Documents related to Criterion 1:
Carol Nielsen from the CPD visited my classroom and did a “Classroom Consultation.” This involved her meeting with my students for about 15 minutes of one of my classes (without me present) and interviewing them about the efficacy of the course and my instruction. By policy, this process does not result in a written report to the instructor but the results are shared in a follow-up meeting. She began the meeting with, “They love you” and it only got better from there. She reported that they find the course very engaging and useful, appropriately paced, the unique grading system is appreciated, and the type of assessment used is also appreciated. They also reported appreciation for the use of D2L and the additional resources and recorded tutorial videos I routinely post on the D2L shell. Well, it can’t be that utterly fantastic and wonderful. I take this feedback happily, but also recognize that there may be an element of Minnesota Nice occurring here. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
So, let’s turn to the student surveys. 27 students responded out of approximately 50 students taking my two fall term courses. The results were overall positive, though not positively glowing like the verbal survey data collected in the face to face session with Carol. Comments from the student surveys indicate success in this first goal of creating a culture safe for small and large group engagement in discussion as small group and class discussions were mentioned as a valuable part of the course. Of course there are areas for growth and those some of those are focused on in the following goals.
At the conclusion of the term I received an email from a student stating:
I would like to say thank you for teaching me this semester. I know that it is your job and I am paying to be there, however I know that you go out of your way to help your students and I know that that cannot always be easy. You helped me greatly in pedagogy to understand the information in a much deeper level and you made it look easy. You are a role model for your students, especially to me because of your history in science. Thanks also for putting up with me as I know I had some struggles throughout the semester but you were able to help me wonderfully, and not make me feel bad about it. You are a fantastic teacher and you probably don’t get thanked enough.
I did save this thank you.
Lastly, at the end of the 2013-14 academic year I was honored and surprised to be given a plaque from the 2014 CHSHE Student Advisory Team recognizing me for “Outstanding Instruction and Student Support.” Though this was a part of last year, the PDR is written in February and therefore artifacts and evidence from spring term have to be reported on the following year’s report.
Goal 2 & 3:
To address goals 2 and 3 I changed some daily routines for students and instituted the use of a Binder Portfolio.
At the beginning of each unit students are given a document that has an outline for the unit (using guiding questions) on one side and a learning map on the other side. The Unit I Planning Outline and Learning Map (Spring 2015) is an example. When I grade students work, I do not simply mark things wrong or right but instead provide questions to further their exploration of that topic. When work is returned, students are expected to answer those questions or make corrections to the work. Throughout the term students are placed in permanent “sense-making” groups. Within these groups students complete three tasks: Peer review work before turned in, help each other process the comments and questions on graded work, and fill in the information on the outline and learning map as a reflective activity. Each day they record what we studied/assignments and align that to the guiding questions for that unit and the standards in the course. On the learning map students are to record key ideas, terms, phrases, etc. and make connections between those. By doing these two activities they create a rough draft for the ED 3350 Unit I Reflection and Grade Proposal. This document is completed at the end of the unit. During this students write a final essay answer to the unit thematic question, make specific connections to research and theory, to previous education courses, and to the standards. They conclude this by using a rubric to propose their grade for this unit. If all of this work is done and kept in their binder, it is my intention that they have a library of resources to use when they complete the ed-TPA during student teaching.
The second change was to replace the practice ed-TPA / Mid-Point Assessment which was overwhelming to students with the same components but instead broken into three smaller chunks, Unit III Lesson Plan Sequence, Unit III Teaching Experience, and also including the newly required ED 3350 Signature Assessment which will be used for the first time in the spring term.
The survey data is informative in particular with regards to the practice ed-TPA. Where it was successful to break it into three smaller chunks, I felt at the end of term 1 that students were rushed to complete too much in too short of time. Before the results of the survey were collected I had already modified term 2 to spread this work out as much as possible and move some of the other smaller assignments not related to the ed-TPA to earlier in the term so they didn’t conflict with the large ed-TPA assignments at the end of term. The comments in the survey about where to make improvements indicate that this was a positive change for term 2, as the students expressed frustration with the workload at the end of the term.
Based on some comments and the score on the question regarding organization and relevance of the work assigned, there is still some work to do here to help students understand and see where all the assignments connect to the course outline and SEP standards. Prior to seeing the survey data, I began a practice of putting students into “sense-making’ groups. These are permanent discussion groups that meet at the end of each class period for 5 – 15 minutes to do the sense-making work that during term 1 I expected them to do on their own. So far the operation of these groups has been very positive and I believe this processing time will aide their understanding of the big picture of the units and the role the individual assignments play in that big picture.
I am pleased to report that I was able to meet this goal on all assignments, no matter how large for every assignment except for one occasion. I apologized to the students for not getting that paper back to them the next class period. They looked at me like I was crazy and forgave me!