New Canaan High School educators whose last name begins with the letter A-R author this blog.
Those whose last name begins with S-Z author nchsneasc13b

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Day with with Janet Allison

Janet Allison, Director Commission on Public Secondary Schools met with steering committee, committee co-chairs and the entire faculty. Here are our notes, and here is Janet's presentation.

Big takeaways from meetings:

  • The self-study report should reflect a common understanding of school-wide assessment practices. One suggestion was to use the same student evidence for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, which we are in the process of doing.
  • Prior to the publication of the final draft, these three committees will share their finding to look for alignment.
  • Steering committee will facilitate meetings with central office, support staff (NURSES!) and other stakeholders. A form will go out on Friday, March 16 prompting committees members to articulate their needs. The steering committee will schedule requested meetings.
  • Each committee will go through the exercise of self-assessing using the NEAS&C rating guide as a group (these are now on the website).
  • We’ve appointed an editing committee for the final draft.
  • We will be creating a student work portfolio for the visiting committee to review on Sunday night once they return to the hotel, Examples should be assessed by the 21st century learning expectations rubrics.
  • Steering committee will appoint a coordinator to liaise with Endicott and track parent participation. May require some “nudging”. Student participation is scheduled for April.
  • Would like to encourage faculty to update their committee’s self-study document (the one embedded in your standard page on the website) with in-progress indicator work. We are aiming for transparency in this process. It is important for the committee to see drafts and revisions (document history) as you acquire evidence and apply it to the self-study as measured by indicators.
  • School-wide rubrics and 21st century learning expectations: The visiting committee will expect to see that these are bring used throughout the school and across disciplines.
  • The steering committee is compiling a list of community stakeholders to participate in committee work - not necessarily face-to-face, but certainly as a part of the the committee's electronic correspondence.

About Your Friend, the Rubric

Ever feel shackled by a rubric? Like rubrics are trying to drive a wedge between you and your students? NCHS teacher, unchain yourself! Rubrics don’t have that kind of power.

Rubric is one of those words that has a bum rap; just ask any teacher who knew that a project was a C+ when the rubric insisted it was a B. But perception isn’t reality, and rubrics aren’t just for assessment anymore.

More importantly, rubrics are for communication.

Think about it: we want kids to be effective problem solvers, clear communicators, responsible and productive collaborators, among other things. We also need to teach our course content. How do we know how to connect the important content we teach to the important skills they need to learn? Simple: listen to the rubric.

The bullet points in those boxes are the places where our learning expectations reside. They articulate skills that we have always assumed we were teaching, and they show us something we might not have known: that social studies teachers are asking kids to collaborate the same way they do in an engineering class; that science teachers are demanding the same clear communication as English teachers.

By breaking those skills into their constituent parts, and naming those parts, what we teach becomes clearer to us. And by sharing those expectations with students, they know exactly what they should know. That’s communication, baby.

Then, when students hand in their work, we use the rubric to let them know where they are in their understanding of our learning expectations, and give them a chance to tell us how they plan to improve. So the cycle of communication between teachers and students, with the rubric as common ground, continues to clarify and specify exactly what we want students to achieve.

And we all live happily ever after.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Community Resources for Learning Meeting Update

On March 6, 2012 the Community Resources for Learning Committee met in the NCHS Career Center. The purpose of the meeting was to assess our progress on evidence collection and begin discussion on writing a rough draft for the narrative. The following people attended the meeting and participated in the collaborative effort toward the Community Resources Committee tasks: Rachel Alpert, Jean Bakes, Katie Bakes, John Barone, Linda Brooks, Lisa Floryshak-Windman, Emily Hernberg, Amanda Langlais, Lori Lewandoski, Arri Weeks, Sandy Warkentin & Lenore Schnieder. After discussing the evidence collection, committee members met in small groups to delegate tasks relating to specific indicators. Evidence was organized, cover sheets were completed and new to-do lists were created for each indicator. Each group will start to draft a paragraph that will be added to the Community Resources Narrative. The purpose of the next meeting will be to continue to work on the narrative paragraphs.