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"This Is Parkway" Digital Magazine

Project Parkway

Subcommitte 1/B/1 Essential Question:
At what level are best instructional practices being implemented in the classroom?

9/28/2009: What data will be collected to reveal current reality?

Cluster 1A

Instructional Best Practices
a. Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum (Lisa Merideth)

  • Document Review
  • Classroom observations
  • Surveys
  • Panel interviews (tentative)

b. Technology Best Practices (Simone Wilson)

  • Classroom observations
  • Surveys
  • Panel interviews (tentative)

Cluster 1 B

Instructional Best Practices
a. Differentiation of Instruction/Acceleration

  • Classroom visits (with checklist, rubric, or guide to provide focus)
  • Survey Principals as to the degree and types of differentiation they see in classrooms in their schools
  • Examine Parkway Curriculum (OCG) for differentiation opportunities
  • Study Parkway policies specific to acceleration
  • Survey students about how much/how often they experience those things that indicate differentiated instruction
  • Examine the Parkway grading system in light of the need for differentiation


b. Higher Order Thinking (Kevin Beckner)

  • Observations of levels of questioning/nature of learning tasks from classroom visits
  • Document review of classroom and district assessments for DOK
  • Review of assessment data (tentative)


3/1/2010: Key Findings

A. Positive Observations Revealed by the Data

1a Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum and Best Practices in Technology

• Teachers mainly utilize technology in ways that allow students time to practice skills and report information. Learning experiences using technology seldom promoted higher order and complex thinking.

  • 89% of sample technology lessons submitted during the 2008-2009 school year were at the Adapting Uses Level on Grappling’s Technology and Learning Spectrum.
  • 82% of elementary classrooms, 86% of middle school classrooms, and 96% of high school classrooms observed used technology in ways that aligned with the Adapting Uses Level on Grappling’s Technology and Learning Spectrum.
  • During interviews students reported using few applications beyond presentation and word processing programs.
  • 50% of the time the Smartboard was used as a projection device during classroom visits.


• Technology integration is inconsistent among school levels and subject areas.

  • During classroom visits 80% of high school classrooms, 78% of middle school classrooms, and 45% of elementary classrooms had teachers using technology during instruction.
  • During classroom visits 46% of high school classrooms, 56% of middle school classrooms, and 28% of the elementary classrooms had students using technology.
  • During interviews students reported there is a discrepancy between usage of technology among different classrooms and subjects.
  • Students reported there are computers in some of their classrooms that they do not get an opportunity to use.
  • During interviews teachers and students reported inconsistent use of technology by teachers based on content area, teacher knowledge, and teacher comfort level.


• Teachers perceive integrating technology into instruction as optional.

  • During interviews teachers reported inconsistent accountability for incorporating technology during instructional time.
  • During interviews teachers reported inconsistent accountability for all teachers to participate in professional development related to technology integrations.
  • During interviews teachers reported it would be helpful to have collaboration time with other teachers to learn about effective ways to use technology.


• There are varied opinions as to the benefits of technology.

  • During interviews students were divided on the importance of technology use. Some did not believe it was valuable in all content areas.
  • During interviews some students reported that one-to-one computing was very important.
  • During interviews some students reported that having textbooks available on-line was important.


• Levels of student engagement increased when students were using technology.

  • High School classrooms engagement increased from 88% engaged to 100% engaged
  • Middle School classrooms engagement increased from 63% to 73%
  • Elementary classroom engagement increased from 75% to 89%


• Nonfiction trade book materials are readily available for elementary students. However, they are not as available for secondary students.

  • Less than 10% of the high school classrooms had nonfiction material (in addition to textbooks and reference books) available.
  • Less than 40% of the middle school classrooms had nonfiction material (in addition to textbooks and reference books) available.
  • More than 80% of the elementary school classrooms had nonfiction reading material available in the classrooms for students.

• Students participated in minimal writing in the content areas.

  • In all levels (high, middle, and elementary) less than 25% of students used note-taking as a tool to write about their own thinking.
  • In all levels (high, middle, and elementary) less than 30% students used-note taking as a thinking/learning tool.
  • In all levels (high, middle, and elementary) less than 15% of students were writing for authentic purposes or for authentic audiences.
  • In all levels (high, middle, and elementary) less than 10% of students were writing to uncover big ideas.

• Students participated in minimal open ended discussion around big ideas.

  • In the high school and middle school levels approximately 40% of the classrooms were using a question/answer format between the teacher and students. In the elementary level 18% of the classrooms utilized such approach.
  • In the high school level 17% of the classrooms used an open discussion format. In the middle and elementary levels 5% of the classrooms used an open discussion format.

• Students participated in minimal vocabulary instruction.

  • In the middle school level 25% of the classrooms used vocabulary instruction within the lesson.
  • In the high school level 8% of the classrooms used vocabulary instruction within the lesson.
  • In the elementary level 4% of the classrooms used vocabulary instruction within the lesson.


1b Higher Level Thinking and Differentiation/Acceleration

  • The highest levels of differentiation were observed in Communication Arts classes.
  • Teacher guided differentiation most prevalent in classroom visits. This included:
  • Dialogue (Student-Teacher)
  • Dialogue (Student-Student)
  • Various levels of questioning
  • Teacher-Student conferencing
  •  Secondary students report high level of teacher support outside of class time.
  • Secondary students reported less differentiation in Advanced Placement courses than non-Honors/AP Courses
  • Differentiation in class structure decreases as grade increases. This included:
  • Flexible grouping
  • Learning connected to students interests
  • Tiered activities
  • Individualized assignments
  • In studying classroom and district assessments, DOK Level one questions (recall) were most prevalent, and level three/four items were least prevalent
  • Parkway’s acceleration policy refers only to promotion, and does delve into content-specific acceleration; this is consistent with the fifteen area districts whose policies we surveyed. 
B. Identified Needs

1a Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum and Best Practices in Technology
Identified Needs for Technology Integration

•Resources

  • Ensure all classrooms have adequate technology so students are guaranteed the opportunity to have technology in their hands.
  • Explore technological tools and uses that promote higher order thinking.

•Professional Development

  • Provide and guarantee professional development opportunities for teachers related to technology use that requires transfer of knowledge and higher order thinking.
  • Provide professional development opportunities for administrators to scaffold their understanding of technology uses that require higher order thinking.

•Provide examples of technology integration into the curriculum.

  • Ensure the guaranteed curriculum incorporates examples of how to integrate technology in ways that require complex learning and where technology is used as a thinking tool.

•Accountability System

  • Develop a system that holds teachers accountable to integrate technology within their instruction.

•Develop a way to evaluate student engagement beyond observing of external behaviors.

  • Operationally define engagement – what is observable and what needs to be collected in other ways


Identified Needs for Reading/Writing/Vocabulary in the Content Areas


•Resources

  • Ensure all students have access to non-fiction reading materials in all content areas.

•Professional Development

  • Provide professional development related to vocabulary instruction within the content areas.
  • Provide professional development related to the value of and implementation of authentic talk, reading, and writing in the content areas.

•Provide examples of technology integration into the curriculum.

  • Ensure the guaranteed curriculum incorporates examples of how to integrate reading and writing in the content areas.
  • Ensure the guaranteed curriculum incorporates vocabulary instruction.

•Accountability System

  • Develop a system that holds teachers accountable to integrate literacy in the content areas.

•Develop a way to evaluate student engagement beyond observing of external behaviors.

  • Operationally define engagement – what is observable and what needs to be collected in other ways


Levels of Engagement

  • Highly engaged in work, as suggested by effort, body language, productivity
  • Engaged: on task, exerting some effort and showing some interest
  • Somewhat engaged – following along, but with minimal or inconsistent effort
  • Non-engaged: not doing the work expected and/or looks and acts disengaged


1b Higher Level Thinking and Differentiation/Acceleration


• Further study on Advanced Placement curriculum:

  • Does the AP curriculum support Parkway’s mission?
  • What is Parkway’s history with AP?
  • How many students participate in AP?
  • What is their college success rate?
  • What are the demographics of students who take AP courses?
  • What is the AP picture across Parkway? In other words, why are some AP courses offered at some schools at not others?

• Professional development is needed in structural differentiation (ie flexible grouping, clustering, tiered activities, etc.)

• Study acceleration policy to determine appropriate system-wide acceleration practices and possible policy changes.

• The OCG needs to include differentiation suggestions or examples (consider multimedia examples)

C. (If Necessary) Additional Data Needed

1a Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum and Best Practices in Technology

  • Observation data from more middle and high school classrooms.
  • Frequency of technology integration referenced in the guaranteed curriculum.
  • Frequency of literacy in the content areas referenced in the guaranteed curriculum.
  • History of technology professional development courses offered and attended in Parkway. Observations in classrooms of teachers who attended to determine levels of technology integration and levels of engagement as a result of participating in professional development.
  • Correlation between technology integration and subject area to determine which subject areas are most frequently integrating.

 1b Higher Level Thinking and Differentiation/Acceleration

  • High level of differentiation strategies observed in MOSAICS academy: how can these strategies be shared with others? What types of PD do MOSAICS academy teachers receive?
  • What does Parkway believe about acceleration? What does this mean for students identified as gifted, or not?
  • At what level are we asking students to think on classroom level assessments?
  • Study the DOK level of Parkway assessments in relation to state and national assessments.