Month: January 2015

My Notebook, Part III

Notes from a leadership meeting:

Quality Classroom Assessment

  • designed to serve information need of user
  • have achievement targets
  • accurately reflect student achievement
  • effectively communicate to users
  • involve students (in assessment, record keeping, and communication)
  • assess to gather evidence on student learning
  • have a clear sense of achievement expectations
  • use student-friendly language

My Notbook, Part II

One of the many things I love about my job is the way I am pushed and challenged. A fun challenge of fall 2014 was to generate a list of “What if we were a school…”

My list:

  1. who replaced quarterly progress reports with real-time demonstrations of, reflections on, and feedback for learning?
  2. who did not have faculty meetings, only instructional rounds debriefs and professional learning?
  3. who replaced yearly reviews with FOLIO?
  4. who didn’t group students by the year they were born?
  5. who had an opt-in school within a school to practice innovation?
  6. whose “world language” was coding?

I hope to continue to add to this list.

My Notebook, Part I

I love notebooks. The old-fashioned, paper ones. With lines. When I get to the end of a notebook, though, it is like finishing a chapter of my life, so I like to read back through the pages to reflect on lessons I learned, remember thoughts and questions I had, and make sure every to-do list is checked off.

January is a good time to start a new notebook, so I will walk you through a little bit of the filled book before I shelf it. The first page was notes taken at a Christian Leadership Conference at Camp Seafarer from speaker (and now friend) Elizabeth Payne.

My notes:

“Be grateful for whoever comes because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” Rumi.

Great leaders:

  • Make the most of your time
  • Choose to serve (collaborate, create, celebrate, empower, empathize, excel, cast vision)
  • Be the best version of yourselves
  • Bring passion
  • Act as a constant inquirer
  • Live on the edge of breakthrough

Great leaders have goals:

  • Do what you do best, every day
  • Unpack your suitcase of potential
  • Hold yourself accountable

If God has an idea that he needs to send to earth, he wraps a body around it. If it is a really big idea, he wraps many bodies around it. It is our job to get God’s ideas out and/or accomplished before our bodies leave this earth.

  • Choose to serve

The Thinking Classroom Part II: Language

When a phenomenon is complex, it tends to have many words to describe it. Consider love, sadness, and thinking. Each of these abstract concepts are complicated and can be described with many different words, actions, and experiences. When we expose young children to abstract concepts, it is our job to make them as clear and concrete as possible. Tishman, Perkins, and Jay challenge readers to consider the meaning of these six words:

  • guess
  • suppose
  • surmise
  • presume
  • assume
  • speculate

While all the words mean to form an opinion, each word marks a slight but significant difference. As teachers, we are challenged to use a wider variety of thinking words when we want a specific task from our students. The more ways of directing our students’ thinking, the more opportunities they will have to direct their thought processes. As a result, students will think more precicely. A teacher’s language can send different signals to students promoting specific patterns of thinking. Even children in the early elementary grades have acquired the necessary conceptual apparatus to understanding a range of thinking vocabulary.

While textbooks are simplifying language, we need to expose children to a larger variety of more specific thinking cues. Tishman, Perkins, and Jay describe words as precision instruments that will elicit detailed, thoughtful thinking in our learners. Just as teacher questioning has become a staple in unit planning, I hope we can add more precise thinking vocabulary in planning for instruction as well as directions on assessments.