Common planning and assessment
How many of you work in middle schools that use common
planning for teachers in a subject area and also common
For those who do, does that translate to every teacher
doing the same thing, at the same time, in the same way? I
interviewed at a school, yesterday, that requires this.
It sounds awfully regimented. No two teachers do anything
exactly the same way, just as no two classes or students,
learn in exactly the same way.
We do this, or at least try to.
For it to work well, it is critical that the grade levels or content areas work as a collaborative team. A real team.
The common assessment part is critical for us. Since science is an accountable subject at 5th, 8th 10th and 11th grade in TX, we have to make sure that all children are held to the same standard.
Common assessments - created BEFORE lesson planning - help grade levels and contents areas begin with the end in mind. They also help to ensure that all students are being assessed at the level of rigor that our state tests will require.
If all students are held to the same standard, the same assessments help teams work together to achieve this. They help focus the work - what do the students really need to know? What do we really need to teach? Are we teaching / assessing this the way the state expects?
After the assessment, the team comes together and discusses the results. What needs to be re-taught? What do we need to shore up? What can we celebrate? What can teacher A learn from teacher B? What can teacher B learn from teacher A?
As for the common planning, we do not expect every teacher to do exactly the same thing, but we do have a pacing guide (we have to, we have a LOT of material to cover before the TAKS), so teachers are in roughly the same place in the scope and sequence anyway. The collaborative planning time is where brainstorming, sharing, problem-solving come into play. When it works well, rich, powerful discussion takes place - all centered around how to help students achieve.
Keep an open mind about it, I;ve seen wonderful stuff come out of common planning.
I have some really nice protocols for common planning we are going to implement next year. They are at work, but I"ll bring them home tomorrow and email them to you. You can take 'em or leave 'em.
I teach sixth grade math in a middle school. Grade levels all have the same planning period, but during that time you are suppose to meet with teachers in the same discipline within your grade level. We keep each other posted as to what we are doing, share ideas, and turn in things like long term plans, pacing guides, textbook evaluations, etc. as a group. All students are given the same test at different points in the year to assess where they stand in regard to their readiness for the EOG, but these are not used as classroom assessments. Each teacher has to plan the actual lesson and assessments for their own class. I don't see how everyone doing the same thing on the same day can be justified. A school can invest in more diverse resources if teachers share, but you can't do that if everyone is doing the same thing.
Common assessments seem to be the wave of the future right now. My district is HUGE on this. We all fought it for a while... then realized that there really are more pros than cons. It works best if you like the people you work with. We are required to teach the same stories and the same prompts... but when we get together, we brainstorm different ways to approach it. If you are a brand new teacher, you will love this.... as it will help keep you paced and on task. We have the luxury of having the same assignments by week, not day. Thus, we can put our own style into a lesson, but work together to see if the kids are getting it.
The school's goal is that ALL kids get equal opportunities to learn the same info, and so we are all expected to be "on the same page" more figuratively than literally.
As Muinteior said, keep an open mind. There are many benefits.
What we were told in our district about giving the same common assessments is that the state tests in the spring are not differentiated... so we would be, in a sense, "cheating" the low kids of a chance to succeed at state tests when we don't give them the same assessments. I see the logic to that... in today's NCLB world, it doesn't matter if you are gifted, resource, or don't speak English... you have to pass the same test.
So, our district has the common assessments (that are waaaaaaaay too hard) and then, within our grade levels, we come up with alternative common assessments that assess skills at the level the students are at. These are tweeked so that the lower students learn the same info in different ways, and that the gifted students must stretch beyond the minimum. It's sort of like tracking of old... but with a focus on skills.
I thank everyone for their input.
At this moment, I am not exactly sure what I will do, but I should know something either tomorrow or the following day. This time, if I hear nothing, I plan to call and ask.
Both I and my current principal need to know something right away.
Common assessment does not seem the demon I thought it was and common planning is okay too, so long as I don't find myself forced to do the "same way, same day" thing. That just doesn't work for me and, I daresay, for most students either.
I'm glad to hear you can live with both procedures.
We are also supposed to have common assessments and common planning. I am in the trailers, and am way far away from my colleagues. If I didn't come into the building, I would never know what was going on.
However, the other science teachers and I have always as least gotten together for a moment or so to mention the standard to be taught, the source we are getting it from (textbook, workbook, lab), and what we are going to do. That takes like five or ten minutes.
With common assessments, all of us use the same textbook and which comes along with those wonderful cd's. Those cds allow us to make our own tests and pull from a question bank. We used to share out tests with each other, but now we all pretty much pull from the same question bank. When administration asks if we are using common assessments, we say yes. It all overlaps. It really does.
Folks can never stay on the same page all the time. AS you know, some concepts have to be retaught or some take longer some don't work out. There have been times where all three of the science teachers on my time have been in different places. Regardless, we were all heading in the same direction and have always shared everything.
It all evens out in the wash. Even if it doesn't, good word choice can help you out.
Our English department has come up with common units as well as assessments that are used per grade level, but the individual lessons are up to the teacher.
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