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Planning Professional Support:Read-Alouds and Differentiated Instruction Sharon Walpole Michael C. McKenna University of Delaware University of Virginia
Findings from the team surveys • With only one exception, means in each category increase as the total scores increase, indicating that the total score is a good indicator of fidelity across categories. • Substantial variance exists at all four grade levels for each of the five categories, indicating that improvement in each category is possible.
Findings from the team surveys • For high-fidelity teams at all four grade levels, means for all categories are strong, indicating that high levels of fidelity are possible for all categories and at all grade levels. • Of the four grade levels, lowest-fidelity second-grade teams exhibit the greatest range of needs. In fact, they have means that are lowest in all five categories. • Lowest-fidelity kindergarten, first-, and third-grade teams would be best served by attention to differentiation and read-alouds.
Overall Goals • Engage you in thinking about ways to improve and target your professional support system. • Compare and contrast the observation roles of principals, coaches, and peers. • Compare, contrast, and construct tools for observations: checklists, rubrics, and open-ended notes. • Compare and contrast strategies for observations: walkthroughs, targeted observations, full observations. • Consider strategies for providing feedback to teachers. • Review and apply concepts from our work on read-alouds and our work on differentiated instruction.
Why focus on observations? Literacy coaches are charged with supporting teaching and learning; they collect student data to measure the success of their programs. • It does not make sense to measure program effects without measuring treatment fidelity. • It does not make sense to measure treatment fidelity without observing the treatment. • It does not make sense to document treatment fidelity without trying to improve it. Observations allow coaches to target their work to the decisions that have been made in their own building.
You can observe a lot just by watching. Yogi Berra
If we use observation as part of our professional development, we are more likely to see changes in both knowledge and practice. The trick to making this work may lie in being more specific about our instructional goals and about our observation strategies.
A professional support system Joyce, B., & Showers, B. (2002). Student achievement through staff development. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Time to Talk How would you size up your own professional development cycles? In what ways could you improve the cycles? Take Five
Observations with Checklists • Teachers may feel especially comfortable with observations when they know the format in advance. • Checklists can be developed to guide observations of very specific aspects of instruction. • Checklists can combine “yes and no” formats with structured notes. Next we show two examples of checklist/notetaking forms we developed to observe teachers teaching vocabulary.
Time to Talk What do you notice about the checklists? How are they constructed? Take 5
Time to Work! We have prepared a review of the content of our presentations on science trade-book read-alouds. • Read it to refresh your memory. • Work with your coaching team to construct the shortest checklist you can to observe this type of instruction. • Post your work! Take Your Time
Time to Walk Visit the other checklists. What do you notice? What ideas can you incorporate into your own checklist? Take a Break
One way to learn a new practice is to experience success with it because it is introduced in a highly structured way. • To encourage teachers to plan effective interactive read-alouds, maybe we have to help them experience them first.
Conducting a read aloud Team reads the review Coach uses the checklist Teachers use the coach’s plan Coach shows a sample plan
Planning a read aloud Coach shows the planning template Coach uses the checklist Teachers work together to plan Teachers use their own plans
Time to Talk Think about your grade-level teams. Where should you start? What would you have to do to make this work? Take 5
Let’s think about going beyond fidelity and into quality • It is possible to “comply” with a practice without actually doing it expertly. • It is difficult to construct a checklist that captures the art of teaching.
Observations with Rubrics • One roadblock to implementation of new practice is the distance between current practice and the new practice. • Teachers may need to engage in small steps. • Rubrics, designed to document (and describe) levels of implementation, may provide teachers with an incentive to engage in small, cumulative improvements. • An Innovation Configuration is one such rubric. Roy, P., & Hord, S. (2003). Moving NSDC’s staff development standards into practice: Innovation configurations, Volume I. Oxford, OH: NSDC.
Procedure for Making an IC • Describe components of your ideal implementation. • Observe in the world; what does real implementation look like? What variations exist? • Line up the variations from furthest to closest to the ideal. • Use the resulting rubric to observe instruction and to guide feedback. We provide some sample categories from an IC we designed to measure schoolwide implementation. Give us a few minutes to review the categories that we want you to consider.
Time to Work! Each of you is assigned to one of these implementation categories. • Take our generic category descriptions and make them more specific. What would you have to see and do to earn a rating of full implementation? • Post your work! Take 45 Minutes
Time to Walk Visit the other rubrics. What do you notice? What ideas can you incorporate into your own rubric or into your own thinking? Take 15
Observations with open-ended notes • Observer (Sharon) used a laptop to capture as much about the instruction as possible. • After the observation was finished, she went back to her office, read her notes, and wrote feedback to the teacher. • The teacher got a copy of the notes and the feedback by lunchtime, in a sealed envelope. • Sharon kept no record of the observation or the feedback. • The next slides are actual feedback from a kindergarten observation; she gave it back to Sharon years later!
As you consider this feedback . . . Note that the segment you are seeing is preceded by three pages of description of the actual lesson. These segments of feedback were numbered at the bottom. • What can you infer about the relationship between the coach and teacher? • What can you infer about issues that this particular teacher was struggling with? • What strategies did the coach use? • What skills did the coach bring to the observation?
Substantive feedback from an open-ended observation You have set up an extraordinarily positive environment. There were so few instances of management talk and so many instances of instructional talk. That’s really how we all win.
That’s it. That was a perfect example of kindergarten literacy work. But here’s the catch. You really have to do that every day. Every day. Every day. If you did that every day, over the next 10 years you would retain 2 students and you would have 5 who didn’t pass the benchmarks and sail into first grade ready for action. You seemed so happy and natural, and so did the kids. So do that every day. It’s a great balance between direct instruction for the phonemic awareness part, interactive writing that is connected to experience, and then application of letter-sound knowledge in authentic, individual writing tasks. If you try to tell me that you don’t have time for interactive writing every day, I’m going to raise my eyebrows at you. How’s that for keeping you honest?
There is a lot of language in your work with the kids, and it goes both ways. You to them and them to you. There were many responses from children to you that were quite elaborated. It may be, though, that I am only hearing the really proficient ones. Try to think about the types of responses that you get from individual kids so that you can focus more attention on those who are not yet able to do it.
When you do segmenting tasks, as in Say-It-and-Move-It, end each word with your own modeling. Before you do a new word, say mop, mmmm-oooo-pppp, mop. Model the blending part both with your voice and with your hand sweeping. When you look back at your language, you’ll see that you modeled the segmenting for most words, but the blending only very rarely. Segmenting helps kids to spell. Blending helps kids to read.
The kids seemed a lot higher than I thought they would. I know that’s your top group, but they seemed pretty good at segmenting to me. Remember to ask the kids to read back to you when they write rather than you trying to read their work. That was a wonderful lesson. You don’t want to teach first grade. At least not with my bossy self!
What do you think? • What can you infer about the relationship between the coach and teacher? • What can you infer about issues that this particular teacher was struggling with? • What strategies did the coach use? • What skills did the coach bring to the observation?
Considerations for open-ended notes • There is more pressure on the observer; it is possible to be too global in focus. • Strong relationships are necessary if written feedback is given. • Written feedback must be inviting, personal, and specific. • Feedback can only target a few areas for improvement.
Now let’s watch some lessons • We have been designing model lessons for our differentiated instruction groups (phonemic awareness and word recognition, word recognition and fluency, fluency and comprehension, and vocabulary and comprehension. • We have videos of four model lessons in the two most basic categories. • Watch the lessons, and refresh your knowledge of the parts of the differentiated lesson plans. • While you are watching, take open-ended notes.
Characteristics of Effective Feedback Feeney, E. J. (2007). Quality feedback: The essential ingredient for teacher success. The Clearinghouse, 80, 191-197.
Conferencing with teachers • Conference in the classroom so that the room can provide prompts. (For example, “I noticed that when the children transitioned from here to here …”) • Be compassionate. • Allow the teacher to take the lead or to negotiate the goals for the conversation. • Ask questions.
Conferencing with teachers Use positive verbal and nonverbal communication. Be specific. Refer directly to the observation. And offer to help. A coach’s job is not to give advice. A coach’s job is to give direct assistance.