M6U4A3 – Teacher Evaluation

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Teacher evaluation is an important part of professional development and should be an integral asset to all school districts. Effective evaluation starts with defining great teaching: that which encourages and develops student learning. In addition, setting a high bar for student and teacher achievement is critical. This includes not setting a low bar for what is considered “passable” for both student and teacher.

Effective evaluation for teachers needs to be based on specific standards, just like it is for students. Criteria for teacher evaluation needs to leave little to no room for inference, be student-centered, be based on multiple ratings, and convey the significance of the evaluation to overall professional development. Rather than using a “pass/fail” metric, rubrics should be based on a 0-4 scale using “Incomplete” through “Highly Effective.” Perhaps most importantly, teachers must be given as many opportunities as possible to improve their teaching. This includes all teachers, not just those scoring in the “Ineffective” or “Needs Improvement” range. This could include mentoring, professional development, lesson studying, etc.

One method of teacher evaluation involves having an expert, namely another experienced teacher, principal, or outside evaluator, come into the classroom and conduct a formal observation at least once per year. Teachers being observed are, ideally, provided with a detailed, specific rubric based on the InTASC Core Teaching Standards. After the evaluation (and hopefully before), teachers have a face-to-face meeting with their evaluator to discuss the lesson, what went well, what could be improved, etc.

Another method of teacher evaluation, currently in use by my school system, is to use student and parent evaluations as a larger part of the teacher’s overall evaluation. At least once per semester (6 months), teachers will have an open-class where all parents are welcome to attend. Parents fill out an observation form based on criteria designed by the school administration. This includes sections on class management, engaging activities, class attitude, etc. I would, however, advocate for mostly removing parents from the equation since they only get a small snapshot our classes and are not experts. If they have to be included, make it a small percentage of the teacher’s final evaluation. In addition, my school also uses student evaluations. These are, in my opinion, a much more effective and reliable source of information because the students see us almost every day and are de facto experts on our teaching.

If I were to design a teacher evaluation system, I would use a highly specific, InTASC-based rubric at least once per semester. Teachers would also be evaluated by end of semester student evaluations. Any rubrics used should address the most fundamental part of a teacher’s job: how well are all the students learning? Teachers need to address differentiation, class management, content, activities, 21st-century skills, and effective assessments to be great teachers. A final evaluation for teachers, whether or not it factors into raises or retention, needs to be based on multiple sources since no single assessment is perfect.

References:

American Federation of Teachers. (n.d.). Teacher Development and Evaluation. Retrieved June 05, 2017, from https://www.aft.org/position/teacher-development-and-evaluation

The New Teacher Project. (n.d.). Teacher Evaluation 2.0. The New Teacher Project. Retrieved June 5, 2017, from tntp.org.

M6U2A3 – Pre-Assessment for Differentiation

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My pre-assessment was designed as a short quiz to assess students knowledge relating to wild animal vocabulary and grammar structures. The students would take the online quiz in the computer lab and, since the quiz covers the content of the unit, I’ll be able to adjust my lesson planning based on the results.

Pre-assessment quiz using Kahoot: https://play.kahoot.it/#/k/3b02a58a-990b-454d-a322-6be475d1e766

My three differentiation strategies are as follows:

M6U2A3 - Pre-Assessment Differentiation - Page 1

References:

Idaho State University. (n.d.). Renaissance Teacher Work Sample Consortium [Scholarly project]. In Renaissance Teacher Work Samples Consortium. Retrieved May 18, 2017, from http://www.wku.edu/rtwsc/documents/exemplars/ex-11.pdf

5. Pre-assessment Ideas – Differentiation & LR Information for SAS Teachers. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2017, from https://sites.google.com/site/lrtsas/differentiation/5-preassessment-ideas

 

M6U1A3 – High Stakes Assessments

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Although my elementary school in the Republic of Korea uses high stakes assessments, they thankfully are not a major part of our curriculum. We are required to administer a midterm and final exam every semester, so four major tests per school year. Beyond that, any tests we decide to administer must be approved by the head teachers and English-center manager. In addition, there is no standardized test for English-language ability administered throughout Korea. Most schools and private academies design their own tests or bring in outside firms like Cambridge. The four major tests are very high-stakes because the total score is a large factor in determining their level placement for their next year of school. We have four levels of English-language proficiency, and being at the top level is a matter of prestige and accomplishment for many students and parents.

The four major tests themselves consist mostly of listening passages followed by multiple choice answers. There are also several reading and short-answer writing questions near the end of the test. Since English is not their first language and they’re in elementary school, we do not use writing questions that require more than 2-3 sentences to answer. Much of the Korean public school system is set up to prepare students for a massive test at the end of high school. This incredibly high-stakes test is the most important factor in university admissions. As shown in the “Student Suicides in South Korea” article, the academic culture here can be extremely competitive and overwhelming to the point that students don’t have time for anything else. I’m still pretty new to my school, but I think and hope that we’re part of an effort to move away from traditional Korean education and its focus on high-stakes tests. In my opinion, having 4 major tests per school year, in addition to whatever quizzes and alternative summative assessments the teachers prepare, is not unreasonable and gives us a lot of time to pursue PBL and collaborative learning.

My school draws a sharp contrast with many in the American educational system. As stated in Anya Kamenetz’s article, the “Council of the Great City Schools found that students are taking 113 standardized tests in grades K through 12.” My friend, a 5th-grade homeroom teacher in the Chicago Public Schools system, stated during my interview with him in a previous module that his students take at least a dozen major tests over the course of the school year. While CPA has made some effort to administer fewer tests, this still forces him to “teach to the test” for large parts of the school year. Some of the difference could come from the regulations imposed on his public school and the relative lack thereof at my private school. Regardless of the cause, so much focus on standardized testing lessens its value as an assessment tool and becomes another box to check.

References:

Kamenetz, A. (2015, January 22). The Past, Present And Future Of High-Stakes Testing. Retrieved May 14, 2017, from http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/01/22/377438689/the-past-present-and-future-of-high-stakes-testing

La Voix Des Jeunes. “Student Suicides in South Korea.” N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2017

M5U5A1 – Multicultural Perspectives

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Incorporating multiculturalism in my lessons is often difficult because 99% of my students are ethnically Korean. It is, however, a great way to for them express their own culture while also learning about others. Lessons in EFL classes can reflect most things in the world, so having students learn about other cultures is a great way to meet their interests, broaden their minds, and get them thinking creatively. For example, I want to have my advanced 4th graders do a presentation on lesser-known countries around the world. They’ll practice their Web-based research skills, public speaking, and collaboration to learn about and question their peers’ knowledge.

Having students learn and practice multiculturalism is important because it reduces prejudice and intolerance. Only knowing your culture and area of the world is both limiting and an easy way to develop biases. One common prejudice in the US, hostility toward Muslims, could be mostly overturned if those same people made some effort to get to know individual Muslim people and learn about their culture. Similar hostilities exist in Korea toward people from Southeast Asia and Africa. Educating young people, and having them educate each other and their parents is a powerful tool for fighting discrimination.

Cultural competence, in my eyes, is a relative ease in interacting with people who are different from you. It’s at least a slight interest in learning about different cultures, backgrounds, and histories. It contributes to a sense of scope in the world and an eagerness to know and experience more. Educating the whole child means kindling and helping to sustain this kind of cultural competence, especially in places where it may not be as important in the curriculum or school culture. As I’ve discovered time and again, my students surprise me with their observations, knowledge, and wisdom. Developing cultural competence means being open to receiving that from other people.

M5U3A2 – Differentiating for and Anticipating Student Needs

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Students:

 

In this activity, I will discuss how I would differentiate instruction for students with dyslexia. Dyslexia falls under the category of special disabilities and is a disorder in one or more of the psychological processes involved in spoken and/or written language. It can inhibit the ability to think, speak, write, read, listen, or do math. While I have not knowingly taught any students with dyslexia, it is a common enough disorder that I can expect to come across it at least once in the near future.

To differentiate instruction for students with dyslexia, I would set aside time before, during, or after class to help those students with the areas they’re struggling in. This could be proper pronunciation, stuttering, reading fluency, etc. With dyslexia, the students are most likely having difficulty reading, so one resource that could help is text to speech software. Another resource is audio books. Both of these can take some of the pressure off the students’ reading ability and help them progress at their pace. In addition, voice recognition software combined with portable word processors have helped many students with dyslexia improve their writing. These recommendations, of course, are contingent on these resources being available. If they’re not, counseling services may be a more realistic option.

Next, I’ll discuss different levels of readiness in an EFL class. Obviously, all of these students are ELLs, but even in the advanced classes, their ability levels can vary widely. For example, I have fifteen 4th grade students in my advanced class this semester. Some are near fluent and others have difficulty putting complex sentences together in spoken or written form. To begin to address this, I use a lot of pictures or short videos (even .gifs) to explain vocabulary or topics. I start with simple comprehension questions and add on difficulty. I’ll use bonus questions for the higher-level students or pair them with lower level students for an extra boost. If through formative assessment, I discover that some of the students are still not grasping the material, I’ll either reteach it during that lesson or the next. Lesson planning is the best place to think of different ways to present content to address different learning styles. For example, if a text box and comprehension check don’t produce results for some students, try again with a picture or having the students who do understand act it out, when applicable. Not every scenario can be planned for, so if I run out of ideas during one lesson and some students still are not comprehending the objective material, I’ll make a note of it and address it the next day in a new way. As with dyslexia, text to speech software, voice recognition, and portable word processors are very useful for ELLs.

Plan for Modification:

https://www.lucidchart.com/invitations/accept/f7b9cc25-af56-4bc1-8093-d7671e96e130

 

Resources:

  1. Conrad, J., M.S., N.C.S.P. (2013, October 3). Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses in L.D. Identification. Retrieved May 1, 2017, from http://www.oregon.gov/ode/educator-resources/2013fallconference/patternsstrengthsweaknesses.pdf

M5U2A2 – Thinking like an Assessor

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This unit covers using objectives and assessments to gauge how well students are learning. In the previous activity, I designed five objectives to fit my upcoming unit on seasons and hobbies. This post will center around using one formative and one summative assessment to determine if the students are meeting the objective and how well they’re progressing in the unit. For the purposes of this assignment, I’ll be using my 2nd grade EFL class.

I’ll start with one of my formative assessments for the unit. I want to try “Onion Ring” with my 2nd graders. This formative assessment is designed to meet my first objective for the unit: SWBAT use present progressive to describe what they or someone else is wearing. I’ll arrange the students in one inner circle and one outer circle. The students in the inner circle will have printed-out pictures of people in different attire. The students in the outer circle will say what the person in the photo is saying. After they answer, the students in the inner circle will move one spot to the right. After five or so rotations, I’ll have the inner and outer circles switch places. I’ll also randomly select students to give more details about the clothing, such as whether they would like to wear it or what seasons we should wear it in. This is meant as a review activity and will allow me to informally assess who is struggling and who isn’t. For example, students will have met the objective if they’re able to correctly identify clothing using present progressive tense.

My summative assessment for the first two units is a midterm exam. Our midterm focuses on listening and short writing answers. It is high-stakes because the combined score of the midterm, final exam, and unit quizzes determines the students’ level for the next semester. The different grade level teachers collaborate to make the test, sometimes recycling previous year’s questions and sometimes creating new ones. I drew from 2nd grade’s books, activities, and projects to create listening questions that test the students’ mastering of the objectives and target language. For example, my 4th objective for the unit is: SWBAT demonstrate understanding by stating a problem in their own words. Two of the questions on the test involve listening to a dialogue and filling in the blanks (using a word box) to complete sentences about what the problem is. In addition, students must use critical thinking to determine what the logical next statement would be in a dialogue, what the title should be for a short monologue, etc. The midterm exam focuses on the first two units and is, therefore, well-suited to assess how well the students are learning.

References:

Hilliard, PhD, P. (2015, December 7). Performance-Based Assessment: Reviewing the Basics. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/performance-based-assessment-reviewing-basics-patricia-hilliard

Lambert, K. (2012, April). 60 Formative Assessment Strategies. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzYfzjQoASL_bXVxYUg4SE1lSk0/view

Stanford SRN. (2008). What is Performance-Based Assessment? Retrieved April 12, 2017, from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzYfzjQoASL_dnhuemt5LThzcVE/view

M5U1A3 – Reflection on Standards and Backward Design

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Before beginning this module, I didn’t factor organized standards like Common Core or WIDA into my lessons. I had goals and objectives, but in practice, they would be either daily or weekly. I like using standards when planning my classes because it helps lend a sense of continuity to the units and more cohesion overall.  The WIDA standards I plan to use this semester are focused and helpful, but broad enough that there’s a significant amount of room to customize them for my different classes. This is especially important as an EFL teacher, as I see 8 different classes of varying English ability.

The framework of a standard also makes it easy for me to clearly articulate what I want my students to do and master using daily objectives. Just like with rules and classroom management, the clearer the lesson’s instructions and purpose are, the better. Using the three parts of behavior, conditions, and criteria, the students quickly understand what they’re expected to do, how they’re going to do it, and how they will be assessed. Unpacking the standard allows me to identify beneficial learning activities early and refine them based on the classes’ progression. With the social and instructional WIDA standard for grade 4, I’ve already identified a class interview activity using recording equipment that I think could be very helpful.

Working backward from the WIDA standard is also helpful because I can design the assessments and activities to meet the overall goal. For example, a section of our book covers using present progressive tense to identify what someone is wearing. I can easily design an informal assessment using “picture stations.” The class rotates through the different stations and tells their group members what they see. I can get a sense of who has mastered this proficiency and who needs additional practice. In addition, a more formal assessment using a quiz can accomplish the same goal, and it will help my classes prepare for the upcoming midterm exam.

Once I selected the WIDA standards, the rest of the unit fell in place. I was initially a little frustrated because the Common Core standards, by grade level, were too difficult for my students. The WIDA standards seemed more approachable and adaptable. I plan to experiment with the different “Level” frameworks for my different classes to see where the best starting point is for each. I’ll implement the plan I created during this unit with my high-level grade 4s, then expand to all of my classes after the midterms.

References:

Hidden curriculum (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from http://edglossary.org/hidden-curriculum

Jay McTighe and Associates. (2016). Jay McTighe and Associates: Educational Consulting. Retrieved April 8, 2017, from http://jaymctighe.com/resources/downloads/

WIDA. (2014). Search the ELP Standards – Detail. Retrieved April 04, 2017, from https://www.wida.us/standards/ELP_StandardDetail.aspx?es=101