Planning Meeting #2

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 Math  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!

Effective Practices PD

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!

Movie Trailer #1: From Scatter Plots to Equations

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)

Teachers Make the Best Teachers of Other Teachers

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.

Step 2

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.

These include:

  1. facilitation check list
  2. goal setting guide
  3. lesson planning guide
  4. observation assignments
  5. observation forms
  6. 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
10:01-10:21 Break
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.

Stay tuned….