Administrator "Look Fors"


created July 17, 2000

 

 

The attached Administrator "Look Fors" are an attempt at providing school-based administrators with concrete suggestions on what they should look for as they observe classroom instruction leading to one of the high school assessments in English, algebra, geometry, government, or biology. These "Look Fors" were developed collaboratively by Dr. James V. Foran, Director of Secondary School Development, and the High School Improvement Program Technical Assistance Group. Members of that group included Gretchen Schultz, English, Linda Kaniecki, mathematics, Linda Yienger, social studies, and George Newberry, science. Draft copies of the "Look Fors" were also distributed to various audiences in local school systems for review and suggested edits. The attached documents reflect the best thinking of those who have contributed to this project as of this date.

It is the belief of many that what principals look for in the classroom they will indeed find – as long as teachers know what is expected of them in advance. Thus, the real power in these "Look Fors" rests in teachers sharing and discussing them and then using these suggestions as appropriate in the classroom. Additionally, administrators will need to decide to what extent they wish to use the "Look Fors" as they observe classroom instruction and make teachers aware of their intent in that regard. Principals may wish to reduce these documents to a more manageable size and laminate them for use during the observation process. They are yours to use in any way you might find them helpful. The "Look Fors" are considered to be a work in progress in the sense that they can always be improved, and your comments and thoughts are welcome. Please e-mail any suggestions to jforan@msde.state.md.us or call Jim Foran at 410-767-0589.

 

Administrator "Look Fors" in English

Rather than random lesson planning in English or simply following the table of contents of a textbook…

Teachers plan with the Core Learning Goals, Expectations, Indicators, and Assessment Limits in mind. Assessment Limits are extremely important because they prescribe the non-negotiable topics of each concept that must be covered to ensure that students have been taught the material that will be tested. Teachers are invited to go as far beyond the Assessment Limits as time, their level of expertise, and the ability levels of the students they are teaching will allow.

Rather than interpreting texts for students…

Teachers encourage students to construct their own meaning from texts, to ask their own questions, and to synthesize multiple peer interpretations.

Rather than accept any opinion about a text…

Teachers require students to defend their opinions with appropriate textual support.

Rather than assign students to read and answer questions about a text…

Teachers model, guide, and direct students in using appropriate strategies to prepare for reading, to ask their own questions, to probe and elaborate on meaning, to make personal connections to text, and to apply an understanding of texts to real world situations.

Rather than reading texts in isolation…

Teachers model and guide students in making connections among texts, noting their similarities and differences.

Rather than merely giving students an assignment to write on a given topic…

Teachers model, guide, and direct students in using all steps of a writing process: pre-writing, drafting, and revising.

Rather than assigning all texts…

Teachers provide opportunities and guidance for students to select and study their own appropriate texts.

Rather than scoring student papers only with letter or percentage grades…

Teachers guide students in scoring constructed responses with rubrics –which are presented with the assignment.

Rather than being the sole audience for student writing…

Teachers also give students opportunities to write for authentic audiences, such as elementary or middle school students or newspapers.

 

English "Look Fors"

Rather than being the sole evaluators of student writing…

Teachers give students opportunities to share their writing with their peers for review and evaluation and to develop their own criteria for evaluation.

Rather than criticize student writing…

Teachers offer revision suggestions early in the process, guide students

in using peer response to suggest revisions, assist students in revision techniques for more effective development and communication of ideas, and engage students in the use of appropriate resources to correct and confirm their revisions.

Rather than assign discrete language exercises from traditional language handbooks…

Teachers instruct students to examine how words are used in light of their context, especially in works of literary merit and in their own writing.

Rather than teach lengthy units on grammatical structures and mechanics…

Teachers emphasize effectiveness over correctness and address the needs of the students through a variety of instructional strategies, such as a mini-lesson focused on one type of construction or usage.

Rather than evaluate texts only for their structures or literary elements…

Teachers also examine and discuss with students the effectiveness of the language choices made by the writers, including student writers.

 

Generic

Rather than being simply a disseminator of knowledge…

Teachers are facilitators of student learning and guide students in forming their own questions and setting, monitoring, and evaluating their own learning goals and processes.

Rather than assessing students’ performance only at the completion of units…

Teachers conduct ongoing assessments, both formally and informally.

Rather than relying solely on written tests…

Teachers assess student performance through multiple forms including tests, written and oral reports, projects, peer review, and portfolios.

Rather than assessing simply to assign grades…

Teachers assess to guide instruction and evaluate student work and progress. Teachers reflect upon and guide students in reflecting upon assessment format and results to accelerate improvement.

Rather than keeping grading criteria secret…

Teachers grade students based on criteria that are communicated clearly, in writing, early in the process, using rubrics as appropriate, and perhaps, generated by the students themselves.

 

 

Administrator "Look Fors" in Algebra and Geometry

 

Rather than random lesson planning in algebra or geometry or simply following the table of contents of a textbook…

Teachers plan with the Core Learning Goals, Expectations, Indicators, and Assessment Limits in mind. Assessment Limits are extremely important because they prescribe the non-negotiable topics of each concept that must be covered to ensure that students have been taught the material that will be tested. Teachers are invited to go as far beyond the Assessment Limits as time, their level of expertise, and the ability levels of the students they are teaching will allow.

Rather than simply doing problems in isolation…

Teachers involve students in real-world applications of mathematical concepts.

Rather than having students sit and listen…

Teachers actively engage students in mathematics through reading, writing, and oral communication.

Rather than students simply finding answers on their own…

Teachers foster more communication of mathematics by encouraging students to explain mathematical concepts to each other.

Rather than using technology for simple calculations…

Teachers encourage students to use technology for exploration and insight.

Rather than simply telling and explaining…

Teachers ask more questions to draw out high level thinking, such as "why," "explain," "justify," "elaborate."

Rather than simply emphasizing correct answers…

Teachers engage students in mathematical concepts through investigations and discovery learning.

Rather than simply emphasizing rote multi-step manipulations…

Teachers relate skills and symbol manipulations to functions, tables, and graphs.

Rather than simply memorizing procedures…

Students frequently ask themselves appropriate questions and reasons to solve problems appropriate to the content of the course.

Rather than simply talking about mathematics in isolation…

Teachers help students make connections with previous knowledge in mathematics, as well as between mathematics and other disciplines.

 

Generic

Rather than being simply a disseminator of knowledge…

Teachers are facilitators of student learning and guide students in forming their own questions and setting, monitoring, and evaluating their own learning goals and processes.

Rather than relying solely on written tests…

Teachers assess student performance through multiple forms including tests, written and oral reports, projects, peer review, and portfolios.

Rather than assessing simply to assign grades…

Teachers use assessment to guide instruction and evaluate students.

Rather than keeping grading criteria secret…

Students are graded based on criteria that are clear to students through the use of rubrics.

 

Administrator "Look Fors" in American Government

Rather than random lesson planning in American government or simply following the table of contents of a textbook…

Teachers plan with the Core Learning Goals, Expectations, Indicators, and Assessment Limits in mind. Assessment Limits are extremely important because they prescribe the non-negotiable topics of each concept that must be covered to ensure that students have been taught the material that will be tested. Teachers are invited to go as far beyond the Assessment Limits as time, their level of expertise, and the ability levels of the students they are teaching will allow.

Rather than a steady diet of "drill" and "kill" techniques…

Teachers utilize a variety of instructional strategies to reinforce the role of government in our lives.

Rather than an emphasis on simple recall of knowledge…

Teachers emphasize content application and higher level thinking skills in evaluating government.

Rather than giving assignments to reinforce facts…

Teachers frequently give writing assignments analyzing the functioning and effect of government.

Rather than assessing discrete knowledge…

Teachers assess understanding of concepts of government.

Rather than passively listening or reading texts on government…

Students are actively engaged in their own learning through hands-on activities in the classroom.

Rather than a steady diet of completing puzzles or worksheets as assessment items…

Students practice writing brief and extended constructed responses.

Rather than a steady diet of copying charts, lists, or organizers…

Students analyze charts, issues, and political cartoons.

Rather than simply taking low level quizzes…

Students demonstrate learning daily through classroom discussions and other informal assessment measures.

Rather than simply discussing government in the abstract…

Teachers help students make connections between government and the real world as well as with other disciplines.

Generic

Rather than being simply a disseminator of knowledge…

Teachers are facilitators of student learning and guide students in forming their own questions and setting, monitoring, and evaluating their own learning goals and processes.

Rather than relying solely on written tests…

Teachers assess student performance through multiple forms including tests, written and oral reports, projects, peer review, and portfolios.

Rather than assessing simply to assign grades…

Teachers use assessments to guide instruction and evaluate students.

Rather than keeping grading criteria secret…

Students are graded based on criteria that are clear to students through the use of rubrics.

 

 

Administrator "Look Fors" in Biology

Rather than random lesson planning in biology or simply following the table of contents of a textbook…

Teachers plan with the Core Learning Goals, Expectations, Indicators, and Assessment Limits in mind. Assessment Limits are extremely important because they prescribe the non-negotiable topics of each concept that must be covered to ensure that students have been taught the material that will be tested. Teachers are invited to go as far beyond the Assessment Limits as time, their level of expertise, and the ability levels of the students they are teaching will allow.

Rather than planning lessons that teach biological concepts as ends unto themselves…

Teachers plan lessons using the "5E" format – Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Extension, and Evaluation. (See the enclosed sheet that discusses the 5E model.)

Rather than lecturing…

Teachers use a variety of hands-on and minds-on instructional strategies to make the subject of biology come alive.

Rather than regarding students as passive learners…

Teachers engage students as biologists. This involves preparing lessons that incorporate reading, writing, and/or oral communication about biology as often as possible.

Rather than presenting biological concepts in isolation…

Teachers weave together the concepts of biology (Goal 3) and the skills and processes of science (Goal 1) so that students understand that the processes of science are equally as important as the content.

Rather than presenting the content of biology in isolation…

Teachers involve the students in real-world applications of biological concepts.

Rather than discussing biology in isolation…

Teachers help students make connections with prior scientific knowledge as well as between science and other content areas.

Rather than merely talking about the technology of modern science…

Teachers frequently incorporate technology into classroom and laboratory activities. In cases where the equipment is too expensive to put into the hands of all students, teachers may demonstrate its use for the students; in cases where the equipment is too sophisticated for use in a high school classroom, the teacher may demonstrate its use via a video. In all cases, technology, including use of the Internet, must be given much more than cursory attention in the study of biology.

 

Rather than presenting biological information as a series of unrelated, disjointed facts…

Teachers present the concepts of biology as a unified body of knowledge.

Rather than always following "cook book"-type lab exercises…

Students frequently have the opportunity to design and conduct their own biology investigations.

Rather than assessing recall or the students’ ability to regurgitate facts…

Teachers invite students to interact with and analyze real data, to determine the relevance of real data to authentic situations, to contemplate scientific evidence, to make predictions, to form their own conclusions, to judge the reasonableness of the conclusions of other scientists, to map out next steps in scientific investigations, etc.

Rather than giving assignments to reinforce facts…

Teachers design assignments that require students to discover, probe, explore the concepts of biology and/or apply biological concepts and information to the real world in which they live.

Rather than assessing only at the end of a unit…

Teachers use ongoing, periodic, appropriate, formative assessments to gauge student learning and to make adjustments in instruction.

Rather than assessing discrete facts…

Teachers assess the understanding and interrelationship of biological concepts.

 

Generic

Rather than being simply a disseminator of knowledge…

Teachers are facilitators of student learning and guide students in forming their own questions and setting, monitoring, and evaluating their own learning goals and processes.

Rather than sitting quietly as passive learners…

Students are actively engaged in their own learning.

Rather than simply telling and explaining…

Teachers ask questions to draw out the high level thinking skills such as synthesis, comparison/contrast, cause and effect, evaluation, application, etc.

Rather than making grading a well-guarded secret…

Teachers involve students in the development of grading criteria including scoring rubrics.

Rather than relying solely on written tests…

Teachers assess student performance in multiple ways including written and oral reports, projects, presentations, peer- and self-evaluation of work.

 

Using the 5E Lesson Model

 

  1. IDENTIFY THE SCIENTIFIC CONCEPT FOR THE LESSON.
  2. What scientific principle should students learn from this lesson?

     

  3. IDENTIFY A REAL WORLD OR PRACTICAL APPLICATION RELATED TO THE CONCEPT. This can be:

This application will be presented during the ENGAGEMENT and will be completed during the extension.

 

  1. PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES TO COLLECT INFORMATION FROM

This will become the EXPLORATION.

 

  1. DEVELOP A SERIES OF QUESTIONS (using a SR, BCR, &/or ECR format)
  1. FOR INDEPENDENT STUDENT REFLECTION TO
  1. FOR CLASS DISCUSSION TO

This makes up part 1 of the EXPLANATION.

 

  1. PROVIDE EXPLANATIONS THAT WILL INCREASE THE STUDENT’S UNDERSTANDING OF THE CONCEPT
  2. Formative assessment is appropriate after the completion of this second part to the EXPLANATION.

     

  3. PROVIDE OPPORTUNITY FOR STUDENTS TO DEMONSTRATE AND EVALUATE THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF THE CONCEPT.

The EVALUATION concludes the lesson.