School communities often set their sights on too many goals and too many avenues of action, growth and change. Educators must focus their efforts so that they are able to assess their work well and make formidable next step decisions so that children learn well.
First, schools must embrace their objective: student learning. I took the time this morning to outline the primary objectives of our current fourth grade program. I will use this focus list as a starting point for the year's planning, PLC/RTI work and student communication. As Hattie suggests in Visible Learning for Teachers, I want students and their families to explicitly know the learning goals for our grade level program:
Once the essential goals have been established, then educators must discern how they are going to effect optimal learning by prioritizing essential skills, educators'/staff roles, and schedules in a way that promote an optimal disposition for learning, collaboration, collegiality, trust, care, targeted response, assessment, revision and continued goal setting/action.
Similarly, as Hattie suggests, teachers must "know thy impact." What teachers do minute-to-minute, day-to-day and year-to-year matters, and when teachers work collaboratively to identify, carry out and assess goals, the impact of their work expands. PLCs and RTI are two structures that support optimal teacher collaboration, instruction and student success.
The classroom teacher in many ways acts as "everyman or everywoman" with an endless list of have-to's and priorities, but to do the job well, he/she must cull that list down to a manageable list of essential priorities.
As I think about the year ahead, and before I learn of the system-wide changes to come in relation to specific common core objectives, I have prioritized my curriculum with the following priorities, goals and actions:
Learning Priorities: Grade 4 2012-213
|Content Area||Overarching |
Essential Skills, Content, Knowledge
|Classroom Community||Building trusting relationships among all community members i.e. families, students, educators.|
Create routines/protocols to make the classroom a safe, efficient, friendly and happy place to be every day.
|1. Check-in w/class, individuals.|
3. Regular surveys.
4. Letter exchanges.
5. Review classroom routines regularly, revise routines that are not working well.
|Learning to Learn Strategies and Behavior|
“Teaching disposition for optimal learning.”
|Open class conversation/activity about the attributes of optimal learning.|
Videos, check-lists, articles and stories about the actions and attitude of successful learners.
Creation of SMART goals with family members and students.
|1. After initial Learning to Learn Unit, students will write a letter to the teacher describing the ways they hope to learn this year and the goals for their learning. |
2. Teacher will respond to letters with regular intervention with the class and individuals to increase students’ learning to learn disposition, understanding and action.
|English Language Arts||Read with fluency, comprehension.|
Speak with clarity and focus.
Write with voice, organization and craft.
|Regular monitoring of reading progress and efforts via a variety of summative, formative assessments.|
Work with PLC and RTI collaborative teaching group to target response, assess and revise when needed.
Assess public speaking efforts through rubrics created by teachers/students based on optimal attributes of effective public speaking.
Assess initial writing skill through letter writing.
Target writing goals through specific units. Use check-lists and rubrics to outline learning expectations and goals. Work with students to develop self-monitoring writing development action steps and assessment.
|Math||Teach all content on Grade 4 Common Core/MA State Frameworks Outline.|
Teach content utilizing the following methods:
|Regular summative, formative assessments to guide program development.|
Regular review of past concepts.
Lots of time for observation, peer-peer activity, tutoring and learning.
Just-right goals and expectations for all, and time to guide and teach children towards those goals.
|Social Studies||Teach and foster optimal social skills:|
Broaden students’ concept of their own culture and the various world cultures through the following units.
Teach units utilizing this process:
|Using rubrics and checklists, have students self-monitor their work and assess their projects, individually or collectively. Teacher responds to student’s assessment, guides work to optimal performance, achievement of goals--success driven process. |
Assess social goals through observation, conversation and respond with targeted intervention and teaching.
|Science||Focus on science units designated for the fourth grade and taught through rotations:|
Teach science units with similar process as social studies units (listed above)
Endangered Species Research Project
|Assess similar to social studies units (listed above)|
I will revisit this chart in the days to come as I focus my efforts on the school year ahead. Do you notice any glaring omissions? What would you add or take away? This chart will look different for every teacher and school, but the main categories of content area, essential skills/goals and assessment will remain the same. Thanks for taking the time to share in this process, and I look forward to your feedback.