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.

Remember Our Calling? Using Data and Evidence to Save One Child a Time

Remember Our Calling? Using Data and Evidence to Save One Child a Time

When was the last time there were no injustices being done to education or to your students? When was the last time you simply wandered around talking pedagogy? We all had our calling. We all wanted to save the world one child at a time. Maybe it’s time we stop for a moment and look at ways to get back to focusing on our students. 

 

Take a moment to internalize what good data-driven instruction looks like. Give yourself a chance to get back to the most basic part of your calling as a teacher: Helping your kids succeed.

We need to stop looking at the data collection process as an afterthought that we are completing to appease the powers that be. Examining data helps us to truly look at our students. It helps us to learn who they are academically and even personally. 

I’ve made the change in my own classroom. Data-driven instruction is my norm, and it has fostered student success more than anything else. 

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FIP for All: Reaching Gifted Students

FIP for All: Reaching Gifted Students

Recently, we heard one teacher’s perspective on Reaching All Students and how he learned to meet the needs of diverse learners. Now, we’d like to take a look at two different student perspectives in thinking about how formative instructional practices can help all students advance in their learning.

I recently met Jeremy, a 10-year-old gifted student, who will be starting fifth grade this fall. After I spent the last year learning about Formative Instructional Practices, I was impressed by this student’s articulate reflection on his learning experiences. He offered a great student perspective on the kinds of feedback that teachers can give to their students. “I know it’s really easy for teachers just to write ‘A’ or ‘B’ on a paper, and it takes more time to write comments with feedback. But the comments make more sense, and they help me understand what to do to get better.” Jeremy shared that his favorite activities in school are those that challenge him to solve difficult problems while working together with other students, especially when the problems focus on real-world situations. He stressed the importance of teachers sharing learning targets that have significance in the real world, because those connections give students a reason to care about what they are learning. When Jeremy conversed with me about his experience in school, I couldn’t help but think of his similarities to a close friend of mine.

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Stars and Stairs

Stars and Stairs

You may have seen this video where I talk about using stars and stairs, an awesome feedback strategy that I picked up from Jan Chappuis and company at the Assessment Training Institute in Portland, OR. I love it so much, I sometimes fear I overuse it.

 

Here is what my students say about using stars and stairs to give and receive feedback from their peers:

  • "It helps us out a lot because you know what you need to improve on." –Drew, sixth grader
  • "I like stars and stairs because it encourages us to write more of what we've done right, and it tells us to go back and use the mistakes we did make." –Ruby, sixth grader
  • "I think they really help me edit my work and it helps you become a better writer because the people can tell you what you're doing wrong, and things you're also doing right." –Regan, sixth grader
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Two Generations of FIP

Two Generations of FIP

Carol Harper has been supporting the FIP team since she graduated from the University of Dayton in May ’13. Her mother, Laurie Harper, teaches first grade in Oakwood City Schools. Read the following conversation between the pair to see the impact FIP is having across Ohio.

 

Carol: Can you tell everyone a little bit about your experiences in education?
Laurie:  I have been teaching since (gulp), 1984!  I have been a director for a private tutoring company, and have taught special education public preschool. I also had my own preschool through my church and was a substitute teacher K-6, for 4 years.  I taught 2nd grade for 13 years before making the big jump to first grade, where I am finishing my first year as a 1st grade teacher.

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