
I will review topics frequently and refer back to ideas we have already introduced, but I do not reserve time effectively at the end of class for review or informal formative assessments. My teaching partner and I are agreed that “consolidation,” should be an important area of focus this school year. We will work together to budget our class time for more beginning-of-class short reviews as well as more time at the end of each lesson for informal reviews and low-stakes assessments. I will also work to limit my initial explanations to essential information to better maintain student attention – especially for our many EAL students who become quickly tired focusing on each English language word – as well as to allow more time for “doing” rather than “getting” information.
CLARIFY – After completing the reflection survey for Tripod’s 7Cs for Effective Teaching, including reflection questions, I have chosen to focus on CLARIFY for the 2019-2020 school year. Two important indicators of an exemplary classroom for “Clarify” include explaining concepts clearly – including anticipating multiple explanations in advance for potentially tricky concepts, including visual clues – and providing timely constructive feedback to encourage student reflection and help guide students toward needed next steps.
In addition, I would like to ensure that students feel CARED for by showing interest, expressing encouragement, and having high expectations for my students, both in the classroom and in their extracurricular activities.
I was somewhat disappointed by the results from the Tripod Spring survey, completed by the students in late April. My overall score went down and I also dropped (6 points) in my area of focus: “Captivate.” I was also surprised when I experienced a larger drop in “Care.”
I wrote in my first survey reflection that, no matter the intent, circumstances, or excuse, students have their impressions of the teacher; we should respect that and work to alter any negative perceptions through our actions and words.
But after nearly an entire school year, it can be frustrating not to see tangible improvements reflected in student responses.
Part of this reaction can be as simple as “I worked really hard to create engaging lessons. Why didn’t my score go up?” Even if my score in “Captivate” went down a little between surveys, I feel I was constantly trying to improve and was mindful about creating lessons that were not only useful and instructive, but engaged the students and allowed for creativity and choice wherever possible. In this I feel I was successful, and the students in my classes learned, demonstrated improvement, and (mostly, I hope) enjoyed 6th grade Humanities.
In other areas however, I felt more confounded by the survey results. While not letting it dictate my teaching, I was mindful of student feedback from the first survey. I worked to be more patient and clearly express my support in difficult situations as well as when students experienced personal and group triumphs. I reflect on this because other teachers also worked incredibly hard to help students and support them and some of those teachers also experienced drops based on student responses. Of course this does not change my approach to teaching and supporting kids every day, but I find myself not sure how to interpret the survey – both the results and the various contributing factors which influence those results.
Of course – in this way – I am starting to think I feel similarly to those students who work very hard on an assignment, feel pride in their effort and result, and then receive “Approaching” on each standard with little or no feedback and do not understand why.
As we progress through the 6th grade year, here is another summative project enjoyed by the entire 6th grade. Our kids chose a civilization about which they would conduct general research. They then researched an innovation that was deemed “historically significant.” The kids, after conducting informal research over two days, focused on a topic, conducted research, and then created a script and storyboard for their historical script. They then made props, selected costumes, and acted out their videos:
With help from Laura Brown, the Grade 6 Humanities classes got together for the first two weeks of December to create digital infographics about how early and modern humans were shaped by developments in technology, community, and diet. We mixed up all the students in the 6th grade and each teacher specialized in a specific topic: Krista focused on diet, Shannon concentrated on community, and I helped kids examine technology.
This was another effort to create an engaging summative activity while providing students with as much choice as possible, present research findings in a visually stimulating way, and allow teachers and students to get to know other members of the 6th grade community.
Here are some final student products:
Larry from 6.2 –
(if the links do not work, here is the link to the student’s blog)
George from 6.3 –
Lydia from 6.5 –
In late October, our Grade 6 Humanities students completed their realistic fiction book clubs. As a culminating activity, they created book trailers about the books they read. Here are two examples of the trailers:
The first book trailer introduces Flush, written by Cal Hiaasen, and created by Rachel and Lydia —
The second book trailer is features Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, created by Michelle and Linda —
After receiving initial student feedback in the first Tripod student survey, I have decided to keep my original goal of focusing on Captivating my students more by “integrating appropriate technology more often into my lessons to engage students in learning and search out more opportunities for interactive learning.” While this area was not specifically listed as a topic to focus on in the teacher profile, student feedback rated me as medium and lower than other areas including Care, Confer, Challenge, and Classroom Management. I will seek to continue to improve in developing more lessons that actively engage students while learning important skills and concepts that are also fun and memorable.
Interestingly, while I was rated higher overall in Classroom Management and Care by my students, the specific subarea in which I received a low mark and an area to focus on was, “Student behavior in this class makes the teacher angry.” I have tried to establish clear expectations for conduct and respectful behavior towards classmates, but I also strive to be patient and supportive. The most important role of a teacher is to be an advocate for their students, supporting them in their social, emotional, and academic development. If my students perceive me as getting angry in reaction to specific situations, then I need to work hard to change my demeanor during those times. Students need to feel that a teacher is ultimately pulling for them, even if there are times when behavior or other problems need to be addressed.
After reading through Tripod’s 7Cs for Effective Teaching, including reflection questions, I have chosen to focus on Captivate for the 2018-2019 school year. In 6th grade, students are eager to learn and will respond positively to engaging, interactive lessons if they feel those lessons are relevant and worthwhile. Specifically, I hope to integrate appropriate technology more often into my lessons to engage students in learning and search out more opportunities for interactive learning.
Welcome to your Professional Learning Blog! This is a place for you to post your goals, and reflect on them throughout the year.
- Decide on your goal, perhaps in consultation with your colleagues or principal, and create a post to share with this online professional learning community that you are now a part of! Categorise this post in Goal Setting. Set your goal by considering:
- Self assessment and reflection based on new teacher standards (Tripod 7C’s)
- Previous or new observation data from peers and principals
- Student surveys (online surveys developed and aligned with 7C’s)
- Identify colleagues, coaches, principals etc. that will play a supporting role in achieving your goal, and invite them to view and comment on your post. Encourage them to bookmark your blog and visit regularly.
- Throughout the year, collect and share evidence to support your progress. Categorise these posts in Reflection.
- Encourage your colleagues to share your learning journey by engaging with your blog. In return, engage with their blog (and others across the School)
- You may also like to share work that your students have created or your own professional achievements that may not be directly related to your goal setting. This is encouraged! Categorise these posts as Showcase.
If you need support using this platform, please don’t hesitate to contact Ed Tech, we are always happy to be of assistance!