Monday, September 20, 2010

The Power of Collaborative Learning Communities

When was the last time you met with your fellow teachers to discuss your instructional strategies for test preparation? When was the last time that you looked at and examined student work in relationship to how they might perform in a testing setting?  I am currently participating in a training with Sandi Everlove, the founder of TeachFirst, and today we are focused on the value and necessity of professional learning communities.  One of the big ideas that is coming out is the focus on student learning as a way to examine our own instruction.  And in order to do that we need to do a few a 1995 article, "Building Professional Learning Communities" by Sharon Kruse, five critical elements were identified: 1) reflective dialogue; 2) de-privatization of teaching; 3) collective on student learning; 4) collaboration; and 5) shared norms and values.  The podcast below focuses on two of those elements: reflective dialogue and the de-privatization of teaching and how that might apply to developing test-savvy students.
Additional resources:

Gather a few colleagues, take a look at the following example of student work and take a moment to comment.  The task is open-ended and would not be found on standardized exam currently, but look at what the student did.  What does this response indicate about how this student might respond to an extended/constructed response question on a standardized exam?  In your conversation, focus on the following questions:
  1. What does this student know? 
  2. What grade-level standards are being addressed? What are not? 
  3. What might be somethings that you would do in your classroom to help this student become more test-savvy? Think about the Mathematical Practices as indicated in the Common Core Math Standards.
"Bowls of Apples" task from Exemplars Math

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