Sunday, August 31, 2014

What does Depth of Knowledge Look Like @FHS?

As we head into our fourth week of school it is increasingly important that ALL lessons contain rigor. At times, it can be hard to decipher between the difficulty of a task and the rigor of a task. Just because something is a difficult task, does not mean that it is rigorous. Many of you had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Tamara Hall present last Thursday on Depth of Knowledge. Her presentation broke the concept down quite easily.

Depth of Knowledge or DOK, is a measure of the cognitive complexity of a task.  The complexity level of thinking required by a standard, task, or test item.  Why do we need to know the DOK level? There must be alignment between the intended depth of the standard, the depth of instruction, and the depth of assessment.

I have created a quick visual for you here using a FREE iPad app called Skitch.

DOK Levels I-IV:
DOK Level I: Recall and Production
DOK Level II: Basic Application of Skills & Concepts
DOK Level III: Strategic Thinking
DOK Level IV: Extended Thinking

Since we want to encourage and support our students to be problem solvers and critical thinkers, we need to provide many opportunities through lessons planned at DOK Levels II and III. We can "visit" Levels I and IV. 

Here are two student created videos. The first link is a video from Rancho Minerva Middle School that shows each of the four DOK levels in action.  The second video is a student created video from Kings Canyon Middle School. Let's have our students create and demonstrate what DOK looks like in the classroom! Here is to you planning many more rigorous lesson plans where ALL students are engaged, ALL students are challenged, and ALL students are learning!!

Many more great things are in store for Fairfield High!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence! 


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Using Innovation and Grounded Strategies to Engage Our Students

We are now entering our third week of school. We have already completed 8 days of the school year. Routines have been set, policies are clear, and now is the time for Innovation to be set free and Learning to SOAR.

With little under an hour that you have each day with your classes, you want to capitalize on every minute with the students. Think of ways you can "flip" your instruction so that the basic building blocks are introduced at home and then students "apply" those principles in the classroom. Encourage students to be critical thinkers that take the knowledge they have and apply it to new scenarios and new problems to solve.

There are many teaching strategies grounded in research that have shown over time to be the most impactful on student learning. I have focused on four strategies here. These are also the strategies that I am looking for in my class visits.  Using the strategies as a starting point, I will provide feedback and coaching to each teacher.

Teach for Success Strategy
What it Looks Like
Communicating the Objective
Research says…

Students who can identify what they are learning significantly outscore those who cannot.
--Robert Marzano                        
Teachers post, share, and clarify learning objectives so students know:
  • What they are learning
  • Why they are learning it
  • How this learning connects to previous experience or previous learning
  • How they will learn
Engagement Techniques
Research says…

Research at all levels of schooling has indicated that students learn and retain more when they have agency in their process and have opportunities to speak, listen, share, interact, reflect, and move.
               --Paula Kluth
Teachers actively engage students in the learning vs. being engaged in an activity.
  • Involving all students in classroom discussions through various individual and group strategies vs. raided hands
  • All students are required to interact with classroom concepts and skills even if only one or two students will respond
  • Students can describe success criteria and know what they are expected to do to reach mastery.
Formative Assessment
Research says…

The act of checking for understanding not only corrects misconceptions, it can also improve learning.
--Fisher & Frey

What evidence do I have that this is working or what evidence would convince me I was wrong in using these methods?
--John Hattie
Teachers engineer their classroom environment to continually elicit evidence of student understanding/learning on a daily basis.
  • Teachers use classroom questions, discussion and learning tasks as evidence of understanding or misconceptions for all students.
  • Teachers require student to think and use a variety of strategies to collect evidence from all students.
  • Engages all students to respond to a question(s) by signaling, writing, or performing in order to check for understanding.
Facilitate Student Interactions
Research says….
When students provide feedback to each other, they are forced to internalize the learning intention and success criteria but in the context of someone else’s work which is much less emotionally charged.  Activating students as learning resources for one another can, therefore, be seen as a stepping stone to students becoming owners of their own learning.  
--Dylan William
Students support each other as instructional resources in understanding and performing through a shared understanding of the learning expectations and success criteria.
  • Students assess each other’s work and provide feedback using classroom success criteria
  • Students talk through problems with each other to find common solutions or share ideas to solve problems
  • Students discuss issues with peers to reach a more complete understanding

For those of you that are visual learners, here are a few YouTube videos that show "flipped" learning in action. Yes, this can be done in high school!!

Many more great things are in store for Fairfield High!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence! 


Sunday, August 17, 2014

We are making an IMPACT

The first three days of school were AMAZING!! Staff came dressed to impress, students moved busily around campus finding their classes and meeting their new teachers, ALL teachers introduced the new policy changes, and REAL learning and teaching was happening from the moment students walked through the classroom door. Continue to push the rigor in your classroom. Focus your planning on the appropriate level of Depth of Knowledge for what is being introduced. And remember..... the learning needs to be in the hands of the students. Introduce the material and step back, allow students time to ponder, think, struggle, and make meaning. Provide students a safe place to make mistakes, the right answer does not always need to be presented the first time. And....for many situations, there are multiple right answers and maybe even some that we have not thought of yet.

Honors Chemistry students working on a Dry Ice lab on day 3 of school!

Teacher May Cranford assisting a student in AVID on how to navigate the College Board website.

Teacher, Laura Shafer, getting the Hon Chem students their dry ice for the lab.

Teacher, Von Wolf, using Chromebooks & Edmodo in his Math 1 class.

FHS Staff Day One 

Club Rush @lunch 8.15.14

Club Rush @lunch 8.15.14

Club Rush @lunch 8.15.14

I had the pleasure of attending the Visible Learning Conference this summer.  The overarching theme was Know Thy Impact, Make the Learning Visible. I have included a few of my Tweets from the conference and added a link to resources.  You can also check out many more Tweets from all attendees at the conference at #vlconf2014

Learners are thinkers: Connect, Feedback, Collaborate, Persevere, Wonder, Reflect

Think of the scene from Nemo. ALL fish swim down together!!! It works when you work together!

Engaging start to presentation!! Resources:

Growth mindset vs fixed mindset. Embrace and do what is possible for all learners. Meet the needs of the student.

Cause learning, Be determined, Be Courageous....

Ensure learners experience being stuck. Equip learners with learning strategies, progress visible....

"Learning is way beyond 9:00-3:00 when kids are engaged."

A visible learner knows where they are at and the next step. You can see the progression.

Surface to Deep, Near to Far. Making Meaning, Apply Understandings, and Build Knowledge. The Learning Process

Ask yourself this question: "Would your kids turn up for school if they didn't have to?" Think differently!

Teaching self-regulation. The skill of knowing when to think fast or slow. Reciprocal teaching, problem solving. -John Hattie

Learning: The process of developing sufficient surface knowledge to then move to conceptual understanding. -John Hattie

Many more great things are in store for Fairfield High!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence! 


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Beginning the 2014-2015 School Year

I have taken a hiatus from blogging for the last few weeks. My focus during the summer  was reconnecting with my family. I am now back to work and ready to blog for the 2014-2015 year!!

This year I embark no longer to a middle school campus.  I have happily made the transition from middle school to high school. I am the very proud principal of Fairfield High School, Home of the Falcons. FHS has a spirit of family and collaboration unlike any other I have seen. It is going to be an amazing journey this year since so many staff members are already invested, committed, and ready to take on the hard work and challenge of making FHS a shining beacon in FSUSD.

Departments are busy at work collaborating and developing rigorous Common Core aligned units. Project Lead the Way courses are finding more students joining. This year we have a four year pathway for students! One course has students designing and creating original computer applications that will be tested on the newly purchased tablets.  The Scarlet Brigade is going strong and completed an amazing week of band camp. Our No Excuses team is hard at work branding our Student Learning Outcomes. Teachers are moving into newly renovated classrooms and embracing the new furniture design that is highly conducive to group work and student led learning. We are embracing 21st Century skills and methodologies.

I encourage FHS staff to continue to "think outside the box,"  to challenge your students to accomplish more than they thought possible, and lastly to challenge yourself to not be complacent and INNOVATE!

I look forward to  capturing  "Student Voices" this year in my blog posts as well as reinforcing the fundamentals found in Daniel Pink's book DRIVE.  We must have Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose in all that we do!

To the 2014-2015 year!!!

Many more great things are in store for Fairfield High!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence!