By: Allysen Lovstuen
In the Iowa Core five Characteristics of Effective Instruction are identified.
According to documents on the Keystone AEA website some attributes of a Student-Centered Classroom are:
Some examples of things that are done in my classroom that I think reflect these attributes are:
Learning Target Self-Assessments: Students have a list of the learning targets for the unit along with a scale so that they can rate their understanding of each. Notes on resources that we have used that students could look back at to improve their understanding if needed are included as well.
Learning Together: Feel free to stop by my classroom anytime to see this in action. I love the sound of students discussing and debating mathematics as they build understanding.
Test Journals: One part of the test journal I have my students complete is a reflection on the past unit (before they get the test back so it is their feedback and not mine). Students are asked to identify what was hardest for them, what they did to try to learn it, and if that worked or not. They then make basic action plans for the next chapter.
What do you do in your classroom to build a Student-Centered Classroom? Please share!
By Jason Rausch with Sarah Zbornik
As much I want each year to flow easily along, new challenges always present themselves. Last year, with completely new national music standards (Create, Perform, Respond, Connect) in place, I knew I needed to step outside of my comfort zone and embrace change. In the past, I have focused mostly on performing and music literacy standards, fairly standard in most high school music programs. However, knowing that creating is part of what we are tasked to teach, I knew I needed to emphasize an area that I generally leave untapped: Creating.
Even though most were uncomfortable at first, it became a bit easier each time. Many times when we tried something new and built onto the scaffold, it stretched me, and I would ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” It put me in a vulnerable place, a place of discomfort.
Even on the day of the concert, I said to a colleague, “Why am I doing this? It is much easier to simply get on the risers and sing a traditional concert.” However, when the concert was over, the feedback I received from the students and the community was affirming. The students enjoyed the challenge of composing, the parents were grateful for new learning opportunities for their children, and my administration and music colleagues appreciated the connection to the 2014 music standards. The pre and post survey results confirmed for me the benefits for the students.
During the 2017 IMEA (Iowa Music Educator Association) Conference, Sarah and I presented the process we had taken with Creating in the Choral Classroom. Again, I was stepping out of my comfort zone, but I knew that by sharing both the process we took and the insecurity that I experienced, it might encourage others to step outside of their comfort zone. Plus, sharing the information helps us continue to learn and grow; it invites further conversation.
Working on this project with my students, and then presenting it to the music world at large, was way out of my comfort zone. I even told the audience this at the concert. Many thanked me for modeling vulnerability and personally challenging myself to do something that stretched me as a teacher. I couldn’t help but think of my mentor, Weston Noble, who preached lifelong learning and vulnerability.
By: Allysen Lovstuen, Collaborative Teacher
How often do you have those discussions about education that fire you up, get you thinking, and inspire you to do more? My hope for each of you is that you are able to find that opportunity to get out of the weeds and into the trees, to re-focus on why you are doing what you are doing, at least once a quarter.
On Monday I had the chance to present to a group of "Emerging Educators." These are teachers that are in their last years of college or their first three years of teaching. The topic was Characteristics of Effective Instruction and I presented with two outstanding elementary and middle school teachers from Dubuque. I found this opportunity to look at what we do as teachers through the lens of Effective Instruction to be valuable and centering.
I want more of that. That is why I am asking for your help. I want to hear what you do, I want to visit your classroom and see what you do, I want to discuss these things, hear different perspectives, and continue this focus rather than losing it in the busyness of day to day teaching. I want to learn from the greats around me and to never stop questioning.
Are you willing to help me and join me on this? I could start conversation with a blog post, maybe once a week, about one of the five Characteristics of Effective Instruction identified in the Iowa Core and then we could continue via comments and organic conversations and see where it went from there. No deadlines, no pressure, but an opportunity to learn from each other.
Please comment below if you, too, are interested in something like this.
by: Dana Bockman, DCSD Facilitator of Data and Assessment
With the goal of making instructional decisions, a teacher’s focus should be on the data provided through classroom work, observations, unit assessments, performance tasks, and formative assessment. Why, then, do we need standardized test data? What’s the purpose if it does not inform day-to-day decisions in the classroom?
The Usefulness of the Standardized Test (“Big Picture Data,” as I like to call it)
For instance, if a student scores below benchmark on the FAST reading screener, we cannot jump to the conclusion that the student is a poor reader and needs
interventions or placement in Title I or special education. We should compare that
score with the student’s MAP data, literacy unit scores, Iowa Assessment scores, and so forth to either confirm that the student does struggle or
to identify the FAST test score as an anomaly. When a deviation from the norm for
a student arises, we have to ask ourselves why. We must determine the real reason for that score before changing instruction.
“The problem with data is that it says a lot, but it also says nothing. ‘Big data’ is terrific, but it’s usually thin….”- Sendhil Mullainathan. Standardized testing has a place and purpose in education, but it is not a daily focus for our instructional decisions.
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