This winter, Battelle for Kids and the Ohio Department of Education visited Beechwood Elementary School, located in the Whitehall school district in Central Ohio. We brought a film crew along to capture practical experiences and insight on using FIP while transitioning into Ohio’s New Learning Standards. We met Shawnie Susie, a Grade 4 Math teacher that had been recommended for outstanding use of formative instructional practices. From the moment we first talked with Shawnie, we knew that she was passionate and had plenty of her own Aha Moments to share with us on FIP.
When we arrived, the first thing I noticed in the classroom was the Wall of Fame, a display of student work that is managed by students; classmates provide feedback to one another, enabling student ownership while creating a culture of providing effective feedback in the classroom. Mental computation and stamina through student ownership was highlighted in the Number Talks portion of the class. Two students led the conversation, in which classmates navigated through a math problem together, working through answers and mistakes in their thinking. The strategies that we saw were diverse and dynamic, with students attacking the problem from different angles, but coming together to determine the right answer. Students then made decisions on what they would be doing for the remainder of the class in Math Workshop, based upon their reflections on where they were at with the established learning targets.
While preparing for our visits, I am often anxious about student interviews, noting the “you just never know with kids” statements that I hear from professionals in film and video. But the students we met were some of the brightest I’ve ever known; it was first evident when we visited the classroom several months ago for observation and confirmed at the film shoot. In Evidence of Learning: Target Tracker, we heard from Vinnie and Sierra as they show us how they know where they are in their learning. It was inspiring to see children of this age understanding what it means to own their learning and to take responsibility for what they are working on in class.
My favorite question in every teacher interview is often the same, regardless of teacher or school. I always ask, “Why do you teach?” and Shawnie had a really great answer that showcased her enthusiasm for her students and the fun that they have together. You can hear her answer in “Celebrate Teaching”.
A special thanks to Mrs. Susie, school leadership, and the Grade 4 students of Beechwood Elementary School. We have enjoyed getting to know your class, and look forward to hearing more stories of growth, progress, and achievement while you are changing lives and improving education.
The FIP Video Library is available to the public and can be accessed here.