Currently July

It's hard to believe the I have to report in 6 weeks. Summer is half over here in Colorado. I'm linking up with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for this months currently. It's raining this afternoon here. That's a first in awhile. Plus no thunder and lightening--even better. We need so much more with the wildfire but its a start. I'm loving the idea of going paperless next year. I've been working through reading and need to tackle math but the students will love this. Not to mention, less to travel will as I move from room to room. I've been reading "Teach Like a Pirate" and wondering how to use this mindset when I teach math. Many of my students HATE math. But I think with this spin, I can breathe new life into math and help them find a new love for it. I want my piles to go away. They are getting smaller but its so hard when your distracted by summertime. Well, yes-getting the oil changed in my car needs to happen at some point this month. One can hope sooner rather than later. As I'm reviewing and reflecting on the past school year, I've decided that focusing on structures and processes got me more bang for my buck-so that's what I'm looking at as prepare for the fall. Have a great July and safe travels.

More on Framework for Teaching

My district moved to an evaluation process that is similar to Charlotte Danielson's "Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching." Danielson's rubric is broken down into four domain:
  • Planning and Preparation
  • The Classroom Environment
  • Instruction
  • Professional Responsibilities
For more information on this book-check out my previous post here. This framework doesn't directly tackle the my role as a special education teacher but my coach hooked me up with another district exception's who had.One thing that has helped me focus on specific areas of the Framework has been this checklist.  This checklist is created so I can check off items that I can do with each lesson to score as high as possible. Each list focuses on a specific domain, this allows me to pick which one or one(s) I want to work on. This means that I don't have to deal with 20 some old things (like I don't already:)) With all the feedback that comes flying at me, I can pick and choose based on what they see I'm missing or need to work on to make something stronger. More to come. Have a great weekend.



A Framework for Teaching

Two years ago my district moved to an evaluation process that is similar to Charlotte Danielson's "Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching." Danielson's rubric is broken down into four domain:
  • Planning and Preparation
  • The Classroom Environment
  • Instruction
  • Professional Responsibilities
This framework doesn't directly tackle the my role as a special education teacher but my coach hooked me up with another district exception's who had.

What does Danielson's work and my district have in common?

In my district it's called strategic compensation. I'm part of the pilot to answer: What helps teachers be effective, and does additional pay make a difference for student learning?  It's a unique partnership among the teacher's union and the district, this innovative pilot in 20 schools involves more than 650 educators and 8,550 students. It’s national research to test new teacher pay and supports, such as individualized job-embedded professional development from master and mentor teachers; multiple observations by two evaluators (administrators and peers); frequent, useful and specific feedback to improve instruction; and more time for teachers to work together and share expertise.

So, I'm observed formally at least three times over the year (twice before Christmas Break and once Marchish) by both principle and a peer observation. The peer evaluators are hired by the district and are higher trained on the teacher rubric. Both of them pop in throughout the year gathering informal information about what things are like in my room. I try to get them in when I'm doing something that I needed to work on or something new and want feedback. Its hard to get them to come-the peer evaluator is split between like four or five schools. (Talk about tough!!) 

I have been working on creating a document to help me when I'm planning to make sure that I"m getting the most bang for my buck. Mostly because this rubric is unlike anything I've come across. It's tough keeping all the targets needed to make "Effective" and "Distinguished." The Framework below is a mesh of what I'm expected to do as a special education teacher plus the teacher expectations. All those items are in bold. The others are taken into consideration for students with autism or ADHD. I'll share my checklist later on. Have a great week!

The Art and Science of Teaching

In an earlier post, I mentioned that this past year I started reading Robert Marzano's The Art and Science of Teaching. This book whispered to me. Many of his topics overlap with my districts new teacher rubric. One important idea being students knowing "how they know when they got it." I love the idea of having students using rubrics to assess themselves before, during and after their learning of a specific standard. This past year I use a Gradual Release Rubric but I found this year that it worked best for my older students.

I am not data obsessed, (well only sort of). But this year, I feel like I need to take a step back from my environment and instead focus on my instruction and my student's learning a bit more.

In many of my posts, I emphasize the importance of "learning targets" and how to use them as a formative assessment. Learning targets are important for ALL of your students because it tells them where they are headed during the lesson and where you want them to land. It tells our students what they are to learn, how to deeply learn it, and how to demonstrate their new learning. (Think of it like a treasure map--it tells students where to find the treasure.)

Learning goals are really pretty easy to make-I make mine from our district curriculum or extended evidence outcomes from Colorado's state standards (EEOs). EEOs I use for student who are functioning significantly below grade level standards.

With my instruction I first communicate the lesson learning goals to your students, plan a guided learning activity that takes place in the classroom, and then plan for assignments that are engaged learning experiences.

I use Backwards Planning to plan all my lessons, so formative assessments get planned while I'm writing outcomes and learning targets. With these formative assessments comes Marzano's rubrics. By using a scale the teacher and the students have a clear direction about instructional targets as well as descriptions of levels of understanding and performance for those targets.

I plan to start my year off slowly and remind my students how they will use these rubrics. I plan to align each rubric with each lesson and students will score themselves at the end of the each lesson. I will also rate them at the end of each lesson and justify why they rated themselves at that level. This will allow me to track their levels of understanding through the unit and help them to see why they are or are not at that level. This should help limit wildly inaccurate scores in a short time. I hope to see them internalize the rubric over the year and become are accurate with their own placement and justification.

It is most definitely a gradual release of responsibility! With these posters, as well as more student directed data tracking, I feel like my students will be more in control of their own learning and growth. I also think that this is something that my kindergarten students will be able to take on for the first time EVER. These will soon be posted in my TpT store as part of my new data binder. I'll have more to share. Have a great week.

CBB--Part 1

Last week I shared that I was going to use Creative Book Builder to replace my students Guided Reading Notebooks. Over the last week I've had a chance to play with CBB and I love how simple it is to use. I have been able to add pictures and link the text to "proof" options like Talking Tom or Haiku Deck. Students can add audio and files from Google Docs.  This is the beginning of what I'm thinking. I need to figure out how I want my primary kiddos to create theirs. This one is for my older kiddos.


I use the Comprehension Toolkit when I teach comprehension strategies-so my example include how I would want students to add those notes. At the top of the page is the learning target and why students need to know the strategy. I want students to have a place to return to find examples and sentence frames.  Plus, how students will show they understand the target. This many end up being too time consuming when I take this back in the fall but I think as these are things that would go in their notebook students will be able to do on an iPad -- more time is going to be planned into each lesson.

I think when I set up a primary example, I wonder if it can be done in mostly pictures. or something where they don't have as much text to type or refer back to. Back to playing. I hope your summer is off to a restful and fun start.

About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I'm Ms. Whiteley. I teach in the beautiful Mile High state--Colorado. This is my 13th year teaching in an rural K-6 Elementary school as a Exceptional Needs Teachers. As Exceptional Needs National Board Certified Teacher, I believe that ALL students can learn and be successful. When I'm not in school, I love to take my two Italian Greyhounds hiking 14ers and reaching for the stars. Thanks for Hopping By.
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