Sunday, October 4, 2015

Articulating Expectations into a Personalized Learning Environment

I missed my monthly update so I guess I will have to do two in October.  I wanted to talk about some new attributes to my curriculum that have really altered how teachers and students engage in answering the age old question “Where am I?”.  I touched on this idea in July when I discussed "I can" statements.

Once we have the “I can” statements established, they are then used to form a proficiency table.  These table have filled an important void that existed in my previous curriculum.  We have always offered pre and post assessments to teachers.  Ostensibly, the resulting data was to assist teachers in differentiating the curriculum.  However, it quickly became apparent that most teachers did not have a clear view of how to make that happen.  The proficiency tables are a way to fill in that blank.      
Shown below is an example for grade 3 :

Pre-assessment data which indicates students master prior knowledge/processes and current content/process (via performance) are level 4.
I can:

  • Use scientific evidence to explain how a design solution reduces the impact of weight from a weather-related hazard such as a blizzard
  • Design and build a structure to withstand the impacts (weight and wind of a hurricane and/or a blizzard.
Students at this level build  their own structure from scratch to withstand an additional weather-related hazard such as wind from a hurricane and/or blizzard.  They are given the parts to build the structure and may also bring parts from home to build the structure within the construction parameters. 
Pre-assessment data which indicates students master prior knowledge/processes and on grade level content are level 3.
I can:

  • Explain and interpret data presented in a table, graph, or chart
  • Compare weather v. climate
  • Predict weather based on information presented in a graph, table, or chart
  • Evaluate information from print and nonprint resources
  • Describe and explain how climates vary in different regions of the world
  • Use patterns of change in climate to predict typical weather conditions in different regions
Students at this level should be given more time to conduct the investigations.   The teacher should spend less time modeling the investigation.  Students can also be given more time to design, build, and refine their structural designs.  
Pre-assessment data which indicates students have mastered the prior content but does not demonstrate understanding of on grade level content and processes are a level 2
I can:
  • Use print and nonprint resources
  • Use data presented in a graph, table, or chart
  • Identify and describe types of weather
  • Identify and describe impacts from weather-related hazards
  • Describe ways weather affects our everyday lives
  • Work with other students to conduct an investigation
Students are ready for grade level appropriate content and processes with modifications as needed.
Pre-assessment data which indicates students who do not understand the prior content are a level 1.
I can:
  • Not identify types of weather
  • Not understand how weather changes from season to season
  • Not identify weather-related hazards
  • Not identify impacts from weather-related hazards
  • Not understand data presented in graphs, tables, or charts
Students at this level should be given the opportunity to access digital data from the weather unit from kindergarten to build background knowledge about weather, climate, and visual data representations.

As you move from bottom to top, students expertise increases.  Ultimately, students should be ready for level 4 by the end of the unit (transferring learning to a new solving a new problem).  This idea is very new to me and to my teachers. It will take a lot of refinement over the next several years to get this process "perfected".

Here is the new problem that has developed.  While we are finally able to determine student levels of mastery after pre-assessment, the problem is "then what".  

To be specific,  imagine a classroom where you have students spread across all four proficiency levels.  Three students do not have the prior knowledge necessary to engage with the grade level content (Level 1).  There is one student who spent a summer at meteorology camp and is past level four.  Fifteen students are ready for the curriculum as is (level 2) and the remaining nine pretty much know the content (level 3) and just need time to work on their prediction skills.  That's a class of 29 if you are keeping count.  What do multiple needs groups look like in science?  It is very different than reading where we litterally have moving parts.  If we are working towards a personalized learning environment for students, we need to develop strategies for teachers to manage it.  Anyone have ideas or good references for what this might look like in the elementary classroom?

As always,  keep the comments and questions coming.  We are in this together.