Pre Assessment for Unit on Biomimicry

January 10, 2016 Leave a comment

I have designed the following pre-assessment for my students (click here).

The following is my mind map that shows how I will make use of the pre-assessment results. Follow up, in terms of specific intervention for all students based on their abilities will take place in the next class after the pre-assessment has been given.

Biomimicry Unit

(Click here to enlarge)

Students will be separated into differing groups depending on their performance on the pre-assessment.  Low ability students (those who answered very few questions correctly) will be placed into a group where they will participate in a mini-lesson where I explain what biomimicry is, who the key innovators are, and give examples of how this process works. Students in this group will have to complete an exit ticket at the end of the mini lesson so that I can see which students need extra support or resources to take home to review key concepts taught in the lesson.

Students in the lower ability group will be given a reading comprehension task based on biomimicry for homework that explains key concepts and will contain questions that they can complete and submit the following day. It is believed that assigning the reading comprehension for homework will give members of this group more time to access key information from the reading and reflect on and come up with any questions that they may have about biomimicry for discussion in the next class.

Students in the middle group will be separated into 2 guided reading groups, a higher ability and lower ability group. Both groups will read the same book (click here); however, the supplementary activities for both groups will be different. The lower ability reading group will complete vocabulary activities that will scaffold the reading assignment before they engage in reading. The higher ability reading group will  complete a summary box about the story where they fill in key information from the story in the box such as Who, What, When, Where and Why. These students will also write a summary about the story. Both groups will complete a comprehension quiz upon completion of the reading assignment in class.

Students in the high ability group will be given exams of biomimicry and will begin brainstorming ideas for how scientists might learn from animals in nature and apply their skills or design to modern life. An example of this would be using the colors of a butterfly to design money that is not easy to counterfeit. These students will then collaborate and design on one idea to present to the rest of the class. The students will be assessed on their abilities to collaborate and share ideas. The teacher will use a holistic rubric in order to achieve this. The purpose of this is two-fold: On the one hand, it allows the higher ability students the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice. On the other hand, it allows other groups (e.g. lower and middle level students) the opportunity to gain knowledge about the process of biomimicry thus reinforcing what has been learned in class. For homework, students in the higher ability group will write a self-reflection about their performance in class. Students from the lower and middle group will also rate the higher ability group on their performance in terms of fluency, pronunciation, posture, and clarity.

Toward the end of the unit, all students will take a reading comprehension quiz and complete a writing assignment that will assess their knowledge of biomimicry. The following is a summary of what the aforementioned assessment will look like: click here

I believe that use of the pre-assessment as well as the differentiated activities will allow all students the opportunity to excel on the summative assessment and have a better understanding of biomimicry.

 

 

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Reflection on high stakes testing

December 18, 2015 Leave a comment

As a teacher and administrator at my school, I am directly involved in the creation, implementation, and administration of our school’s high stakes test. My school is an international school and the program in which I currently teach is called the Premier program. I am the Head of English and responsible for the development of the English Curriculum.

The English curriculum at this school is equally divided between the British National Curriculum objectives and the Shanghai English curriculum. The British National curriculum places emphasis on reading and writing skills (e.g. inferencing, finding facts and opinions, writing in paragraphs, using connectives etc.) whereas the Shanghai Curriculum mostly places emphasis on the correct or accurate use of grammar rules (e.g. past tense, present progressive etc.).

The rationale for this type of curricula organization is to enable students to be able to sit the Key Stage 2 Exam, which is a high stakes exam from the United Kingdom as well as the Shanghai English Exam, which has a grammatical emphasis. These two high stakes tests are taken at the end of grade 5.

The results of these tests are critical and used by all stakeholders in the teaching and learning process in several ways. The results are used by the administration to determine the level of teaching quality and results are used in the appraisal process when giving feedback to teachers about their performance. In addition, these results are used to determine what updates need to be made to the curriculum. The kind of reflection and revision involved in both of the aforementioned processes falls under my responsibility. The following is an updated assessment map based on students’ last year results on the Key Stage and Shanghai English exams:

Assessment System

Unlike previous years, students take progress tests every month to determine what additional help and support students might need. On the one hand, the use of this system does limit what teachers can teach during the month as progress tests are based specifically on unit content which subsequently scaffolds student learning and prepares them to take the high stakes exams in grade 5. On the other hand, this system allows us the opportunity to ensure that formative assessment is taking place. After each progress test, teachers use the attainment targets above to determine which students need  extra support. They are required to contact the parents of low achieving students and set up a plan to ensure that students can make improvements on the next progress test as well as during class.

The benefits of the high stakes exam not only support assessment but also how we teach in preparation for the assessment. The following chart shows how lessons are impacted by the high stakes exam for students from grades 3-5:

Curriculum Flow

This chart shows the process of of teaching and learning. As can be seen, it gives teachers a structure to work from when planning their lessons. Contrastingly, it is general enough that teachers have flexibility in terms of their interpretation of how to structure the unit aims and objectives into the system. In previous years, students took the progress test in week four.

One thing inherent in having two high stakes exams is that the school must hire British as well as Chinese teachers of English. The reason for this is that it is believed that teachers who have actually sat the exams above will be better able to help students prepare for them. In terms of workload, British and Chinese English teachers teach an equal number of classes and are equally involved in assessment. Students are exposed to both Eastern and Western styles of teaching and learning.

Despite the positive aspects of using these high stake examinations, there are also negative aspects. By utilizing the results of the previous high stakes exam, we determined that it was necessary for students to have an extra week to focus on test prep skills (i.e. reading for gist, inference, details and writing in complete sentences). These skills are useful for all students across the ability spectrum, particularly low ability students. One issues of concern with the aforementioned high stakes examinations is the amount of work the students need to do in order to be successful. They must, in fact, master two cultural testing systems and learning expectations in order to be successful in grade 5.

Finally, parents are often unsure about the expectations of the Western English teachers as the majority were taught in a Confucian traditional way of teaching and learning which emphasizes conformity and obedience as a form of respect. This ethic also emphasizes academic achievement in terms of scores on tests. Thus, for many parents, it is believed that teaching should primarily focus on test preparation, which is called a “hard skill” in Chinese as opposed to “soft skills” such as creativity and project work. Under the Confucian system of learning, students remain quiet throughout the lesson unless they are repeating after the teacher. The idea is that the teacher gives the students all of the information that they will need on the exam and then students try their best to memorize and utilize this knowledge on test day.

The nature of the key stage examination does not lend itself to this mode of thinking as teachers are not allowed to prepare students to take the exam by memorizing sections of the exam or, for example, presenting the spelling words beforehand. As a result, parents are often confused as to the purpose of utilizing project work (i.e. make your own movie, recycling initiative etc.) although these activities do prepare students to take the key stage exam. For example, students might be asked to write a leaflet in support of a recycling initiative on the exam. Explaining the differences between the western and eastern high stakes exam systems as well as teaching and learning styles has been a challenge.

Another school not far from where I currently teach is solely based on the local Shanghai English exam that students have to pass in grade 5. The teaching and learning takes place through rote memorization of grammar rules. The structure of the curriculum is designed such that teachers are evaluated on their abilities to help students succeed on tests, particularly the grade 5 exam. Class work primarily consists of dictation, repetition, and grammar activities. There are high expectations for students to do well from parents, teachers, and administrators. Furthermore, teachers are primarily evaluated on their abilities to help students achieve high scores on these examinations. Teachers who fail to do so are summarily replaced. The reason for this is that for primary schools that mainly follow the local curriculum, their success or failure is measured in terms of their students’ ability to pass the high stake exams in grade 5. Schools where students score poorly, on average, are considered “bad” schools by parents. In a culture where face means everything, to get the aforementioned label would mean that the school would not fare well in the long run.

The similarities between both schools are apparent. Both schools, to certain degrees, follow the local English curriculum. At both schools, parents encourage students to do well on high stakes examinations and the curriculum at both schools have largely been shaped by the high stakes examinations. This leads to issues that are common as the result of basing a curriculum on a high stakes examination. The first is that there is pressure for students to perform well on the exams. Subsequently, schools are defined by student performance on these examinations as opposed to other indicators of success (e.g. communicative competence). Yet, we cannot ignore the fact that by having high stakes exams:

  1. teachers know what to teach.
  2. the school is held accountable for its actions.
  3. students (particularly in Shanghai) are motivated to do well on it.
  4. teachers can use the results to inform their teaching practice and, in addition, use the results to provide feedback to their students (Amrein & Berliner 2002, p. 1-5).
  5. parents (at least in my teaching context) support high stakes testing and have cultural norms that promote success on the test.

Despite differences between the schools, both benefit from the aforementioned advantages.

The difference between the two schools, of course, is that students at my school have to contend with doing well on two high stakes examinations instead of one. In addition, although I said that parents at my school are unsure about the rationale for the Western curriculum, it is also true that they have selected our school with the expectation that they would be able to choose between an Eastern or Western education as options for their students in secondary school.  Some students might choose to go overseas, in which case, results on the Key Stage exam will be important. Others might choose to remain in Shanghai and can get into good schools if they were able to do well on the local examination. What this means is that at my school students have to learn how to use and communicate in English in addition to passing the high stakes examination. However, in the case of the local school, the focus is on test preparation with little attention given to communicative competence.

My interpretation of this is that schools have to come up with a vision for their students in terms of learning outcomes. It’s important to think about what students should be able to do at the end of their study in addition to passing a high stakes examination. Administrators should consider the long term goals of parents and students and how the school can best help students to achieve those goals.

Amrein, A. L., & Berliner, D. C. (2002). High-stakes testing & student learning. Education policy analysis archives, 10, 18.

 

 

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Reflection on a first grade writing lesson

December 5, 2015 Leave a comment

 

I thought the mini lesson was particularly effective at providing scaffolding by presenting a story and giving students information about what techniques the author used to make his or her writing effective. The teacher then followed up by providing a prompt and showing students a detailed example. She asked questions and checked comprehension throughout the lesson. She also encouraged the students to give her examples and help her build on a text and use their ideas to write a new story. Students then went and did some work in their writer’s notebook. After writing, students were given the opportunity to share their writing with the class. Overall, I liked this lesson as students were able to reflect on the writing process, they were enthusiastic and engaged and they were willing to share their ideas throughout the lesson. The teacher created an environment where students felt comfortable writing and expressing themselves and this contributed to the facilitation of the successful lesson.

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Differentiating Lesson Plans to Meet Student Needs

November 26, 2015 Leave a comment

Mindmap updated

Click to enlarge

As indicated in the readings this week, it is imperative that teachers take into account learners’ interests, abilities, and learning preferences for the purpose of improving motivation, learning outcomes, as well as encourage teacher accountability in the area of ensuring that all students are making progress (Subban 1996, pp.939, 943). With the aforementioned in mind, it’s important to give students a sense of ownership in the classroom as well as create learner environments that not only cater to specific students individual needs but also enable the learner to thrive in the learning environment from his or her learning standpoint.

That said, the activities  and strategies that I have decided to utilize in the mind map above are designed to empower teachers to enlighten their students in a challenging but productive way. For example using the computers to do a brain pop activity makes achieving the learning objective more salubrious as the task appeals to different learning styles as brainpop contains a variety of activities such as writing, drawing, reading, listening and completing comprehension questions in a virtual environment. The activities cater to a variety of different learning styles. The use of brainpop also serves to help develop students’ basic 21st century skills at grade 1 level through browsing the web, using a mouse, and searching for key information. The use of drawing activities allow for differentiated learning outcomes and allow students with differing multiple intelligences express themselves in ways relevant to their interests.

Nonetheless, such learning might be all for nought if teachers have not conducted a needs analysis at the beginning of the term/semester/class to determine what the students interests, hobbies, strengths, weaknesses as well as learning preferences are. With this information, teachers are empowered with a rationale for making the decisions that they make that inform how they approach unpacking key objectives to be taught in the lesson.

In the future, I intend to make use of needs analysis to ensure that I am aware of my learners strengths and weaknesses as well as their learning styles and preferences. I believe that we must be ready to respond to the shifting of the learner’s goals, hopes, and aspirations as the social climate changes. I believe that educators should be willing to revise aspects of the curriculum that are no longer effective or viable in order for teaching and learning to remain relevant. If educators are unwilling to take the situation on the ground seriously, the result can be disastrous.

I recall having a conversation with a colleague many years ago in Japan about the state of English teaching and learning. We were talking about students in middle school during a professional development class. Many of these students were said to be shy and tended to have an aversion towards learning English. The professor shocked the class when she said, “Perhaps the best solution to the students’ lack of motivation would be to stop requiring them to learn English” (personal communication). In retrospect, her words made a lot of sense. Why should students be forced to learn English in the first place? English is taught as a foreign language in Japan. Students do not use the language outside of class and many will not use it extensively in the future. Their lack of interest probably extends from the fact that they don’t view learning English as useful. This speaks to the content of what they were learning and leads to critical question: How could the curriculum be revised to make learning more interesting, motivating and relevant to the needs of these learners?

A curriculum, even at its best, is incomplete as a teaching resource because we can never know if we are helping or hindering our learners. By designing our curriculum with a central concept in mind, we have merely created a framework on which to base our lessons. Successful implementation of the curriculum must be learner-centered however. I believe that we must take the learner’s personal experiences, competencies, and goals into consideration when teaching. Every learner is unique and has special needs. These needs are directly influenced by his or her desire to learn a subject and the goals that are achievable through learning the subject.

The aforementioned reminds me of my experiences teaching at a business language school many years ago. Some students wanted to conduct business meetings abroad while others wanted to learn English for traveling. In both cases, we provided detailed syllabi for the students to achieve their goals. The students knew what they wanted to achieve and thus they were motivated. We informed the students of their current abilities as well as how long it would take them to succeed. Throughout the course, students were tested on their abilities to speak fluently and accurately. Students were given feedback on their progress in relation to reaching the final goal.

Learners must have the opportunity to express themselves in an environment that is open and responsive to their needs. They must be able to determine which aspects of the curriculum are suitable for them and which aspects they feel uncomfortable with. Learners should find the content of a curriculum agreeable and should feel a sense of satisfaction while progressing through the curriculum.

I believe that the progression through the curriculum can be termed “learning.” Learning can be classified as good or bad. Good learning leads to understanding, retention, and application. Bad learning leads to confusion. When we are successful at implementing student-centered curricula, we will more than likely observe increased levels of motivation from our students and less confusion. Teachers should make use of this motivation to encourage the student to make learning a life long pursuit.

Students must know about their strong and weak points and how to maximize on their strong points. They must see how their performance is related to achieving an objective and how this is related to an overall concept. This means that accurate assessments and evaluations are necessary factors in curriculum design. In the case of the business language school that I mentioned earlier, we tended to rate students’ speaking and listening ability at first and asked the student to confirm their own strong and weak points. As the lesson progresses, we constantly gave the students feedback concerning areas where they were improving and areas where they were having difficulties, especially after the completion of unit tests. I tried to show how their areas of improvement would hinder them from achieving their personalized goal hence supporting the rationale for the study plan. I never criticized my students, but merely allowed them to think about their development critically throughout the course.

Finally, I believe that teachers must be encouraging and put the learner at ease as well as serve as a model for students to imitate. In every lesson, teachers must show, through demonstration, the essence of the ideals embodied in the curriculum. Teachers must be patient and understanding as well as determined to help students succeed. Good teachers quite naturally encourage good learning through lesson customization.

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Formative Assessment and the Common Core

November 20, 2015 Leave a comment

The following is the learning objective that I would like to focus on: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL1.4 which is to “Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.” Stated in my own words, this objective means that students will develop an understanding of language such as adjectives as well as simple similes and metaphors that are used in poetry to convey meaning.

Strategy 1  Key Questions about Similes and Metaphors

One type of formative assessment would be to have the students watch a brainpop jr video about similes and metaphors and then complete a quiz about the video which details how similes and metaphors are formed and why poets use them. The language in the video is graded and the content is appropriate for grade 1 learners. In fact, brainpop jr. was specifically designed for grade 1 and 2 students.  With each video are series of online key words, quizzes, activities, games and follow up activities which the students can engage with autonomously and return to review at their own pace.

https://jr.brainpop.com/readingandwriting/sentence/similes/preview.weml

Students could sit at computers and watch the video and then complete the quiz online. After completing the quiz, the teacher could then record the students’ scores and then suggest follow up activities on the website for students who struggled to understand the concept of simile and metaphor.

Rosen (2009) has provided evidence for the notion that online learning environments like brainpop are not only useful in terms of improving students’ performance on assessments but also serve as a source of motivation for students enabling them to feel that they have a more central role in the learning process.

Strategy 2  Draw It

In terms of assessing students understanding of simile and metaphor, I believe the “draw it” strategy would be ideal. This would take place after students have understood the concepts of similes and metaphors. This would be a quick way for a teacher to circulate around the classroom and determine if the students were able to grasp the concepts of similes and metaphors. For example, the teacher could read a poem, highlight the similes, adjectives or other key expressions and have students draw a picture based on what they hear. The teacher could then elicit ideas from students about their pictures in order to ascertain whether or not the students have understood the poem.

This type of formative assessment is useful for two reasons:

  1. It appeals to grade 1 students as it gives them tools to express themselves even if they do not have the necessary language skills to articulate ideas. The aforementioned is especially true for non-native speakers of English at primary level.
  2. This type of assessment appeals to students who may benefit from different learning styles in the classroom such as kinesthetic and visual learners.

Strategy 3 New Clothes (Write a simile or metaphor about your favorite weather)

This type of assessment could be implemented after students have demonstrated a passive understanding of language that demonstrates appeal to senses or feelings. Using the concept of “new clothes” would require students to demonstrate their knowledge of similes and metaphors through writing and creating their own simile or metaphor.

The idea is that the students would use their newly gained understanding of similes to write a simile based on a topic that hasn’t been discussed in class; namely, they would have to write a sentence in which they used a simile or metaphor to describe their favorite kind of weather (e.g. A sunny day is chocolate cake!) The students would have to let the teacher know if he or she wrote a simile or metaphor. This would allow the teacher to determine whether or not the student has understood the concept.

Allowing the students to write their own simile or metaphor also allows for differentiation by task in the lesson such that each student could work from his or her own ability and interests thus increasing learner motivation and the likelihood that the final product will be the best demonstration of the students’ ability.

Finally, I am a firm believer in developing learner autonomy and I believe the activities above enable students to develop autonomously.

Developing autonomy in a classroom setting implies that the learner will take the initiative to gain insight into the process of acquiring knowledge and being able to control him or herself throughout the process. Benson (2001) defines autonomy as “the capacity to take control over one’s learning” (p. 110).  To my mind, taking initiative is a prerequisite for controlling one’s learning. When learners decide that they want to actively direct their own learning, they are, in effect, on the path to becoming more autonomous. Thus, the decision to become autonomous largely rests with our students. However, we as teachers can create learning environments conducive to the development of learner autonomy.

Control in the classroom manifests itself in the learner’s “learning behavior, learning situation, and cognitive processes” when dealing with classroom tasks (p. 50). As a result, autonomy is a process that directly manifests itself at several levels of the human experience, ranging from the conscious and unconscious to the real as well as what is perceived to be real. Learners must take control of their mental (e.g. higher cognitive processes), emotional (e.g. preparedness to overcome setbacks and fatigue), and physical aspects (e.g. posture when studying) to gain a foothold over their learning.

In the case of the assessments above, they all require students to be in control of the rate of learning as well as control when the assessment starts and finishes thus enabling students to engage the tasks independently. For example, in the first formative assessment, students start the video, complete the supplementary activities and take the quiz when they are ready. In the second quiz, differentiation and creativity are provided for in that students have the freedom to draw a picture based on their interpretation of what was said. In the final activity, the learner uses his or her creativity to apply what they’ve learned to demonstrate their understanding of the key concepts of the lesson.

 

References

Benson, P. (2001). Autonomy in language learner. Pearson: Essex

Bynom, A. (2003). Empowering the learner and all that rubbish. Karen’s Lingusitic Issues, April

Retrieved December 27, 2006, from http’//www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/rubbish             html. [Paper originally presented at the TESOL Arabia Conference 2003]

Csikszentmihayi, M. (1996). Intrinsic motivation and effective teaching: A flow analysis. In J.      Bess (Ed.), Teaching well and liking it: Motivating faculty to teach effectively (pp. 72-89).          Baltimore MD: John Hopkins University Press.

Dam, L., & Little, D. (1998). Learner autonomy: what and why? TLT Online. Retrieved April 6th,            2008, from http://langue.hyper.chubu.ac.jp/jalt/pub/tlt/98/nov/littledam.html.

Deci, E., Kasser, T., & Richard, M. R. (1996). Self-determined teaching: Opportunities and         obstacles. In J Bess, (Ed.), Teaching well and liking it: Motivating faculty to reach           effectively (pp. 57-71).

Krishnamurti, J. (2000). Educating the educator. Parabola. 25, (3), 85-89.

Rosen, Y. (2009). The effects of an animation-based on-line learning environment on transfer of knowledge and on motivation for science and technology learning. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 40(4), 451-467.

Thanasoulas, D. (2002). What is learner autonomy and how can it be fostered? Karen’s     Linguistic Issues, December 2002. Retrieved April 6th, 2008, from       http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/learnerautonomy.html.

Senge, P. et al (2000). Schools that learn. NY: Doubleday. [Chap. 1,2,3 (pp. 5-22), I (pp. 59-        100), XII-I, 6 (pp. 411-417, 446-452), XVI, 5(pp. 552-553).]

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Reflection on unpacking standards

November 15, 2015 Leave a comment

At the beginning of this unit, we were asked to unpack standards, which essentially entailed restating the standards in our own words and then brainstorming ways to implement and assess these curricular aims in the classroom. While I have been teaching English for the past eleven years now, this first task was a great test. It made me think and question whether or not I had truly understood what it meant to unpack a standard and restate it in my own words.

It was necessary for me to read up on the Common Core standards to become familiar with them. So it was helpful to watch the following video which explained the common core prior to starting the assignment.

Understanding that the Common Core attempts to connect differing States, I immediately went to see if there were resources created by states that have been demonstrating how a standard could be taught in the classroom. To my surprise, there were many resources such as lesson plans, syllabi, and resources for teaching all of the standards. One such resource was from the Los Angeles Board of Education: http://achieve.lausd.net/cms/lib08/CA01000043/Centricity/Domain/217/MELD%20OPINION

The aforementioned knowledge relieved a lot of tension that I had been feeling about potentially teaching in the US. The fact of the matter is that it is quite challenging to begin teaching within a new curricular context without a lot of support. Thus, the knowledge that there is a cornucopia of resources in support of the Common Core has been very comforting.

In addition to learning more about the Common Core, I was also helped greatly by Tantillo’s (2014) guidelines for interpreting, evaluating, implementing, and assessing state standards. This enabled me the opportunity to transition from planning to creating a framework that served as the foundation for my infographic where I analysed two grade 1, common core state standards. What I hadn’t realised in the first assignment was that utilising Tantillo’s (2014) guidelines were actually preparing me for the second and third assignments.

My rationale for the aforementioned is that I decided in assignment 1 to both unpack two standards in addition to drafting the proficiencies, assessments, and learning experiences that were the essence of the standard. It seemed to me that the process of unpacking standards is an iterative one that requires a teacher to analyse the multifaceted aspects of a standard through visualising the standard in its entirety from its conceptualisation to assessment in the classroom.

In in the final assignment, I was able to return to the objectives and lesson plan activities that I had created and reflect upon whether A) the objectives were realistic or SMART as well as B) if I had been correct in choosing the activities that I had chosen to meet the standard. Next week, I will share my findings with my colleagues and hopefully get my team involved with planning their schemes of work utilising a reflective, iterative process similar to the one that we’ve used this week to unpack standards.

Works Cited

Common core state standards for English language arts & literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Common Core Standards Initiative, 2012.

[DC Public Schools] (2012, Nov 2).”Three-Minute Video Explaining the Common Core State Standards.” Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s0rRk9sER0

Tantillo, S. (2014). “Tools  to unpack the ELA common core standards.” Retrieved from: http://www.middleweb.com/11235/solving-ela-ccss-puzzle/

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Standards and Backwards Mapping

November 14, 2015 Leave a comment

I currently teach in an International School in Shanghai where the majority of students are non-native ELLs. For the past four years, I have been responsible for teaching grade 4 students. However, for the assignment this week, I intend to focus on grade one Common Core standards as I plan to teach at a school that follows an American based curriculum in the future. Subsequently, I will continue to teach in primary school in the future.

The standard that I will map out in this blog post is: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.1.1. I’ve restated this standard in my own words:

Students write a reflection on a book that they have read where they summarize and give their opinion about the book that they have read.

The following are 3 proficiencies that students will achieve within this standard:

  1. Students will understand how opinion writing is organized.
  2. Listen to other students give a speech in class and be able to articulate an opinion.
  3. Read an opinion piece and write their own opinions about a common topic: (e.g. Which place do you like better: the beach or the mountains?)

Several assessments that will ensure that students have met the standard are:

  1. Pre-assessment diagnostic: determine what are the students’ grammatical strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Feedback on student opinions given by the teacher after the class has listened the Discovery Quests.
  3. Assessment of student writing based on criteria of exceeds, meets, and working towards attainment targets.

Activities and learning experiences that students can engage in are:

  1. Discovery Quests where students present an object to the class and give their opinion about the object.
  2. Students learn how to use a graphic organizer to organize their ideas to prepare for writing.
  3. Journal Writing Topic: Which place do you like better: the beach or the mountains?

Ideas for unpacking and teaching to the standard above were adapted from Los Angeles teachers’ lessons plans which can be found here: http://achieve.lausd.net/cms/lib08/CA01000043/Centricity/Domain/217/MELD%20OPINION%20CCSS%20LESSON%201ST.PDF

Furthermore, these proficiencies, assessments, and activities are also based on this infographic:

Untitled Infographic

 

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