2012 SCORE Prize Winners: Ensuring Excellent Teaching (excerpts) - Page 6

for students, and collaborative planning. Teachers are also encouraged to watch webinars from the Tennessee Department of Education, Battelle for Kids, and other groups that support implementation of rigorous instruction aligned to the Common Core standards. In the summer of 2012, several teachers visited a school in Haywood County, North Carolina that had achieved very high academic growth with a student population similar to that of John Sevier Elementary. Teachers have a full schedule of professional development, including ongoing training in Common Core implementation, working with students with disabilities, using technology effectively, and analyzing and using data to improve instruction, among other topics. Teachers work closely with their grade level teams during time set aside for professional learning communities and with cross-grade level teams at least twice a year. The combination of the new and more experienced teachers, who are all changing their instruction to align with the Common Core, has fostered creative, rich lessons. Finally, staff members “gather research-based instructional nuggets” (G.R.I.N.) encountered in their reading. The nuggets can be about methodology, technique, organizational ideas, or how to inspire others. Teachers collect instructional nuggets throughout the semester to share with the team. Effective instruction. While John Sevier requires no specific lesson format, many grade-level teams have created comprehensive lesson structure frameworks. The frameworks provide opportunities for in-depth learning and feature creative ways to introduce students to lessons and engage multiple styles. For example, in the third grade’s book club structure, teachers emphasize building students’ background knowledge, generating a purpose for reading, and then beginning reading instruction. Each student has a specific role to help them explore the material in depth. At the end of the literacy block, which is about 90 minutes long, students assess their work with an evaluation form featuring questions about preparation and participation, strengths for the day, and a goal for the next lesson. The process also has suggestions for early finishers. To help older students apply their knowledge to real-world situations, the school has them participate in the Classroom Market, an economics project that takes place over seven school days. In the first week, students set up their teams, create a bubble map of ideas, develop one idea extensively (such as a business name, product name, product functions, picture, and materials needed), and make their first prototype. Students in groups of three get $20 for the business; individual students get $10 for shopping. Students buy materials and determine manufacturing costs, in addition to determining costs for advertising, rentals, profits, and taxes. Students also build an assembly line and create an advertising campaign. In the second week, they have two Market Days where each student uses his or her $10 to buy products from other stores. At the end of the first day, students complete a reflection sheet with questions about how many products they sold and how much profit they made. Students operate market booths for an additional day and then complete a second reflection sheet that includes questions such as how to increase their sales and make more products and product displays. “A Classroom Market Lesson Plan” http://www.tnscore.org/scoreprize/ downloads/2012/a_Classroom_ Market_Lesson_Plan.pdf Student interventions. Students making inadequate progress receive additional support through Response to Intervention (RTI). For the first tier, the school identifies students in the “danger zone,” which includes those students with the lowest scores, as well as students who have failed to reach the next proficiency level by just a few points. Students record what they can do and where they need help on daily exit tickets, which allow teachers to determine which students have or have not mastered the material. Deep data dives allow teachers to track progress, differentiate instruction, reteach, or refer a student for intervention. The principal stays abreast of every student’s progress by personally signing each report card, often making comments to parents about the child’s strengths and challenges. Students who have fallen further behind are assigned to the second tier for additional interventions. These students may be served in class by a teaching assistant or pulled out for tutoring. Teachers may receive an assistant for up to four hours a day. Some teachers assign the assistant to work with identified children. Others teachers work with students needing intervention, while the assistant takes over the class. According to one teacher, this type of care “makes my time with each child meaningful.” Pathways to the Prize Lessons from the 2012 SCORE Prize School Winners 18