Researchers gained direct insight about their project from Animation group students during a site visit to one of the elementary schools. Students were busy writing a student-created script based on a true story, as relayed by a grandmother of one of the student’s. The story revolved around the grandmother whom, as a child, was hiding in a closet with her siblings during a military invasion. An opposing soldier found the young children hiding and allowed them to live. Students relayed the story with enthusiasm and a sense of seriousness that seemed beyond their elementary years. Some students diligently worked on creating a “set” made out of construction paper and shoeboxes, while other students tweaked the storyline or created “people” out of Popsicle sticks and clay. Other students sat at computers to design and adjust the animated sections. Their work was not only thoughtful, intricate, and elaborate, but was meaningful because it came from a true experience and was interesting. It became obvious to researchers during the course of the visit that the students were not only engaged in their project, but were motivated to make the necessary adjustments to the scripts, thereby practicing their reading, editing, and critical thinking skills over the course of the program.
In a recent post about Project Based Learning, an animation video project was mentioned.
Kay Fukuda and the other folks over at Student Equity Excellence and Diversity (SEED) provided us with copies of the actual student-created videos. One video is the animation itself and the other one shows the project process. Pretty neat! We have updated that post with the videos. Check out the PALS (After-school) PBL section and the Want to Learn More? sections to see them.
Fans of the sitcom hit, Seinfeld, will remember the episode where George decides his instincts are always wrong and he makes the pledge to "do the opposite" of his instincts. Consequently, he gets a girlfriend, a job with the Yankees, and moves out of his parent’s house. In George’s case, doing the opposite led to a host of positive outcomes, could this same concept be applied to some common strategies used by educators to improve teaching and learning?
Over the last eight years, we have provided professional development around teaching and learning to educators around the country. Essential premises of the training include simple, but often counter-intuitive strategies that often fly in the face of methods typically used by educators. The following brief identifies and describes five effective strategies for improving teaching and learning as identified by our research and consulting teams.
The BERC Group has partnered with The STEM Academy to provide instructional training around the STEM curriculum. To kick it off, The BERC Group filmed a number of classrooms throughout the United States that have already implemented The STEM Academy's curriculum and conducted interviews about it with the teachers and administrators of those classrooms. This is a brief compilation video highlighting those classrooms and interviews.
Learn more about STAR + STEM.
Aloha! In our last Classroom Clips post we featured Tania Will, a kindergarten teacher at Kaunakakai Elementary School on the island of Moloka’I in Hawai’i. Today, we’re heading back to feature Malia Sakamoto and her first grade class. Thank you, Malia, for opening your classroom and sharing your learnings with us.
We've made more of our classroom clips available for preview. This kindergarten class was recorded on the Hawaiian Island of Moloka'i. We want to thank Tania and her class for sharing their learning with us. Mahalo!
Learn more about our classroom clips for personal reflection.
Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment - CIA - and how the elements work together and are supported in this endeavor we call "education" is a prominent topic of discussion here at The BERC Group. Recently, we took to the whiteboard to sketch out a broad view of the education landscape. We're not artists, but we hope the model provides a clear perspective on how curriculum, instruction and assessment relate to student learning. Take a look at the video and let us know what you think.
Visit the Powerful Teaching and Learning section to learn more about effective instruction.
How can an entire school change its instructional practices? How do we create a culture and climate where teachers can comfortably collaborate with each other and are inspired to reflect on their own practices on a consistent basis?
In Part 1 of A Story of Change, we listened to Sedro-Woolley School District staff members talk about their district-wide focus on instruction. In Part 2, we look at one school in particular, Mary Purcell Elementary.
[Related: Sedro-Woolley educators discuss their decision to choose the STAR Framework (Part 1)]
Working with Dr. Duane Baker, teachers were given professional development opportunities to see different forms of instruction, talk about it with their colleagues, apply their observations to their own teaching, and reflect on their practices. With our help, teachers were able to develop a common language around instruction, enabling them to speak openly and clearly to each other about goals and standards. With these practices, teachers will be able to continually improve instructional habits that showcase Powerful Teaching and Learning in the classroom.
Our video team gave teachers and staff at Mary Purcell the opportunity to discuss their work with The BERC Group and also recorded whole classroom lessons so that other schools can practice the same reflective process. We are grateful for their openness and support as we aspire to help all students experience Powerful Teaching and Learning.
Check out the video below to hear teachers and staff members discuss the process of change:
The services provided for Mary Purcell Elementary School included:
A Story of Change: Sedro-Woolley Case Study (Part 1)
Teachers and administrators in the Sedro-Woolley School District realized that improving instruction was key to improving student achievement. Using the standards provided in the STAR Framework, they successfully developed the common language and understanding necessary to improve all schools in the district.
We think one of the best ways to inspire teachers to change their classroom practices is to observe other classrooms. There is something powerful about watching another teacher teach real lessons with real students. You can’t help but put yourself in the situation. How would you launch the lesson? What questions would you ask the students? What would you do when the little boy in the back row gets confused? These reflections are the foundation for inspiring change.
So how can teachers observe classrooms? Live observations, while valuable, require leaving your classroom and finding teachers willing to let you in. During our work with schools across the country, we’ve found hundreds of teachers willing to open their classrooms to our video team. These are real teachers teaching real students. Our video production team recorded actual classroom lessons, focusing on both the instruction and the student interaction. These lessons were edited into 15-20 minute segments that remove some of the transition time (like passing out assignments or getting into groups) without removing any of the important instruction. The end result is a series of classroom clips that show full lessons, from introduction to conclusion, in segments short enough for a teacher to view in 20 minute sessions.
When we started working with the Sedro-Woolley School District, they were facing the same challenges as many other districts. Student achievement was stagnant and they were not reaching Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) goals. Despite their extensive planning and efforts to reform curriculum and testing, Sedro-Woolley still wasn't seeing the improvement that it was looking for.
Determined to achieve progress, administrators decided to shift the focus from their previous methods toward finding ways to modify and strengthen teaching practices. That's where we came in.
We helped walk the district's Instructional Improvement Team (made up of principals and central office staff) through the process of improving instruction as a whole - assisting in an area where making changes can be overwhelming and take up more resources than the district may be able to provide. Using our STAR framework, staff members began using the tools we've developed through years of research to begin implementing Powerful Teaching and Learning in the classroom.
Our video team went to Sedro-Woolley to listen to their story:
The services provided for Sedro-Woolley School District included:
Part Two will explore how the staff members at Mary Purcell Elementary developed a common language to better understand the ins and outs of good instruction and learned to effectively collaborate to put new practices aligned with Powerful Teaching and Learning in place. Stay tuned.
In our last post in this series, we discussed how there are four important layers of instructional support, that they are not mutually exclusive, and that they complement each other. We also stated that it is very important to recognize that we are not trying to choose between these layers, but actually trying to make sure that all four layers are aligned in order to maximize the effectiveness of the instructional support.
We feel it's important to make this distinction (we are not trying to choose between layers, but instead that the real choices are within the layers), because of dozens of comments we've heard over the last year while conducting research projects across the state. We've heard over and over again about how teachers are confused because their district has recently chosen an instructional practices framework when they're already using Gradual Release of Responsibility, the STAR Protocol, or any number of instructional strategies. Using Thanksgiving dinner as an analogy, we're going to try and illustrate why there really isn't a conflict in the decision described above and how the different layers of instructional support are complementary.
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