MIDDLE GRADES INSTRUCTION IN NINE CAMBRIDGE PUBLIC SCHOOLS, CPS CPS

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Content: Middle Grades INSTRUCTION IN NINE CAMBRIDGE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: A Research Study Conducted by Nancy Brigham Associates (NBA) Submitted to Cambridge Public Schools (CPS) January 2013
MIDDLE GRADES INSTRUCTION IN NINE CAMBRIDGE PUBLIC SCHOOLS A Research Study Conducted by Nancy Brigham Associates (NBA) for the Cambridge. MA Public Schools October 2012 PROJECT SUMMARY Rather than provide a traditional executive summary that condenses the findings of the study in formal terms, we have chosen instead to create a composite and completely fictional student named Max. Max's personal life combines the stories we heard in focus groups with students in the middle grades in Cambridge, and his school experiences are typical of the experiences of most students we observed in this study. Max is 12 years old. He is in the seventh grade, and he has lived in Cambridge for four years. He used to live with just his mom in Los Angeles, but she got married, and they came to Cambridge. Now he lives in a two-bedroom apartment with his mom, his new dad, and his new dad's three children, who are all younger than Max. The apartment gets pretty noisy, and it is hard for Max to concentrate on his homework, but he does because he wants to be an engineer. He understands it takes a lot of work, but Max knows he is a hard worker and a smart student. Max loves going to school. He feels safe there, and he knows his teachers care about him. Sometimes at home these days, he doesn't know where he stands, but at school, he is part of a group of kids who all care about each other. The kids and the teachers take care of each other in his school. Max likes science when they do experiments even though it's not always clear what the experiments mean. He tries to figure it out from the textbook without bothering the teacher who is usually running around helping other kids with their experiments and getting them to work instead of goofing off. He doesn't think the class has learned anything about engineering yet or maybe they did when they built those ovens. He gets frustrated in math because there are so many easy worksheets They get boring. If he knows how to figure out ten problems, why should he have to do 50 more that are exactly the same? He used to raise his hand to show the teacher how quickly he had finished, but he stopped doing that because either she gave him another worksheet or she made him help kids who couldn't do the work. He didn't mind that a few times, but he's a kid, not a teacher, and he'd rather learn more new stuff. English class is easy, and he likes reading the books. He would like to talk about them more. There was one story about a family that had a lot of adventures while they were traveling. He wanted to tell about the adventures he and his mom had getting to Cambridge with almost no money. Those were some scary adventures, but the teacher said they needed to get their worksheets done. The worksheets were kind of dumb.
One question was, "What month did the family start its journey?" It says right in the book that they started in April. Why do you need to answer a question like that? Max really likes SOCIAL STUDIES this year. He is studying Alexander the Great, and it's really cool stuff. The teacher showed a lot of pictures and maps, and he could really see what Alexander did. The teacher wrote down the name of a great book Max can get from the library to learn more about Alexander. Max has never gone to the library by himself, but now he thinks he will. It's almost like he knows Alexander. Sometimes at night, when it's too noisy to sleep, Max pretends he is sitting around the fire with Alexander and his men talking about battle strategy or that he has his own horse and he is following Alexander into battle, maybe riding right next to him. He might think about being an archaeologist instead of an engineer. They talked in class about what archeologists do, and it sounds really interesting. The teacher said you can be whatever you want to be if you apply yourself and work hard. He said that Max is a "smart guy" and he "going places". Max has great hopes for his future now although he is a little worried about the MCAS. Last year, he didn't do as well as he thought he would; there were a lot of items on there he hadn't studied. The most important feature of Max's story and of our findings is that Max and many other students in the middle grades in Cambridge are not being challenged academically as much as they need to be in order to be successful in their future ambitions. Our findings demonstrate many strengths in instructional practices in the classrooms, but strongly indicate a need to revisit and revise the academic rigor of the middle grades curriculum and instructional practice INTRODUCTION This is the final report of the analysis of middle grades instruction in nine Cambridge public schools serving students in Grades 6-8. It builds on the research conducted by NBA of the Intensive Studies Program (ISP), which was reported to the district in December 2011. It should be noted at the outset that the current study was much more limited in scope, resources, and time than the ISP research. To be precise, this study built only on Chapter Four of the ISP report Characteristics of teaching and learning in ISP and general education Classes in the two schools (Kennedy-Longfellow and Peabody) that had ISP programs and general education programs for sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. While the ISP research included classroom observations, parent focus groups, teacher interviews and a parent survey, this study relies solely on classroom observations. This severe
limitation of data sources challenged us to identify a methodological approach that would yield optimal results from a limited data set. RESEARCH FRAMEWORK This section of the report discusses the rationale for the conceptual framework used in the study and introduces the methods, the unit of analysis and the steps we took to prepare for carrying out the study. Identify the Evaluation Approach In evaluations focused on elements that are difficult to measure and must be understood within a specific context, case studies are particularly useful. The Case Method allows for the description of activities and the development of explanations that include both successes and problems. A drawback to case study methodology has been that single cases do not allow for generalization. However, in recent years, case study evaluators have moved toward conducting multiple case studies around standardized sets of issues that allow generalization, cross-case analysis and identification of patterns. This approach seeks to integrate into the case method certain valuable features of quantitative data collection, such as an emphasis (to the degree possible) on standardization of data points, a means for determining causality and explanations, and an emphasis on analysis, not just description (Yin 1984). The standardized case study approach seemed appropriate to meeting the needs of our middle grades study for three reasons: 1. We were examining elements that are both difficult to measure and strongly affected by the differing contexts of schools. 2. Our focus extended across schools and grades; we were not interested in analyzing any one school or single class apart from the others. 3. In order to describe and analyze the quality, successes and challenges of middle grades education in Cambridge, it was important to be able to generalize across content areas and across classes. Select Units of Analysis and Observation. To construct a guiding framework for the research, we first identified the unit of analysis. A unit of analysis is essentially the item to be examined, the "what" that is at the heart of the research. We identified instructional practices, including classroom procedures, content, student engagement,
and class culture, as the unit of analysis that best fit the purpose of the study. We defined our central task as describing the status and quality of middle grades instructional practice in nine Cambridge schools. As our unit of observation (the sites where we would conduct the research) we randomly selected classes in the core content areas (English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies) in each of the nine schools. Create Instrumentation Instruments for standardized case studies must serve two purposes. The first is to capture the richness of a case study through providing "thick description". Thick description is described by Lincoln and Guba (1985) as a "way of achieving a type of external validity". By describing a phenomenon in sufficient detail, one can begin to evaluate the extent to which the conclusions drawn are transferable to other times, settings, situations and people. A thin description is one that simply reports facts, independent of intentions or the circumstances that surround an action (Abstract). To gather as much thick description as possible, we asked our observers to script each observed lesson in its entirety and record: 1) a stated and/or written objective and/or focus for the class; 2) use of questions and/or questioning techniques; 3) learning activities (e.g. writing, researching, doing worksheets); 4) assessments; and 5) texts and resources (e.g. texts, materials, videos, technology). They also captured student and teacher voices with exact quotations whenever possible. The second purpose of the instrumentation is to provide standardized information across the observed classes. For this, we turned to the Synthesis of Classroom Observation (SOCO) Form (see Appendix A), a tool adapted from one we previously used in the ISP evaluation to judge the quality of classroom instruction. Most items on the SOCO Form are drawn from the 3R framework of Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships developed by the Coalition of Essential Schools to assess instructional quality (Karschney and Murphy, 2004). Each element of the framework is described briefly below. Rigor consists of the complexity, clarity and challenge of the work students are asked to do and is probably the most important element of the framework. Research shows that the rigor of high school curriculum is one of the top indicators for whether a student will graduate from high school and earn a college degree. In fact, a study by the U.S. Department of Education found that the rigor of high school course work is more important than parent
education level, family income, or race/ethnicity in predicting whether a student will earn a postsecondary credential. http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org. Thus, if students are to reach high school with the ability to deal with a rigorous curriculum, the importance of rigor in the middle school curriculum cannot be taken lightly. Two concepts in particular deserve our attention: complexity and challenge. A complex curriculum is one that is less about discrete areas of knowledge and more about students' ability to synthesize, analyze and make solid intellectual connections. The complex curriculum focuses on how the parts of a system inter-connect, interact, and affect each other. The term coherence is often used in connection with complexity. What Karen Seashore Louis said about the importance of coherence in professional development for teachers also applies to students: "The push to have teachers include more complex content should also include a coherent frame of reference into which teachers can place this new information" (Louis, 2006). A challenging curriculum (according to the National Middle School Association) is one that that moves beyond covering content and rote learning activities. A challenging curriculum seeks the following: to help students become skilled writers, thinkers, and researchers; engage students in demanding problem solving activities; explore how and why things happen; and examine assumptions, principles, and alternative points of view. A good example of elements comes from an ASCD article Challenging organizational structures include compare-contrast and problemsolution. For example, in science texts, detailed comparisons between species like alligators and crocodiles or between concepts like meiosis and mitosis are common. Similarly, problem-solution structures are evident in both science and social studies; for example, an essay might explain multiple causes of water pollution and then explore multiple solutions for each of these causes" Shanahan et al. 2012, p 2). Relevance provides the frame of reference in which students can place new information. Relevant instruction stimulates students' curiosity and offers value beyond the classroom. Learning activities embrace students' diversity and culture and use topics that draw on students' personal frame of reference.
Students have voice, and their learning habits lead to life-long learning. Relevant instruction answers the question so often posed by students, "Why do I need to know that?" (Karschney/Murphy, 2004). Meaningful relationships are the sum total of interactions of students and teachers in the classroom. This is often expressed at the importance of a caring adult, who is personally interested in students and fosters their self esteem. Relationships among students are also important as a measure of a community of learners. Together, all the student-teacher and student-student relationships create the culture of the classroom. At the time we began the study, the Massachusetts Model System for Educator Evaluation was not available to us. Had it been, we might have added additional quality indicators. However, many of the same standards are addressed in our SOCO Form as in the Educator Evaluation System. Exhibit 1 below shows the usefulness of the SOCO Form as a tool for examining instructional quality across cases in alignment with the Educator Evaluation System. Exhibit 1: Relating Elements of the 3R Framework to the MA Educator Evaluation System
3R Instructional Component of the SOCO Form
Item Number((s) on Correlation to
the SOCO Form used Standards on the MA
to rate each 3R
Educator Evaluation
component
System
Rigor includes the complexity, clarity and challenge of the lesson as well as appropriate assessment activities.
A2, A3, G, H, I, & J
I. Curriculum Planning & Assessment
Relevance includes engaging students in learning activities that embrace student diversity and culture and uses topics that require students' personal frame of reference.
A1, A4. D, F
II. Teaching All Students III. Expectations (making knowledge accessible).
Relationships include both teacher-student relationships, student-student relationships. It also included classroom culture.
B1, B2. C1. C2. E,
II. Teaching All Students V. Professional Culture of Learning and Growth of all.
Train Observers To conduct accurate standardized observations requires skilled well trained observers with extensive classroom experience. Our classroom observers have that experience and also have expertise in the classroom observation process, most recently during the 2011-2012 school year as classroom observers on a large, federally funded study conducted by Education Development Center (EDC), Waltham, MA under the direction of Ms. Aguilar. To ensure that the observers were prepared specifically for this study, Ms. Aguilar provided four hours of training on the protocols. Then, the two observers conducted the first four classroom observations together and later debriefed to calibrate their scores on the SOCO Form. The Amigos School observations were conducted by Ms Aguilar who is bilingual and able to assess instruction delivered both in English and Spanish. Sample the Classes Since we could not visit all classes in every subject in nine schools, we decided to draw a random, representative sample of classes to observe. To do we created a matrix showing the nine schools (Amigos, Baldwin, Cambridgeport, Fletcher-Maynard, Graham and Parks, Martin Luther King, King Open, Morse, and Tobin Montessori) and their class schedules. The sampling matrix appears in Appendix B. We then randomly selected one major content area class per grade level. The matrix shows the selections we made and is annotated to show where it proved impossible to do an observation because of unexpected changes in the school schedule. When possible, we substituted a different class; however, that was not always feasible. In addition to the random sample we offered principals the opportunity to nominate a fifth observation, a class they deemed "outstanding" in terms of instruction. Only four principals did so, and the nominated classes turned out to be very similar to other classes in terms of instructional quality, so we chose not to report on these classes separately. Altogether, a total of 38 classes provided usable data: ten English language arts classes; ten social studies classes (one taught in Spanish); ten mathematics classes; and eight science classes. Thirteen of these classes were in the sixth grade; twelve in the seventh grade; and thirteen in the
eighth grade. One class was in the fifth grade (see Appendix B); we did not include this observation in the analysis since it was a singleton. Three schools, Cambridgeport, Graham and Parks, and King Open, have mixed grade groupings; we selected the higher grade in all cases. All but two of the teachers were present for the observation; those two classes were taught by a substitute teacher and an aide, respectively. Establish the Time Frame There was no real choice of time frame for the observations because of the timing of the research contract. Classroom observations began on May 22 and ended on June 5. This small window of time near the end of the school year is very busy. Teachers are beginning to bring closure to their units of study; students are preparing and presenting final reports and portfolios while eighth grade graduation activities, class field trips, and other celebratory events are competing for class time. Taking into account the time frame is one cautionary note for interpreting our observations and analysis. THE INDIVIDUAL CASE STUDIES In this section, we present brief case studies using the observation narratives by subject (ELA, mathematics, science and social studies) as the data base. The cases contain both the scripted notes made by the observers and NBA Team Reflections made during the analytic process. Our reflections are boxed and italicized to alert the reader that the comments are not part of what the observer saw, but rather our insights, analysis and opinions. The narrative follows the flow of the class from the opening statement of objectives through the activities and closure. At the conclusion of each case, we append the analysis from the SOCO Form, which the observers filled out for each class as soon as the class period ended. Some notes before presenting the individual cases. Although we saw a great variety of instructional practice, we failed to see two important instructional tools in any class in any subject. We did not see any differentiated instruction or scaffolding, two critical instructional strategies described briefly below. We noted as well a lack of questions that required students to use their higher order thinking skills.
Differentiated Instruction. According to Hall, Strangman, and Meyer (2011): ...to differentiate instruction is to recognize students' varying background knowledge, readiness, language, preferences in learning and interests; and to react responsively. Differentiated instruction is a process of teaching and learning for students of differing abilities in the same class. The intent of differentiating instruction is to maximize each student's growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is and assisting in the learning process (p. 1). Tomlinson and Allan (2000) noted that teachers can differentiate instruction in terms of content, process, and products based on students' readiness, interests, and learning profiles. Instructional and management strategies include tiered lessons, Learning Centers, varied supplemental materials, varied questioning strategies, varied texts, and literature circles. Students in every class we observed were all engaged in undifferentiated activities; whether they were reading books, creating posters, and/or doing mathematics problems, they were all doing the same thing. The only evidence of differentiation was when students choose their topic for a science investigation and poster, differentiation based on student interest. We also saw the division of eighth graders in one school into two groups: those who were preparing for the district's Algebra I test and those who were not. This differentiation was based on student readiness. Scaffolding. We also noticed an absence of scaffolding. Scaffolded instruction is "the systematic sequencing of prompted content, materials, tasks, and teacher and peer support to optimize learning" (Dickson, Chard, & Simmons, 1993). Edutopia (2011) defines scaffolding as the "breaking up the learning into chunks and then providing a tool, or structure, with each chunk" (p. 19). The students we observed were often assigned class work such as a worksheet and/or a set of problems without being given any motivation or context for the work. When new information was introduced, we did not hear strategies, such as activating prior knowledge, showing students an example of the desired outcome, modeling the thought process for students through "think aloud" talk, or using verbal cues to prompt student answers. Higher Order Thinking Skills. The types of questions teachers ask determine the extent to which students must engage their higher order thinking skills to reply. In our analysis of questioning, we used Bloom's Revised Taxonomy to assess the level of teachers' questions in every class. Exhibit 2 shows the
progress from lower level skills, such as remembering, paraphrasing or using information in another familiar situation to higher order skills, such as exploring relationships, hypothesizing or generating new ideas. Exhibit 2: Bloom's Revised Taxonomy of Thinking Skills Case Study #1: English Language Arts (ELA) We observed a total of ten ELA classes: four in the sixth grade; four in the seventh grade, one of which was conducted in Spanish; and two in the eighth grade. In terms of access to resources, students used laptops to gather information, write personal narratives, and practice sentence conventions. Many ELA classes followed the same learning pattern; students received a reading assignment, answered questions either on worksheets or graphic organizers, and/or participated in a teacher-led question and answer session.
Most ELA classes began with a statement of the class objectives by the teacher, often simultaneously written on the Smart Board. Sample ELA class objectives included: · To select and add work pieces to individual portfolios; · To practice reading for comprehension and critical thinking; · To make writing come alive by using humor, detail, and/or lively adjectives and adverbs. ELA teachers often used questioning to check for student understanding or guide the discussion. Sample ELA questions included: · Do you think it would be good for society if everyone could see whether you made good choices? (Evaluating, Level 5). · Who can tell us the meaning of Memorial Day? (Understanding, Level 2). · How can you make your poem interesting to the listening audience? What words in your poem could help you develop an interpretation of your poem? (Applying, Level 3). NBA Team Reflection: Most questions asked by teachers in the ELA classes we observed were Levels 1, 2 and 3--lower order questions. Discussions requiring higher level thinking skills were limited or nonexistent. The observers also noted that teachers gave limited time for students to think about and respond to the questions, which may have affected the level, scope and quality of discussion. Even "good" questions did not lead to meaningful discussion that expanded students' thinking in new directions. Many learning activities were focused on book discussions. Sixth graders in one school began the class by either participating in a teacher-led discussion of a book titled Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi in small groups or working independently at their desk or on the computer. Later they all worked on their individual reading packets titled Midnight Magic and their portfolios. The observer noted that the small group conversations about the book
tended to lapse quickly when the teacher was not checking in with the group or standing nearby. In another school, a combined fifth and sixth grade class read The Watson's Go to Birmingham and participated in teacher-directed discussion. Later, students read a story "Think of A Word" in The Last Slice of Rainbow and Other Stories by Joan Aiken. In small groups, they discussed the question, "Do you think it would be good for society if everyone could see whether or not you make good choices?" The potential of this question to generate meaningful discussion was hindered because students were not asked to refer to the book to validate their opinions, and students had difficulty keeping to the subject or going beyond the obvious. ("I think it's a good idea." "I think it's a bad idea." "I don't care." "It wouldn't bother me; I'm not doing anything wrong!") NBA Team Reflection: It may be unrealistic to expect middle school students to become engaged in discussion based on a single prompt or question and then left on their own to continue it. Many of the students don't know the conventions of discussion or how to create a discussion framework. In these instances, it would have been very helpful to use discussion formats and strategies that scaffold instructional techniques provide a structure that models discursive practices for students, such as Fishbowl discussions. One seventh grade class began by writing three things in their journals that they did over the weekend. Students then answered the question, "What is the meaning of Memorial Day?" A student responded that it was a "day to remember and celebrate those who have fought and sacrificed in wars for us." Students then used the remainder of the period to work on their social studies posters. NBA Team Reflection: A teachable moment to create relevance is missed here; the student's rote answer could have led to a discussion of what "fought and sacrificed" means or if any of the students know a family that has sacrificed and how the students feel about sending young men and women to war. A combined seventh and eighth grade class worked on the use of commas. The teacher instructed, "Read a sentence. Tell me where the comma is, and
what the rule is. We'll write the rules down and then we'll have a quiz." When asked by a student the purpose of writing the rule, the teacher explained, "... If you write the rules on your sheet, it will be easier to study for the quiz." Other eighth graders worked in pairs or independently on finalizing their portfolios and presentation scripts. NBA Team Reflection: The student's legitimate question about the rationale for writing down the rule about commas deserved an answer that went beyond studying for the quiz. For example, the teacher could have suggested that writing down a rule is one way to internalize it, so when students are writing, it becomes natural to put the commas in the correct places. The observers completed the SOCO Form for each mathematics class in order to generalize their conclusions across observations. Rigor of the ELA Instruction1 · Instructional Content/ Complexity. None (0 percent) of the ELA classes was studying topics and concepts considered sufficiently complex for all of most sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. · Instructional Content/ Challenge. None of the topics, concepts, and/or guiding questions appeared challenging to all or most of the students. Relevance of the ELA Instruction2 · Student Engagement. Student engagement, active participation, exploration, and/or research took place in 78 percent of ELA classes. · Student Understanding. Comprehension, not just recall was demonstrated in 88 percent of ELA classes. 1 There are three criteria for rigor, but the third, clarity, was understood by our observers to mean clarity of process (students knew what they were supposed to do) rather than its original meaning "clarity of expectations", i.e. students understand why they were doing these activities. Thus, we eliminated clarity from our analysis. 2 Note that there is no reference to quality in these items about relevance. They tell us, for example, that there is active participation, but not whether the participation is in meaningful activities.
· Focus on Teaching and Learning. Classroom culture in 56 percent of ELA classes focused on teaching and learning.
Relationships in ELA Classrooms
· Safe and Democratic Environment. Seventy eight percent of ELA classes were judged a safe and democratic environment where students demonstrated positive self-esteem and trust.
· Community of Learners. Forty four percent of ELA classes evidenced a strong community of learners in which students showed a commitment not only to their own success but to the success of other learners.
Case Study #2: Mathematics
We observed
ten mathematics classes: two in the sixth grade, three in
the seventh grade and five in the eighth grade. Students used the
district's texts Connected Mathematics (sixth grade), CMP and Key to
Algebra (eighth grade) as well as manipulatives (coins, dice, colored tiles),
handouts, and worksheets. The classes generally began with a statement of
objectives by the teacher, often simultaneously written on the Smart Board.
Sample mathematics class objectives included:
· To predict the probability of selecting a particular color tile from a bag; · To revisit volume and container design; · To prepare for the district Algebra I exam.
NBA Team Reflection: These are not learning objectives but rather an agenda of the activities that will take place during the class period. If, for example, the first objective was rewritten to say "Based on selecting colored tiles from a bag, describe probability as likely, unlikely, impossible or certain and explain your answer in a fraction," we would have not only a
learning objective but also an expressed high expectation of what students could do with the information. In terms of Bloom's Taxonomy, the sample questions from the mathematics classes are at several levels. · How does this relate to the rest of our data? (Applying, Level 3). · What does this mean for our conclusions? (Analyzing, Level 4). · What did you notice about variability in this experiment? (Understanding, Level 2). · What was the change? Which colors changed the most drastically in our examples? (Remembering, Level 1). As in the ELA classes, the observers did not hear extended conversation stemming from these questions. Also, as in ELA classes, wait time for student responses was an issue; students had a very short time to respond before teachers moved on to the next student or answered the questions themselves. NBA Team Reflection: As currently stated these questions are not very stimulating. A higher level question about variability might ask, "Why do you think the same experiment might have different results? What does this tell us about conducting research?" Two sixth grade classes were studying probability by flipping coins, tossing dice, and/or pulling colored tiles from a bag. The purpose was to predict the probability of selecting a particular color tile, choosing the correct side of a coin, or side of the die. In one class, the teacher walked from one student's desk to another letting each student pull a colored tile from a bag she held. This activity took place in silence, although the students were obviously engaged. After about half the class had drawn tiles, it was obvious that blue was the predominant color. However, the teacher did not ask for any predictions, and students did not offer any. When she was done, the teacher went to the board and made four columns headed Blue, Red, Yellow, White and asked students to raise their hands to show which color they had.
NBA Team Reflection: This activity was a silent structured demonstration, not a learning activity. If the teacher had asked, "What color do you think will come up next and why do you think that?" students would have been able to discuss probability. Students were very engaged in the activity but received very little learning in return for their attention. One mathematics teacher helped students connect to the concept of probability by relating it to the Boston Celtics. She asked, "What is the probability that the Celtics will win the division finals?" Students discussed the number of games played and won and the number of remaining games. "Sometimes things work out," the teacher said, "Sometimes they don't. This is what we'll talk about over the next couple of weeks." She then asked students to turn to Problem 1.1: Finding Probabilities with a Coin. NBA Team Reflection: The teacher demonstrated relevance by tying probability to something in which the students are really interested. However, her example is not on target. The probability that the Celtics will win the division final is not a matter of simple probability like a coin toss. There are many other factors, e.g. injuries to key players that may influence which team will win the finals. Seventh graders were involved in a variety of activities that ranged from creating Box and Whisker plots, drawing tree diagrams to show all possible outcomes of drawing red and blue marbles out of a container to studying volume by designing cost-effective popcorn containers for their "businesses". This last activity really engaged students; they were extremely interested in finding out how they could make the most money by coming up with a creative design that contained less popcorn but looked like more. NBA Team Reflection: This lesson is a good example of making instruction relevant to students' interests. It would have been an interesting stretch to ask students to think about business ethics. "Is it fair to the customer to offer popcorn in a container that makes them think they are getting more popcorn than they are so you can make more money?" "Is this cheating?"
Two eighth grade classes were preparing for the district Algebra I exam that would determine their readiness for a ninth grade course (Algebra I or Geometry). Topics included quadratic equations and linear equations. A third class was writing note-cards for use in presenting their portfolios on one of two books: The Shapes of Algebra and Looking for Pythagoras. A fourth class was creating a game that assessed mathematics topics from the school year. Students worked in small groups to create directions, rules, game pieces, and a game board. A fifth class was taking a paper and pencil test assessing the mathematics topics of the year. NBA Team Reflection: Both the paper and pencil test and the mathematics game provided an assessment of student learning about key topics during the year. However, creating a mathematics game is both a summative assessment and an activity relevant to student interests. It is also far more engaging than the paper and pencil test. The observers completed the SOCO Form for each mathematics class in order to generalize their conclusions across observations. Rigor of Mathematics Instruction · Instructional Content/ Complexity: Nine percent of mathematics classes were studying topics and concepts that were sufficiently complex for all or most sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. · Instructional Content/ Challenge: About 46 percent of topics, concepts, and/or guiding questions appeared challenging to all or most of the mathematics students. Relevance of Mathematics Instruction · Student Understanding: In 88 percent of mathematics classes students showed evidence of understanding, not just recall. · Student Engagement: In 73 percent of mathematics classes, students were engaged with the lesson. · Focus on Teaching and Learning: The classroom culture focused on teaching and learning in 64 percent of mathematics classes.
Relationships in Mathematics Classrooms · Safe & Democratic Classrooms: Ninety percent of mathematics classes were judged be a safe and democratic environment where students demonstrated positive self-esteem and trust. · Community of Learners: In 64 percent of mathematics classes, students showed a commitment not only to their own success but to the success of other learners. Case Study #3: Science We observed nine science classes, three each in sixth, seventh and eighth grade. Some science teachers augmented the texts by providing additional science trade books such as A Plastic Bottle's Journey, Cells Are Us, etc. Teachers also pointed students to websites that would help them in their research. In some science classes, students were researching topics/diseases of personal interest, creating posters, and/or presenting information. Neither the standards for quality of the information nor the rubrics used to assess the work were made clear. Sample objectives for science classes included: · Spend one more day observing the seasonal changes in our trees; · Today, we will continue working on the solar system; · Today, we will look at different animal skulls to see if they are related. NBA Team Reflection: These are objectives, which clearly show students the primary task of the class period. As with the other process objectives we observed, they do not provide a learning expectation or motivation. The third objective might become more evocative if it were reworded to say: "We will look at animal skulls to see if they are related and discuss the implications of that for our study of the species."
Science teachers used questions to check for understanding and recall: Some sample science questions are listed below along with their level per Bloom's Taxonomy. · What have you learned about biology or living things by observing an organism for a full year? (Remembering, Level 1). · Have you thought about how flowers and fruits are connected? (Analyzing, Level 4). · To prepare for a quiz, what are some steps you'll take? (Applying, Level 3). NBA Team Reflection: None of these questions seem likely to lead to higher order thinking or discussion. A better question might be "Now that you know that flowers and fruits are connected, what new thought do you have about the role of flowers in the life cycle of plants?" or "Is a flower just another pretty face?" Science activities in many of the classes we observed spanned a continuum from hands-on activity without much conceptual foundation to reading and writing without any hands-on activity. For example, sixth graders in one school were designing solar ovens to withstand a wind stability and directionality test. Working in groups, they built their ovens by using a cardboard box and aluminum foil. The goal was to place the ovens on the roof patio on a sunny day and bake brownies. However, before doing so, the ovens had to withstand the window fan turned to high for one minute without moving. The students were highly involved in the lesson, but their interaction was focused primarily on procedure, plans and construction. NBA Team Reflection: Our observers were not sure that any of the students knew the real scientific purpose of building the ovens. What scientific principle was being illustrated? It was not discussed in this class, although of course, it may have been in an earlier class. Reiterating the scientific purpose at the beginning of each lesson might have moved the students' thinking from construction to science.
By contrast, another class was learning about atoms and matter by reading aloud from handouts and doing worksheets. Students who finished early could play "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" NBA Team Reflection: This particular class could be used as a counterexample to good instructional practice. Students are rewarded for completing worksheets by being allowed to play a game with no direct ties to the content. What is being taught and learned in this classroom? In one class that combined hands-on activity with content knowledge, students were learning how to identify and classify animal skulls by examining three skulls. After a review of "skull handling rules," they logged on to an Internet site to conduct their study. Students recorded their findings on cards with the following labels: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. Eighth graders were preparing to observe the "Venus Transit" (the alignment between the earth, the sun, and Venus) by learning how to make a sun projector and/or a pinhole camera. They practiced recording observations by viewing images and writing their observations with detailed descriptions. The teacher asked each time, "What do you see? How would you describe it?" NBA Team Reflection: This is an example of combining activity and learning in a meaningful and relevant way. It is not clear if the teacher mentioned it, but these students are being exposed to core principles of the scientific process: observe and record. The observers completed the SOCO Form for each science class in order to generalize their conclusions across observations. Rigor of Science Instruction · Instructional Content/Complexity: 25 percent of science classes were studying topics and concepts that were sufficiently complex for all or most sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. · Instructional Content/ Challenge: About 50 percent of the topics, concepts, and/or guiding questions appeared challenging to all or most science students.
Relevance of Science Instruction · Student Understanding: In 88 percent of science Classes, students showed evidence of understanding, not just recall. · Student Engagement: There was convincing evidence in38 percent of science classes that students were engaged with the lesson. · Focus on Teaching and Learning: There was convincing evidence in 38 percent of science classes that the classroom culture focused on teaching and learning. Relationships in Science Classrooms · Safe and Democratic Classrooms: A full 100 percent of science classes were judged as a safe and democratic environment where students demonstrated positive self-esteem and trust. · Community of Learners: In 63 percent of science classes students showed a commitment not only to their own success but to that of other learners. Case Study #4: Social Studies In one social studies class, students spoke about the recent murder of a young woman age 16 in the community. The young woman and her family were known to many of the students. Students engaged in a very serious conversation. The teacher said, "I want us to continue to be kind to each other, patient with each other. Be responsible and reach out to people. If you realize that you're having a strong emotional response, let your teachers know. Know that your teachers care, the school cares and we're here to support you." NBA Team Reflection: This poignant moment helps to explain why the classes we observed tended to score so well on "relationships". This is what teacher caring looks like at its very best. We observed a total of nine social studies classes: four in the sixth grade, two in the seventh grade; and three in the eighth grade. Social studies
teachers used the district's History Alive texts throughout the grade levels and added readings when appropriate. They also incorporated pictures, photographs, and videos. Sample objectives for social studies classes were: · To begin research on Alexander the Great; · To study the assassination of important Civil Rights leaders; · To understand the labor movement in the United States; · To determine the role geography played in the Inca Empire. NBA Team Reflection: The last two items on the list are excellent examples of learning objectives. They are interesting, motivational and require higher order thinking skills. They also show high expectations of students' ability to analyze information and generate new ideas. Social studies teachers used questions at several levels. Some sample social studies questions are listed below along with their level per Bloom's Taxonomy. · Who can share an interesting fact with the class that they learned from their book which was not already mentioned on the sheet I distributed to you? The topic is Alexander the Great. (Remembering, Level 1). · Through this unit, we have focused intensely on what it takes to build justice. Consider what factors facilitate and what factors obstruct justice. (Evaluating, Level 5). · What are three reasons the Black Power Movement gained support through the 1960s? (Evaluating, Level 5). · How did the court deal with big business? (Analyzing, Level 4.) We observed social studies learning activities at the sixth grade level in three different schools. Several classes at the sixth grade level followed the same learning pattern;: students received a reading assignment, answered
questions either on worksheets or graphic organizers, and/or participated in a teacher-led question and answer sessions. Students in one school were researching Alexander the Great by reading a handout and choosing a paperback for individual reading. The teachers also distributed a research guide to aid students in conducting their research. Students in a second class used their text History Alive ­ The Ancient World plus a worksheet to compare and contrast the city states of Athens and Sparta. A third class used the same text and a worksheet to compare and contrast the Persian soldier and the Greek soldier. NBA Team Reflection: These activities are rather uninspired. A question such as "Which would you rather be, a Persian soldier or a Greek soldier and why?" would be an interesting way to compare and contrast the two. Seventh graders in one class focused on the Incan civilization by discussing a picture of an Incan settlement displayed on the Smart Board and responding to the teacher-posed questions, "From this picture, what can you tell us about location of this Incan settlement? What would be the pros/cons of having a settlement in such a location? Why would such a location be of benefit to the Inca?" Students engaged in a spirited conversation as the teacher pointed out specifics in the picture. Next, they used their text, History Alive, to identify five ways the Incas controlled their people. NBA Team Reflection: This teacher has successfully prompted a long conversation by using the features of the picture as an artifact to evoke student responses. The teacher keeps the conversation going by pointing out different elements of the picture. Next, he connects the discussion to information available in students' textbooks. One class of eighth graders was studying the concept of justice and equality. This class was discussing Cambridge's school choice option. The teacher provided background information, and when she asked the class for their thoughts about school integration in Cambridge, one student brought up the experience in Boston. He suggested that integration was probably easier in
Cambridge because the city was smaller and had more of a sense of community, "Maybe people in Cambridge are more racially accepting." NBA Team Reflection: This conversation regarding integration in Cambridge stands out. Our observer wrote, "This class discussion reflects a thoughtfulness and sophistication that seems remarkable for students of this age." In terms of the 3R framework, this represents both complexity of topic and a strong challenge to student thinking. Note that the teacher provided background material to stimulate thinking and discussion. Students then transitioned to the Justice Builder Picture Book that each had created. They silently read one another's books and provided written feedback. The teacher reminded them, "Keep order, handle carefully to avoid smudging, write helpful comments, and don't say anything rude. Be positive." NBA Team Reflection: The teacher here is providing both a model of conduct for life and a model of building classroom community. Be careful and be kind! Another eighth grade class was studying the history of the labor movement. Students, working in groups, read one of the following articles, "Uprising of the 20, 000," "The American Federation of Labor," "Trust Busters," and "TR Takes Charge," and "Eugene V. Debs," and the "Pullman Strike." The teacher asked the groups to read their articles aloud and answer the questions. She reminded them, "After each question, check in on comprehension. Read a question and discuss it by looking at the text. When everyone is clear, write the answer." NBA Team Reflection: This activity appeared to be complex without being challenging. Students listening to other students read aloud became fidgety and disengaged. The idea of "everyone being clear" evidently meant everyone coming to consensus. How much more relevant it would be to discuss the meaning of the labor movement to management and workers and to hear how students react (agree and disagree) with each other's statements. Does anyone in their family belong to a labor union?
A third (eighth grade) class was studying Civil Rights leaders. The teacher began the class by writing on the Smart Board, "What are three reasons the Black Power/Black Nationalism movement gained support through the 1060's?" Students engaged in an enthusiastic discussion. The teacher projected photographs of Martin Luther King, protesters being attacked, and Mohammed Ali, and students discussed each one. The teacher distributed obituaries for Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X. The teacher explained, "Today, we'll talk about the assassination of important civil rights leaders. Even though Robert F. Kennedy was White, he is an important figure in civil rights." Students read and took notes. The teacher introduced a documentary "The Road to Memphis: Assassination of Martin Luther King," and asked students to jot down information that they could use in creating an obituary for him. NBA Team Reflection: The activities in this class were successful both in conveying important substantive knowledge and in motivating students to learn more and discuss important questions that are extremely relevant to the lives of students living in a diverse community. The observers completed the SOCO Form for each science class in order to generalize their conclusions across observations. Rigor of Social Studies Instruction · Instructional Content/ Complexity: Eleven percent of social studies classes were studying topics and concepts that were sufficiently complex for all or most sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. · Instructional Content/Challenge: The topics, concepts, and/or guiding questions appeared challenging to all or most students in 45 percent of social studies classes. Relevance of Social Studies Instruction · Student Understanding: Students demonstrated understanding, not just recall in 89 percent of social studies classes. · Student Engagement: Students were engaged with the lesson in 89 percent of social studies Classes.
· Focus on Teaching and Learning: Classroom culture focused on teaching and learning in 89 percent of social studies Classes. Relationships in Social Studies Classrooms · Safe and Democratic Classrooms: Students demonstrated positive selfesteem and trust and the environment was deemed safe and democratic in 100 percent of social studies classes.
· Community of Learners: In 89 percent of social studies classes, there was a strong community of learners where students showed a commitment not only to their own success but to that of other learners.
CROSS CASE ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS
The analysis of Qualitative Data across sites is an iterative process. The first iteration reveals many different kinds of practices and situations. The goal is just to label them (Anfara et al., 2002). The objective for the second iteration is a search for patterns that represent connections among the initial set of discrete categories. As patterns emerge, they suggest, in the third iteration, hypotheses, explanations, or "theories" about what is important to participants and how things work in a setting. In an evaluation such as this, the case study findings thus become part of the cross-case database contributing depth to our understanding of the central research task, i.e. to describe the status and quality of middle grades instructional practice across nine Cambridge schools.
As part of the first iteration (labeling) we returned to the 3R Framework to pull out some key findings across the dimensions of rigor, relevance and relationships to see the outcomes across content areas.
Complexity and Challenge: Exhibit 3 shows how the classes fared on two dimensions of rigor: Complexity and Challenge.
Exhibit 3: Average Complexity and Challenge of the Work Observed in Classes
Dimension of Rigor
ELA %
Mathematics %
Science %
Social Studies %
Average %
Complexity
0
9
25
11
11
Challenge
0
46
50
45
35
This exhibit tells us the percentage of classes in which the work was considered "sufficiently" complex for all or most students at their respective grade levels. The mean was 11 percent across all content areas. In the debriefing, the observers noted that that the complexity of the work often seemed below the capacity of many students, rather than above it. Also, because instruction was not differentiated, the high standard of "sufficiently complex for all or most students" was seldom met.
Assessing challenge is a slightly different concept in that it asks the extent to which these students seemed to find the work difficult even if it does not meet the definition of challenge on page 6 of this report. The averages suggest that perhaps the students have not been offered challenging work in the past, so what is given to them appears more difficult than it is. ELA is dismal in both categories; comma worksheets, review of weekend activities, and reading comprehension activities might not provide the challenge that students need to engage with one another and the content. Again, the lack of differentiated instruction tended to lower the scores because it did not meet the standard of being challenging to all or most students.
Relevance: Exhibit 4 looks at how the classes did on the salient dimensions of relevance: Student Engagement and a Culture of Teaching and Learning in the Classroom. Student engagement is a measure of paying attention to the work, rather than the quality of the work. Thus, we saw many students become engaged in filling out worksheets or pulling tiles out of a bag, even though these activities do not challenge them very much.
Exhibit 4: Average Assessment of Relevance in Observed Classes
Dimension of Relevance
ELA
Mathematics Science % Social Studies Average %
%
%
%
Student
78
73
38
89
70
Engagement
Culture of Teaching
56
64
38
89
62
& Learning
A culture of teaching and learning, as defined in the SOCO Form, is a measure of student behavior, i.e. whether the teacher has to interrupt the class and keep bringing the students back on task. It is apparent that the atmosphere is (on average) quite good. The culture is least conducive to learning in science and most conducive to learning in social studies.
Exhibit 5: Average Assessment of Relationships in Observed Classes
Dimensions of Relationships
ELA
Mathematics Science % Social Studies Average %
%
%
%
Safe & Democratic
78
Classrooms
90
100
100
92
Learning Community
44
64
63
89
65
Another method of analyzing instructional practice across cases is to create a continuum that allows classification in terms of comparative strength in elements of the 3R Framework. The continuum shows that the classes are strongest in terms of relationships and weakest in rigor of instructional practice. Twenty-three percent of all observed classes demonstrated rigor; 66 percent of all observed classes demonstrated relevance; 79 percent demonstrated positive relationships.
Exhibit 6: Assessment of Elements of the 3R Framework Across the Observed Classes
0____________25_____________50____________________100
Rigor
Relevance
Relationships
(23%)
(66%)
(79%)
CONCLUSIONS The findings of our study align closely to previous research on the strengths and flaws of the middle grades movement nationally. Much of the focus of the movement was on making instruction more relevant to the lives of middle school students and building caring relationships through such mechanisms as creating smaller learning communities and grade level teams in middle schools. In the forefront of the movement was The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, a prestigious group of educators, researchers, representatives of National Associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations, all devoted to improving the quality of middle grades education. We are including the Forum's vision statement because it reflects on our findings in this study.
National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform Vision Statement (1998) Forum members believe that youth in the middle grades are capable of learning and achieving at high levels. We share a sense of urgency that highperforming schools with middle grades become the norm, not the exception. Believing that there is nothing as practical as a vision, we spent over eighteen months developing a vision statement that expresses our shared conviction about school excellence. Briefly, we believe: · High-performing schools with middle grades are academically excellent. They challenge all students to use their minds well. · High-performing schools with middle grades are developmentally responsive. They are sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence. · High-performing schools with middle-grades are socially equitable, democratic and fair. They provide every student with high-quality teachers, resources, learning opportunities, and supports. They keep positive options open for all students. A leader in the middle grades reform movement and a founder of the Forum, Dr Hayes Mizell later noted that the middle grades reform movement seemed to have swung the pendulum too far in the direction of developmental responsiveness and away from academic excellence. Across the nation the middle grades are not, generally speaking, producing satisfactory results for students. There is a pervasive culture among middle school educators that disproportionately emphasizes personal support for students over developing students' knowledge and skills to a high level3 Lest we be guilty ourselves of swinging the pendulum too far toward emphasizing academic rigor, many authors have also documented the importance of relationships, especially in urban schools It has been possible to identify schools and programs that have been successful in supporting mobile children and to note that migrant education programs tended to "create spaces of belonging and connection that reinforce both academic success and identity." Studies of successful programs suggest that they had teachers who developed caring relationships with their students, served as role models, helped to bridge gaps between home and school, and acted as liaisons to other resources... (Gibson. 1990) 3 (Remarks of Dr. Hayes Mizell on October 29, 2001 at a conference of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation's Program for Student Achievement grantees.)
RECOMMENDATIONS Research has now recognized that the amount of professional development teachers receive affects their students' achievement, but the specifics of that relationship are still vague, according to findings from the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL). Southwest. REL examined more than 1,300 studies to uncover key findings on the relationship between teacher professional development and student performance: · Just nine of 1,300 studies that REL examined in the key areas of math, science, reading and English/language arts met the evidence standards from the U.S. Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse. · In those nine studies, teachers who receive an average of 49 hours of professional development (considered a substantial amount) were found to be able to boost student achievement up to 21 percent. · More than 14 hours of professional development had a significant impact on student achievement (Yoon et al. October 2007). If Max is to be educated more effectively, the answer may be in professional development for his teachers. While it would be presumptuous of us, based on a study of such limited scope, to suggest far-reaching recommendations for change, we reviewed our specific findings from this study to create a prioritized list of five professional development needs that require the district's attention. The most urgent concern we identified is academic rigor, i.e. the complexity and challenge of curriculum and instructional practice. This is both a district responsibility in terms of curriculum development and a professional development priority. Second in importance is helping teachers learn to differentiate and scaffold instruction. In a heterogeneous classroom, all students should seldom be doing the same thing for the entire period. Differentiation of instruction would have raised the scores on the SOCO in many instances. Unfortunately, the observers saw too many students doing nothing because either 1) they had finished their work, or 2) they didn't know how to start their work.
Third on the priority list is to set high expectations for students both by opening the class period with learning objectives and by using Bloom's taxonomy to ensure that the questions challenge the students to analyze and synthesize information. Fourth is to make learning more relevant to students' experience. The result will be both greater student engagement and greater retention of information. It is not necessary to use only contemporary figures or the Boston Celtics. Max's social studies teacher used stories and artifacts to fire up enthusiasm and make Alexander the Great relevant to Max. Fifth on our priority list is to develop some professional development around the smaller issues that we identified in this research. Giving more wait time for student responses, finding formats that facilitate student discussions, using artifacts to stimulate student enthusiasm; these techniques do not require any major investment of resources, but may prove instrumental in meeting the more challenging priorities of rigor and relevance.
REFERENCES Anfara, V., Brown, K.M. & Mangione, T.L. (2002) Qualitative Analysis on state: Making the research process more public. Education Researcher, 3/17, 3838.Dickson, S. V., Chard, D. J., & Simmons, D. C. (1993). An integrated reading/writing curriculum: A focus on scaffolding. LD Forum, 18(4), 12-6. Edutopia. Six Scaffolding Strategies to Use with Your Students. May 24, 2011. Retrieved on October 4, 1012 from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/scaffoldinglessons-six-strategies-rebeccaalber. Gibson, J.P. (1990). School Size, Socioeconomic Status, and Mobility as Predictors of Achievement Among Washington State Fourth-, Eighth-, and TenthGrade Students. Seattle University, WA. Guba, E.G. & Lincoln, Y.S. Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In. N.K. Denzin & Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 105-117). Thousand Oaks, CA" Sage Publications. Hall, T., Strangman, N., & Meyer, A. (2011) Differentiated instruction and implications for UDL implementation: Effective classroom practices report. National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. CAST. Karschney & Murphy. 1994. Coalition of effective schools, Small Schools Project. Northwest Regional Laboratory'. Louis, K.S. (2006) Changing the culture of schools: professional community, organization learning and trust. Journal of School Leadership, 16 (5) 479-488. Shanahan, T. Fisher D and Frey, N. The Challenge of Challenging Text. ASCD March 2012 | Volume 69 | Number 6 Reading: The Core Skill Pages 58-62. Tomlinson, CA & Allan, SD. (2000). Leadership for differentiating schools & classrooms. Association for Supervision and Curriculum. Alexandria, VA. Yoon. K.S. et al. (October 2007 Reviewing the evidence on how teacher professional development affects student achievement. REL Southwest, Issues and Answers. Yin, R.K. (1984) Case study research: design and methods. Sage, Newbury Park, CA.
APPENDIX A
SYNTHESIS of CLASSROOM OBSERVATION (SOCO) FORM
School Name Subject Observer Name
Teacher Name Grade Level
# of Students Date
A.
Instructional Process
Rank the class on the following scale for each variable 1 = Not at all 2 = Some evidence 3 = Convincing Evidence 4) Not applicable or not seen
1) Students are engaged in active participation, exploration or research._____ 2) Student responses and work show understanding, not just recall._____ 3) The teacher establishes clear expectations of what students are to do.______ 4) Activities draw out students' perceptions and develop understanding._____
B.
Assessment
Rank the class on the following scale for each variable 1 = Not at all 2 = Some evidence 3 = Convincing Evidence 4) Not applicable or not seen
1) Assessment task(s) ask students to communicate their knowledge through presenting a product or in some other way than paper and pencil._____
2) Students are engaged in substantive conversation about content _____
C.
Relationships
Rank the class on the following scale for each variable 1 = No Evidence 2 = Some Evidence 3 = Convincing Evidence 4) Not applicable or not seen
1) Teacher creates a safe, democratic classroom; students demonstrate self esteem and trust. ____
2) The community of student learners is strong and students demonstrate commitment not only to their own success but that of their classmates. _____
D.
Students were intellectually engaged with the focus of
the lesson.
Most students are disengaged.
Many students are disengaged.
1
2
3
4
Some students are disengaged.
All or most students are consistently engaged in the work.
5
6
7
E.
Classroom Culture focus on teaching and learning
Culture interfered with learning throughout lesson.
Culture interfered with learning a few times or a few students interfered frequently.
Culture was facilitative of learning most of the time.
Culture was facilitative of learning throughout the lesson.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
F.
Active participation of all students was encouraged and
valued.
Not at all
An
isolated
instance or
little
encouragement
The teacher sometimes encourages participation or encourages some students.
The teacher encourages and values participation by all students.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
G.
The teacher checked for understanding.
Does not check
Checks once or twice
1
2
3
4
Checks for understanding sometimes 5
Teacher checks and rechecks
6
7
H.
Instructional Content: Complexity
Not complex
Fairly complex
Overly complex
1
2
3
4
5
6
Sufficiently complex 7
I.
Instructional Content: Clarity
Confusing: little or no teacher clarification
Confusing, but teacher assisted students to clarify
1
2
3
4
Quite clear to most students
5
6
Very clear 7
J.
Instructional Content: Challenge
Little or no challenge
Challenging to some students
1
2
3
4
Challenging to most students
Challenging to all students
5
6
7
K.
Inadequate
1
2
Your overall appraisal of the quality of the lesson (Optional)
Fair
Good
Excellent
3
4
5
6
7
SCHOOL School A Amigos School B Baldwin School C Cambridgeport
APPENDIX B
CAMBRIDGE PUBLIC SCHOOLSRANDOMIZED OBSERVATION MATRIX WITH CHANGES*
EXTRA
ENGLISH LANGUAGE
SOCIAL STUDIES
MATHEMATICS
ARTS
SCIENCE
7th ELA
6
Spanish
X
6TH Circle
6
5&6 X
7
867
8
6
X
Spanish
NO
7
867
No
6
X
XX
8
X
X
7
867
8
6
X
7 867 8
X
X
6
78
78
X
NO
7 867
8
XX
X
School D Martin Luther King School E Graham & Parks
5TH ELA 7&8 SS
School F King Open
School G Morse
6
7
867
8
6
7 867 8
XX
X
X
6
7
867
8
6
7 86 7 8
X
X
x
X
No
NO
6
7&8 8 6 7
7&8
6
7 86 7 8
X
X
X
X
x
X
NO
NO
6
7
867
8
6
7 867
8
x
X
X
X
X
School H Tobin Montessori
6
7
867
8
6
7 867 8
X
X
X
X
School I Fletcher Maynard Totals
NO
6
7
867
8
6
7 86 7 8
X
X
X
Xx
4
3
242
3
2
3 533 2
*highlighted numbers signify a change and/or addition to the original schedule; a NO above the number signifies that the observation did not take place.

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File: middle-grades-instruction-in-nine-cambridge-public-schools.pdf
Title: MIDDLE GRADES INSTRUCTION IN NINE CAMBRIDGE PUBLIC SCHOOLS:
Author: CPS CPS
Author: Cindy
Subject: A Research Study Conducted by Nancy Brigham Associates (NBA)
Published: Tue Jun 23 10:35:46 2015
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