Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Checking out your class, or school, for quality learning.
Is your classroom a quality learning environment where students are able to 'seek, use and create their own knowledge' as it states in the 'new' New Zealand Curriculum?
Here are some questions to focus on.
1 Are your students self managing able to set and achieve their own goals, or plans, and able to show continual quality improvement in all they do ( in Japan this incremental growth is called 'kaizen').
2 Do you 'negotiate' ( to ensure 'ownership') with the students what is expected in any learning task and demonstrate these expectations by 'focused teaching', 'scaffolding' ( giving temporary help), modelling, demonstrating or 'thinking aloud'?
3 Do you make use of literacy time to teach 'seeking , using and creating' skills needed to work independently when involved in inquiry learning. Some call this idea of developing prior understanding, or skills, 'front loading', or 're framing' literacy and numeracy, to service inquiry learning.)
4 Do students appreciate that creativity and quality are more important than quantity; to appreciate the need to 'do fewer things well' and where to improve on their 'personal best' is internalized?
5 A a teacher have you defined, with students, how to design and present their research and language work and does the students' book work show continual improvement ('kaizen'') both in presentation and quality of ideas? Some schools have 're-invented' students' books as a form of 'portfolio' to send home to demonstrate growth to parents during the year.
6 As a teacher to you see the need to cover fewer topics in depth so as to ensure depth understanding rather than trying cover too many things superficially?
7 Are you as a teacher, and are your students, aware of the strategies involved in any activity and are students able to articulate what it is they are doing and why?
8 Can you , and your students, articulate the basic inquiry model being used to underpin all learning in the class ( or school)?
9 Can you, and your students, articulate the 'key competencies' ( or future learning capabilities) that all students need to internalize to become 'confident life long learners'?
10 Do you 'negotiate with' your students the criteria for assessment of any task so they can self assess their own learning and are able to set new goals. ( It is important to ensure that individual creativity is one of the criteria to avoid standardization)
11 Is there evidence that classrooms are well organised ( by tasks for language, maths and inquiry tasks defined on whiteboards or blackboards) to allow both teacher interaction ( to provide guidance and feedback) and for students to be able to work and interact independently.
12 Do the room environment displays reflect creative quality achievement across the curriculum and do these displays both celebrate and inform students finished work by using: headings, key questions, processes and evaluations as necessary. Is there evidence of both student's 'prior' and 'post' ideas?
13 Is there any evidence of agreed school, class or school communal behavioural values?
14 Do you monitor your teaching against agreed school beliefs ( or such a set of questions as these) as an integral part of self appraisal and can you show new ideas you are trialling or that you have introduced to improve your teaching?
15 Are you able to articulate the school vision, values and teaching beliefs and can the students, and their parents, do so in their own words?.
If the answers are positive for most of the above then the class is true creative learning community?
If it applies to all classrooms the school is a learning community.