Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our school's reform efforts

I think that effective blog posts cause the reader to see themselves within the "story" or posting. They're honest, straightforward, reflective and don't always paint the poster or reader in a perfect light. I'm going to break this post into portions where the headings promote the keys to effective blogging and we look at my school's goal of improvement in the actual content. I hope it won't prove too confusing!

Share anecdotes and statistics
Right now at my school, we're in Corrective Action; our students are not as successful as they need to be as measured by our state standards. They are not performing as well after three years in our school as they were when they arrived. 80% of our students come to our school scoring proficient or advanced. Our kids *should* be doing well, but they aren't. Even our advanced kids are losing ground over the course of their time at our school. This is the first year that that kind of data has been shared with our faculty and I am not alone in my fear that our jobs are in jeopardy.

Break up content into chunks that make sense
We started Professional Learning Communities last school year to study Rick Wormeli's Summarization in Any Subject. Teachers have been trying to improve student skills in summarization because our data showed that kids did not seem to be understanding what they were reading on the PSSAs. In an attempt to model using summarization, teachers were asked to 3-2-1 (three things I learned, two things i want to know more about, one thing I still don't understand) at every professional development activity after PLCs were implemented. I don't mean to sound critical of our administrators, but 3-2-1 was the first strategy in the book and it made us wonder if they had read any further than that first strategy.

Highlight the key points
This fall, we examined student data more deeply, looked at chunking text and other information so that students got information in more reasonable doses, will continue with summarization of key ideas and found out that in order to make a years worth of growth in writing, students needed to be writing 40 or more times per week. We were trained in the Collins Writing method in hopes of making teachers more comfortable in assigning and assessing writing. They've come up with a plan of how each department can help students to meet the varied requirements for academic growth and now we're working to implement them. 

Wrap up and invite others to share their ideas
As a librarian in a school where the library is often overlooked by teachers and students, I'm having a hard time figuring out how I can fit into the solutions proposed by my school. I don't have any assigned classes, I don't even always get to do instruction with classes when teachers bring them to the library. After worrying aloud about this at my last PLC meeting (and I'm in a wonderful group with teachers who do use the library!), I managed to secure an opportunity to collect a Collins sample from 9th grade students. I'm doing that tomorrow, here's my writing prompt: Please write five lines explaining how you know when you've found useful resources for a research project. In my experience, students don't really seem to know how to develop a well-thought out plan for conducting research and evaluating the resources they find. I'm hoping that collecting data that shows teachers and administrators this disconnect will help to further my cause for more teacher-librarian collaboration. How do you work with others in your school to ensure student success?

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