Sunday, October 10, 2010

Demonstration Lessons

Children aren't the only ones that spend their time in study.

On any given day when you enter th
e Administrative Conference Room at CCE , you will most likely find a group of teachers having collegial dialogue, unpacking the grade level standards in a content area, building units of study, and/or creating assessment aligned with standards and instruction. CCE teachers are not under the false impression that the learning stopped as they held their college diplomas or after just five years in the classroom as research indicates. Rather, teachers know that spending time in study together, as they so often do, reaps benefits that impact their classroom instruction and student performance ten fold.

As a cornerstone of the work we do during these TDE days, the first component of the day is normally a Demonstration Lesson that focuses on the topic at hand. With newly adopted state math standards and curriculum tools, the First Grade team decided to spend a day together talking about their math implementation. Together, Cheryl Dillard, First Grade Math Lead Teacher, and I created an agenda. We decided on the work that could be done in advance to expedite some of the processes and spent a day together before hand organizing learning and preparing for the session.

To start the day, we asked the fourteen member team to join us for a math demonstration lesson in Cheryl and Maria's classroom. The team, with pen and paper in hand, gathered to watch an Interactive Math Skills Block and a Math Workshop Lesson. Beginning the day in this manner gives teachers the opportunity to see, first hand, what is happening in a colleague's classroom. The learning that takes place in this short time together is so much more productive than just having a conversation, because they can learn the nuances of their peer's work. They see and feel the spirit of the classroom; They watch students at work in a live classroom; They observe the rituals and routines that pace the math learning; They note the level of questioning that occurs; They remember the artifacts that support student learning; They keenly ask questions that support student achievement; They reflect on their own practice; They borrow ideas; They note changes they will make in their own classrooms. Then, they gather back back in the conference room to have collegial conversation about the observation.

Most of the time, this takes less than an hour and frames the learning that will occur in their day of study together. On this
particular day, after the lesson, the team took a closer look at the demonstration lesson and asked questions about the planning that occurred. Next, we prepared the teachers to look at the global picture. We had them look at the math standards that would be covered in the year and gave them an alignment guide that we had created ahead of time. The guide gave them each unit of study aligned with the standards, as well as examples and remarks given for that particular standard. The standards that weren't part of the document, because they weren't explicitly taught in the MI unit, were included on an Interactive Skills Block overview for the year. In addition, we gave them a Concepts and Skills Overview that our states RtI committee had created. In all, they had the global picture and weekly picture so they could quickly move in their own planning to creating a daily plan. After this, the teachers split into pairs and divided the units to begin writing assessments.

This on the clock professional development, supported by the principal's hiring of substitutes, is one of the single most important things we do. Teachers roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. They are in study together. We'll have many more days like this, and though I don't get a chance to write about all of them, the flow of the day remains much the same.

So, stay tuned for our progress...


Maria Mallon & Cheryl Dillard said...

We all learn so much on the vertical demo days. The teachers doing the demos receive valuable feedback on the lesson and have a chance to talk to collegues about the thinking behind the lessons. We learn how to refine our craft and learn from others during these vertical days. MM

Mrs. Patricia Wallace said...

These days are priceless! So much is covered and discovered by all of us in so many ways. To be able to accomplish as much as we did in one day because it was during our normal work schedule, makes these on the clock professional developments EXTREMELY valuable and appreciated. As much as we don't like to leave our children in the hands of a sub, it's totally worth it on these days!