Collaborative Team Check Up

Below is a link for a presentation about collaborative teaming in Canby School District. The presentation is set up for teams to reflect and discuss their current collaborative practices related to
  1. Culture of collaboration
  2. Collective and consistent knowledge
  3. Practice of meaningful dialogue
  4. Student achievement
As we begin year 5 of our collaborative team processes we are including an instructional framework, which will provide collective and consistent language about instruction, which is STAR Framework. This presentation is organized so you have the ability to talk with your colleagues from your team, reflect on your collaboration process, and determine any changes you may want to make.

Keep in mind this is a rather large file and will require about 15 minutes to download prior to presenting.


"Going Deeper" with instruction

Last week our elementary and secondary Instructional Leadership Teams continue to think more deeply about their "teaching moves" that elicit student thinking, encouraging teachers and students to pose questions to themselves and their peers, make connection within and outside the content area, analyze mistakes and explore "What if..." questions. Below are some of the highlights captured in each planning session:

For lists of engaging instructional strategies scroll to the bottom of this.
  • Collaborative teams capturing thee most effective instructional strategies that are likely to be the most effective for all students to make academic growth. Many teachers at elementary are deprivatizing their practice and are sharing strategies that work and don't work while basing it on their formative assessment data. Instructional leadership teams were hypothesizing the potential outcomes of creating a dynamic lesson the first time around that has the students actively engaged in their own learning.
  • A group of Trost Elementary teachers are testing out the power of a Lesson Study, which is a systematic way of examining their practice that includes planning together, observing the lesson taught, and processing it together. A lesson study was shared with the other ILT's, which led to rich discussion and teachers wanting to expand their internal walkthroughs in the building to other buildings.
  • Our secondary team of teachers, 7-12, collectively shared instructional strategies that promote the development of creative and critical thinking. Check out these strategies on Joan Flora's blog. One of the big ideas that came out of our work together is the idea of going deeper. What are those strategies matched with the art of teaching that nudges every student to "go deeper" in their understanding, critical thinking, connection, analysis.
  • The other big idea from our Secondary Instructional Leadership Work was related to 7-12 alignment. We had 4 teachers from middle and high swap for a day. A middle school math and science teacher taught at the high school for a day, while their counterparts at the high school taught at the middle school for a day. Many valuable insights were shared as we begin our conversation of 7-12 grade vertical alignment. Six other ILT members will swap positions for one day after the first of the year.
Engaging Strategies:


Continuing the Development of Best Practices

This week our schools' Instructional Leadership Teams, made up of teachers and principals, continued to capitalize on those instructional strategies that have the greatest impact on student learning. Elementary level (K-6) had the opportunity to watch Knight teachers in action on Wednesday and secondary (7-12) revisited Canby High School classrooms as we watched teachers in action supporting students' critical thinking, questioning strategies, and communication. Afterwards we collectively shared our observations, curiosities, and connections to the building's instructional focus. The host school gathers the observations and uses them for feedback in their planning for the year.

Being a part of both days it was easy to see the successes of our collaboration, instructional focus, teacher leadership and learning. Here are some of the big ideas that came to the surface:

Our collaborative teams are providing a focus on student learning that allows for teachers to target specific strategies identified as effective for specific students.

Teachers are energizing students' learning through engaging activities where students are experiencing high levels of participation.

Teachers are recognizing students' thinking and learning through specific praise, words of encouragement, allowance for more think time or opportunity to either pass or rethink a response.

Teachers being observed are requesting feedback that challenges them to be "students of their practice."


Collaborative Teams in 2011-2012

Collaborative teams hit the ground running this week. Some teams came to the table with base line information from students to help in structuring your SMART goal. As we begin our 4th year it is easy to take for granted some of the finer aspects of collaboration that can impact student achievement, as well as our own professional learning. Here are a few reminders for coming collaborative team meetings:

  • Existing teams or a new teams take time to create/revisit your team agreements identifying those agreements. It is the backbone of your effectiveness.
  • Discussing your team's strengths of your collaboration from last year by determining what percent of time was spend on instructional strategies, data, and the collaboration process. One school did this and it was very enlightening. The CT Rubric can help.
  • SMART goals are only the most critical skills aligned to a standard. Taking the time in your teams to provide the best targeted instruction and assessment to empower students over time to help them be college and career ready.
  • Aligning you instructional practices to your identified best practices connected to your instructional focus only helps students in their learning because it's a consistent and familiar message to the students.
  • Students first, content second. Schools continuing to close the achievement gap know each student's strengths, challenges, and strategies that best help them learn. Remember this is not curriculum planning time.
  • High levels of trust enhances individual and collective learning. In another words, sharing what is working and not working instructionally is supported.
One thing I'll be working on in the coming months is updating the Collaborative Team Wiki Page. If you have suggestions please email me at Looking forward to hearing about your practices during collaboration.


Tracking Student Growth Through Formative Assessments

Teams and Individuals are tracking student data to determine if they are on track.

Pre and post-test item analysis is an effective way to see how many students need to learn the skill in the pre-test and how many acquired the skill in the post test. This 5th grade teacher tracked how many students missed each item of the pre/post and was able to see the very specific growth students made (The darker shade in the bar is the post test). In addition, he was able to reflect on his instruction and talked about making changes next year for a couple skills where not as many students were successful on the post test. You can see the difference between the pre and post by the different shades within the each bar. Each bar represents one of the questions on the pre/post.

This team is tracking total students and struggling students on their formative assessments. Notice the gap closing between formative assessment 1 and 2. What did they do instructionally to pick up all students on the 2nd formative assessment? The collaborative teaming process provides the venue to challenge, support, question and celebrate the instructional strategies.


"This stuff really ISN'T about state testing"

Participating in collaborative teams continues to be a learning opportunity for all of us. This week I heard a teacher say, "This stuff really isn't about state testing," making reference to the collaborative process. This same teacher held up a chart of student scores from an assessment he created aligned with standards and talked about how informative, even fun, the data was for him.

We know our formative assessment data, with a rigorous goal, is much more telling about student learning then a once (or 3x) a year state test. We continue to collect lots of data that supports that and great things are happening!

Below are 2 examples of how formative assessments are raising the bar for our students, helping teachers adjust their teaching to help students meet their goals, and assisting building administrators in making systematic adjustments to support teachers' efforts.

Middle School Team: This team was comparing the progress they each made with morphemes. What I appreciated about this conversation was the new learning for the teachers about the rigor of their SMART goal, as well as instructional strategies they are considering for students to apply these skills within an authentic context of reading and writing.

School Wide: Below is a school wide tracking of formative assessment for mathematics. Notice the success overall, and with struggling students. There are areas for rich discussion on instructional strategies working that may be tried for students not meeting their goals. What questions are you wondering about as it relates to rigorous, higher level thinking, student engagement, formative assessments?


Effective Teaching and Learning

This Venn Diagram represents a visual for planning effective teaching and learning. I refer to this model often when we talk about the collaborative teaming process. As teachers consider tools, curriculum, programs these 3 areas are critical and the basis for determining those necessary tools.


Aligning SMART Goals to Instructional Focus

A couple weeks ago I asked teams to share one of their SMART goals with the intent for me to provide districtwide feedback, since SMART goals are the critical base of learning and our collaborative teaming. I have been wondering the best way to provide feedback in a meaningful way. So here's my attempt using the attached SMART Goals:

Download file "SMART Goals 11_8_10 Wiki.xls"

SMART goals connect to Bloom's Taxonomy Verbs:
As I read through this sample of SMART goals I began to circle the verbs for the specific outcomes, then took a quick count of where they landed on Bloom's Taxonomy. Here's what I found:
  • Most of our SMART goals (19) fell in Application
  • Collectively there were 25 SMART goals in the Knowledge and Comprehension, which are lowest levels of Blooms
  • Analysis (3), Synthesis (2), and Evaluation (0) had the least number of SMART goals, which are the highest levels of Blooms
  • Most teams are writing short term goals, like 2-4 weeks, which promotes and maintains a level of rigor.
  • Many teams have high percentages of students meeting, which indicates a high expectation.
  • Many are using formative assessments to guide instruction.
  • Students are expected to apply their knowledge.
  • Many of you have an instructional focus that is promoting a higher level of thinking and/or student engagement. Writing SMART goals to the highest levels of Blooms Taxonomy will yield results. Examples include performance measures, critiquing, constructing, classifying, evaluating, predicting, proving.
  • If the goal is a skill everyone must have, then identify the plan for those that don't meet the measurable part of the goal. Example, "or improve by 30% points.
  • If your team is using specific tools, like a scoring guide to assess as a SMART goal think about what necessary skill or outcome of that tool, which is likely the "Specific" part of the goal. The tool might be how you are going to measure.
  • The outcome is not the assessment, but the skill you are wanting them to acquire
Final Reminder:
The intent of using a SMART goal is to focus on those "must have" skills for a student's life, these are so critical we cannot afford for anyone not to get. When I think about critical skills I think about those skills that align with learning to think, problem solve, evaluate, make connections, and analyze. I typically land here because these are the skills that will carry a student beyond the walls of any elementary, middle, or high school. Some will argue that there are other "critical" skills to attend to, like reading, and my reply is absolutely.


"How Do We Use Data to Get to Effective Instructional Strategies?"

Collaborative Teams are effectively collecting formative assessment data, organizing it and sharing it. How do we use data to get to the Effective Instructional Practices and are you willing to share your strengths/challenges in the conversation. Here's a series of the same data and some things one team considered.

Sample A: Raw Data
- This is a detail collection of a math problem solving focusing only on conceptual understanding and communication.
- Who are the students who succeeded in the first and second sample and what were the strategies that worked for these students?
- Why did certain students drop from the first to second sample? Some topics that came up here included the math concept used and how similar were they, and some students clearly had the conceptual understanding but made minor errors.
- What should teachers do with students who have not mastered this critical skill?

Sample B: Raw Data
- This was a user friendly way to see the growth students made from the first to second sample.
- Given conceptual understanding and communication are absolutely necessary in any mathematics context what should we do with those students not meeting the minimal score of a 4?
- How can we challenge students who are already scoring 4's?
- There is a benefit of teaching all students to strive for the highest score of a 6, maybe we should consider that.
Sample C: Summary in Graphs of Growth Classes Made
- Individual teachers shared the different problem solving strategies they taught students to use when solving these problems.
- What is the benefit of teaching them one strategy well and having them get good at that before they move on and does the data indicate that's most effective?
- What is the benefit of teaching all the problem solving strategies at once so students can choose and does the data indicate that is most effective?
- What if every math teacher in the building consistently focused on those handful of problem solving strategies that helps students be successful?


Highlights of Collaborative Teaming and Pro Dev

Successful Collaborative Teams focus conversations on students, give quality feedback, share responsibility, spend time in critical dialogue about how to move all students forward, value collective knowledge, demonstrate consistent practices, and honor all voices.

Highlights seen and heard around Canby School District:

  • Teachers learning how to write Language Objectives related to their content :
"I will demonstrate comprehension of (content here) , by (language function) , using (language form here) ."

Download file "langfunc-1.pdf"

  • Teachers talking about specific strategies that work for specific students during the collaborative team process.

" I am sending out my objectives to classroom teachers, so the skills students are learning in my classroom can also be reinforced in other classrooms. The conversations I am beginning to have with my general education colleagues is becoming more and more helpful in how we support students." (from a specialist)

  • Many buildings using pro dev time to explore the meaning of "Engaged Learning"
" I learned that rewarding students with time when they meet their learning goals is highly motivating to my students." (high school teacher)

" Working together to share the vocabulary expectations of students from class to class is helpful to monitor, as well as sharing the strategies working for specific students." (middle school teacher)

Indicators of "Engaged Learning"
  • Teachers connecting their SMART goals to their school wide instructional focus and emphasizing the use of formative assessments, data analysis, rigor, and communicating it to parents.


Instructional Practices that Maximize Learning

Last Thursday Canby's School Instructional Leadership Teams met to talk, collaborate, problem solve, and plan how to use "best practices" identified at each school to maximize student learning. Teams walked through Lee elementary school and noticed the following:

- Students talking together about their learning
- Specialists talking with general education teachers about strategies that work for specific students
- Collaborative teams focus on students first, content second
- Many hands raised to ask questions during direct instruction
- Students thinking and working together in every room at every grade level
- All students engaged, including students who struggle or their demographic group
- Students asking higher level questions about Mathematics
- The expectation of all students participating
- Teaching students to be learners
- Expecting students to be learners
- Students and teachers excited about learning

I was reminded of the huge potential to accomplish these same things from our collaborative teams district wide. The best part of the day was seeing students' high rates of learning in the classroom and adults' high rates of learning about the classroom. What are the strategies your teams are talking about that gets the highest level of student learning for each student?

Students sharing their strategies and asking questions about their thinking.

I do, we do, you do. Mrs. Minson collects data as students show their learning by showing, modeling,saying, chanting both as a group and individually.

Taking it back to the building - Learning about learning at all levels.


1st Day of Collaborative Teaming in Canby

Teams are off and running today on their collaborative teams! After having time during district staff training a couple weeks ago to write a series of SMART goals for the fall as well as formative assessments teams are already talking about student performance. It is the way we business in Canby School District.

It's easy to think we need to have all the answers as it relates to the elements of collaborative teams. I encourage you to remind yourselves and your teammates we're still learning. Collaborative teaming is proving to be the best form of professional development.

Below are a few reminders that may help you in your teams:
  • Utilizing your specialists regardless of the level is a great way to meet the individual needs of students in the general education setting. Buildings who are doing this on a regular basis are seeing student achievement rates off the charts. Today I listened to a conversation between a general education teacher and an ELD teacher about an appropriate language objective for a math lesson.

  • Collaborative Teaming is about each student reaching the highest levels of learning, tracking student growth as it relates to the SMART goal and determining the best instruction for each student. Middle and high school teams may have "singleton" teachers on the same team making it clunky to create common formative assessments that meet each teachers class. If you have a SMART goal that you're all working on, for example, the elements of scientific inquiry in science works across all grade levels regardless of the science topics. Formative assessments can be created to meet your classes needs. The most important part of this is each teacher bringing their data, talking about their students' growth, and the instructional practices that are working in order to determine your next steps.

  • Formative assessments can be a single question, such as an exit card. The intent is to feed you information on a regular basis, so you can identify what students understood from the day(s) lesson and how to adjust for future lesson(s) as it relates to meeting the SMART goal.


Updates to The Collaborative Team Process for 2010-2011

There are few tools and resources that we are excited about adding to continue our support toward your collective efforts and collaboration on student learning. As you begin meeting with your collaborative teams please review the following with your teammates:

Collaborative Team Meeting Minutes

  • Each building Instruction Leadership Team (ILT) made revisions to the District Collaborative Team Meeting Minutes to better meet the unique needs of your school. While the intent is to maintain the key elements of an effective and efficient collaborative team some schools changed the formatting. Many schools added an element of their instructional focus, and some included language objectives for our ELL students.

Critical Skills

  • We have asked you to identify and writing SMART goals to those critical skills that align to standards. In an effort to streamline our efforts district wide we are creating district documents that list the critical skill, vocabulary, and examples, which makes it much easier to determine "S" and "R" in your SMART goal. Check out the work completed under Critical Skills on the front of the this Collaborative Team Wiki. This will be an ongoing project through the summer of 2011.

Formative Assessment Bank

  • There were many teams and individuals who have been requesting a place to house our Formative Assessments. With some grant funding and Joe's innovation we were able to create a bank. Imagine a bank of formative assessments created by Canby teachers for Canby teachers. This Formative Assessment Bank will allow you to share with your colleagues whether they are down the hall or down the road. Teachers will have an opportunity to become familiar with this tool on Aug. 31. Directions for use, including log in - Download file "F.A.B Directions1.pdf"

Use of Wiki's to House Canby Resources by Subject

  • As we make changes to standards to align with ODE expectations there will be a Wiki created to keep these resources making it a central place to find what you need. These are primarily Canby documents with the exception of TAG, which includes many links to support our parents of gifted students, as well as students themselves. Check out the Wiki's Created to date:


More on Scoring Guides-An Effective Instructional Strategy

Canby School District teachers understand scoring guides are a highly effective instructional strategy. Using high quality performance criteria, found in scoring guides, helps students answer 3 key questions:
  1. Where am I going?
  2. Where am I now?
  3. How can I increase my learning?
If you're new to scoring guides here are some tips to maximize student learning with a scoring guide. In addition, there are Canby Scoring Guide samples attached below. Check it out.
  • Clear Learning Targets (describe what qualifiers mean, like "exceed" means to go beyond
  • Use examples and models of strong and weak work
  • Offer ongoing descriptive feedback
  • Teach students to self-assess and set goals
  • Design lessons that focus on one aspect of quality at a time
  • Teach students how to revise their work using the rubric
  • Engage students to self reflect, track their learning, and share their learning.
A Few Canby Examples From All Levels:
Download file "high school fluency.pdf" by Joan Flora
Download file "MyFluent Rdg Rubric.pages" by Carey Salisbury
Download file "bill of rights essay checklist eval.odt" by John Colvett
Download file "CIMExpositoryWriting.pdf" by Lynda Robert
Download file "Disease Research Intro.pages" by Laurie Mohling (rubric toward the end of document)
Download file "eval-diary report.odt" by John Colvett
Download file "Inquiry Lab Grading Rubric Hall.pages" by Sarah Hall
Download file "InventionRubric.pdf" by David Jellis
Download file "MyFluentCompreRubric.pages" by Carey Salisbury
Download file "TempVolRubric.pdf" by David Jellis
Download file "triorama eval.odt" by John Colvett
Download file "UPTEM Rubric 2009-2010.pages" by Sarah Hall
Download file "WaterCycleRubric.pdf" by David Jellis
Download file "WGessayrubric.pdf" by Lynda Robert
Download file "Trost ELD Reading Scoring Rubric.pdf" by Holly Sarich


Instructional Strategies

When students are clear on targets, then learning and success is sure to follow. Below are 2 examples from teachers making targets explicit in different ways. Both are effective instructional strategies.

1. Joan Flora, our high school Literacy Specialist, shares a strategy that begins with identifying essential information students need to know by the end of the activity, and it includes a template, which could be easily adapted to younger grades.Samples and Template: Download file "What a student should know.pdf"Download file "hs sample.pdf"

    1. Decide what students should know after reading the piece--focus on essential information only.
    2. Anticipate what might give students trouble--background knowledge? Vocabulary? Difficult concepts? Controversial subject matter? Text organized in a sophisticated way?
    3. Model how to negotiate difficulty. Try thinking aloud at one of the places where you think students will struggle. Give a tip on how to negotiate the next part.
    4. What do you want them to do with the information when they have finished reading? How will they hold their thinking so they can return to it later for a discussion, an essay, or a project?
    5. Model how they should hold their thinking and provide tools. Should they mark text, complete a double-entry notebook, use index cards for big ideas?

2. Holly Sarich, Trost ELD Teacher, and her team created a reading scoring rubric. It describes the proficiency level in Decoding, Vocabulary, and Comprehension. Scoring rubrics are an effective instructional strategy because it makes the expectations of learning clear for both the student and teacher. In addition, students can set goals, self assess and track their own learning.Download file "Trost ELD Reading Scoring Rubric.pdf"


Displaying Data

Canby Teachers are figuring out many ways to use data and to display it in a graphic representation. I continue to see so many samples, and have just now started to collect them to share with others. Many are using google spreadsheet after attending the workshop in November. A few teachers are using clickers to collect data from their formative assessments, which is readily transformed into a table or graph to show student growth. One team displays their weekly formative assessment data in math, which has encouraged all students in the class to help each other collectively achieve at higher levels.

David Jellis showed his colleagues at a district meeting how to use excel to collect individual data and graph it against the goal of 100%. He continued to show his colleagues how this same graph can be used for progress monitoring by indicating (with a line drawn) where the change in performance was, which makes is useable for Progress Monitoring. This sample shows one graph without the progress monitoring lines drawn and one with them drawn: Download file "Progress Monitoring with Excel.png"

Many are still grappling with what to do with the data once we have it. It could be as simple as sorting the students performance into 3 groups (understanding, almost understanding, struggling), then determining next steps based on the information from the formative assessment. If you're interested in displaying the data, but are unsure next steps check out this website Noah Megowan, which walks you through some simple steps: Creating a Graph The beauty of this website is it would be helpful to students of any age from upper elementary to adult. Check it out.


Developing Writers in Today's World

I was reminded again of the quote, "Mathematics is what gets you into college, writing is what keeps you in college."As I visit collaborative teams I am hearing more and more about engaging students in writing through technology. Below are some ways students are getting excited about learning:

  • Todd Hornseth at Ninety-One School is using "WikiSpaces" as his students continue stories by writing a paragraph about what happened next and ending it with a cliffhanger, so the next writer can pick up where there fellow student left off:
Using the wiki to engage students in writing

  • Colleen Barnhardt at Ackerman Middle School is using Tween Tribune to increase students' writing fluency. This is a password protected website teachers can log onto with their students. Colleen is reporting great success with students' increase their enthusiasm, fluency, and accuracy. In addition, students are becoming more aware of their audience.
  • Joan Flora from Canby High School shares instructional strategies with the staff, and though this is link is more about reading comprehension there is a writing element to it as students summarize, add their own thoughts, and pose clarifying questions. Don't shy away from it if you're K-8 because its easily adaptable and a great strategy as we continue to understand the importance of non-fictional literacy. Three-Minute Pause Activity


Students Tracking Their Own Learning

As we continue to develop our skills in the collaborative teaming process it's exciting to hear teams grappling with how to get students more involved in their learning. The more we increase the engagement level of students' learning the greater the gains for them beyond the classroom. There are a couple quick ways to begin increasing that engagement level:

  • Post your learning target (goal) for that week. Use it to start and end your class, so students know what they are to be learning. At the end of the period this same target can be tied to a check out (formative assessment) to see how students did meeting the target. Ask students to reflect on their level of understanding or knowledge gained during the class.
  • Use graphic displays of students' scoring on formative assessments and have them track it. See article linked from Robert Marzano: Ed Leadership Article on Students Tracking their Own Learning
  • Students identify the level of challenge related to questions from homework, formative assessments, activities, or summative assessments. Some teachers will create consistent symbols for students to use to identify which problems/questions were easy or difficult.
  • Students reflect on their own learning through the use of response journals. This is a great way to keep a pulse on students thinking during their learning processes. The teacher and student can maintain an ongoing dialogue with the teacher guiding it with ongoing questions for the students to tackle or reflect.



Misconceptions about Formative and Summative Assessments

  • Summative assessments can be used as formative assessments
    • Reality: Though a summative assessment can be in"formative" it is not reflect the practice of formative assessments. Formative assessments are quick, short, focused on a skill dipstick that occur daily and even hourly. As Marzano says, "Formative Assessment is a is not a specific type of test."
  • Formative assessments are given at the end of a unit or lesson based on a SMART goal
    • Reality: A formative assessment may be given at the end of a unit or lesson, but the opportunity to adjust your instructional practice is lost. The idea is to quickly get an idea of whether students are responding positively to your instruction. If they are...celebrate, and keep doing what works! If they are not...celebrate that you found out and adjust your strategy!
  • Formative assessments take a long time
    • Reality: Formative assessments actually safe time. The ongoing data allows you to be more efficient and to determine next steps in your lesson.
  • I need to capture as much information as I can in a formative assessment
    • Reality: This common misconception can make formative assessment time consuming and less effective because there are too many concepts to focus on. Pick one key concept related to the lesson to find out whether or not students are on track

This link provides ideas for formative assessment that are user friendly - Formative Assessment Strategies


AMS Math Teachers Review Student Progress

Ackerman's math team members Dave Gordon, Josh Nichols, Dave Purdy and John VanAcker conferred during their collaborative team time on Wednesday, December 2, reviewing student achievement and levels of improvement. Gordon shared charts he uses in the classroom for students to visibly see their progress over time. "I just want them to see their scores, and to see that they're going up."

The team agreed that their students are moving forward, but not necessarily as quickly as they'd like. "It's interesting when you get the students to the level you're looking for, but when you review the material later, their scores have dropped. How much review should we use and how often?"

This team, like others in the district, use this time to set SMART goals and assessments and then spend time weekly to check on student progress toward the goal. "What I like about this time is the ability for us to share our strategies and materials, to problem solve together. This is time teachers haven't had in the past, to be able to tap into others' resources that have been successful," said Van Acker.

Elsewhere in the building, another Ackerman team spent a portion of their team time exploring ways to manage their larger class sizes this year and still accomplish the academic goals they had set for students, which was focused on rules such as capitalization and punctuation. But, with 38 students in some of their classrooms, they agreed that the dynamics and learning environment has changed. The conversation turned to solutions. "How can we work together as teachers to solve the issues and focus on our instruction?" asked teacher Debbie Barber.

Pictured are math teachers John VanAcker, Josh Nichols and Dave Purdy.