FIP at Nordonia High School

This past spring, the FIP Your School Ohio team took a trip up to Northeast Ohio for a special visit to Nordonia High School. We first heard about what was happening at Nordonia in the fall at the Annual Statewide Education Conference, hosted by the Ohio Department of Education. Principal Casey Wright led a presentation on FIP and shared the story of three high school juniors that took their love of learning targets and extended it into a challenge for their entire district, both teachers and students. We shared the story here on the blog last fall, but wanted to see the impact of using formative instructional practices. We were able to meet and talk with Mrs. Czekaj, the teacher that the high school juniors had said they wanted more teachers to be like in their presentation. Her passion for learning was contagious, and we spent the afternoon learning more about how she was using clear learning targets in her classroom.

The Power of Clear Learning Targets

The Power of Clear Learning Targets

A few weeks prior to the shoot, we spoke with Carol Tonsing, the English Department Chairperson at NHS. She spoke strongly about formative instructional practices and had been integrating technology into her teaching with the use of Google Drive, Wikispaces, and other digital enhancements that allowed her to give timely feedback that she couldn’t otherwise give to her students. Since the shoot, Carol has also joined us as a contributing writer on the blog. 

Using Technology to Enhance Feedback

Using Technology to Enhance Feedback

Given that this was our first high school FIP filming experience, I was excited to speak with the students, who were all seniors coming up on their last few weeks of school. There was a very strong sense of student ownership of learning in these individuals, who spoke clearly about what they were learning and the reasons behind every practice or lesson. In a time when many students seem to check-out and look out the window with summer on their mind, the seniors at Nordonia High School were clearly engaged. We stepped into Erin Miller’s Film Literature class to see how students used rubrics and evaluation sheets for self-reflection.

As you get back in the swing of things this fall, consider the many ways that you can use formative instructional practices to align to the many standards and expectations that you find yourself working with, from Ohio’s New Learning Standards to the Ohio Teachers Evaluation System. Below, Nordonia teachers and leadership share on how FIP has helped them align to change.

Why FIP? Aligning to Change.

Why FIP? Aligning to Change.

You can watch an overview of our time with Mrs. Tonsing and the students of Nordonia High School in the Storyline video. All of the videos from our visits to school districts around the state are available on the FIP Video Library.

Summer Highlights: What You May Have Missed

It's safe to say that summer is a popular season for both educators and students. While many enjoyed well-deserved vacations and summer afternoons reading beside the pool, we were busy keeping up with some great stories and creating new resources to enhance your experience with FIP Your School Ohio. In case you missed them, here is a quick look at some of our favorite things about summer:

We released a new module in the Reaching Every Student series entitled “Reaching English Language Learners.” Hear from a Grade 2 teacher about his transformative experience with FIP and a student learning English here. You can enroll in the module on the Ohio portal.

Mary Peters weighed in on classroom assessment (with a fun theme) in a way that clearly shares a pathway forward on how to begin and sustain the work of implementing formative instructional practices. Find out more.

We announced a new module “Measuring Student Growth in Classrooms”  while discussing its relevance in the grand scheme of student learning: 

New facilitation guides were released! These are very useful in planning professional development for your school year.

Follow two different reflections on the time spent in elementary school with the release of Grade 5 Science and Grade 6 Math modules.

Hear from a pre-service teacher that set higher-level goals for her students after her experience with FIP and early childhood education in "Challenging Learners of All Ages."

An Ohio high school English teacher offered her ideas on the importance of a partnership between principals and teachers for effective change.

Find out more about the buzz behind online learning

Ever used Stars and Stairs? Watch and learn a new strategy from Kate Kennedy that you can use for giving feedback in your own classroom: 

Don’t miss out on these new resources! If you have a story you’d like to share with us, comment below.

Student Ownership: Number 2 Pencils and a Clean Sheet of Paper?

Student Ownership: Number 2 Pencils and a Clean Sheet of Paper?

Gone are the days where students come with a few number 2 pencils perfectly sharpened with a blank sheet of notebook paper on their desk prepared to learn and/or test. Students are coming into our classrooms armed not with a writing utensil, but with some type of electronic device instead.

Pencils in my room are generally associated with some type of standardized assessment. It might be for a state standardized test, or it might be a common assessment given by a data team to determine levels of mastery on particular learning targets. 

Is this what generates student ownership?
Teachers will collect data generated from these number 2 pencils and students will receive groupings, intervention, enrichment, or some type of feedback. Whatever the case may be, what type of student ownership are we generating with these number 2 pencils perfectly sharpened alongside a perfectly neat sheet of notebook paper? 

Some teachers may offer notebook check grades. What does that gauge exactly? Some teachers may offer points for neatness. And some teachers may give a student a grade simply for completing the assignment or activity. 

Do these types of ‘assignments’ offer a sense of student ownership?

As harsh as it may sound, I think we could all ask ourselves about the value of some of these types of ‘point earnings’ in our classrooms. What does student ownership actually mean, and what does it look like?

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FIP Quote of the Day

"When students believe that they can develop their intelligence, they focus on doing just that. Not worrying about how smart they will appear, they take on challenges and stick to them.” (Dweck, 2007)

 

 

How are you measuring student growth? The Measuring Student Growth in Classrooms module is designed to help teachers create meaningful measures of student growth that can be used in the Student Learning Objective process. Learn more here


Dweck, C.S. (2007). The perils and promises of praise. Educational Leadership. ASCD, (65) 2,34-39. 

FIP Specialist Featured in "The Best Teacher in You".

FIP Specialist Featured in "The Best Teacher in You".

We are so proud that FIP specialist Kelli Wohlgamuth is prominently featured in the newly released book, “The Best Teacher in You.” In the book, several teachers share their stories of personal and professional growth throughout their teaching careers. Alongside those stories are lessons from the authors on how to experience and execute the kind of deep change that will improve their teaching. A common theme throughout the book is that highly effective teachers often face significant challenges during their careers, but the passion to teach always prevails and drives them to continue improving. With Kelli, this passion is unmistakable. In the book, she says, “I breathe students. They are my life’s blood. I am not whole without them. They bring me joy. They make me frustrated. They make me cry. They give me hope. When I invest in them, I become the best me.”

We sat down with Kelli to ask her to make some connections between the book and her work with Formative Instructional Practices (FIP). Kelli began teaching as a substitute in 1987, and has been an educator in some capacity ever since. Her passion for education is evident in her voice alone when she speaks about her experiences: “The classroom is my mission field. Impacting students is why I do what I do. Watching them evolve into the people they’re going to be is a joy – it’s really fun to see them later on in life.”

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FIP Video at Shanahan Middle School

Confession: Middle school was a weird time in my life.
I don’t think that it was just me, either. A few weeks ago, my mom and dad came to visit and brought along a half-dozen scrapbooks with the photos from my childhood. Those large books are filled with nerdy glasses, dreadful haircuts, and the many memories ranging from organized sports to science fairs. While this experience left me slightly embarrassed but thankful for how far I’ve come in my ability to arrange a personal wardrobe, I have been able to reminisce on middle school in a much more favorable way thanks to the release of our latest FIP videos. This past winter, we spent a day at Shanahan Middle School, in Olentangy School District. We met Mr. Bob Cline, a passionate and enthusiastic Grade 7 and Grade 8 Math teacher. After hearing that he was finding some very clever and effective ways to get students to take ownership of their learning, the FIP Your School Ohio team wanted to see it firsthand.

The Evidence Game: Building Student Ownership

The Evidence Game: Building Student Ownership

Even with an early morning, the students in Mr. Cline’s Grade 7 Math class were eager and ready to learn from the start. In the first few minutes of the class, students stood at the back of the room and looked at the posted learning targets and a series of math problems that they were going to be talking about in class. Students were given time to engage with one another, and to work through the problems before Mr. Cline began.

Leveraging Clear Learning Targets

Leveraging Clear Learning Targets

He then began questioning, looking to collect evidence of student learning and providing opportunities for effective feedback. It was very evident that this helps his students know where they are in their learning.  Mr. Cline, along with the rest of the Olentangy school district, is known for a strong commitment to data, which has proved to be a powerful asset for the district as they measure their growth. Mr. Cline shared how he uses data to collect and document evidence of student learning in his classroom.

Why Do We Collect Evidence?

Why Do We Collect Evidence?

A special thanks to everyone at Shanahan Middle School for allowing us to see formative instructional practices in action. You can see the Storyline video here, as well as videos from other site visits at the FIP Video Library.