Standards Based Instruction, Assessment, & Grading - Throughout my time at UNI all lesson plans and units were required to be aligned to the Iowa Core standards. I appreciated the clarity that the standards brought to instruction and assessment. I aligned plans with the standards but used traditional grading throughout my first year at SLHS. After attending EdCamp Iowa and a 90/90/90 conference I was interested in not only aligning my instruction and assessments to the standards but also student marks of mastery, or grades. Moreover, I was motivated to use my core-aligned assessments to gather data on my students' process and progress to inform my teaching while helping them set goals and understand their progress using the data. Throughout the last several years I have aligned each of my units to to the standards and developed a 0, 1, 2, 3 system of grading and feedback to help students met their goals and mine. As an artifact of this process, I have attached a standards rubric that is used during our final research project. Students and I use this rubric to record process and progress for each assessment and standard. It also serves as a point for feedback and reassessment. It has been my pleasure to share my experiences, research, and tools with several other teachers as we work together to develop the best methods for standards-based curriculum.
District Wide Professional Development - In conjunction with the ESL department, this website was created to help teachers "Ditch the Deficit Model" when teaching and interacting with ELL students. As a team, we felt that it is often too easy to view the negative aspects of an ELL (doesn't know culture, doesn't know language, etc.) instead of viewing the positives (is learning a second (or 3rd or 4th) language, has unique background and experiences, etc.). To take into account all teachers' own unique backgrounds and experiences with ELLs, we created a professional development site that allowed them to choose a specific deficit & advantage pair to learn about and then take action on. We filled each option with a variety of learning about students and cultures, methods and research, and specific strategies to bring into their classroom.
SIOP Model: Co-Taught Pre-Algebra - Bailey Blair and I co-taught a mixed grouping of students through Pre-Algebra. After exploring co-teaching resources together, we decided to use the SIOP method, focusing on interactive activities in each lesson to differentiate instruction for all students, not just ELLs. In these lesson plans you will see the language skills outlined, including both vocabulary and language functions. These skills were being taught and reviewed with all ELL students, levels 1-3, as well as Native English speakers. A primary focus of our lesson plans is to get all students talking about the content as much as possible, using appropriate academic language and the best language non-discipline specific language to express their knowledge. We also focused on presenting the material, aligned to the common core math standards and the content teacher's curriculum map, through an inquiry-based environment instead of a more traditional direct instruction model. Specific student grouping was crucial to engage students in content material as well as authentic discussion and is noted throughout the plans.
Differentiated Assessment: Co-Taught, Sheltered Health - Curt Radcliff and I co-taught a group of ELLs in health class. The students ranged from an ELDA 4 to ELDA 1, students who have close to grade-level proficiency to students who have little to no English proficiency. Throughout the course, instruction is differentiated, but in order to match the instruction, it is important that assessment also be differentiated. Using ELDA and classroom data, the students placed into three groups; a low-proficiency group, mid-proficiency, and high-proficiency. Then, three different tests were created over the same content. The low proficiency test primarily involves matching and using given vocabulary to label pictures. In the mid-proficiency test, students are required to create some of the content by drawing and labeling, while still being provided with much of the vocabulary. The high-proficiency test requires students to recall the vocabulary and respond to more open-ended questions. This type of differentiation is key for students to be able to show understanding of content and for teachers to make accurate decisions for moving forward, re-teaching, and choosing strategies.
Conversation Partners: Beginning ELL Contextualized Interventions - At Storm Lake High School, students were given thirty minutes each day for interventions. In the mainstream population, these interventions were based on MAPS scores and helped students develop skills in reading, science, or reading. According to MAPS, many of our ELLs also scored low in these areas of intervention, but our ELL team believed that it was due to their language skills, rather than content skills. To help our ELLs, I developed a conversation partner curriculum to be conducted between four homerooms of various, low-proficiency ELLs. Each conversation partner cycle is meant to take two weeks and focuses on writing, speaking, and listening skills. To the left is the cycle's lesson plans with ELPA21 standards (common core aligned) for each plan. During each cycle students engaged in four assessment checkpoints which are assessed by a writing rubric, a speaking/listening rubric, a presentation rubric, and a vocabulary quiz. Throughout the semester, students track their progress graphically to develop an understanding of their growth and development. Students also have access to the student website to practice vocabulary for each cycle on Quizlet. To view the entire curriculum, approximately fourteen weeks, please view the folder with all of the cycles and necessary materials included. This curriculum allows for teacher choice in activity and method while ensuring student collaboration and focus on developing proficiency in the necessary standards.
ESL Summer School - Along with my colleague Iris Hernandez, I developed a curriculum for ELL students to get them further involved our community and culture. To begin, we considered the 21st century skill standards as well as language development needs of our ELLs. We also considered the necessary survival needs for students to be successful in a new country. We pitched our idea to a very supportive administration who gave us funding and freedom to pursue this unique experience. Working with our instructional assistants, we scoured the town for opportunities for students to engage with the community, culture, and in conversation. We were met with a multitude of options and developed our two week curriculum. The accompanying artifact shows the curriculum we used in the summer of 2014. Additionally, we created a cooperative, collaborative student blog, composed entirely of student writings to share our daily learning and adventures with the community.
Literature Circles - I adapted a typical literature circle used in mainstream Language Arts courses for mid level proficiency English Language Learners (ELDA 2-3) to increase collaboration, and heavily incorporate technology and digital literacy skills. I kept my groups small, and therefore increased the number of groups, in order to lower affective filter, and encourage conversation. To decrease the number of students in each group, I synthesized some of the group roles, requiring each member take on a bit more responsibility. The entire project is housed in Google Drive and was created entirely using a Chromebook. Here is the digital handout, along with links, that the students receive before beginning a literature circle. While the discussion is completely in person, all of the written work is completed, shared, and reviewed online in Google Drive by students. You can also view the Iowa Core standards for the activity here.