Friday, July 11, 2008

Reach Daily Classroom Practices

For this assignment we compared the "must-have" classroom practices from the previous post to the requirements used on Reach's classroom observation form.

For the most part, the guidelines match up with the things I mentioned: setting expectations, having a daily schedule, setting up routines and procedures, making sure that classroom materials are well-organized and accessible to the students, etc. The Reach guidelines did mention some things that I left off:

Clearly posting daily homework assignments: This seemed such an obvious practice that I didn't even think about it in terms of a "must-have" element of classroom/instructional procedure.

Posting student work / exemplars of student work: This is a great idea, when the assignment's nature allows the work to be displayed. Posters presenting various scientific concepts would be a great example of this.

Student activities encourage movement around the room: An interesting idea. Many lab experiments require working at one's own station -- you don't want to be moving around much when you're doing a dissection, for example. Incorporating elements of movement and activity is definitely something that could be done with some times of activities, though, and it's something I'll keep in mind as a way to break up monotony.

Teacher moves around the room: Again, this seemed to go without saying, from my perspective. I can't imagine not circulating around the room and checking in with my students as the activities progress.

Scoring rubrics are displayed/provided: The word "rubric" apparently has a very specific meaning in the education community, one that is unfamiliar to those of us who were trained primarily in the sciences. (I knew only the dictionary definitions of the term: a category of classification, or an established rule, tradition or custom.) Having looked up a definition of the term as it is used by educators, I can agree that it would be useful; certainly as a student I would have appreciated having a set of guidelines that showed what constituted an excellent, good, average, or poor grasp of the material. Playing fair with the students is important, and these "rubrics" seem to be a good way to show students what we're expecting of them.

On the whole, I think that Reach's evaluation form matches up well with what I would have expected. It doesn't make any mention of the sorts of science-specific items that I discussed in my previous post, but that's hardly unexpected since this is a generic form. I'm looking forward to getting a chance to practice some of the instructional techniques mentioned here, so that I can give my students varied and interesting course material and a lot of different ways to work with it.


NobleBear said...

I'm not certain if this is practical for a science class, but rather than highlight the one or two students that did really well, set up a critique session where everyone would post their work then make brief, constructive comments so that all may learn. Each work will have at least one thing done well/correctly and one thing that could be improved.

If students have a student ID number you could post progress of grades to date listed according to that number so that, say, every week students could look to see how their doing in the class.

Page Tompkins said...

Re: Rubrics:

At Arise you will use rubrics quite extensively. Really, all a rubric is a way to define what you want students to know or be able to do. When you are working with student outcomes like "Habits of Mind" or "Habits of the Heart." It is really important that you define, for yourself and your students, what this means and what the expected level of performance is, as well as more about the knowledge and skills you want them to develop. If you would like some sample rubrics related to science, let me know.