Monday, April 30, 2012

Triple Points: Leveraging Teacher PD Time

Educators in the Pioneer Valley ask, "If our district only has time for one professional development initiative outside the classroom, what should it be?"

My answer recommends taking advantage of Triple Points-- places where teachers examine curriculum, instruction, and assessment at the same time. Common Formative Assessments (CFAs), in which teachers administer standards-based tasks and collaboratively analyze the resulting student work-- are one of these Triple Points.

When using CFAs:
Teachers work together to create a high-quality [Assessment] that is embedded in the [Curriculum] standards. Analysis of student work leads to a discussion of the [Instruction] used to achieve the best results.

Many districts lack the time or resources to tackle curriculum, instruction, and assessment in order, and it seems inefficient to address them in isolation; hence Triple Points. Learn more about which local districts are using CFAs at our May 31 Curriculum PLC. And learn more about creating them at this Franklin-Hampshire Summer Academy offering: "Constructing High-Quality Performance Task in ELA, History, Math, and Science." Click here to see the brochure and other offerings.

Have other Triple Points to suggest?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

More Help with Model Curriculum Units

As promised, here's another method for resource-strapped districts to access model curriculum units.

There's a huge opportunity for sharing resources among districts. In the Pioneer Valley, many districts are already creating high-quality, Common Core-aligned products. Frontier Regional Schools are backwards-designing curriculum units, the Ludlow Public Schools math department is building a curriculum map that embeds the Standards for Math Practice, and at Tantasqua Regional they've aligned report cards to the new standards.

You might ask, how will we access those materials? One way is to join our Curriculum PLC when it meets to share Common Core implementation resources and strategies on May 31, 8:30 to 10:30, at CES, 97 Hawley St., Northampton, Massachusetts. Contact me if it'd be easier to skype in. Another is to follow this blog!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Here's Help with Building Model Curriculum Units

When you add last week's news that PARCC has decided not to create model curriculum units to the long wait for DESE to release its teacher-created units (Under mutual agreement, these will be released to RTTT districts first.), many district leaders wonder where they will find the resources to create units aligned with the new standards and educator evaluation system.

I offer three suggestions for how local educators might effectively begin crafting (or at least collecting) model curriculum units; I'll propose them over the course of the week.

The first is to take advantage of the Franklin/Hampshire County Summer Academy's offerings. (Full disclosure: I lead several sessions and my organization, CES, runs the show.) View the catalog here.

Two of these summer sessions may be particularly helpful to your district. The first, "Building Model Curriculum Units," will lead educators through the process used by DESE and Jay McTighe to create a CCSS-aligned unit. And then there's "Steal this Unit! Accessing Model Curriculum Units on the Net," which will provide support and tools for borrowing and adapting high-quality units already created by other states.

Check back in later in the week for more suggested supports!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Here's Help Finding the Best Online Resources

It's hard for busy educators to keep track of all the websites and documents that support the implementation of the new standards. To help, I'm making these resources available via the tabs located at the top of this page. I'm trying to limit the number of sites in each category to three-- so you won't have to sort through them.

Please comment below if you have a resource or category to add.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What Can be Done with Limited Resources?

Many districts lack the resources to effectively implement the new standards.

With capacity limited, they ask: what work is most valuable? If we only have time to do one thing, what would it be? Just as teachers gain greater efficiency in their classrooms by, for example, teaching literacy skills around science content, school leaders can do the same.

Here’s my proposal: 

In teams, teachers select a model curriculum unit that features a performance assessment. They collaboratively adapt the unit to their student population, implement it, and reflect on the implementation, all the while supported by their own PLC, by instructional coaches, and by administration.

The key component here is when teachers collaboratively score student work on the performance assessment. This step provides the opportunity for teachers to agree on what high quality work looks like. Time spent analyzing how students tackle a high-quality assessment puts teachers at a crucial nexus-- the intersection of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Many thanks to Christina Brown, CCE, and Annie McKenzie, LPVEC, for their contributions to this post.