Saturday, February 11, 2017
Best PD EVER!
This week I had a unique opportunity to observe a superstar teacher in my district. She teaches at a nearby high school, but her school has had amazing results in getting kids to pass the Algebra 1 End of Course Exam (FSA), and she has been leading the pack. I've heard great things about her class so when my AP asked if I wanted to spend the morning there, I jumped at the chance! In nine years of teaching I have been to countless hours of professional development, but this was definitely the most helpful and relevant. I love that I am part of a community of educators who love watching students succeed so much they are willing to take their time to share their best practices, and lifelong learners willing to constantly refine their craft until they find what works best for the students.
It was such a reflective experience to watch someone else teach. She did an amazing job providing real-time remediation to her students via peer tutoring and also spiraling review throughout her warm ups and exit tickets. In the prior class, students completed this exit ticket and then she used it to create groupings for the next class.
I do a lot of group learning and always encourage students to ask their peers for help, but she had a very intentional method of doing this that I am definitely going to use. She had a quick meeting with her peer tutors and each of the three students was assigned two students to help. The two students in each group who were receiving tutoring reworked exit ticket problems on the window (I never thought to use dry-erase markers there!) and then wrote out how to solve it and the steps in words for solving. They they repeated the process with another problem. This helps address misconceptions before they get out of hand. While these students were doing the tutoring cycle, the rest of the class started on the classwork assignment, and she floated around answering questions. As the tutoring groups finished, they started in on the classwork assignment. I think I sometimes get worried about what it will look like when everyone isn't working on the same thing, but visiting this class showed me that once the students are trained with your expectations, the process can unfold pretty seamlessly.
The next day, I tried it in my classroom. I had students complete a graphing quadratics problem as an exit ticket and then quickly sorted them into students who got it 100% correct and students who missed part of it. I had a few students who messed up completely, and they were the ones I targeted. During the next class, I passed the papers back and the students with stars circulated and helped their peers as the others reworked the problem. I have a ways to go before it unfolds as perfectly as what I saw, but I loved how my students received feedback and had an opportunity for revision. I also loved how empowered the students with stars felt and the great explanations I heard them give their peers.