Saturday, June 15, 2019

Four things instructional coaches need to do this summer

Are you a new instructional coach? Trying to figure out how to get sarted and be as prepared as possible for your new job? This post includes 4 easy things to do over the summer to be prepared for next school year. These ideas will give you knowledge and the confidence you need to be successful and start coaching with confidence! Check out these four tips and get ready for your first year of coaching, or to grow as an experienced coach! I get a lot of questions from peole who have just been hired as instructional coaches. The number one question is: What can I do to be ready?

If your brain is racing, trying to figure to what you need to do to be ready for next year, you are not alone.

Coaches everywhere (especially new coaches, or coaches who know big changes are coming) are trying to figure out how to be prepared for next year.

Here are four easy things you can do to be ready!
1. Make some decisions.
It's impossible to "focus" on everything. I know teachers who continuously stress themselves out by saying things like, "We're targeting all of these skills", and the list is 10 skills long. You can't "target" ten skills. You can really only "target" a couple of things at a time (ok, technically one thing, but I'm being flexible with this metaphor). 

If you're going to be effective, you really need to take a step back and reflect on how things went this year. Then you need to make some decisions about where you are going to invest your energy next year. It helps to do this over the summer so you have a month or two to let it sort of "percolate" in the back of your mind. What could this look like?

  • Maybe this year you're going to make sure you spend more time in teachers' classrooms because you got pulled from this a lot last year.
  • Maybe you're going to make a point to learn about data so you can support your teachers in understanding student strengths and areas to grow.
  • Maybe you're going to dig in to your state standards to support your teachers in planning.
Once you've decided what you want to do differently next year, you'll know what your focus for learning will be on this summer. This brings me to tip #2...

2. Read a book.
While I completely recommend reading books for personal enjoyment (teachers and coaches have to be readers, too!), I'm referring to reading a book about coaching. Bonus points if it supports your plans for next year!

Here are a few I recommend. These are affiliate links, but they're all books I have read and learned from.


Coaching Conversations by Linda Gross Cheliotes and Marceta Fleming Reilly
This book focuses on being a committed listener, speaking powerfully, and providing reflective feedback. Perfect for the coaching cycle!

 

The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar
When you're working with a teacher, there are so many social and emotional issues that we take for granted in addition to the academic issues we tend to focus on. This book brings them to light and gives you some insight in addressing them.


The Art of Coaching Teams by Elena Aguilar
Coaching PLCs or grade levels can be very challenging. This book gives you a lot to think about when it comes to working with teams effectively.

 
Student-Led Coaching: the Moves by Diane Sweeney
This book is full of actionable items that you can actually implement quickly. I really recommend it, especially for new coaches!

 
 And now for a shameless plug: The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching by me.
 
Are you a new instructional coach? Trying to figure out how to get sarted and be as prepared as possible for your new job? This post includes 4 easy things to do over the summer to be prepared for next school year. These ideas will give you knowledge and the confidence you need to be successful and start coaching with confidence! Check out these four tips and get ready for your first year of coaching, or to grow as an experienced coach!



Are you a new instructional coach? Trying to figure out how to get sarted and be as prepared as possible for your new job? This post includes 4 easy things to do over the summer to be prepared for next school year. These ideas will give you knowledge and the confidence you need to be successful and start coaching with confidence! Check out these four tips and get ready for your first year of coaching, or to grow as an experienced coach! 3. Do some PD.
Sometimes coaches get lots of PD in their content areas, but not in the actual work of coaching.
Getting professional development specifically designed for coaches is so important, and it can be motivating, too!
Sometimes, coaching PD can be hard to find.

Fortunately, here's a free one you can sign up for! It's four days of virtual PD especially for coaches! There are sessions about topics coaches need: data, culture, questioning, communicating effectively, and more. 

Just check it out to read through all of the session titles and see the big names in coaching, too! Diane Sweeney & Angela Watson were a couple who really stuck out to me.

Here's my link for the free registration: Free registration to Simply Coaching Summit
And here's my affiliate link for a six-month pass: Six Month Pass to Simply Coaching Summit

4. Rest.
As a coach, your whole purpose is to help everyone else. That's literally why you have a job. You go to work to help teachers and kids. It's a mentally and emotionally exhausting job. (Sometimes it's physically exhausting, too!)

This summer, take some time to just be yourself. Do things you like to do. Don't think about work for a while. Here are a few ideas, if you're stumped.
  • Go to the bathroom whenever you want, for as long as you want
  • Read a book you want to read
  • Have drinks with friend
  • Bake a treat 
  • Stare into the abyss
  • Eat a dinner you cooked
  • Go to Target and buy something fun
  • Get a pedicure
  • Sit on the porch and drink wine or tea or something tasty
  • Watch something pointless on TV
  • Take a walk
  • Ride a bike 
  • Spend time in your garden or yard
  • Go for a swim
  • Really, do anything that is not work. And do a lot of it. You'll need your mental energy when school starts again.

Are you a new instructional coach? Trying to figure out how to get sarted and be as prepared as possible for your new job? This post includes 4 easy things to do over the summer to be prepared for next school year. These ideas will give you knowledge and the confidence you need to be successful and start coaching with confidence! Check out these four tips and get ready for your first year of coaching, or to grow as an experienced coach!

 
Pin It

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Helping teachers reflect on their practice

We know teacher reflection should be going on all year, but the end of the year is the perfect time for instructional coaches to help teachers stop and think about their teaching. This post includes questions and strategies for helping teachers reflect. Instead of just asking teachers to set goals, have them go through a reflective process to really bring their ideas to the forefront and think about where they'd like to grow and what they'd like to change! Helping teachers reflect on their practice can be challenging. As a coach, you're walking a fine line.

Your relationship with the teacher is delicate. Teachers who feel attacked will not want your support, whether attacking was your intention or not. Teachers who don't feel challenged will not benefit from your support, however helpful you might be.

The end of the school year is a good time to reflect on teaching practices, but we should really do this throughout the year, as an ongoing practice. After a lesson, day, or unit are good times to stop and think: is this working?

But we've got to start somewhere! In order to encourage reflection, one thing you can do is to meet with teachers at the end of the school year to help them think back to their year and make some plans for the next year.

As you're helping teachers think about the effectiveness of their teaching, here are a few questions you can ask and things you can do to facilitate the conversation and take it into action!
Questions to Ask:

About a specific lesson or unit
  • How do you feel about this lesson/unit?
  • What do you think went well?
  • How did you expect things to go differently?
  • Where did students struggle?
  • What seemed to work well to help them be successful?
  • How can you use those elements in other lessons?
About student progress
  • Did students make progress?
  • Did students make the progress you hoped they would make?
  • How do you know? What information are you using to decide this? (Data/observations/etc)
  • Why do you think that was the outcome? 
About student learning
  • What learning gaps do you see across your class?
  • What did you do to address these gaps?
  • Was it effective? How do you know?
  • What could you try next time to address this issue?
  • How could you address the same issue in a different way?
About strategies and methods
  • What did you try this year that worked well for you?
  • What did you try this year that didn't work out well?
  • What have you learned that you'd like to try? What support/resources would you need to do that?
About what matters most
  • What were the best moments you spent with your students? What made them the best? How can you integrate those ideas into your teaching more often? 
  • If your child had been a student in a classroom exactly like yours, how would you have perceived the teacher and classroom? The climate? The dynamics? The opportunities to learn?  
  • What do you believe about teaching? How does that show up in your teaching? What could you do differently to better reflect those practices?
  • What do you want to learn more about? Where do you want to grow? How can I help you do that?
  • If you could change any one thing about the way you taught this year, what would it be?
  • If you had total control and choice in what you taught next year, what would your classroom look like? What elements of that can you integrate into your teaching next year? 
http://buzzingwithmsb.blogspot.com/2018/12/resolutions-dont-work-do-this-instead.html

Things to Do:
  • Use a focused observation guide to help you record specific kinds of notes about a lesson the teacher is teaching. You can focus on student engagement, questioning, time management, or any other facet of teaching and learning to help teachers gather information. Need guides? Get them in the Instructional Coaching MegaPack
  • Offer to record the teacher teaching a lesson. They can watch it with you or on their own.
  • Help the teacher create and provide students with a survey. Ask them about their experience. Don't shy away from asking the tough questions: What didn't you like about class? What was challenging for you? What should I change?
  • Help teachers make a plan using the Better than Goal Setting free resource I shared on this post!
  • Offer a menu of support to show teachers how you can help them grow. Ideas might be book recommendations, sharing videos, book studies, modeled lessons, or coaching cycles. 
Looking for tools to help you organize yourself and support your coaching work? I've put together a free resource from the Instructional Coaching MegaPack to help you out! Just enter your email address below to get the free resource!


 
Pin It

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The #1 tool coaches need: the Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack.

Save yourself from the daily struggle of trying to reinvent the wheel as an instructional coach. The Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack is the comprehensive resource to help you get organized and document your time. This product includes editable and printable calendars in fifteen different styles, daily and weekly schedules, forms for classroom visits, data logs, documents for providing feedback to teachers, & SO MUCH MORE!Imagine this: you're sitting at your desk. Your teacher documentation is organized, you have every form you need at your fingertips, and you know exactly how you're going to spend your time today.

When you visit classrooms, you know what you're looking for and you have an easy, positive way to share feedback with teachers.

Every resource you use is in its place, labeled, and ready to go. You've been using the Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack, and you're ready to coach with confidence.

Who doesn't want to feel like they're ready for their day with all of the tools they need? 

As a new coach, I was re-inventing the wheel every day, spending my precious time creating documents that already existed and digging through binder after binder and book after book to find exactly the right form.
Save yourself from the daily struggle of trying to reinvent the wheel as an instructional coach. The Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack is the comprehensive resource to help you get organized and document your time. This product includes editable and printable calendars in fifteen different styles, daily and weekly schedules, forms for classroom visits, data logs, documents for providing feedback to teachers, & SO MUCH MORE!
I'd visit classrooms and not know where to start, scramble to pull together RtI forms at the last minute, and race to data review meetings, planning in my head as I walked. Basically, I was underwater.

This is a pretty common experience for coaches. There's just not that much support out there. If you feel like this, you are not alone. There are thousands of coaches across the country who feel just like you: unsupported. Coaches often have to forge their own way, sometimes even creating their job descriptions as they go.

But there's an easier way to do this work. And it starts with getting the resources you need. 
Save yourself from the daily struggle of trying to reinvent the wheel as an instructional coach. The Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack is the comprehensive resource to help you get organized and document your time. This product includes editable and printable calendars in fifteen different styles, daily and weekly schedules, forms for classroom visits, data logs, documents for providing feedback to teachers, & SO MUCH MORE!

I created the Instructional Coaching MegaPack to help coaches just like you and me, who were starting from scratch every single day. It's full of every form and organizational tool you need as coach, whether you're coaching literacy, math, science, or any instructional method or approach. The best part? Forms are printable AND editable pdfs, so you can print and go OR fill them in on your computer!

Seriously, it's a lifesaver. Save yourself from reinventing the wheel on a daily basis with this comprehensive coaching resource.

Here's what coaches have said about the Instructional Coaching MegaPack.
 It's made just for instructional coaches.

It's got everything you need.


Fillable forms make life easy!

It's a lifesaver!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Instructional-Coach-Binder-MegaPack-of-Printable-FillableEditable-Forms-More-2065048


Want to know exactly what you'll get in this gigantic resource? Check out the details!

Coach in Style
To get you organized quickly, but help you match your style, too, there are fifteen different styles of calendars, binder covers and spine labels, and cute notes to leave when you visit classrooms, too! The best part? The calendars & binder covers are editable, making it easy for you to use them year after year.
Save yourself from the daily struggle of trying to reinvent the wheel as an instructional coach. The Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack is the comprehensive resource to help you get organized and document your time. This product includes editable and printable calendars in fifteen different styles, daily and weekly schedules, forms for classroom visits, data logs, documents for providing feedback to teachers, & SO MUCH MORE!

Save yourself from the daily struggle of trying to reinvent the wheel as an instructional coach. The Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack is the comprehensive resource to help you get organized and document your time. This product includes editable and printable calendars in fifteen different styles, daily and weekly schedules, forms for classroom visits, data logs, documents for providing feedback to teachers, & SO MUCH MORE!

Styles Included:
  • Black and white
  • Bright chevron
  • Confetti pattern party
  • Watercolor flowers
  • Black, white, and pink dahlias
  • Gold & white
  • Blue and yellow flowers
  • Bright pencils
  • Bees
  • Blush flowers
  • Coffee
  • Rainbow
  • School supplies
  • Crosshatched desktop
  • Salsa: citrus and lime chevron

Save yourself from the daily struggle of trying to reinvent the wheel as an instructional coach. The Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack is the comprehensive resource to help you get organized and document your time. This product includes editable and printable calendars in fifteen different styles, daily and weekly schedules, forms for classroom visits, data logs, documents for providing feedback to teachers, & SO MUCH MORE!


Binder Covers Included in each style
  • Grade Level Binder Covers: Prekindergarten through eighth grade binder cover and spine label for a 3" binder
  • Subject Binder Covers: Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Math, Science
  • Data Binder Cover
  • Teacher Documentation Binder Cover
  • Coaching Logs Binder Cover
  • PLC Binder Cover
  • Response to Intervention Binder Cover


Save yourself from the daily struggle of trying to reinvent the wheel as an instructional coach. The Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack is the comprehensive resource to help you get organized and document your time. This product includes editable and printable calendars in fifteen different styles, daily and weekly schedules, forms for classroom visits, data logs, documents for providing feedback to teachers, & SO MUCH MORE!


Calendars Included in each style
  • 5-day calendar for planning
  • Full monthly calendar
  • Editable Full monthly calendar - use Keynote or PowerPoint to edit
  • Editable binder covers and spines - use Adobe to edit
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Instructional-Coach-Binder-MegaPack-of-Printable-FillableEditable-Forms-More-2065048

Visit Classrooms
Coaching is about making change happen on your campus and supporting your teachers in their professional learning. Some of the most important tools in the MegaPack are the instructional coaching and observation tools!  These tools help you focus your classroom visits, leave feedback, and document your coaching cycle work with teachers.


Save yourself from the daily struggle of trying to reinvent the wheel as an instructional coach. The Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack is the comprehensive resource to help you get organized and document your time. This product includes editable and printable calendars in fifteen different styles, daily and weekly schedules, forms for classroom visits, data logs, documents for providing feedback to teachers, & SO MUCH MORE!In the MegaPack, you'll get...
  • School Initiatives Plan
  • Instructional Support Log
  • Coaching Cycle and Conference (2 pgs.)
  • Book Study Meeting Plan
  • Classroom Observation Log
  • General Classroom Observation Form
  • Focused Classroom Observation: Student Participation (2 pgs.)
  • Focused Classroom Observation: Lesson Alignment (2 pgs.)
  • Focused Classroom Observation: Compliance vs. Engagement (2 pgs.)
  • Focused Classroom Observation: Time Management (2 pgs.)
  • Teacher Instructional Goal Setting (with accountability piece)
  • Teacher Instructional Goal Setting
  • Grade Level Goal Setting (with accountability piece)
  • Grade Level Goal Setting
  • Praise Notes (3 pages) - 15 different style versions available in the printable binder materials file!
  • Classroom Observation Notes

Save yourself from the daily struggle of trying to reinvent the wheel as an instructional coach. The Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack is the comprehensive resource to help you get organized and document your time. This product includes editable and printable calendars in fifteen different styles, daily and weekly schedules, forms for classroom visits, data logs, documents for providing feedback to teachers, & SO MUCH MORE!
Review Data
Facilitating data conversations and helping teachers plan next steps is a big role. Data can be overwhelming, but these simple data review guides can help you make responding to data easy.

In the MegaPack, you'll get...
  • Reflecting on Data Bookmarks
  • Data Review (2 versions)
  • Standard Review

Plan Professional Development
Stay organized while you're figuring out what PD opportunities your teachers want and need and plan training that helps them grow!

In the MegaPack, you'll get...
  • Professional Development Sign-In (3 versions)
  • Ideas for Professional Development
  • Professional Development Calendar (printable only; not fillable)
  • Planning Professional Development Organizer (2 versions)
  • Professional Development Agenda (2 versions)

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Instructional-Coach-Binder-MegaPack-of-Printable-FillableEditable-Forms-More-2065048?aref=qx0prp2e


Plan Collaboratively
Managing a collaborative planning session with a grade level or group of teachers can result in chaos, but these planning guides help you stay focused and get it done well!

In the MegaPack, you'll get...
  • Focusing on the Standards
  • Integrating Data Review
  • Considering Misconceptions
  • Planning Day-to-Day (2 versions)
  • Weekly Planning Guide

Save yourself from the daily struggle of trying to reinvent the wheel as an instructional coach. The Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack is the comprehensive resource to help you get organized and document your time. This product includes editable and printable calendars in fifteen different styles, daily and weekly schedules, forms for classroom visits, data logs, documents for providing feedback to teachers, & SO MUCH MORE!Manage Your Time
Without a plan for your day or week, your time will slip right through your fingers. Figure out what you need to accomplish, schedule your days, and have a document that shows exactly where your time went.

In the MegaPack, you'll get...
  • Printable Only Color Monthly Calendar - 15 different style versions! (not editable)
  • Printable Only Black and White Monthly Calendar (not editable)
  • Week at a Glance: Planning Your Week
  • Daily Plan with Time Frames
  • Daily Plan (3 versions)
  • Daily Log (Record of Activities)
  • Student Intervention Log
  • Event Planning To-Do



Collect Documentation & Keep Records
Coaches have to keep track of so much. These forms help you document the important stuff and get the information from teachers that you need.

Save yourself from the daily struggle of trying to reinvent the wheel as an instructional coach. The Instructional Coaching Binder MegaPack is the comprehensive resource to help you get organized and document your time. This product includes editable and printable calendars in fifteen different styles, daily and weekly schedules, forms for classroom visits, data logs, documents for providing feedback to teachers, & SO MUCH MORE!In the MegaPack, you'll get...
  • Teacher Documentation Form (3 times a year)
  • Teacher Documentation Form (BOY, MOY, EOY)
  • Teacher Documentation Form (monthly record)
  • Teacher Documentation Form (9 times)
  • Tutoring Log (Student Attendance)
  • At-Risk List by Teacher
  • At-Risk List with Teacher and Grade
  • At-Risk List with Teacher, Grade, and Qualifying Criteria
  • Teacher Documentation Received with Date
  • Teacher Documentation Received with 8 slots
  • Teacher Documentation Received by Grade Level
  • Grade Level Meeting Notes (2 versions)
  • To-Do List
  • Teacher Materials Issued Log
  • Resource Checkout Sheet
  • Purchasing Log

Response to Intervention Forms
RtI is a whole world of forms on its own. Keep it simple and consistent with these RtI forms for you and for your teachers.

In the MegaPack, you'll get...
  • RtI Master List (2 versions)
  • RtI Referral Form (2 pgs.)
  • Progress Monitoring Form
  • Response to Intervention Log
  • Response to Intervention Meeting Log

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Instructional-Coach-Binder-MegaPack-of-Printable-FillableEditable-Forms-More-2065048?aref=qx0prp2e

Make today the day things change and coach with confidence!

Need to try it out first? You can get a free sample of the some of the materials included in this resource below!

 
Pin It

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Bridging guided reading to test prep: One easy tip

Looking for tips on how to get your kids to apply test-taking strategies? Even better, struggling to fit in guided reading when you're barely getting through your day? Here's my #1 tip on bridging guided reading to test prep in upper elementary. This post explains how to use a purpose question to have students apply their reading comprehension strategy that you're teaching them in guided reading! Don't give up on guided reading in test prep season before you read this post! Ah, spring. the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the kids are bubbling answers.

Ugh.
We've all been there. 

During this push, push, push for test scores that happens every spring, sometimes guided reading can get the boot. It can feel like we "just don't have the time". And I get it. 

The test is scary and we want our kids to be prepared, because if they're not, there can be consequences. 

Sure, there are consequences for us, but there are definitely consequences for them.

So guided reading sometimes gets lost in the desperate race to get kids where the state wants them to be, even though we know guided reading is the real deal and the test is not.

If you're struggling with this, this post is for you.



Here's how you can do guided reading while embedding some test-taking strategies, too!
Step 1. Plan your guided reading lesson like normal. Use your test data to figure out what strategy to focus on that will help them as readers and reading test takers. Use an instructional-leveled text. Identify the vocabulary you want to plant, and the background knowledge you want to access. 

Our main strategy for this lesson in the picture below was finding the main idea. Students used post-its to mark the main idea of each paragraph as they read, applying the strategy I'd taught them about finding the three-four most important words or ideas in each paragraph.

Looking for tips on how to get your kids to apply test-taking strategies? Even better, struggling to fit in guided reading when you're barely getting through your day? Here's my #1 tip on bridging guided reading to test prep in upper elementary. This post explains how to use a purpose question to have students apply their reading comprehension strategy that you're teaching them in guided reading! Don't give up on guided reading in test prep season before you read this post!

Step 2. As you're planning, when you get ready to write your purpose question: write it in test format. I'm talking test question stems and A, B, C, D. Type it up and print it out so each student has a question strip.

It should require students to practice the strategy you're working on. For our main idea work, I asked the question, "The information on page 5 helps explain how -" This was a test question stem from our state test. Students had to use their main ideas to check every answer choice and see if it matched their evidence. 

Looking for tips on how to get your kids to apply test-taking strategies? Even better, struggling to fit in guided reading when you're barely getting through your day? Here's my #1 tip on bridging guided reading to test prep in upper elementary. This post explains how to use a purpose question to have students apply their reading comprehension strategy that you're teaching them in guided reading! Don't give up on guided reading in test prep season before you read this post!


Once students get to the page that will help them answer their question, they apply their strategy like normal, and then they answer the question. Here's the important part: They have to USE THE STRATEGIES YOU'VE TAUGHT THEM!

If my students answered a question without marking their evidence with a post-it, analyzing the question, and analyzing each answer choice, I'd take their strip away and give them a blank one so they could actually do the thinking they needed to do to be successful.

Step 3. You have students finish their reading, applying strategies, and then bring them together (as usual) for a discussion about the purpose question. Here, they verbalize their thinking and explain how they arrived at the answer.


http://buzzingwithmsb.blogspot.com/2017/10/planning-for-guided-reading.html
It's an easy peasy connection and it'll give you the time and proximity to see what students are thinking as they approach these questions, while building reading strategies, too. 

Would you do this all year? Not really. You want open-ended questions for guided reading, most of the time. But bridging to the test is something that our kids need support in, and this is one way to do it without drill and kill!

Want to learn more about planning guided reading lessons? Check out my post: Planning for Guided Reading! It'll break it down a step at a time!



P.S.
If you try it, shout it out on FB or IG! 
Tag me @buzzingwithmsb!



Need more support in guided reading, and want some free resources to get you started? Enter your address below!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Seven Fun Ways to Review for a Test Using Multiple Choice Questions

Test prep can be fun and motivating with these ideas for answering multiple choice questions! Each strategy can be used for math, reading, or writing questions to practice for any standardized test. Grab a freebie to get you and your students started.It's sort of become a necessary evil. In order for kids to be successful in the awkward format that
standardized tests have, we have to give them some exposure to navigate the format of multiple choice questions.
But it's soooooo boring. 

Here are six ideas you can use to make multiple choice fun and destroy the test prep blues. They'll help you give the kids the practice they need while keeping them engaged!

The best part? You've probably got all this stuff already. You don't have to go to Target or the Dollar Store...unless you want to. Let's face it. Who doesn't want to go to Target? Nobody.

1. Dry Erase Response Boards

Low tech, low prep

To prepare for this strategy:
This is such an easy strategy! Give each student a dry erase board and a marker. These are sold at Target at the beginning of the year in the Dollar Spot, at the Dollar Store, or (even cheaper) you can make your own! Just laminate a piece of white or light-colored cardstock!

Test prep can be fun and motivating with these ideas for answering multiple choice questions! Each strategy can be used for math, reading, or writing questions to practice for any standardized test. Grab a freebie to get you and your students started.


To use it:
1. Place a multiple choice question on the projector, or have each student look at their copy of the question on their desks.
2.  Give them a set amount of time to work on the question.
3. When the timer goes off, ask them to record their answer (A,B,C,or D for multiple choice) on the dry erase board.
4. Use a signal word, such as "GO!" or "Show me!" for students to hold their boards up, all at the same time, facing towards you. 
5. Ask a student or two to justify their thinking, or to explain their thinking to their partner. 

You can easily scan across the room and see who's got it and who doesn't!

Alternate method: 
First, ask students to choose the answer that's clearly wrong and display that. Then ask them to choose one more wrong choice. This will help them integrate their multiple choice strategies into their thought process!

2. Answer Choice Cards

Test prep can be fun and motivating with these ideas for answering multiple choice questions! Each strategy can be used for math, reading, or writing questions to practice for any standardized test. Grab a freebie to get you and your students started.Low tech, medium prep (just the first time)

To prepare for this strategy, you have a couple of options...
1. Print out A, B, C, D options on different colors of paper. Laminate them. Hole punch them in the corner. Put them on a binder ring.

OR

2. Use different-colored index cards. Write a different answer choice on each one: A, B, C, D. Laminate them. Hole punch them in the corner. Put them on a binder ring.

How to use it:
Similar to the dry erase response board, you're going to...
1. Place a multiple choice question on the projector, or have each student look at their copy of the question on their desks.
2.  Give them a set amount of time to work on the question.
3. When the timer goes off, ask them to choose their answer (A,B,C,or D for multiple choice) and place that card on top.
4. Use a signal word, such as "GO!" or "Show me!" for students to hold their cards up, all at the same time, facing towards you. 
5. Ask a student or two to justify their thinking, or to explain their thinking to their partner.

Because you've used different colors for each answer choice, you can easily see who's got it. If most of your kids are holding up pink but two are holding up green, you can immediately tell who might need some intervention. (Hopefully, in this scenario, pink is the right answer.)

Alternate method: 
First, ask students to choose the answer that's clearly wrong. Then ask them to choose one more wrong choice. This will help them integrate their multiple choice strategies into their thought process!

Test prep can be fun and motivating with these ideas for answering multiple choice questions! Each strategy can be used for math, reading, or writing questions to practice for any standardized test. Grab a freebie to get you and your students started.

3. Four Corners

Low tech, low prep

To prepare for this strategy...
This one's easy peasy. Designate each corner in your classroom as a different answer choice (A, B, C, D). You can stick a post-it or a sign up there if you like, to help kids remember.
 How to use it:

1. Place a multiple choice question on the projector, or have each student look at their copy of the question on their desks.
2.  Give them a set amount of time to work on the question.
3. When the timer goes off, ask the kids to decide on their choice. Then, use a signal word such as "Move!" or "Choose!" to signal that students are to move to the corner that represents their choice. They must move in as direct a path as possible, without changing directions. It's also important to teach them not to run. That's why I don't recommend making "Go!" your signal word, as that is pretty much going to start them off at the races! 
4. Once students have moved to their spots, you can ask them to justify their reasoning.

Test prep can be fun and motivating with these ideas for answering multiple choice questions! Each strategy can be used for math, reading, or writing questions to practice for any standardized test. Grab a freebie to get you and your students started.

4. Toss It

Low tech, low prep

To prepare for this strategy:
1. Gather four containers and label them A, B, C, D.
2. Collect enough mini erasers, counters, counting bears, talking chips, or any small manipulative for each student in your class to have one.
You can do this in teams or groups by using smaller containers (cups and min erasers work really well), or you can do this whole group by using larger containers (bins, trash cans, and counting bears or balled-up pieces of paper).

How to use it:
1. Place a multiple choice question on the projector, or have each student look at their copy of the question on their desks.
2.  Give them a set amount of time to work on the question.
3. When the timer goes off, ask the kids to decide on their choice. Then, use a signal word such as "Move!" or "Choose!" (again, I do not recommend "Go!") to have students move to the container that represents their choice and drop their answer in.
4. Have a few students justify their thinking.

This one works well when you're not concerned about figuring out who got it right or wrong, but you do want kids to do the thinking and justify their reasoning.

Test prep can be fun and motivating with these ideas for answering multiple choice questions! Each strategy can be used for math, reading, or writing questions to practice for any standardized test. Grab a freebie to get you and your students started.

5. Stick-It Chart

Low tech, low prep

To prepare for this strategy:
1. Divide a piece of cardstock or construction paper into four quadrants and label them A, B, C, D. Make one of these charts for each team or group.
2. Give each student a post-it and have them write their name on it.

How to use it:
1. Place a multiple choice question on the projector, or have each student look at their copy of the question on their desks.
2.  Give them a set amount of time to work on the question.
3. When the timer goes off, ask the kids to decide on their choice. Then, use a signal word such as "Stick it!" or "Smack it!" Students use that cue to stick or smack their post-it into the quadrant that represents their choice.
4. Have students take turns justifying their thinking. Each student should justify their response.

Test prep can be fun and motivating with these ideas for answering multiple choice questions! Each strategy can be used for math, reading, or writing questions to practice for any standardized test. Grab a freebie to get you and your students started.

6. Dot Stickers

Zero tech, low prep

To prepare for this strategy:
1. Divide a piece of construction paper or cardstock into the number of questions you want kids to work through and number them. You can use the back, too. Each group needs one sheet.
2. Provide each student with a sheet of dot stickers. If you want, they can label the stickers A (red), B (blue), C (yellow), D (green, or whatever colors you've got).


How to use it:
1. Place a multiple choice question on the projector, or have each student look at their copy of the question on their desks.
2.  Give them a set amount of time to work on the question.
3. When the timer goes off, ask the kids to decide on their choice. Then, use a signal word such as "Stick it!" or "Smack it!" Students use that cue to stick or smack the dot that represents their answer choice into the square for the number they worked on.
4. Ask students to justify their thinking and come to a consensus on their answer choice.
*This can also be done whole-group if you use chart paper.

7. Plickers

Some tech, more prep (only you need a smart device)

Ok, this is the one that requires stuff you might not have, just because you have to print out the plickers - the first time. 
To prepare for this strategy:
Plickers is a fun online tool that you can use for free!
To prepare for this strategy...
1. Visit the Plickers website and set up an account.
2. Follow the directions for creating your cards and questions.

How to use it:
1. This works in a similar way to the dry erase response boards. Students will hold their plicker (paper clicker) up in the fashion that represents their answer choice.
2. Scan a smart device across the room and your students' names and answer choices selections will pop up on your device!


Want all of this information on one handy, dandy FREE page? You can get it by adding your email address below!


 
 
Pin It

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Four things to remember about data

Analyzing data as a teacher can be tedious and frustrating, especially when you don't remember these four things. Your students are more than numbers on a page, or colored dots. Read this post and think about the four things you need to remember about data before you stare at one more spreadsheet. Data doesn't always tell us what we think it does. Check out the post and think about what next steps you should take when your scores are low. ​It's mid-April. And that means that, by now, you've spent a solid 9,347 hours looking at data.

I've looked at data until my eyes crossed. I've wanted to crumple it all up in a big pile and toss in a match.
I know that sounds like I'm exaggerating, but you're teachers and instructional coaches. You get it.

You want to light it up, too.

So I wanted to help you think about data a little differently, so you don't get so bogged down in all the percentages and color-coding, and end up with zero plans for the future and a little raincloud over your head.

Here are four things you need to know about data.

1. Data can tell us things, but it doesn't always give us the whole picture.

Sometimes administration looks at data from a particular class and says, "Wow! This class is really kicking everybody's tail! Let's find out what they're doing!" And that's great. I mean, sharing and collaboration should be our go-to, and when we have teachers doing awesome things, we want them to share with everybody, right?

But sometimes you have to look beyond the numbers. What is the make-up of that class? Does that class have any students who have historically struggled? Show me the teacher who's closing the gaps for the kids who haven't been successful in the past, and that's the teacher I want to hear from. The teacher who's staying consistent is doing a good job, but the teacher who's moving mountains: that's the gold.

Low math data might tell you that your students are struggling to read on grade level. Or that they aren't identifying the correct operation in a problem. Or that they have difficulty with algorithms. Or that they were really tired and just circled some answers.

You have to look back at students' actual work to figure out what they were doing and where things went off the rails. Without really trying to understand how the student is thinking, data is just a bunch of numbers that stress us out.

Analyzing data as a teacher can be tedious and frustrating, especially when you don't remember these four things. Your students are more than numbers on a page, or colored dots. Read this post and think about the four things you need to remember about data before you stare at one more spreadsheet. Data doesn't always tell us what we think it does. Check out the post and think about what next steps you should take when your scores are low.


2. Low scores doesn't mean "do more".

Sometimes we'd look at data, and people would say, "What more can we do? How about we pull kids in from PE and fine arts, and Saturday School, and after-school tutoring?"

All of these are things people to do spend ​more ​time with kids. But doing more of the same doesn't mean you'll get different results. You'll probably just be more tired, and the kids will be more frustrated and disconnected, and then they'll do the same thing on their test. 
More does not equal better. So to really respond to the data, make sure that you're considering the why. Why are you seeing these patterns? Why are kids responding in this way? That'll help you figure out what to do differently to reach kids.



3. Data is for helping you figure out next steps

This is where the wheels usually fall off the wagon. Instead of using data to figure out how to respond to student learning, we say things like, "We gotta get after it," or "Let's do Saturday School." Ok. So you "get after it" and "do Saturday School".

But what does that mean?

When you look at data, make sure that you're actually planning for the ways to revisit content in a different way, reteach what needs to be retaught, and reinforce the strategies and skills that students need.
Analyzing data as a teacher can be tedious and frustrating, especially when you don't remember these four things. Your students are more than numbers on a page, or colored dots. Read this post and think about the four things you need to remember about data before you stare at one more spreadsheet. Data doesn't always tell us what we think it does. Check out the post and think about what next steps you should take when your scores are low.
One way to do this is to analyze the assessment you gave by question. Really dig in and see which students chose which choice.

Group together the students who need to work on the same skills and pull them in for a small group.

To look across the whole test, talk to your colleagues. Have a conversation about what patterns you notice and what those patterns can tell you about your (and their) teaching practice.

What possible ways can you respond to the challenges students are having? What have your colleagues done that has helped students be successful in this way? How can you build a bridge from the learning students have done to the format of the test?

Make your conversations purposeful instead of fear- and frustration-driven, and you'll walk away with some great ideas. Need help facilitating this kind of a meeting? Check out my post on data PLCs!

4. Test scores aren't the measure of your success.

This one might be unpopular in some (many) circles, but who cares? It's the truth. You are more than the scores your kids earn on a test. If you are using authentic teaching practices, growing relationships with kids, and becoming an efficacious educator, then guess what: you're doing a great job.
We can really get stuck in looking at the data and thinking, "Why am I failing? What else can I do?" And I totally get that. I did it, every year. My kids should've been making more progress; we should've been outscoring the classrooms who weren't using the great practices we were.

And yeah, that would've been awesome. Of course, I want kids to do well on the test because it can limit their opportunities if they don't.

But that percentage of passing on a piece of paper didn't tell me what kind of a job I was doing.

Walking down the halls, and hearing students implement things they'd learned from me, or choosing great books to read, or being engaged in learning something new showed me the impact I was making on my class.

Do we want good scores? Well, yeah! But is that the only indicator that you're doing a good job? (Or even necessarily a good indicator that you're doing a good job?) No way.
And remember, you're more than your scores.

Want to learn about some fun, hands-on ways to get kids excited about multiple choice questions (without having to buy anything?) Check out my post on 7 Ways to Make Multiple Choice Fun!

Analyzing data as a teacher can be tedious and frustrating, especially when you don't remember these four things. Your students are more than numbers on a page, or colored dots. Read this post and think about the four things you need to remember about data before you stare at one more spreadsheet. Data doesn't always tell us what we think it does. Check out the post and think about what next steps you should take when your scores are low.

Analyzing data as a teacher can be tedious and frustrating, especially when you don't remember these four things. Your students are more than numbers on a page, or colored dots. Read this post and think about the four things you need to remember about data before you stare at one more spreadsheet. Data doesn't always tell us what we think it does. Check out the post and think about what next steps you should take when your scores are low.
Are you reviewing data by yourself, with your grade level, or as an instructional coach?

I've got the  freebie for you. I'm sharing my Data Review bookmarks and a printable data review guide to help you get started.

Just enter your email address below and you'll have the bookmarks & guide sent right to your inbox. Stop stressing about data and start making it work for you!
 
Pin It