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In this talk I examine the transition from the idea of the massive open online course - MOOC - to the idea of the personal learning environment. In the In the process of this discussion I question what it is to become 'one' - whether it be one course graduate, one citizen of the community, or one educated person.
Via Alastair Creelman
What is it that sets people with grit apart? Robertson-Craft and Duckworth describe their key characteristic this way: “Gritty individuals work diligently towards very challenging, long-term goals, sustaining commitment when confronted with setbacks and adversity.”
That sounds like a quality that would be immensely useful in teaching—and many other professions.
Via Gust MEES
This webinar explored the research on standards-based grading and new approaches to making grading policies more effective.
Boston, MA – On May 30, the Northeast College and Career Readiness Research Alliance (NCCRA) hosted a Bridge Event to explore the research on grading and to learn new approaches to making grading policies more effective and reflective of student mastery of learning.
“We are going to take on the nastiest and dirtiest issue there is in education today—that whole idea of grading,” said featured presenter Dr. Thomas Guskey, professor of educational psychology of the University of Kentucky. “It’s the major issue that lies before you, especially as you move toward a standards-based approach.”
Research shows that teachers, including those within the same schools or districts, do not agree on the purposes of grades or report cards, Guskey said. Are they for communicating information to parents? Or for helping students evaluate themselves? Should they be used to sort students into groups? Or do they help schools judge their own instructional effectiveness?
Educators disagree on what elements to use in determining student grades, resulting in inconsistencies of grading practices and confusion among students. Guskey recommended that districts develop a clear statement of purpose for their reporting system and then choose learning criteria—summative assessments, homework, effort, student progress—that will support that purpose.
Two additional important research findings are that grading is not essential to the instructional process and that grading should always be done in reference to learning criteria and never on a curve.
“Although grading is not essential, checking [student work] is,” Guskey said. “In any successful teaching and learning exchange, a teacher must provide regular and specific checks on learning progress and pair with those checks guidance and directions to students as to how they can improve…. We’ve concentrated on the development of assessments and not very much on what teachers are supposed to do with that evidence once they gain it. And that’s the really critical element.”
Guskey suggested that schools and districts adopt report cards that briefly describe the content standards being taught and that provide separate grades for assessments, homework completion, effort, class participation, and other elements of student performance. He said that such report cards are more helpful to parents and teachers for understanding what students have mastered and where they need support.
An Approach to Proficiency-Based Grading
Providing an additional perspective on the webinar, Dr. Robert Marzano, CEO of Marzano Research Laboratory in Centennial, Colo., presented some of his research on developing and using proficiency scales, rather than letter grades or the 100-point scale, to measure or document students’ achievement. Proficiency scales break content into manageable progressions and match scores to mastery of specific standards. For example, students might receive a score of 3.0 on a proficiency scale if they demonstrate understanding of a particular concept, but they would receive a 4.0 on the scale if able to apply that concept to a higher level of thinking. Similarly, students would receive a 2.0 if they master a simpler learning goal.
“Once teachers get this in their head, it is pretty straightforward and relatively efficient,” Marzano said. “Every teacher when putting up a 2.0 for a student is saying the same thing, based on the scale being used. A score means the same from teacher to teacher, relative to a specific scale.”
View the webinar to hear the full presentations and learn what’s on the mind of participants, who submitted these and other questions and comments:It’s easier to create narratives [for report cards] when you have 30 third-graders; much harder when you have 130 10th-graders.As we try to change our grading system to one that doesn’t “sort” students by decimal points, there are folks who are unhappy about it. Making learning a zero-sum game defeats what we’re trying to accomplish. Any recommendations?Do colleges still use GPA/class rank, etc.? How does standards-based grading affect that information to colleges?
NCCRA hosted the Bridge Event to inform its research focus on proficiency-based graduation requirements—the first in the two-part “Developing Savvy Students: College and Career Readiness Bridge Event Series” co-hosted by REL-NEI and REL Northwest, both of which have research alliances exploring issues related to college and career readiness.
View Bridge Event presentations and materials.
"In Google we trust." That may very well be the motto of today's young online users, a demographic group often dubbed the "digital natives" due their apparent tech-savvy. Having been born into a world where personal computers were not a revolution, but merely existed alongside air conditioning, microwaves and other appliances, there has been (a…
Via Elaine Roberts, Ph.D
"A teacher is a life long learner by nature and the more we learn the better our teaching practice and methodology become. Today, I want to share with you some really interesting ideas, tips and web tools to help you reach out to other teachers and grow professionally through leveraging the power of PLNs."
Via Mel Riddile
The Current Events Classroom is a collection of timely and relevant brief lesson plans that assist K-12 educators in teaching news topics and other issues of the day. Each lesson helps students analyze the topic through an anti-bias, diversity and social justice lens.
Via Karen Bonanno
Via Dennis T OConnor
Teacher training borrows from doctors' playbook -- teachers in residence.
Just as future doctors, called "residents," care for patients under the supervision of a practicing physician, graduate teaching students work side by side with a seasoned teacher. Teachers learning the same way doctors do -- as residents working under professionalsSchools using this method have students who face homelessness, hunger and violenceSeattle program has enthusiastic young teachers working alongside dedicated mentors
SEATTLE — No, Bethany Poon does not have an extra set of eyes, ears and hands. Yet somehow, in a matter of moments, she is helping two first-graders get started at a computer station, showing another group an easy way to add two numbers when one is nine, and complimenting two students, one for doing a "great job of saying 'excuse me' " and another for sitting attentively and being ready to learn.
It's all part of a day's work at Leschi School,where Poon, 23, a graduate student in the University of Washington College of Education, is learning about classroom realities in a way that many aspiring teachers don't — until they start their first job.
She is there as part of the Seattle Teacher Residency, a recently launched initiative that local school officials hope will attract good teacher candidates to some of the district's most challenging public schools, and keep them there.
It's one of about 50 teacher-preparation programs springing up in the last several years that are modeled after medical education. Just as future doctors, called "residents," care for patients under the supervision of a practicing physician, graduate students such as Poon work side by side with a seasoned teacher. They help plan and deliver lessons and pick up classroom management tricks best learned by seeing and doing.
In traditional teacher-education programs, student teachers typically get hands-on experience only later in their studies, after they have completed college coursework.
"That is a huge paradigm shift," says Anissa Listak, founder of Urban Teacher Residency United, a non-profit organization based in Chicago that supports a network of 18 residency programs, including Seattle's. Since it was founded in 2007, the group has grown from three, in Boston, Chicago and Denver, to 18, and more programs are in the works, she says.
The movement got a boost in 2009 and 2010 when the U.S. Education Department awarded five-year grants for programs to improve teacher education. Of particular concern: National surveys show that just half of teacher candidates received supervised clinical training and nearly two-thirds said they felt unprepared for "classroom realities."
In Seattle, administrators hope the program will prepare a steady stream of talented idealists to work in schools in which many kids face challenges such as homelessness, hunger and violence. Teacher turnover tends to be highest at those schools.
"We want teachers who want to come here," says Mary McDaniel, principal at Madrona elementary, another Seattle school where residents work.
Not all residency initiatives succeed. A few years ago, a promising program in Pittsburgh was scuttled, a victim of several factors, including a loss of union support. Listak expects some programs to end when federal grant money runs out.
Seattle's program offers renewed promise, she says, because the local teachers union and the University of Washington College of Education were active in developing it. Both are founding partners, along with the school district and the Alliance for Education, a non-profit organization that coordinates fundraising and other tasks.
Still, some Seattle partners are cautious in their praise of the residency model. "It's a good experiment (but it's) not for everybody," says Patrick Sexton, managing director of teacher education at the University of Washington College of Education.
It's also expensive. This year's 25 residents each receive a $16,500 stipend, plus tuition reimbursement and other benefits, and their mentor teachers receive $3,500. Expenses are estimated at about $1 million.
Organizers say better retention will cut the cost of recruiting teachers — estimated in one study at $10.6 million a year for Seattle Public Schools. According to the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 46% of public school teachers leave the profession within their first five years; in contrast, some of the longest-running urban residency programs post an average five-year retention rate of 82%, data from Urban Teacher Residency United show.
In Seattle, teacher residents promise to teach at least five years in the public schools. That's fine with Sabrina Adikes, 23, a teacher resident in Madrona.
Some days are hard, she says, but it's also rewarding work. "It probably sounds cheesy, but I am grateful for the relationships that have come from this work. I feel truly connected with my students, who are so hardworking and so kind to one another, as well as to me."
Ensuring a community college is serving its students well while meeting the demands of an exponentially changing landscape requires leadership able to articulate a strong vision and implement organizational redesign.
Cheryl Roberts, president ofChemeketa Community College(CCC) in Oregon, is working on creating a leadership environment and structuring a planning process conducive to making bold moves to change the culture. She is among three leaders realigning their colleges to meet the imperatives outlined in theAmerican Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) 21st-Century Commission report who will describe their work at theAACC Annual Convention April 5-8 in Washington, D.C.
Roberts sees her effort at CCC as part of a larger statewide initiative enacted by the legislature and adopted by the entire education community known as the “40-40-20 plan,” which establishes a series of goals for 2025: At least 40 percent of adults in Oregon will have a earned an associate degree or postsecondary credential; at least 40 percent will have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher; and the remaining 20 percent will have earned a high school diploma.
All three presidents in this article will speak at the session "Organizational Redesign for 21st-Century Institutions: Three Case Studies" on Sunday, April 6, at the AACC Annual Convention.
CCC's strategy to contribute to the goal focuses on making the student experience "predictable," Roberts said, meaning simplifying the student aid process and business practices so attending college is as seamless for students as possible. It started by improving its communications with students to ensure they get their financial aid packages well before the deadline to enroll. That gives staff more time to talk to students about their options, and as a result, the number of students applying for financial aid has increased by about 25 percent.
The college is also using the same approach to improve registration and advising procedures, which often frustrates students and in turn affects completion rates, Roberts said.
It’s all about “creating the right culture and the right mindset,” she said.
Following a game plan
Sunita Cooke, president of Grossmont College in California, is working on building capacity within her college to strengthen its long-term strategic planning process and incorporate short-term measures as milestones.
“We’re using planning to drive cultural change,” focusing on communications, transparency, integrity and trust, Cooke said. That effort, which is informed by the AACC 21st-Century Commission report, began with streamlining, eliminating redundancy and incorporating more technology-based strategies in back-end, behind-the-scenes systems, such as business practices, human resources and payroll.
Next, the college will work on changing the culture around student services and academic success. The first phase will evaluate how well the college serves students — and “what they are experiencing with us” — from their first communication with the college until they begin attending class, Cooke said. The following phase will evaluate students’ pathways through the system until they complete a degree or certificate.
Cooke said she suspects the review will find that students seeking assistance are sent into a loop, rather than being helped efficiently.
A less-popular route
In Maryland, Montgomery College is looking at its infrastructure and business processes, along with better ways to engage students, grow employees and build in accountability and outcomes “to allow us to be well positioned to address the changing landscape,” said President DeRionne Pollard.
That effort includes realigning the curriculum and redesigning student services and academic affairs to better serve students in an increasingly diverse community, and to do so with fewer resources and more accountability, Pollard said. The demographic changes mean “we have to take the college to the community. We have to turn the college inside out — to reach out to underrepresented populations.”
“Dealing with the internal capacity to respond to these changes is critical — that is the joy of this work,” Pollard said. That calls for looking at the organizational structure, and if new money is not coming in, resetting priorities.
Coming in April: The release
For presidents, that sometimes means taking the less-popular route.
“We had a shared governance system. But the irony was, there was no role for part-time faculty or students,” Pollard said. Her efforts to make that system more inclusive “were not very popular in some circles.”
The new structured governance system, which reviews policy issues before they are taken to the board, is now fully accepted.
“Some things had to be tweaked along the way, and we had to spend some time affirming the role of the board,” she said.
Following a framework
Much of the reorganization undertaken around student services aligns with the recommendations in AACC’s 21st-Century Commission report, Pollard said.
“We looked at how we organized around the student experience and determined we have to be more intrusive,” she said.
The new system is also more equitable, so students have the same experience regardless of which campus they attend, whether they are full time or part time and whether they take classes in person or online.
The AACC Leadership Suitecomprises programs designed to provide emerging and seasoned leaders with professional development and renewal opportunities.
Student orientation is now mandatory, and late registration has been eliminated. Welcome centers have been installed on all three campuses, new outreach programs have been put into place and there’s a new enrollment management team.
“The biggest challenge is keeping one’s eye on the horizon, when the day-to-day political, fiscal and organizational issues take up one’s attention," she said.
Balancing it all
Managing all this change is difficult, too.
“How do you know when you should speed up or slow down?” Pollard said. People felt they could only do so much at one time, so “it takes a constant assessment of institutional capacity,” she said.
Pollard also stressed the importance of staying in touch with other presidents and being active in organizations such as the American Association of Community Colleges, which provides those developmental opportunities.
“You have to be intentional about that. Networking is critical,” she said.