Posts Tagged ‘Collaboration’

Making the Most of Pre-K Team Meetings

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Authors: Cathy Doggett and Leslie Gaar de Ostrovich, School Ready Specialists

Pre-K teachers often use team meetings to share activity ideas for upcoming themes and to plan field trips and special events.  As the demands for school readiness increase, it’s necessary to shift the focus on team meetings to improving lesson quality and linking data to instruction.

Teachers who use team meeting time effectively work at least 45 minutes per week together on clear, measurable goals to increase student learning.  Team members come prepared to reflect on and plan lessons, discuss assessment data, and discover new strategies to support student learning.  Each team member reviews the Teacher’s Edition (TE) and/or scope and sequence of the curriculum ahead of time and is prepared to assume a role in planning process.

 

 

Team members begin the meeting by discussing what went well during the week.  One teacher serves as a facilitator, leading the team through a pre-determined agenda.  Teachers share lesson details that will help each other.  For example, Teacher A explains changes/improvements that she will make to the math lessons from the TE and additional math lessons she will teach.  She also shares materials she created for these lessons, ideas for extending math lessons into centers, and strategies for gathering data to assess math competencies on the Pre-K report card.

Teachers B and C discuss details for read-aloud lessons and centers related to the new theme.  As the recorder, Teacher C uses an action plan list for each task, listing who is responsible and by when they will complete it.  For example, Teacher A may need to e-mail shape cards to her team members by Thursday.

 

 

Teachers take time to identify opportunities to collect data to assess student understanding by using checklists, work samples, etc. They plan time to teach key Pre-K guidelines/competencies.  Occasionally they use team meetings to analyze assessment data and consider how they’ll need to alter RtI Tier I and Tier II instruction for struggling students.

Please use these School Ready website resources to help your Pre-K team maximize meeting time to improve school readiness:

  • Pre-K Team Meeting Frequently Asked Questions
  • Pre-K Team Meeting Outline
  • Pre-K Team Meeting Norms
  • Key Components of Collaborative Team Meetings

Professional collaboration requires a sophisticated skill set for open communication and conflict resolution. Without administrative support for teachers to develop and use these skills, collaboration is unlikely to be effective or sustained.

Questions to Consider:

  • What is really happening during your Pre-K Team Meetings?  How much meeting time is spent on deep reflective discussion about improving lessons and tying lessons to student data?
  •  What is one small step you can take to support your teachers to use meeting time to make more data-driven planning choices?

 

Grouping for Learning

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Placing students into smaller groups can help ensure student achievement.  Grouping practices not only impact achievement, but also improve attitudes toward peers and the subject matter.

Instead of this:

found at http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2011/02/passion-based-learning.html on 12-6-11

We could have this:

found at http://jpacte.learningcentered.org/photo_gal/photo_gal%20fall%202006.htm on 12-6-11

This level of engagement can be achieved through the use of grouping.  There are various reasons to form groups.

Situations that can be opportunities for grouping include:

  • Inquiry-based projects and investigations
  • Activation of prior knowledge
  • Exploration and expansion on subject matter
  • Reflection, review and reteach
  • Intervention
  • Enrichment

While students are in groups, the instruction can be centered around the teacher or the students.  A small group of students may be working in a teacher-centered group while the rest of the class participates in student-centered learning.

Teacher-centered instruction enables the teacher to differentiate student learning.  You can differentiate by re-teaching, providing enrichment and/or feedback or reinforcing a recently taught skill.

Group

Instructional Focus

Group Formation

Small Group

(same ability)

  • Instruction targeted to specific student  needs
  • Intervention
  • Enrichment
  • 3-5 students
  • Based on assessment data

Small Group

(mixed ability)

  • Practice concepts already introduced
  • Reinforcement
  • 4-6 students
  • Based on students’ learning styles or interests

Student-centered grouping allows for students to co-construct knowledge with their peers, thus allowing for teachers to pull small groups.  These student-to-student interactions also improve student engagement and retention.

Many options exist for carrying out student-centered groups.  The two listed below represent two ends of the spectrum, but a combination of both could be used depending on the content, age of the students and the intended outcome.  The key is students working together in a self-directed fashion to achieve a learning objective.

Group

Definition

Workstation

  • 3-4 students per group
  • 3-5 stations designed to support the TEKS and learning objectives
  • Explicit instructions given at each station to enable self-direction
  • Students may do all or a few of the stations. Work may be completed in one period or across multiple days.

Collaborative Group

  • 2-5 students per group
  • 1 inquiry-based project or activity designed to support the TEKS and learning objectives (may be tiered to adjust for student ability and prior knowledge)
  • Each group is working collaboratively to complete the activity

When educators hear the term “grouping” often we visualize an elementary classroom, but research strongly supports the use of many grouping strategies across all content areas and grade levels.  Students of any age benefit from the opportunity to discuss content with their peers, co-constructing a deep understanding of key concepts.  In addition, grouping builds habits of mind necessary for college and career success.

It may take many forms, but student grouping, in any iteration, is a valuable tool for increasing engagement, retention of content and overall achievement.