Lesson Day came and went…
- We started in my classroom at 8:00 for some prep. I had already modified the lesson to include a little more initial collaboration based students’ prior knowledge (this was spur of the moment). This also cut down on teacher talk time (which I personally love).
- During my lesson, we found the collaborative activity to take longer than expected. But this could also be due to the fact that the original lesson made part of it independent work – where we made it all partner work. Partner work always seems to take twice as long – but we feel is more powerful in this case.
- I also added a little closure discussion since we are on a block schedule and I couldn’t let them leave without this!
- At our first debrief, we decided to cut the collaborative tasks in half and make an exit card as formative assessment instead of closure. This was also easier to assess than the students’ collaborative work. During our debrief we went over our time and missed our break (ah, the life of a teacher!)
- During lesson two, the timing was diligently maintained by the teacher and all went smoothly.
- At our second debrief, we added a written reflection to the exit card – from my perspective this is a little peek into the student brain – but I am a SCWriP Fellow (South Coast Writing Project) so I am partial to writing across the curriculum.
- We actually took our lunch break.
- And lesson three (at the middle school across town) went well too.
- In our final debrief we came up with some great follow up lessons and activities to extend the math concepts and to focus on Math practice 3 as well as multiple methods to solve the same problem. We also talked about team building activities that would encourage student collaboration. My personal goal is to spend about 10 minutes a week on this.
- Our objectives were met and we were all so impressed that the students were able to solve some complex equations with very little direct instruction – and they understood why. There was a lot more collaboration going on than anything else!
- I will use the exit card as my bellwork (warm up) tomorrow since I didn’t have that part during my lesson. That way I have a good formative assessment.
What was best of all?
- We had a great productive and fun day.
- We have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the other middle schools in our district.
- We have built a team that works effectively together and will work well together in the future for the benefit of all our students. How many teachers can say that they collaborate effectively across schools in their district?
- We are planning to have a lesson study in the spring again with Algebra – and possibly a Core 7 or Core 8 lesson study as well. With the guidance of our Seconday Math Coordinator, our next lesson study will focus on teaching the lesson twice (instead of three times) so that we can spend more time perfecting it in between (our first debrief was rushed).
Now that the ball is rolling, we hope to keep the momentum on our collaboration…
Video and pictures to follow if I can get them linked to this site?
In the meantime, if you’d like a great lesson on building and solving equations that really focuses on student collaboration and understanding of why and how we solve equations, feel free to email me! firstname.lastname@example.org
Ok, we firmed up our schedule (parking, room #s, conference rooms), made observation assignments and completed our lesson planning.
Observation assignments: We wanted the observers to specifically look for:
- teacher-student interactions
- student-student interactions
- student questioning
For these last two we are specifically looking at Common Core practice 3 where students explain their own thinking and critique the reasoning of others.
Lesson: We took a two day lesson and split it where we thought would be best for a “pre-lesson” and our lesson study lesson. We also talked about the feedback we wanted to give on that first lesson – and how soon we should give it. It is suggested we wait until after the second lesson.
We then created our own “Do now/Bellwork” so the students would recall the “Pre-lesson.” One of our teachers will make a handout to mimic the collaborative activity handout for this.
We are modifying the collaborative activity handout to make it more obvious and splitting it into two different colored worksheets: One for building equations and one for solving. We are also making this a partner and full group activity so we have more discussion.
We’re not sure of the timing of course, as we think it will take longer than the original lesson suggested. But that’s all part of our lesson study – to see what we need to change in between each teaching of the lesson – and that definitely includes timing.
Finally, we talked about doing a second lesson study in the spring that would involve a kinesthetic portion. Another teacher has volunteered to facilitate, so our cross-school team can continue to improve our teaching!
The subs are requested, the date is set, now to make copies and get ready to teach!
Today at our all school PD, our administration guided us through a meta-analysis by John Hattie - Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement,
What’s cool about it? The top 4 effective practices as they relate to achievement – and especially #4:
1. Student self report (students)
2. Piagetian Programs (students)
3. Providing formative evaluations (teachers)
4. Micro teaching (teachers).
Yes, we work on #1 in AVID and Spark – getting students to report their grades and reflect on how to improve them
Not sure about Piagetian programs, but maybe that is a topic for future PDs?
Formative Assessments? Yes! Our department co-chairs have planned a day where we can work on this with our grade level colleagues (and summative assessments).
But #4 is pretty similar to lesson study – studying our own teaching and lessons! It’s nice to know we are on the right track in improving student achievement!
So last we spoke we were focusing on scatter plots in December.
Now it’s equations in October!
How things change. But we wanted to work on something that was difficult for the students and scatter plots aren’t it – they “get” them pretty easily. Focusing on an area of student need is a primary goal. Though we could find more relevant data and real world applications for scatter plots (like Scholastic’s Shake it up with Scatter Plots about earthquake insurance – which is relevant especially in California), but one of our teachers found this great lesson called Building and Solving Equations 1 from the Mathematics Assessment Resource Services (MARS) where students construct and then deconstruct their own equations. It’s like wrapping and unwrapping a present. So, we are going to modify this lesson to suit our needs.
Our modified lesson will need to include:
- 5 min warm up/bell work as a reminder from the previous lesson since we will teach the pre-lesson the week before (ah, love the block schedule).
- 10-15 min mini lesson from “Building and Solving Equations 1″
- 20 min collaborative activity from “Building and Solving Equations 1″ – but we thought to make this a pair and then group activity (instead of individual then pair) to encourage more discussion – so we can include Common Core State Standards Practice 3: Constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others.
- 5 min wrap up/formative assessment – we thought to have metacognitive questions for this along with their constructed and deconstructed equations.
October is a few weeks away so we had to jump on the ball and get things rolling….
We’ve scheduled our lesson link for the first week of October – same schedule as below.
And scheduled a second planning meeting for next week. We’ll firm up our lesson plan, make copies, and be ready to roll! We’ve all got some homework to do (but so do our students).
We had a very productive meeting with snacks even (thanks to our Secondary Math Coordinator), oh, and there’s a VIDEO. Yes, you can now watch how productive (and amazing) math teachers can be in the comfort of your living room! Catch it on HBO after Game of Thrones or download it on Netflix in 2014. Who doesn’t want to watch math teachers plan a lesson on a Friday night?
Actually, once all the teachers approve it, I may share it on this blog – so check back soon!
And now to reserve subs, parking spots and a meeting room… I need an assistant!
TTYNW (talk to you next week)
So, we get a lucky Thursday off the third week of school, and where am I? At work (well sort of). But I’m sure a lot of other teachers are working today too.
I’m actually at the CTA Headquarters in Monrovia working with the Region 3 Teacher Leadership Cohort. We are all working on leadership projects at our respective schools and districts and not surprisingly many of our projects are focused on the Common Core. Why? Because people are FREAKING OUT!
But, really I find this all SO exciting. We get to teach collaboration, critical thinking, reading and writing in math. It feels real, it feels relevant, it feels useful – giving our students tools for their world (besides knowing to choose C for their answer).
Our discussions in Monrovia today seem to be along this vein of relevant and useful. The important thing about Professional Development is that it needs to be relevant and useful to the teachers. In the past lesson study has encompassed this: it has been very relevant and useful for everyone involved (students included).
So a new development at school this week is with our intervention programs. I teach Spark and two other teachers teach our Valued Youth Program. We are all newcomers to these programs but are fortunate to have our Community Liaison as our expert educator. She has been involved with both programs since their inceptions and we are teaching with and under her guidance in the classroom. But we would all like to do our best with our intervention students and were talking about how to do this… professional development?…lesson study?
So now we are entering into discussions about doing a lesson study too. We’ve talked about focusing on a skill to meet our students’ needs (listening skills, collaboration skills, etc?). And then I got the idea that we should also tie this in with our academic areas so the students can see a direct connection to how these skills can be useful in their classes.
It is my hope our lesson study (studies now!?) will be relevant and useful for all of us because after all teachers make the best teachers of other teachers.
So here’s where we are our second week of school:
Our Secondary Math Coordinator sent me some great documents to use for lesson study.
- facilitation check list
- goal setting guide
- lesson planning guide
- observation assignments
- observation forms
- debriefing guides
Looks like we will have a well structured lesson study!
Our teacher team (there are now four of us) has been emailing to try to coordinate a topic. First we considered a lesson on an extension of slope and intercepts by using and modifying a previous lesson called: “Linear Data: Comparing Cell Phone Plans.” But the timing doesn’t seem to work out for all of us. Trying to make sure we are all prepared to teach the same topic on the same day seems a bit daunting.
So now we are thinking about finding a lesson that isn’t necessarily “linear” in our curriculum guide. Can we all skip a lesson until it fits with our lesson link availability? How linear is Algebra?
The next suggested topic was scatter plots and best fit lines. We don’t necessarily need to teach that in the order it’s in in our textbooks (or curriculum guide). We could skip it and come back to it if necessary. Also another teacher has a skeleton of a good lesson we can start with and update with more recent and relevant data. We need to keep in mind that we should tie in collaboration and critical thinking, reading, writing, etc.
So now that we might have a topic, we’ve found a time for all of us to meet and start planning after school the week of Sept. 16th – and our Secondary Math Coordinator will film part of our planning. We’ve also come up with a schedule for lesson day that looks something like this:
8:25-9:10 Teacher 1 teaches
9:15-10:00 Debrief and rework lesson 1
10:30-11:15 Teacher 2 teaches revised lesson
11:20-12:05 Debrief and rework lesson 2
12:10-1:10 Lunch and travel to the other middle school
1:20-2:05 Teacher 3 teaches final lesson
2:10-3:00 Debrief final lesson
This will allow 3 teachers to each teach a 45 min lesson with time for revising, breaks and travel. Our 4th teacher will serve as an expert observer and teach the lesson at a later date (giving us feedback). And hopefully our Math Coordinator will be available as well for filming and input.
Our school district started the 2013 school year with a day long training in our subject areas on the Common Core standards. We met with teachers from Lincoln Middle School, John Adams Middle School, Malibu High School, and Santa Monica High School. Several teachers had worked over the summer to prepare curriculum maps to guide our transition into the new standards.
We have some fabulous math teachers in our district – who also happen to be slight perfectionists (as an understatement). As such, there was some high anxiety in the room. We worried about having enough resources with our current text books. We mulled over how and where we could find more resources. We deliberated about how we would effectively teach critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills. We considered the teaching of reading and writing in Mathematics. We contemplated the logistics of Smarter Balance testing.
When we had so many questions and concerns, we wondered how we could use our best practices to be the brilliant educators we expect to be. And then I recalled a lesson link/lesson study I had been a part of a few years before. It was in my role as an English Language Arts teacher. But it was an extremely effective way to collaborate with my colleagues, and improve my practices in teaching. By studying the lesson and student work, we ended up with some strong lessons that were effective and engaging that we could use year after year. It was a powerful form of professional development. Would this be a possibility across our schools to help us transition into the Common Core?
I was fortunate some of my colleagues were game to try it!
So we are now at the beginning of forming our team, organizing our time, and focusing on a standard we all agree needs more attention and development. We have three teachers on board, and possibly two or three more. We have our Principals’ support as well as our Secondary Math Coordinator’s assistance and guidance. Our next steps will be choosing the focus of our lesson and planning time for all of us to meet! Let the games begin!