Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A guest post . . .

As promised last week, today's post is from Nancy Skerritt who will share with us an update on two Classroom 10 characteristics; key content and checks for understanding. 

Nancy is a gifted educator and someone for whom I have the utmost respect and appreciation.  I am continually amazed at her ability to visually represent complex topics, at her capacity to create quality documents, at her adult teaching skills, and her commitment to our Classroom 10 journey.  She has influenced my thinking and my beliefs and I am a better person and educator because of the opportunity I have had to work with her.  Her summary is below.

Key Content is foundational to our implementation of Classroom 10. We define key content as both the what and the how of teaching. In Tahoma, both state and district standards define teaching expectations. Simply put, key content includes the Essential Academic Learning Requirements from the state along with our district commitment to teaching 21st century skills. These include thinking skills, Habits of Mind and the Tahoma School District Outcomes and Indicators. We are committed to our state and district standards and we capture these standards in our documented curriculum.

Some subject areas are still without a documented curriculum. However, teachers are guided by state and district standards in choosing what they will teach on a day to day basis. With or without a documented curriculum, all teachers can implement best instructional strategies when teaching the key content in a lesson or unit. Our focus for professional development around key content will emphasize the how of teaching and we will be guided by research based best instructional practices.

Key Content includes both a focus on the lesson learning goal and on checking for understanding. Research tells us that to be effective in teaching the learning goal, the teacher should use the following practices:
• Communicate the learning goal both verbally and visually
• Connect the lesson goal to the unit goal, prior learning, and/or life experience
• Revisit the learning goal periodically throughout the lesson
• Summarize the lesson goal at the closure of the lesson and invite students to reflect on their learning.

Best practices for Checking for Understanding include the following:
• Incorporating planned and unplanned strategies to check for understanding during instruction
• Selecting from a variety of strategies to check for understanding
• Using effective, well crafted questions during instruction to check for understanding or key content
• Using the information gathered from the checks for understanding to inform instruction
• Checking for student understanding of the lesson goals at the closure of the lesson

What’s exciting is that all of us can continue to grow in our instructional practice regardless of whether or not we have a documented curriculum. We can learn from each other how to expand our repertoire of strategies, create professional development experiences, and share as members of a professional learning community through observations and video labs. At our next leadership meeting, we will bring more clarity to the best practices list, including identifying ways to communicate learning goals visually, strategies for summarizing the lesson goal and a variety of ways to check for understanding. Products created by our teachers and administrators at the Teaching and Learning Leadership meeting will be shared with all teachers for feedback and revision. Tools will be tested and refined prior to broad scale use.

Classroom 10 represents a belief in preparing our students for living and working in the 21st century. Foundational to quality teaching and learning is identifying and communicating key content that includes both state and district standards. We know the what of key content. Now we need to support each other in becoming more skilled at the how.

Nancy Skerritt
Teaching and Learning

No comments: