FIP in Action: New Lebanon

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The most satisfying part of my job as a FIP Specialist is to hear success stories that teachers share about using formative instructional practices in their classrooms. The one aspect that is similar in all of the stories is each teacher’s excitement regarding the positive effects these practices have had on student engagement and achievement. Recently, I had the opportunity to take a closer look at New Lebanon District’s FIP work by attending two teacher-based team meetings with the curriculum director, Dena Shepard.  Here are some of the instructional strategies teachers shared:

Anna Albain, a middle school language arts teacher, uses a four corners strategy to provide additional academic support prior to summative assessments.  The teachers and their students identify the top four targets that the students need additional practice with. One student volunteer “expert” is selected for each learning target to provide help to other students.  Anna noted the “experts” are sometimes the lower achieving students who use this opportunity to articulate their learning with peers.

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Devanie Walter, a fifth grade teacher, asks her students to create a piece of writing with substantive content and then self-assess by circling opportunities for improvement related to three focused targets for the writing assignment. Devanie provides success and intervention feedback directly related to the three focus targets for the assignment.

Learn more about preparing students to self-assess in Module 5.

Dany Bowman, a middle school math teacher, creates a “problem of the day” based upon her students’ work the day before.  As she monitors her students working, she notes any challenges students have with the work. She uses her notes to create the next day’s problem, to clarify and provide more practice opportunities for students.

Tammy Broughton, an intervention specialist, uses “ticket out the door” exit slips to determine the next day’s lesson. These tickets align with her daily learning target. She gathers this evidence of student learning to determine the next steps for the following day, as seen in the picture of her whiteboard. 

Learn more about collecting evidence of student learning in Module 3.

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Kristin Elix, a seventh grade math teacher, has her students write the day’s learning target in their notebooks.  Students track their mastery of the target and are given multiple opportunities to work on targets not mastered prior to summative tests.  Kristin sees more students taking ownership of their learning because she has empowered them to keep track of where they are.
Learn more about preparing students to track their own learning in Module 5.

Each month, teacher-based teams gather to talk about formative instructional practices, share strategies with each other, and receive feedback from their peers. The teacher-based team meetings help to sustain motivation and promote the ability for teachers to implement these powerful practices. Just as it is important to build structures for students to take ownership of their learning, the adults in a formative learning system also benefit from collaboration and sharing their learning with each other. To learn more about using the six sources of influence to impact the motivation and ability to effect change, view the Leading and Coaching FIP modules.

As I was leaving the building, principal Gary Shomberg eagerly shared the many formative instructional practices used by a teacher he observed the day before. I consider it a great honor to have the opportunity to see the evidence of teachers sharing their strategies with each other, providing effective feedback to students, and putting structures in place for students to take ownership of their learning. It’s exciting to see that administrators are recognizing and supporting the FIP work too! 

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This blog post was written by Mary Wolf. Mary is a FIP Specialist for the Southwest Region, a part of a regional support system available to help your LEA advance the use of formative instructional practices.