The Principal Benefits of Professional Learning Communities

By Jaclyn Scotto Siano

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson

This quote is particularly relevant in the field of education, and can be applied through the use of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). PLC is the general term used for a group of educators who meet regularly to discuss and plan for the improvement of teaching and learning.

The big question of today is why do PLCS? Beyond the fact that PLCs are job-embedded professional development, research shows many benefits of utilizing collaboration through PLCs. Today we will focus on two of the most critical: improved communication, and improved relationship/school climate.

Improved Communication

One important benefit of utilizing PLCs in your school is the increase in effective communication between staff.  PLCs incorporate a team of teachers and administrators/leaders working together to discuss and problem solve educational topics.

Successful PLCs promote effective communication through open dialogue and the use of collaboration. Research by Nelson et al. (2010), Stoll et al. (2006), and Hilliard and Newsome (2013), show that PLCs are collaborative, engage participants in the inquiry process, and encourage shared leadership. By encouraging these actions, teachers and administrators learn how to better communicate with each other which can result in better teaching, planning, and learning. Teachers must feel comfortable engaging in open and honest communication with their administrators/leaders in order for a positive school climate to exist (McCarley et al., 2014)

Another added perk is that research shows that teachers who engage in open communication with their administrators/leaders experience more positive attitudes towards their jobs (Rafferty, 2003)!

Improved Relationships & Climate

There is a connection between positive adult relationships in a school building and positive school climate. Collaboration and connection are two key attributes of positive school climate (Cohen et al., 2009); both can be achieved through PLCs. Similarly, a positive school climate results in more productive students and more dedicated teachers (Rapti, 2013).  Creating suggestions for improvement through collaboration (like what occurs in PLCs) can lead to improvement in student learning and improved educational outcomes (Cohen et al., 2009).

Other research even notes that schools that engage in PLCs noticed their teachers demonstrated improved job satisfaction and higher morale; there were even fewer teacher absences (Harris & Jones, 2010)!

Conclusion

If you are looking to improve your school climate, staff relationships, and communication, then PLCs can help! Implementing a scheduled time for staff collaboration can have have a lasting impact on teaching and learning outcomes.

 

Look for our next blog on PLCs on January 22, 2019 which will focus on how to easily and effectively set up PLCs in your school!

 

References

Cohen, J., McCabe, L., Michelli, N.M., & Pickeral, T. (2009). School climate: Research, policy, practice, and teacher education. Teachers College Record, 111(1), 180. Retrieved[JB1]  from http://www.schoolclimate.org/climate/documents/policy/School-Climate-Paper-TC-Record.pdf

Harris[JB2] , A., & Jones, M. (2010).  Professional learning communities. Improving Schools, 13(2), 172-181.  doi:  10.1177/1365480210376487

Hilliard, A. T., & Newsome, E. (2013). Effective communication and creating professional learning communities is a valuable practice for superintendents. Contemporary Issues in Education Research (Online), 6(4), 353. Retrieved[JB3]  from https://www.cluteinstitute.com/ojs/index.php/CIER/article/view/8102/8153

McCarley, T.A., Peters, M.L., & Decman, J.M. (2016).  Transformational leadership related to school climate:  A multi-level analysis. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 44(2), 322-342. doi: 10.1177/1741143214549966

Nelson, T. H., LeBard, L., & Waters, C. (2010). How to create a professional learning community. Science and Children, 47(9), 36-40. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com (Accession No. 521202056)

Rafferty, T. J. (2003). School climate and teacher attitudes toward upward         communication in secondary schools.  American Secondary Education, 31(2), 49-70.  Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com (Accession No. 195185353)

Rapti, D. (2013).  School climate as an important component of school effectiveness. Academicus International Scientific Journal, 8(8), 110-125.  Retrieved from http://www.academicus.edu.al/nr8/Academicus-MMXIII-8-110-125.pdf

Stoll, L., Bolam, R., Mcmahon, A., Wallace, M., & Thomas, S. (2006). Professional learning communities: A review of the literature. Journal of Educational Change,7(4), 221-258. doi:  10.1007/s10833-0060001-8

By |2018-11-15T15:25:43+00:00November 15th, 2018|PLCs|0 Comments

Quick Start Guide to Coaching – Part I

Introduction:

Every school has a vision and mission.  To get there, much like we differentiate for students, we need to provide individualized support for our teachers.  Great coaching differentiates for teachers.

Who?

Not all groups are the same.  Successful coaching begins with selecting your cohort.  That cohort could be based on trends you see in your building. For example, let’s say you have a lot of untenured or new teachers, you may want to put them into their own cohort and provide PD around issues that affect them: classroom management, creating standards-based lessons, student engagement, etc.  

So what trends are you seeing in your building:

  • Teachers teaching a new grade this year?
  • New teachers?
  • New curriculum?
  • Teacher-centered instruction that you want to convert to student-centered learning?
  • Classroom management issues?
  • Writing effective lesson plans?

How?

Once your groups are created:

  • Create an email group for each cohort-this is a great way to share ideas!
  • Decide when, where, and how often you will meet with your group
  • Decide how long your cohort will stay together- A semester?  6 weeks? A marking period? All year? (Probably not all year…think flexible grouping.)
  • Look at your calendar and schedule your sessions with the team.  Remember the objective is to move them forward, so planning and consistency is key.  
  • Consider what PD topics you will provide.
  • How will you provide PD in these areas?
    • Will you provide articles that you will unpack and discuss?
    • Will you select a lab site and conduct demonstration lessons and debrief sessions with teachers?  
    • Will you have teachers observe each other and provide feedback and insights?
    • Will you watch video clips and discuss best practices observed?
    • Will you co-plan with teachers?  

Whatever you decide, make sure you plan it out in as much detail as possible.  You can always tweak as you go, but effective coaches do not fly by the seat of their pants.

  • Create a newsletter to share glows and grows with your group.  As coaches, some of what we have to share is not always good news.  Consider ways to celebrate milestones, accomplishments, and when teachers take a leap and try something new.  (A tip is to also share these “glows” at staff meetings or PLCs for an extra celebration.)

Finally, distinguish yourself from an administrator.  Remind teachers that you are a teacher, too. You are not there to evaluate, but to help them become master teachers.  You are there to coach and support them. You are a sounding board and resource!

Happy Coaching!

 

Stay tuned for Part II How to Sustain Change to be released November 29, 2018.

 

By |2018-11-13T13:41:41+00:00November 13th, 2018|Coaching|0 Comments

Preparing for PARCC Part VIII – Creating PARCC-Like English Assessments TECRs

Preparing for PARCC Part VIII

Creating PARCC-Like English Assessments – TECRs

This post is part of our blog series on PARCC. In this series, we offer tips and strategies you can use to ensure that your students perform at their very best on the PARCC tests.
One way to assist students to perform at their personal best on PARCC is to simulate the test-taking experience, both in terms of the test content and the testing conditions. This two-part blog post covers how to create a PARCC-like English assessment. Part 1 addressed how to select text, how to identify what is special or unique about the text, and how to write Evidence-Based Selected Response (EBSR) items. This blog will present ideas and templates for creating the assessment’s Technology-Enhanced Constructed Responses (TECR).
What is a TECR?
 
“This ELA/literacy item uses technology to capture a student’s comprehension of texts in authentic ways that have been historically difficult to capture using current assessments. Examples include using drag and drop, cut and paste, and highlight text features.”  (parcconline.org)
What types of technology-enhanced items does PARCC utilize?
The PARCC assessments include several types of technology-enhanced items:
  • Multiple Select: These items are similar to multiple choice questions, except that students can select more than one correct answer.
  • Highlight Text: Students highlight sections of the text to identify evidence that answers the question.
  • Reorder Text: Students rearrange text selections to place them in chronological order, or to display theme, supporting details, etc.
  • Drag and Drop Text: Students drag blocks of text to tables to display attributes of the text: setting, characterization, chronology, etc.
At this time PARCC only has a few sample online practice tests. However, instructors can make their own TECR items and integrate the concepts as paper and pencil experiences. It’s a matter of identifying what the question types are requiring of students. By providing additional opportunities to practice TECR items in class, students will be more familiar with the construct of the TECRs. Additionally, the TECRs assess students’ ability to meet Common Core ELA Standards.
Below are several templates you can use in your classroom. Download the template, and fill in the blanks based on the text you use. Students can either cut and paste the items or draw lines to the correct space. Either way, students will have a chance to apply the Standards as well as practice using the TECR formats.
Literature TECR Templates
Informational Text TECR Templates

 

Inspired Instruction would be happy to review your work on PARCC. Email your TECR to judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com along with the text, your reason for choosing that text, and the standards that you wish to assess with the item. She’ll reply with feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Standards Solution and Inspired Instruction offer 540 PARCC lesson plans, online PARCC-like assessments with technology-enhanced items, PARCC workshops, and PARCC demonstration lessons.

Please contact Judy Cataldi for more information:

Judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com or call 908-223-7202


Standards Solution Holding, LLC is not owned by or affiliated in any fashion with PARCC, Inc.

By |2018-03-13T18:56:58+00:00March 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Preparing for PARCC Part VII – ELA Assessments

Preparing for PARCC Part VII

Creating PARCC-Like English Assessments Part 1: EBSRs

This post is part of our blog series on PARCC. In this series, we offer tips and strategies you can use to ensure that your students perform at their very best on the PARCC tests.

One way to assist students to perform at their personal best is to simulate the test-taking experience, both in terms of the test content and the testing conditions. This two-part blog post covers how to create a PARCC-like English assessment. In Part 1, we’ll address how to select a text, how to identify what is special or unique about the text, and how to write Evidence-Based Selected Response (EBSR) items. In Part 2, we’ll explain the Technology-Enhanced Constructed Response (TECR) items and provide templates for creating these items.

What is an EBSR?

An EBSR is a two-part question (Part A and Part B). “The term refers to a type of ELA/literacy test item that asks students to show the evidence in a text that led them to a previous answer.” (parcconline.org) An EBSR assesses vocabulary knowledge, elements of literature, main ideas, key details, structure, or integration of ideas. In order to create an assessment, we have to identify what PARCC calls “texts worth reading.” Let’s look at how PARCC determines if a text is worthy of study.

Five PARCC Criteria for Selecting Texts Worth Reading:

  • Texts Are Complex: PARCC assessments follow the staircase of text complexity in the CCSS to ensure assessments track student progress each year towards college and career readiness.
  • Texts Are Diverse: PARCC texts stem from across the disciplines (e.g. ELA, history, science and technical subjects), are written by authors with diverse backgrounds, reflect the CCSS prescribed balances of literature and informational text, and appeal to a wide range of student audiences.
  • Texts Are Authentic: PARCC texts are authentic works of exceptional craft and/or rich repositories of ideas and information rather than commissioned-for-the-test passages lacking sufficient evidence, organization, and style.
  • Texts Are Paired Effectively: PARCC text pairings, where required by the CCSS, have meaningful and significant points of comparison that invite questions beyond superficial observations.
  • Texts Meet Demands of Bias and Sensitivity Guidelines: PARCC texts are carefully vetted to ensure that while they pique student interest and appeal to a wide audience they avoid highly controversial topics that may be troublesome to students.” (parcconline.org)

Now, let’s complete the following four steps to create your first EBSR item.

  • Step #1 – Consider Your Text Once you have selected your text, you have to think about what is special or unique about the text. Take a look at your text. With the understanding that text complexity is important and students should continually be exposed to increasingly complex text, determine which sections or passages may be difficult for students. Here is a sample for you to consider. OK, so now we’re ready to create text-dependent questions. Read what PARCC has to say about text-dependent questions: “Good text dependent questions will often linger over specific phrases and sentences to ensure careful comprehension of the text—they help students see something worthwhile that they would not have seen on a more cursory reading. An effective set of text dependent questions delves systematically into a text to guide students in extracting the key meanings or ideas found there. They typically begin by exploring specific words, details, and arguments and then move on to examine the impact of those specifics on the text as a whole. Along the way they target academic vocabulary and specific sentence structures as critical focus points for gaining comprehension.” (parcconline.org)
  • Step #2 – Identify What You Want to Assess Now that you know what is special about your text, what do you want to assess? PARCC created Reading Evidence Tables for Kindergarten through grade 11. Take a look at your grade level’s document. PARCC Reading Evidence Tables (Scroll about halfway down the page to see the list of evidence tables.) Using your grade level’s table, identify passages in the text that can be used to assess the evidences to be measured by your test item.
  • Step #3 – Construct Part A of Your EBSR Think about PARCC’s Item Guidelines listed below and use our template to construct Part A of your EBSR. Constructing Distractors – Part A ü  “The primary purpose of a distractor is to provide evidence that a student is not able to meet the standard(s) assessed due to student misconceptions. ü  Distractors must be plausible responses to item stems. ü  Items should not use negative distractors. ü  The written style of all distractors in an item should be similar to that of the correct response(s). ü  Answer responses (distractors) are not ordered alphabetically by first word or by short to long, etc. the answers in the order they appear in the passage.” (PARCC – Item Guidelines for ELA/Literacy PARCC Summative Assessment- Best Practices for Distractors for EBSR items)
  • Step #4 – Construct Part B of Your EBSR Follow these PARCC guidelines for creating Part B: “In Part B, when writing the distractors for evidences, all of the answer choices must be the same type of citation of evidence (e.g. all quotes or all paraphrases).  Particular care must be taken for Part B items, where students are asked to select evidence from the text such that distractor wording to achieve parallelism in style does not overly  impose distractor wording. All answer choices for Part B must be accurate/relevant/from the passage.” (PARCC – Item Guidelines for ELA/Literacy PARCC Summative Assessment- Best Practices for Distractors for EBSR items)

There you have it! You constructed the first EBSR for your PARCC-like assessment. One of our educational experts would be happy to review your work with EBSRs. Email your EBSR to judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com along with the text, your reason for choosing that text, and the standards that you wish to assess with the item. She’ll reply with feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Let’s quickly review! To create a PARCC-like English assessment with Evidence-Based Selected Responses, you have to:

  1. Select a text worthy of close study via a comprehensive analysis of the text.
  2. Identify specifically what you want to assess with a comparison of the reading evidence docs AND what is special and unique in the text.
  3. Create EBSRs that have quality distractors.

And that’s it! Follow those simple steps and you’ll be well on your way to mastering PARCC’s EBSR question types.

 

Inspired Instruction offer 540 PARCC lesson plans, online PARCC-like assessments with technology-enhanced items, PARCC workshops, and PARCC demonstration lessons. Please contact Judy Cataldi for more information: Judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com or call 908-223-7202.

Standards Solution Holding, LLC is not owned by or affiliated in any fashion with PARCC, Inc.

By |2018-02-26T14:12:29+00:00February 26th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Preparing for PARCC Part VI – How to Respond to PARCC Math Items

Preparing for PARCC Part VI
How to Respond to PARCC Math Items
“Direction Detective”

This post is part of our blog series on PARCC. In this series, we offer tips and strategies you can use to ensure that your students perform at their very best on the PARCC tests.

I asked students, “How does the new assessment compare to the previous assessment?” The most common response was “the new questions are challenging.”

I asked for more details about how they are challenging. “Thinking more” was the phrase many students used to describe the increased rigor and use of higher-level critical-thinking skills.

Here is how Common Core describes “rigor”: “The standards will include high-level cognitive demands by asking students to demonstrate deep conceptual understanding through the application of content knowledge and skills to new situations.” – http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Criteria.pdf

Increased rigor in the assessment is not just part of the question design and how PARCC measures understanding. It’s also part of how the student is required to provide their answers. Advancements in assessment delivery via technology contribute to this rigor. Consider the critical thinking needed to consider all the possible ways to express a number verses identifying just one way to express a number:

Features to Emphasize in the PARCC Assessment Items

The PARCC assessment features new technology-enhanced items in two categories:

Constructed Response: The student constructs the answer. This could be a single number, an expression, equation or inequality, a completed mathematical model, or a combination of words and math.

Selected Response:A selection of possible responses are provided; the student selects the correct response(s). There are at least seven different styles of these items, including: Drag and Drop, Multiple Select, Multiple Choice, Drop-Down Menus, Sort by Category, Reorder the selections.

A PARCC assessment item is more than a standard math question. Each item has specific directions that describe how the student should provide the answer. Here is a short list of the various directions provided with PARCC practice items:

Drag and drop the fractions and operation symbols.You may select more than one box for each figure.Select the correct symbol from each drop down menu.Enter your answer in the space provided.Which explanation about the figures is correct your fraction.statements that correctly describe….that apply.

Because each assessment item has its own unique directions, students need to become a…

How to Become a Direction Detective

When practicing with the PARCC Practice Test, students need to use the When students practice math in the classroom, students should use a highlighter to decipher the directions for any task. Allow the student to do this independently and then check for understanding by asking the student to state the directions in his or her own words.

  • Incorporate similar styles of questions and accompanying directions in the tasks used in the classroom. If the direction sentences are commonplace, they become familiar.
  • Ask students to recognize what error(s) can occur when the directions are ignored.Standards Solution and Inspired Instruction offer 540 PARCC lesson plans, online PARCC-like assessments with technology-enhanced items, PARCC workshops, and PARCC demonstration lessons.

 

Inspired Instruction, LLC provides the highest quality professional development and PARCC preparation services. We would love to help your teachers and students do their best in preparing for PARCC and beyond. Please contact Judy Cataldi for more information.

Judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com or call 908-223-7202

Standards Solution Holding, LLC is not owned by or affiliated in any fashion with PARCC, Inc.

 

By |2018-02-23T16:39:18+00:00February 22nd, 2018|PARCC Prep|0 Comments

Preparing for PARCC Part V – Aligning English Language Arts Instructional Practices

 

 

Preparing for PARCC Part V

Aligning English Language Arts Instructional Practices

 

 

This post is part of our blog series on PARCC. In this series, we offer tips and strategies you can use to ensure that your students perform at their very best on the PARCC tests.

Regardless of how you feel about PARCC, or any standardized test, I think that in PARCC states we can all agree, at this moment it is necessary to prepare our students for the experience. And to be honest, I don’t think that preparing for PARCC is a waste of instruction time. PARCC is a test that evaluates students’ progress toward college and career readiness.  It is a test of our students’ competence regarding the Common Core State Standards. Therefore, when we are preparing students for PARCC we are applying and practicing the Common Core. That is what we are supposed to do.But what does a fully aligned classroom look like?

“The PARCC assessments are aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and were created to measure students’ ability to apply their knowledge of concepts rather than memorizing facts.”  (NJDOE)

In English language Arts (ELA), students will be required to:

Closely read multiple passages
Write essay responses in literary analysis, research tasks and narrative tasks

Close Reading

So what is close reading and how do we apply it in the classroom?

Characteristics of Close Reading

  • Uncovers layers of meaning in a text
  • Invites a careful reading of the text
  • Requires a text to be read multiple times
  • Requires that students be asked a range of text-dependent questions

Text-Dependent Questions

  • Can only be answered with evidence from the text.
  • Can be literal but must also involve analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
  • Focus on word, sentence, and paragraph, as well as larger ideas, themes, or events.
  • Focus on difficult portions of the text in order to enhance reading proficiency
  • Can also include prompts for writing and discussion questions. (achievethecore.com)

Applying Close Reading and Asking Text-Dependent Questions

One implication of conducting close reading and asking text-dependent questions is that classroom tasks should require students to provide both oral and written responses to questions about the text in which the answers are found within the text and are not based on prior knowledge, experience or opinion

Instructors should spend more time teaching students how to find evidence from the text.

Instructors need to consider and create text-dependent questions before instruction.
Instructors should attend professional development workshops to learn how to apply close reading strategies

Literary Analysis Tasks

How do students complete LATs?

Students carefully consider two literary texts worthy of close study.
They are asked to answer a few EBSR and TECR questions about each text to demonstrate their ability to do close analytic reading and to compare and synthesize ideas.
Students write a literary analysis about the two texts.

PARCC’s LATs and RSTs are a new and unusual writing task for both instructors and students.  But at the heart of a literary analysis task is the understanding that authors write for specific purposes. And the student’s thesis in a LAT is his/her perspective of the author’s choices that are supported with evidence from the text.  To assist students to write quality LATs they need to have a strong understanding of the elements of literature and an understanding of how to construct the essay

Please view the blog, “6-Step Process for Writing LATs and RSTs” to learn how to assist your students to complete these essays.

Some topics that instructors might want to focus on include:

  • Elements of Literature
  • Word Choice
  • Genres
  • Literary Devices

Research Simulation Tasks

The other new and unusual writing task is the Research Simulation Task (RST).

How do students complete RSTs?

Students begin by reading an anchor text that introduces the topic.
EBSR and TECR items ask students to gather key details about the passage to support their understanding.
Students read one or two additional sources and answer a few questions about each text to learn more about the topic, so they are ready to write the final essay and to show their reading comprehension.
Finally, students mirror the research process by synthesizing their understandings into a writing that uses textual evidence from the sources.

Some of the concepts that students will be asked to write about include:

Main Idea and Supporting Details: Students read one text and identify main idea and supporting details<

Cause and Effect: Students read another text and identify the cause and effect

Claim and Evidence: Students read another text and identify claim, supporting evidence and explanation<

Instructors can help students to complete RSTs by:

Familiarizing students with RST elements
Building students’ skills related to evidence
Helping students improve their writing skills

Let’s talk about evidence. How do students select the best evidence to support their claim? Here are a couple of thought-provoking activities you can use in your classroom:

Narrative Tasks

The narrative tasks on PARCC are the most familiar to our students.

How do students complete the narrative tasks?

  • Students read a literary text
  • Students answer EBSR or TECR items
  • Students write a narrative story (PCR)

Some of the elements that students will need to hone in order to perform well on this task include:

  • Point of view
  • Developing strong voice
  • Identifying mood, tone and voice

Students will also need to improve the quality of their essays:

  • Show Don’t Tell
  • Strong Character Development
  • Improved Dialogue
  • Powerful Language

Here are a couple of activities that instructors can use to enhance students understanding of the narrative task requirements:

It is our sincerest wish that you find value in these ideas and resources and begin to integrate the concepts that students will experience on PARCC. Please let us know if we can help you make your classroom or school more fully aligned with the Common Core and PARCC.

 

Inspired Instruction offers 540 PARCC lesson plans, online PARCC-like assessments with technology-enhanced items, PARCC workshops, and PARCC demonstration lessons.

Please contact Judy Cataldi for more information:
Judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com or call 908-223-7202

Standards Solution Holding, LLC is not owned by or affiliated in any fashion with PARCC, Inc.

By |2018-02-12T15:36:31+00:00February 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Preparing for PARCC Part IV – Aligning Mathematics Instructional Practices

 

Preparing for PARCC Part IV
Aligning Mathematics Instructional Practices

 

This post is part of our blog series on PARCC. In this series, we offer tips and strategies you can use to ensure that your students perform at their very best on the PARCC tests.

 

Regardless of how you feel about PARCC, or any standardized test, I think we can all agree that at this moment it is necessary to prepare our students for the experience. And to be honest, I don’t think that preparing for PARCC is a waste of instruction time. PARCC is a test that evaluates students’ progress toward college and career readiness. It is a test of our students’ competence regarding the Common Core State Standards. Therefore, when we are preparing students for PARCC we are applying and practicing the Common Core. That is what we are supposed to do.

But what does a fully aligned mathematics classroom look like?

“The PARCC assessments are aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and were created to measure students’ ability to apply their knowledge of concepts rather than memorizing facts.” (NJDOE)

The mathematics PARCC assessments require students to:

  • Solve problems using mathematical reasoning
  • Be able to model mathematical principles

What Is Mathematical Reasoning?

According to G.W. Martin, et al., “Reasoning can be thought of as the process of drawing conclusions on the basis of evidence or stated assumptions…Sense making can be defined as developing an understanding of a situation, context, or concept by connecting it with existing knowledge.” (Martin, G.W. and Kasmer, L. “Reasoning and Sense” Mathematics Teacher Dec. 2009/Jan. 2010).

The ability to reason is essential to understanding mathematics. Teachers should use effective questioning techniques to promote their students’ reasoning abilities. Students need opportunities to respond to effective questions that require critical thinking, and to share ideas and clarify their understanding. When students are able to connect mathematical ideas, they develop a deeper and lasting understanding of mathematics. The process of reasoning has three stages: conjecture, generalization, and justification.

The Process of Reasoning

  • Conjecturing: developing statements that are tentatively thought to be true but are not known to be true
  • Generalizing: extending the reasoning beyond the scope of the original problem
  • Justification: a logical argument based on already-understood ideas

Types of Reasoning Tasks

  • Proof and Justification Tasks: Students are asked to use reasoning to provide an argument for why a proposition is true or is not true.
    • Example: the student draws a comparison between two fractions and provides proof that the comparison is true, using a mathematical model.
  • Critiquing Tasks: Flawed reasoning is presented and students are asked to correct and improve it. Example: the student reviews an answer created by a fictitious student and must identify and explain possible flaw(s)in the reasoning, correct the answer, and provide an explanation supporting the correct reasoning and answer.
  • Mathematical Investigations: Students are presented with a problem and invited to formulate conjectures and prove one of their conjectures.
    • Example: the student tests an idea, such as, “Is it always true that when two fractions are multiplied, the product is less than the two fractions?”

Modeling in Mathematics

Concrete models and pictorial models can be used to demonstrate the meaning of a mathematical idea and/or communicate the application of mathematics to solve a real-world problem.

“Students can develop a conceptual understanding of mathematics through modeling, following a progression of representations: concrete, pictorial, and abstract.”
(Strategies for Successful Learning, Vol. 6, No. 2, January 2013)

Concrete representation is often demonstrated with manipulatives. Pictorial representation can be various drawings, such as graphs, number lines, object drawings, Ten Frames, and visual fraction models. Abstract representation is the use of numbers, letters and symbols to represent the mathematics.

Considerthese examples of the three types of representation:

“There are three times as many cats as dogs; there are 15 dogs. How many cats are there?”

In the Common Core State Standards, each grade level addresses distinct operations and number relationships.

 

Here is a list of the distinct operations and/or number relationships for grades 2 through 6:

  • Grade 2: addition and subtraction
  • Grade 3: multiplication and division
  • Grade 4–6: fractions and ratios

The operations and number relationships are developed sequentially, to allow students to visualize and solve increasingly complex problems. Solving for an unknown quantity at the concrete and pictorial stages aids in the transition to the abstract.

Mathematical Methods and Representations within the Standards

Many of the Common Core Standards for Mathematics are very specific about which methods and representations need to be used to develop understanding of the mathematical concept(s).

To demonstrate this, let’s examine a grade 4 Standard:

Multiply a whole number of up to four digits by a one-digit whole number, and multiply two two-digit numbers, using strategies based on place value and the properties of operations. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.

The main concept is multi-digit multiplication; the specific digits are provided. The methods are place value strategies and properties of operations (commutative, associative, distributive). The representations are equations, rectangular arrays, and area models. The standard states the specificity clearly; the expectation is that classroom instruction would include the specificity as stated. What could this look like?

An example of an equation that demonstrates place value and properties of operations:

3 x 27 = 3 (20 + 7)

A rectangular array can be demonstrated using a manipulative, such as tiles or base-ten blocks, with a place-value mat.

An example of an array model:

Conclusion:
The PARCC assessment is closely aligned to the Common Core State Standards. When considering classroom instruction and the students’ demonstration of understanding, the specificity of the Standards cannot be ignored. Since the students are expected to reason mathematically and use modeling to represent mathematics on the PARCC assessment, they need opportunities to communicate reasoning and provide modeling in classroom tasks.

It is our sincerest wish that you find value in these ideas and resources and begin to integrate the concepts that students will experience on PARCC. Please let us know if we can help you make your classroom or school more fully aligned with the Common Core and PARCC.

 

Inspired Instruction offers 540 PARCC lesson plans, online PARCC-like assessments with technology-enhanced items, PARCC workshops, and PARCC demonstration lessons.

Please contact Judy Cataldi for more information:

Judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com or call 908-223-7202

Standards Solution Holding, LLC is not owned by or affiliated in any fashion with PARCC, Inc.

By |2018-02-12T15:37:08+00:00February 5th, 2018|PARCC Prep|0 Comments

Preparing for PARCC Part III – Using PARCC Writing Rubrics continued


Using PARCC Writing Rubrics to Inform Instruction:
Creating a Corrective Instruction Plan

This post is part of our blog series on PARCC. In this series, we offer tips and strategies you can use to ensure that your students perform at their very best on the PARCC tests.

Last year, PARCC posted their writing rubrics for the Prose-Constructed Response (PCR) and then revised them this past July.

In the first post, we discussed how instructors can score their students’ essays by creating item-specific guides. And we stressed that the only reason we assess students is to identify their strengths and needs, which in turn enables us to provide corrective instruction. In this post, we’ll show you how to analyze students’ needs and create a corrective instruction plan to address these needs.

Analyzing Student Results

  • Use the Analyzing Student Essays form and identify your students’ needs.
  • Based upon your analysis, what is your class’s greatest need in relationship to constructing an on-demand LAT or RST?
  • Which students performed exceptionally well? What was special about their essays?
  • Which students displayed the greatest needs? What are their needs and how will you provide corrective instruction?

Consider Your Classes’ Needs

  • What did you discover when you reviewed your classes’ essays?  Below are some common needs:
  • Students answered the prompt, but wrote an open-ended question response instead of an essay.
  • Students did not write an introductory paragraph with a thesis statement.
  • Students’ essays lacked structure and organization.
  • Students did not respond to all parts of the PCR prompt.
  • Students provided evidence but did not link it to the reasons, topic sentences, and/or major claim.
  • Students did not finish in time.

Create a Corrective Instruction Plan

Use the Corrective Instruction Plan in this section. Based upon your findings, what activities will you implement to address each class’s greatest needs?  Moreover, what is your plan for providing assistance to individual students? Click on the links to access suggested activities.

  • Deconstructing Essays
  • Honing Understanding of Evidence
  • Creating Advanced Arguments
  • Creating Rubrics
  • Selecting Literature
  • Constructing PCRs

In this two-part blog, Using PARCC Rubrics, we learned:

  • How to create item-specific guides
  • How to score our students’ LAT and RST essays
  • How to analyze our students’ results
  • How to provide corrective instruction to address student needs

Standards Solution and Inspired Instruction offers 540 PARCC lesson plans, online PARCC-like assessments with technology-enhanced items, PARCC workshops, and PARCC demonstration lessons.

Please contact Judy Cataldi for more information.

Judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com or call 908-223-7202

Standards Solution Holding, LLC is not owned by or affiliated in any fashion with PARCC, Inc.

By |2018-02-11T17:26:42+00:00January 29th, 2018|PARCC Prep|0 Comments

Preparing for PARCC Part II – Using PARCC Writing Rubrics

Using PARCC Writing Rubrics 
to Inform Instruction:
Scoring Student Essays

 

 

This post is part of our blog series on PARCC. In this series, we offer tips and strategies you can use to ensure that your students perform at their very best on the PARCC tests.

Last year, PARCC posted their writing rubrics for the Prose-Constructed Response (PCR) and then revised them this past July. However, since each writing task is unique and the rubrics are generic, to make good use of these rubrics you must create item-specific guides that qualify the range of student responses.

You can create item-specific guides to score your students’ on-demand writing samples. These guides will give you an idea of which writing skills you should focus on to help students improve their writing.

First, we need a thorough understanding of PARCC’s generic rubrics, and then we must identify the item-specific information related to each prompt. There are three components to PARCC’s generic rubric: Reading Comprehension – Comprehension of Key Ideas and Details; Writing – Written Expression; and Writing – Knowledge of Language and Conventions. Below is a list of student expectations for each category.

Reading Comprehension

  • Students must include evidence of understanding, including direct references and inferences.
  • Students need to link perspective (“analysis”) to specific evidence.
Written Expression
  • Students must respond to all parts of the prompt.
  • Students must develop a claim or topic with reasons and textual evidence.
  • Students must write in the specified discipline (narrative, essay, etc.).
  • Students must write in a style and organization effective for the conventions of the discipline.
Written Conventions
  • Students must demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English.
  • Students need to write enough so that scorers can properly assess their command of standard English conventions.

 

The first step in creating the task-specific rubric is to survey your students’ essays. Task-specific rubrics are constructed using student responses and by identifying expected conditions for each category of the generic rubric. Use Standards Solution’s Item-Specific Considerations to set the expectations for each category.

Now that you have considered every element of the rubric, return to your students’ essays and use the rubric and your item specific guide to identify strengths and areas of need.

Scoring

For responses to the Literary Analysis Task and Research Simulation Task, three dimensions are scored for a total of 19 points (15 for grade 3)
  • Reading: worth up to 4 points
  • Written Expression: worth up to 12 points*
  • Knowledge of Language and Conventions: worth up to 3 points
*When determining the score for Written Expression, the scorer first determines the holistic score (4, 3, 2, 1, 0) based on which score point best describes that
paper. Then that score (4, 3, 2, 1, 0) is multiplied by three. This means that only certain scores can be represented (12, 9, 6, 3, 0). This is true for both rubrics.
Scoring Process
  • Use the rubric and your item specific guide to review each essay.
  • Score Reading Comprehension.
  • Consider the elements to Written Expression and score accordingly:
    • Did the student write an essay that addresses all parts of the prompt?
    • Did the student provide a claim with reasons and evidence?
    • Was the student’s essay organized and effective for the given genre?
  • Remember to consider the holistic nature of the essay when selecting point values for Written Expression and remember to multiply by three.
  • For the Writing – Knowledge of Language and Conventions category, points should only be deducted when the errors impede meaning.

 

Remember, the purpose of evaluating our students is to help them improve their abilities. In our next post, we’ll describe how to analyze your students’ needs and provide corrective instruction.

Inspired Instruction offers 540 PARCC lesson plans, online PARCC-like assessments with technology-enhanced items, PARCC workshops, and PARCC demonstration lessons.

Please contact Judy Cataldi for more information. Judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com or call 908-223-7202

Standards Solution Holding, LLC is not owned by or affiliated in any fashion with PARCC, Inc

By |2018-02-06T14:09:43+00:00January 22nd, 2018|PARCC Prep|0 Comments

Preparing for PARCC Part I – The Six Step Process

The Six-Step Process for Completing the LATs and RSTs
 
This post is part of our blog serieson PARCC. In this series, we offer tips and strategies you can use to ensure that your students perform at their very best on the PARCC tests.

In this article, we’ll explain our six-step process for responding to the Prose-Constructed Response (PCR) prompt on PARCC’s Literary Analysis Tasks and Research Simulation Tasks. Students who follow these steps will have a great advantage on tackling the essay questions in these tasks.
These steps are meant to be followed after the student has read the prompt and texts at least once.
Step 1: Consider the Prompt
Too many educators assume that students read a prompt and just know what it’s asking them to do. But PARCC’s writing prompts can be startlingly easy to misread if one isn’t careful. Students should be taught how to analyze the prompts and then state in their own words what the prompt is requiring of them.

For an example, read the PARCC prompt below. A student may read it and think that she is only identifying the authors’ arguments. However, what she’s really being asked to do is analyze the
strength of the arguments.  

 
Step 2: Rewrite the Prompt as a Thesis Statement
Once the student understands what the prompt is asking her to write about, she is then ready to make a claim in the form of a thesis statement. A thesis statement can be constructed
following a simple formula: Restate the main idea of the prompt and then state your position. In the example below, I restate the crux of the prompt and state my position:
Step 3: Gather Evidence
Next, the student has to gather evidence to support her position from—and only from—the text, not from personal experience or from life at large. The box below displays quotations that the student gathered as possible evidence. She won’t use all of it, but she wants to gather enough so that she has enough to choose from. Because the prompt requires the student to evaluate the strengths of the arguments in each text, the student should collect all the evidence that mentions Earhart’s bravery or demonstrates it by describing her actions. Based on the evidence collected, a student may notice that her original thesis needs to be modified.
Step 4: Organize the Evidence and Construct the Outline
This step is most often the hardest. Writing a clear and organized essay is relatively straightforward when you have a good quality outline. Organizing your argument and evidence into a coherent whole is where the greatest challenge lies.
The outline should address each of the three major sections of an essay: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.
Here’s a useful way to organize each body paragraph:
A. Topic Sentence
B. Support
C. Explanation
D. Support
E. Explanation
F. Summary
G. Transition
With this order, the student ensures that she introduces the topic of each paragraph, offers enough support (textual evidence) for her thesis, and justifies the use of each individual piece of evidence. Ideas for transitions and summaries can be jotted down too, but they can also be left for the writing stage, when it will be easier to articulate them once the ideas for the body paragraph are expressed.
Here is a sample with two body paragraphs. The student should aim for specificity and simplicity. Sophisticated language is best left for the revision stage.
Step 5: Write the Essay
Once students understand the format of PARCC’s LATs and RSTs, the majority of classroom instruction should focus on improving the quality of students’ writing. Instruction should begin with the requirements of the task, followed by Steps 1 to 4 above. Once students have mastered the essay construct, instructors can assist students to write strong transitions between paragraphs, to make better word choices, and to write conclusions that leave the reader thinking.
Step 6: Revise, Edit and Proofread
The last step should be taught using explicit directions. Instructors often tell students to revise and edit their essays but don’t explain what or how students should do so. One method that worked well for my students when I was a teacher was to give them an editing checklist, catered to the specific prompt the students were writing from. After students finish their drafts, direct them to go down the list and confirm that they have each item or add the items they don’t have.
Conclusion
Equipped with this six-step process, students will be able to craft clear and organized essays for the PARCC RST and LAT. Practice this process several times throughout the year, so that by testing time your students are clear on what steps they should take to complete the Prose-Constructed Response.
Standards Solution and Inspired Instruction offer 540 PARCC lesson plans, online PARCC-like assessments with technology-enhanced items, PARCC workshops, and PARCC demonstration
lessons.
Please contact Judy Cataldi for more information: Judy.cataldi@standardssolution.com or call 908-223-7202.

Standards Solution Holding, LLC is not owned by or affiliated in any fashion with PARCC, Inc.

By |2018-02-09T21:25:20+00:00January 15th, 2018|PARCC Prep|0 Comments