Saturday, September 27, 2014

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices
1. Asking questions
2. Developing and using models
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
5. Using mathematics, information and computer technology, and computational thinking
6. Constructing explanations and designing solutions
7. Engaging in argument from evidence
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lesh & Clark (2000) - Formulating operational definitions of desired outcomes of instruction in mathematics and science education

Lesh, R., & Clarke, D. (2000). Formulating operational definitions of desired outcomes of instruction in mathematics and science education. In A. E. Kelly & R. A. Lesh (Eds.), Handbook of research design in mathematics and science education (pp. 113-149). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

In science, some phenomena (e.g., neutrinos, black holes) may not be directly observable, but may be knowable by its effects (p.125). The authors argue that many aspects of learning and knowledge may not be directly observable either, but we can make inferences about what someone knows by what they can do. "For example, we may not know how to define what makes Granny a great cook; however, it still may be easy to identify situations that will elicit and reveal her capabilities, and it also may be easy to compare and assess alternative results that are produced." (p.140)

p127: Cognitive objectives function similarly to the ways cyclotrons, cloud chambers, and vats of heavy water are used in physics. That is, they are defined operationally by specifying: (a) situations that optimize the chances that the targeted construct will occur in an observable form; (b) observation tools that enable observers to sort out signal from noise in the results that occur; and (c) quality assessment criteria that allow meaningful comparisons to be made among alternative possibilities.

p130: In particular, in the case of conceptual systems that students develop during the solution of individual problem solving sessions: (i) model-eliciting activities put students in situations where they confront the need to produce a given type of construct, and where the products that they generate require them to reveal explicitly important characteristics of their underlying ways of thinking; (ii) ways of thinking sheets focus on ways of recognizing are describing the nature of the constructs that students produce; and (iii) guidelines for assessing the quality of students' work provide criteria that can be used to compare the usefulness of alternative ways of thinking.

p133: Three final characteristics should be mentioned that pertain to operational definitions involving the development of students, teachers, and programs. First, the development of these problem solvers tends to be highly interdependent. Second, when something (or someone) acts on anyone of these complex systems, they tend to act back. Third, researchers (as well as the instruments that they use) usually are integral parts of the systems that they are hoping to understand and explain. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Using Designed Instructional Activities to Enable Novices to Manage Ambitious Mathematics Teaching

Lampert, M., Beasley, H., Ghousseini, H., Kazemi, E., & Franke, M. (2010). Using Designed Instructional Activities to Enable Novices to Manage Ambitious Mathematics Teaching. In M. K. Stein & L. Kucan (Eds.), Instructional Explanations in the Disciplines (pp. 129–141). Boston, MA: Springer.

Instructional Activities Using Routines as Tools for Teacher Education
• Choral counting: The teacher leads the class in a count, teaching different concepts and skills by deciding what number to start with, what to count by (e.g., by 10s, by 19s, by 3/4s), whether to count forward or backward, and when to stop. The teacher publicly records the count on the board, stopping to elicit children’s ideas for figuring out the next number, and to co-construct an explanation of the mathematics that arises in patterns.
• Strategy sharing: The teacher poses a computational problem and elicits multiple ways of solving the problem. Careful use of representations and targeted questioning of students are designed to help the class learn the general logic underlying the strategies, identify mathematical connections, and evaluate strategies in terms of efficiency and generalizability.
• Strings: The teacher poses several related computational problems, one at a time, in order to scaffold students’ ability to make connections across problems and use what they know to solve a more difficult computational problem. This activity is used to target a particular strategy (as compared to eliciting a range of strategies). For example, posing 4 × 4, then 4 × 40, and then 4 × 39 is designed to help students consider how to use 4 × 40 to solve 4 × 39, developing their knowledge of compensating strategies in multiplication (Fosnot & Dolk, 2001).
• Solving word problems: The teacher first launches a word problem to support students in making sense of the problem situation, then monitors while students are working to determine how students are solving the problem, gauges which student strategies are best suited for meeting the instructional goal of an upcoming mathematical discussion, and makes judgments about how to orchestrate the discussion to meet those goals.

[a fifth IA in recent articles is Quick Images: The goal of this activity is to build students' ability to visualize a quantity.]

A Focus on Instructional Dialogue
A relatively recent focus of Leinhardt’s work on teaching routines has been how they are used in “instructional dialogue” (Leinhardt & Steele, 2005), a practice we would consider to be the centerpiece of ambitious mathematics teaching. In this kind of teaching, an explanation is co-constructed by the teacher and students in the class during an instructional conversation. Maintaining a coherent mathematical learning agenda while encouraging student talk about mathematics is perhaps the most challenging aspect of ambitious teaching. In their study of teaching through instructional dialogues, Leinhardt and Steele (2005) demonstrated the use of eight kinds of “exchange” routines in this kind of teaching to accomplish explanatory work, including maintaining mathematical clarity in the face of student inarticulateness, fixing the agenda of the class on a single student’s idea, making it safe for students to revise incorrect contributions, and honing students’ contributions toward mathematical accuracy and precision. The exchange routines that Leinhardt and Steele (pp. 143–144) identified include the following:
• The call-on routine, which is initiated by a rather open invitation to discussion and has two separate components: the initial identification of a problem and the speaker who responds, followed by a second part in which the class is prompted to analyze, justify, or critique the statement given by the first speaker or another speaker in the discussion.
• The related revise routine in which students were asked to rethink their assertions and publicly explain a new way of thinking about their solutions.
• The clarification routine “which was invoked when a confusion arose regarding an idea or conjecture volunteered into the public space, which in turn involved understanding the source of confusion.”

Ambitious Teaching Practice - Lampert, M., Boerst, T., & Graziani, F. (2011)

Lampert, M., Boerst, T., & Graziani, F. (2011). Organizational Resources in the Service of School-Wide Ambitious Teaching Practice. Teachers College Record, 113(7), 1361–1400.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 113 Number 7, 2011, p. 1361-1400 ID Number: 16072
Organizational Resources in the Service of School-Wide Ambitious Teaching Practice
by Magdalene Lampert, Timothy A. Boerst & Filippo Graziani

Challenges of Ambitious Teaching (pp 1364-7)
1. Teaching students to perform on authentic tasks needs to happen at the same time as teaching the basics (Kilpatrick, Swafford, Findell, National Research Council, 2001; Snow et al., 2005). Consequently, one challenge of ambitious teaching that occurs across subject matters is keeping different kinds of content on the table at the same time.

2. Assessment is a second challenge. Teachers with ambitious learning goals must do more than act reflexively on judgments of separate elements of students’ work as right or wrong according to an answer key. ... In mathematics, teachers need to know a broad spectrum of methods that students might invent to solve problems and what mathematical understanding is embedded in their inventions in order to assess competence and promote sense-making (Franke, Kazemi, & Battey, 2007).

3. A third challenge of making academically demanding work available to diverse students is adjusting teaching to what particular students are currently able to do (or not). Teachers teach a variety of different individuals in a common social setting, and in order to succeed with diverse learners, they need to find ways to “microadapt” based on continually assessing and learning about students as they teach (Corno, 2008).

4. In addition to these intellectual challenges, this kind of teaching also requires teachers across subject matter domains to manage more complex and risky forms of social organization (Cohen, 1998; Kennedy, 2007). ... adapting teaching to learning requires working in the relational space where students’ anxieties and fears can intrude on the learning process (Corno, 2008). Ambitious teachers need to lead discussions in which students learn from talking about ideas and enable students to engage productively in collaborative investigation with partners they might not chose as friends (Chapin, O’Connor, & Anderson, 2003; Kazemi, 1998; Rex, Murnen, Hobbs, & McEachen, 2002).


Social practice theory - pp. 1367-9
To understand how the challenges of ambitious teaching could be managed regularly at the level of the school, we needed to investigate not only what individual teachers could do to address them, but also what they can do routinely with their colleagues as part of a structured social system working on a joint enterprise using a common set of resources to meet common objectives. We employed the concept of a “social practice” to name this kind of system and to analyze the link between the existence of organizational resources in a school and the effects of the common work that occurs across individual teachers as they use them. A social practice takes shape as people interact with one another using the tools of their trade, developing a shared repertoire they can call upon to get their work done (Engeström & Middleton, 1998).

In clarifying how “social practice theory” is different from other kinds of cultural theories, Reckwitz (2002) emphasizes its focus on how the coordination of individual action with commonly available resources enables the coherent use of those resources.

In social practices, Reckwitz observes, these different kinds of resources interact to form a ‘block’ that cannot be reduced to a set of single elements. Social practice is more than just “talk”. It is built in the multidimensional terrain where practitioners interact in particular places in particular ways using particular objects.

Teachers who work on problems of practice together interpret what they see students doing through their common values, norms, rules, beliefs, and assumptions, and given that shared interpretation, individuals decide what to do (Little, 1982; Weick & McDaniel, 1989)


Three inter-related dynamics:
Teachers’ common commitments to ambitious goals
Teachers’ individual and collective use of resources to scaffold the practice of ambitious teaching
Teachers' social use of resources in planning and evaluations of lessons and students

In analyses of the lessons we observed, we examined in detail how individual teachers used the school’s resources to mediate the challenges of ambitious teaching in ways that were similar to what Lampert observed as a language-learning student. We noted the prevailing use of resources across routine phases of the work of teaching. Our analysis took into account three phases:
• planning: i.e., how teachers prepare for ambitious practice;
• instruction: i.e., what teachers do in interaction with subject matter and diverse students across time; and
• reflection: i.e., how teachers think about, talk about, learn from, evaluate and capture their insights about students and content from enacted practice.

During instruction, teachers use resources in social interactions with students to maintain and accomplish ambitious goals (Cohen, Raudenbusch, & Ball, 2003).

Fig 2 & 3
             Authentic       Analytic
Listening |               |               |
Speaking  |               |               |
Reading   |               |               |
Writing   |               |               |

In this article, we use the term “teaching” to refer to what teachers do in relationships with students and subject matter in environments. It is the teacher’s contribution to a phenomenon we will call “instruction” as defined by David Cohen, Steve Raudenbusch, and Deborah Ball: “Instruction consists of interactions among teachers and students around content in environments. . .‘Interaction’ refers to no particular form of discourse but to teachers’ and students’ connected work, extending through, days, weeks, and months. Instruction evolves as tasks develop and lead to others, as students’ engagement and understanding waxes and wanes, and organization changes (Lampert, 2001). Instruction is a stream, not an event, and it flows in and draws on environments — including other teachers and students, school leaders, parents, professions, local districts, state agencies, and test and text publishers.”(Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Summer, 2003, Vol 25, no.2, p.122)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Guskey (1995) - Teacher change and development - PD

Guskey, T., & Huberman, M. (1995). Professional Development in Education: New Paradigms and Practices. New York: Teachers College Press.

Optimal Mix chapter pp 114-131

Guskey (1995) – Teacher change and development is both an individual and organizational process. Teachers are more likely to develop and change in positive ways when the organizational and social contexts are supportive. Focusing on individual change while neglecting organization system level issues can limit success of programs. Organizational changes alone might not result in changes in teachers practices or student learning. [p. 119]

Teacher beliefs are more likely to change after trying out new instructional strategies and experiencing some sort of success.

See also:
Guskey, T. (2002). Professional Development and Teacher Change. Teachers and Teaching, 8(3), 381–391

Guskey, T. (1986). Staff Development and the Process of Teacher Change. Educational Researcher, 15(5), 5–12.

Friday, May 23, 2014

CCSS Math - 4 area of emphasis

The Common Core State Standards (CC) provide guidelines for how to teach mathematics for understanding by focusing on students’ mathematical reasoning and sense making. Here I will only summarize four emphases provided by the CC to describe how mathematics instruction for ELs needs to begin by following CC guidelines and taking these four areas of emphasis seriously.

Emphasis #1 Balancing conceptual understanding and procedural fluency
Instruction should a) balance student activities that address both important conceptual and procedural knowledge related to a mathematical topic and b) connect the two types of knowledge.

Emphasis #2 Maintaining high cognitive demand
Instruction should a) use high-cognitive-demand math tasks and b) maintain the rigor of mathematical tasks throughout lessons and units.

Emphasis #3 Developing beliefs
Instruction should support students in developing beliefs that mathematics is sensible, worthwhile, and doable.

Emphasis #4 Engaging students in mathematical practices
Instruction should provide opportunities for students to engage in eight different mathematical practices: 1) Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them, 2) reason abstractly and quantitatively, 3) construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others, 4) model with mathematics, 5) use appropriate tools strategically, 6) attend to precision, 7) look for and make use of structure, and 8) look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Source: Mathematics, the Common Core, and Language by Judit Moschkovich

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Five principles for creating effective second language learning environments

Five principles for creating effective second language learning environments
by Tony Erben

Principle 1: Give ELLs many opportunities to read, to write, to listen to, and to discuss oral and written English expressed in a variety of ways

Principle 2: Draw attention to patterns of English language structure

Principle 3: Give ELLs classroom time to use their English productively

Principle 4: Give ELLs opportunities to notice their errors and to correct their English

Principle 5: Construct activities that maximize opportunities for ELLs to interact with others in English

Source: Erben, T., Ban, R., & Castaneda, M. (2009). Teaching English Language Learners Through Technology. New York: Routledge [Amazon]

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hargreaves, A. (1995). Development and Desire: A Postmodern Perspective.

Hargreaves, A. (1995). Development and Desire:  A Postmodern Perspective.  In Guskey, T. and Huberman, M. (Eds.), Professional Development in Education:  New Paradigms and Practices.  New York:  Teachers’ College Press

Notes: Hargreaves argues that the practice and research of teacher development should address the technical competence of teaching, the place of moral purpose in teaching, political awareness, acuity and adeptness among teachers, and teachers' emotional attachments to and engagement with their work. None of these dimensions alone capture all that is important or all there is to know about teacher development. What really matters is the interactions among and integration between them.

Dimensions of teacher development
Good teaching, for most people, is a matter of teachers mastering the skills of teaching and the knowledge of what to teach and how to teach it. Teacher development, in this view, is about knowledge and skill development. This kind of teacher development is well known and widely practised. It can be neatly packaged in courses, materials, workshops and training programs.

Good teaching, however, also involves issues of moral purpose, emotional investment and political awareness, adeptness and acuity. What teacher development might mean in these terms is much less clear; not nearly so easy to package and plan. It touches on the teacher as a person, has relevance for teachers' long term orientations to their work, and impacts on the settings in which teachers teach. These moral, political and emotional aspects of teacher development are less well understood and less widely practised.

1. Technical Skill
It is obvious and uncontentious that good teaching requires competence in technical skills - be these ones of classroom management, mixed-ability teaching, cooperative learning, direct instruction, or whatever. Less obviously, but just as importantly, the possibilities for good teaching also increase when teachers command a wide repertoire of skills and strategies, and can judge how to select them for and adjust them to the child, the content and the moment (Darling-Hammond & Berry, 1988). How teachers (and indeed other professionals) make such judgements and make them well is more elusive (Schon, 1983) and not addressed at all effectively in most forms of teacher development.

2. Moral Purpose
Attending to the moral dimensions of teaching usually involves distinguishing between better and worse courses of action, rather than right and wrong ones. There are no clear rules of thumb, no useful universal principles for deciding between these options. Unlike university philosophers of education, classroom teachers do not have the ethereal privilege of proclaiming their virtue from the high ground.
Teacher development can help teachers articulate and rehearse resolving these moral dilemmas in their work. By reflecting on their own practice, observing and analyzing other teachers' practice or studying case examples of practice, teachers can clarify the dilemmas they face and develop principled, practical and increasingly skillful and thoughtful ways of dealing with them (Groundwater-Smith, 1993). This approach to teacher development elevates the principles of thoughtful, practical judgement above personal prejudice, misleading moral absolutes, or the false certainties of science as a guide to action and improvement (Schön, 1983; Louden, 1991).

3. Political Awareness, Adeptness and Acuity 
First, being a more political and critically reflective teacher means learning about the micropolitical configurations of one's school.
Second, being a more politically aware and developed teacher means empowering and assisting others to reach higher levels of competence and commitment.
Third, being more political means acknowledging and embracing, not avoiding human conflict.
Fourth, for teacher developers themselves, being more political means recognizing that many typical training efforts in knowledge and skill development falsely treat the techniques in which teachers are being trained as universal, generic, neutral and equally applicable to all students irrespective of race, gender and other distinctions.
Fifthly, to return to Liston & Zeichner's (1991) agenda, it is also important to be reflective about the long term political and social consequences of one's classroom work.

4. Emotional Involvement

  • most teacher development initiatives, even the most innovative ones, neglect the emotions of teaching
  • Much of the writing on and practice of teacher development has tended to emphasize its rational, intellectual, cognitive, deliberative and strategic qualities.
  • In one sense, passion, desire and other intense emotions have always been central to teaching.
  • Emotions an pivotal to the quality of teaching. Teacher developers ignore them at their peril.
  • Emotional awareness and emotional growth in teaching can be fostered and sustained through specific techniques such as personal reflective journals, shared discussions of personal and professional life histories, or establishment of teacher support groups, for example. More generally, the development of collaborative school cultures has been shown to create environments in which successes can be shared, vulnerabilities aired, differences acknowledged and trust and tolerance consolidated (Nias et al,1989; Nias et al, 1992; Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991).