Shapes of Things to Come…

Ovals artPatrick Shaw and I are in the midst of working with a great group of teachers in Standards Based Planning. We use Instruction for All as a text and within that resource we learn and talk about ovals. The author, Paula Rutherford provides a schema of four- really five ovals to assist our thinking about being standards based. Becoming standard based is a framework to assist educators in meeting New York State Teaching Standards for APPR, meeting state expectations for student outcomes and for school data inquiry.  In other words, “ovals” can help guide the work of implementing the Race to the Top Reform.

First for oval one, teacher teams work to decide what the priority or power standards are and how to define them. Larry Ainsworth’s work, among others, has guided our process. Working into the task analysis oval, we then unwrap or unpack the standard into what the student needs to know and do. Looking at context, vertical expectations, sample state test items, and student previous experiences we can determine the learning targets or “I can” statements.

These learning targets then lead us into oval two.  Here the assessments are designed (yes, before instruction is begun)!  What will the summative assessment ask of students?  What cognitive levels are we looking for?  When and how will we need data from formative assessment?  Design of assessment precedes design of instruction. Kim Bailey and Chris Jakicic’s text Common Formative Assessment has been instrumental in guiding us through the process.

It is only after we have clear articulation of expectations of success and how that is to be measured in relation to the standards and learning targets that we can move into instructional design. In the third oval, we start to examine how the learning experiences will be structured. How will material be presented? How will students make sense and practice learning? How will we incorporate 21st Century skill development? How are we mindful about incorporating the instructional shifts? How we will design instruction for those who already possess extraordinary background experience and knowledge? How we will design instruction for those who have gaps in experience and background knowledge?  As we gather formative assessment data along the way, how will we incorporate opportunities to address what the data tells us about our students learning to date?

This leads us right into oval four.  What do we do with the data and how do we refine our teaching and learning experiences?  This process and way of thinking does take great mental energy in planning and designing instruction.  Reflection, collaboration, and clear articulation of what we will accomplish with our students is how we as an educational community can work towards meeting high expectations.


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