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“BEST PRACTICES” RESEARCH PROJECTS

GBPC/AEL Algebra 1 Resource Guide

Presentations, Workshops, & Tools


Region 5 Research Project

In a partnership with the University of Virginia, the Region 5 Governor’s Best Practice Center hired Dr. Margaret Grogan and Dr. Pam Evans as researchers to uncover best “classroom” practices in the teaching of Algebra, English, and Biology at the secondary level. They have completed the process of observing and interviewing three exemplary teachers from each of the three core areas (a total of nine interviews). These teachers were selected on the basis of excellent SOL test results from their students. The schools involved were in rural and suburban settings, and are representative of Region 5 schools. A brief description of the results follows. Please contact us for further information.

Summary of Findings on Teacher Performance
(As related to Uniform Performance Standards)
 1999-2000
Margaret Grogan, Ph. D., Curry School of Education
Pamela Roland, Ed. D., School of Continuing and Professional Studies
University of Virginia
Planning and Assessment
Teachers are expected to…
1.  design coherent instruction
2.  plan to achieve objectives
3.  match appropriate materials/ resources
4.  use a variety of assessment types
5.  communicate expectations and document gains
 
We found teachers who…
   reduced the complexity of problem solving into steps
   integrated the approach to writing, language and literature
   paid particular attention to aligning lesson elements
   provided evidence of careful, thoughtful planning
   used aligned text materials
   regularly used activities that engaged interest
   regularly used SOL practice tests and materials
   adjusted tests to simulate SOL format and structure
   gave practice tests often and systematically
   maintained clear focus on daily objectives
   made appropriate use of praise and feedback
Instruction
Teachers are expected to…
1.  understand the content and create meaningful experiences
2.  differentiate instruction for diverse needs
3.  use materials/resources to promote higher-level thinking
4.  use a variety of methods and strategies
 
We found teachers who…
     demonstrated deep knowledge of content
     liked their subject matter
     connected the material to student experiences and lives
     used technical vocabulary to facilitate explanation and
    student understanding
     devoted time (during math class) to one-on-one
    instruction
     encourage higher level thinking skills in questioning
     created additional notes and study sheets
     used audio visual materials appropriately to support
    content
     led focused discussion groups
     engaged students quickly at beginning of class
     monitored student performance with proximity and
    questioning
     varied activities with the class time
     maintained high behavior and academic expectations
Safe Learning Environment
Teachers are expected to…
1. implement discipline policies to foster safe, positive
    environment
2.  manage procedures to increase time on task
3. maintain rapport with students
4. create a supportive learning environment
 
We found teachers who…
      used established routines for good discipline
      maintained a good sense of pace throughout the lesson
      established and used routines effectively
      minimized off-task behavior
      monitored frequently
      used names frequently
      cared that students passed the SOL tests
      established warm, friendly relationships with students
      highly valued student input
      established opportunities for additional help
          Communication and Community Relations
          Teachers are expected to…
          1.  use effective communication to foster positive interactions
          2.  forge partnerships with families
          3.  work collectively with staff, families and community resource
We found teachers who…
      used student names frequently
      cared that students passed the SOL tests
      established warm, friendly relationships with students
      highly valued student input
      engaged in collegial networks and activities with others
 
Professionalism
Teachers are expected to…
1.  model professional, moral and ethical standards, and
     ethical behavior
2.  take responsibility for professional growth
3.  work collegially and collaboratively
4.  provide service to the profession
 
We found teachers who…
      articulated their teaching decisions and choices clearly
     with rationale
      demonstrated positive attitudes about fulfilling their
     duties
      did not communicate frustration to the students
      availed themselves of opportunities to deepen
     knowledge of content
      demonstrated the desire to have students do well on the
     SOL tests as a source of pride that motivated their behavior

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Governor's Best Practice Centers' Research Project

All eight Governor’s Best Practice Centers worked on a joint project to uncover best “school-wide” practices across the State. Twenty-four elementary, middle, and secondary schools were identified as schools that are succeeding in spite of low socio-economic levels. The project consisted of structured interviews with central office personnel, principals, and teachers. This   project was completed during the spring of 2000.  A brief listing of the findings is shown below.  Please call for additional information.

Statewide Study by 8 GBPC
  School-wide Focus
  26 schools (3 high schools, 7 middle schools, 16  
   elementary schools) recording significant gains
   with high SES
 Principal, teacher, key instructional leader
  interviews
 Main questions:
When it comes to the improvement your school has made, of what are you the most proud?
What are some of the things you did to meet the challenge of improving student achievement?

Statewide Study Results
Elements correlated to school success:
  Administrative Support
  Curriculum Alignment
   Use of mapping/pacing
  Data Analysis
  Intervention Strategies
  Leadership

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GBPC/AEL ALGEBRA I RESOURCE GUIDE

In partnership with AEL, the Region 5 Governor’s Best Practice Center has completed a compendium guide designed to assist Algebra I teachers in meeting the Algebra I Standards of Learning. This guide consists of a series of classroom activities and lessons for teachers to use in meeting each of the Standards. During the 1999-2000 school year, the guide was field-tested by six Algebra I teachers throughout the region. The guide is currently undergoing final review and is expected to be available during the spring and summer of 2001.  Contact us for further details.

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PRESENTATIONS,  WORKSHOPS, & TOOLS

The Region 5 GBPC staff welcomes the opportunity to visit schools to introduce ourselves and acquaint faculties with the goals of the Center and the services available. In particular, we will be willing to assist with training and in-service in the following:

  • Improving instructional focus using test information.
  • Interpreting standards through the process of “unpacking.”
  • Integrating “taught” curriculum with SOL.
  • Making a timeline for instruction.
  • Sharing promising practices from the field.
  • Writing valid assessments.
  • Teaching and incorporating test-taking stragies.
  • Matching instruction to assessment.

Administrators and teachers are encouraged to review district and school goals. We will tailor services to meet identified needs. We are also available to assist in facilitating the school improvement process, developing mentorship programs for new teachers, securing materials and locating resources, and conducting topical searches.

We will also custom-design a presentation to meet the needs of a school division or school. At this time, we have several presentations and workshops that have already been designed and are ready to go. Give us a call to schedule a presentation or workshop!

“Introducing the Governor’s Best Practice Center”

This presentation is designed to be incorporated into a school’s faculty meeting. Within a time-frame of approximately 30 minutes, this presentation highlights the functions of the Region 5 Governor’s Best Practice Center and introduces the Center’s staff.

“Creating a Pacing Guide and a Management Tool for Record-Keeping”

This presentation is designed to increase the awareness of a school faculty about the “what,” “why,” and “how” of a pacing guide, as well as the relationship between a pacing guide and the SOL Blueprints. A step-by-step process is laid out for the creation of a pacing guide, and a tool for pacing guide record keeping is explored.

Creating a Pacing Guide

“The SOL Organizer - a Tool for ‘Unpacking’ the Standards of Learning

This presentation focuses on the use of a series of EXCEL-based templates developed to encourage teams of teachers in the task of “unpacking” the Standards of Learning to ensure deep alignment with the taught curriculum. This presentation/workshop guides teachers through the “unpacking” process for one or more Standards by using the template tools to help the teachers identify “essential questions,” “essential knowledge,” and “skills and actions” that will be used to create a series of enabling objectives. Sample assessment and instructional activities will be created in tandem for covering and measuring these objectives. Finally, a pacing record is incorporated into the process to ensure time is set aside for covering the “unpacked” objectives.

The SOL Organizer

“The SOL Data Disaggregator: Examining Your SOL Test Results with Technology”

The presentation takes administrators through the process of disaggregating SOL test results with the use of a series of EXCEL templates. The templates are designed to be used with data available in electronic format from Harcourt-Brace.  Examples of information and data analysis (including graphs) are demonstrated using simulated test results based on the Spring 2000 or Fall 2001 testing cycles. The importance of data disaggregation and the uses of the resulting data are discussed as part of the presentation.

The Data Disaggregator

“Improving Student Achievement - What Principals Need to Know!”

This presentation takes principals through the process of “deep alignment” by providing a comparison of the way things used to be “before SOL” and the issues of accountability that have arisen from SOL testing. The importance of centering the taught curriculum on the objectives that are “unpacked” from the Standards is emphasized from the perspective of creating assessments and then matching instruction to the assessments. A “Standards-Based” model for assessment and instruction design is incorporated into the presentation.

Improving Student Achievement

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