Saturday, September 13, 2008

Accountability and learning goals

Teachers must communicate the learning objectives every day. This includes the big ideas and essential questions as well as daily objectives.

My focus on prepping students for Alaska's graduation exam in mathematics is identifying and targeting their areas of need.  For the bulk of individualized instruction, I am using Carnegie's Cognitive Tutor (Pre-Algebra) on computers.  Several students use consumable workbooks instead of the computer math program.

This year, I've also incorporated a daily skill lesson focused on computation and solving word-problems.  My skill lessons follow the Video Tutor series: students work the problems and then watch the video to see the step-by-step solution.

This routine is working well so far for most of my students.  But I struggle to identify daily objectives for each student because they are all working on a variety of concepts.

My routine includes stating the Video Tutor objective but falls short of the mark when it comes to the individualized instruction goals.  I try to state the learning objectives as I circulate through the class and provide assistance.

I'll be honest... stating individual learning objectives 50 times per day is wearing me out.  I need to be more consistent and diligent about getting to every student, every day.  Every day.

Kevin Riley has a few thoughts on how to help students "color in the
dots".  His post caught my attention because his school sounds at least as 'alternative' as mine.  And I gotta' give some love to an administrator who knows that quality instruction starts with clearly stated objectives.

So Internal accountability, at least for my school, requires this:

• Virtually every student, every teacher, every parent must be able to articulate the essential, non-negotiable standards and competencies that must be mastered in order to perform 'at grade level' in May;
• The formative data from MAPS must be clearly understood by each student so that they know exactly where they are along the continuum of mastery as the year goes on-- and even more importantly-- so that they know what they need from their teacher ( the very definition of engaged, independent, self-reflective students!)
• Every lesson must be tightly designed so that children always know the purpose and learning goals for that lesson;
• Every lesson must feature research-based instructional strategies that simultaneously target and differentiate for every learner... at whatever level they may be along the continuum (see: Gradual Release of Responsibility!!!);
• Teachers must be able to use all evidence available-- MAPS data, student work samples, etc. -- to make strategic and on-going adjustments for each child.

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