Like many teachers, I articulated a formal professional growth plan this year. The structure of the plan and time table are determined by the school division. I decided to share my final report.
Prairie South Schools 210 Teacher Professional Growth Rubric Goal 2012-2013
Based on your self-assessment, please check one Domain and select one Element from within your selected Domain that will become the focus of your growth plan this school year.
Professional Development Domains: (Please check one domain)
☐ Domain 1: Planning and Preparation
☐ Domain 2: The Learning Environment
☐ Domain 3: Instruction
☐ Domain 4: Assessment and Evaluation
☐ Domain 5: Professional Responsibilities
Goal to Support Professional Growth Rubric:
Provide opportunities for students to initiate or adapt activities and projects to enhance their understanding in science and social studies through problem-based learning. Encourage students to gauge the next steps in their problem-based learning based on self, peer and teacher assessment. Explore ways to allow students to be more actively involved in the creation and selection of assessment rubrics that best demonstrate outcome attainment.
Goal: 18 of my 23 fourth grade students will be proficient at independent goal setting, self monitoring progress, and reflecting and revising their goals in representing their learning through three proficient writing and problem-based inquiries within a cooperative environment by April 2013.
Action Steps to Support Growth:
- September: Introduce student initiated activities into the classroom routine (FedEx). Initiate Writing Traits and the independent creative writing process. FedEx outcome is:
- To become proficient at independent goal setting, think about personal progress, reflect and improve for the next goal. Record a FedEx in exercise book: How much time do you have? What will you finish? How will you share it?
- October: Introduce Problem-based inquiry activities into science and social studies using a modified Heritage Fair project model. Introduce Problem Based Project Google Form: (print version as well)
- November to February: Practice student initiated activity cycles in science, social studies, and writing. Students will participate in the Annual Heritage Fair. Explore involving students in creating assessment rubrics (not so sure of this).
- March and April: Involve students in selecting exemplars from writing, science, and social studies for their digital portfolios.
- May and June: Assess the plan for next year.
What worked well?
I’m discouraged at the end of the second term. I have not come close to meeting this goal. The culture of attitude and habit for independent learning and reflection seemed well established in the Fall. The habit has slipped since then. FedEx is working more informally than I wanted, if reflecting on goals was to be accomplished. I thought it might be better off having a poster on the wall to remind students of the expectations for FedEx. Right now it is an ActivBoard page. I think exit slips would also improve the flow from goal setting to reflection.
The personal goal setting worked better in the third term when I introduced a FedEx sheet students could leave at the front of their one-inch binders. The students really loved the idea of a personal project time. Advocates recommend 20% of the school day should be devoted to independent, self directed learning. I don’t feel I can give 35 minutes a day to this. Some students in the class do approach 20% because they finish quickly and accurately. They are also the students who use the independent time effectively. The rest had less time. I would estimate everyone got at least 5% each week.
What improvements are needed?
The students are half way through their final inquiry of the year. It is a good indication of how they have done with problem-based inquiries. At this point they all have a good understanding of the process of selecting and narrowing topics. Only a few are proficient at this. Most can work independently to create reasonably appropriate subtopics to research. Most can research and organize. There is not a lot of creativity publishing what they have learned. Generally they need guidance.
I found it difficulty getting them to demonstrate self monitoring progress, reflecting and revising their goals. Most reflection was done during problem solving with me, so I have informal anecdotal evidence. For all my talk of rubrics, I did not create anything student friendly.
What are your next steps?
I began the year with a plan to have my students keep their own learning journals. I was excited by the idea of their taking home a small collection of exercise books that were essentially a reflective portfolio on their learning this year. That did not really happen. I allowed the exercise books to become exactly that, practice books. They are filled with math problems and spelling tests. I need to rethink that for next year. I think the idea still has merit. Beyond focusing the students on self monitoring and reflection on class work, it would serve to provide closure on their independent FedEx learning. It would also be a place to record their self monitoring, reflections and revisions of their independent learning goals.
I think I have been headed in the right direction this year, but I need to do much better if I want my students to be both self directed and authentic in their curriculum-based inquiry projects and independent FedEx projects.