Standards Based Education is an essential component to effective teaching practice; teachers must use learning targets that are connected to the standards and effectively measure student progress toward those standards.

I have come to embrace the rubric as an essential standards based teaching tool. Used correctly, the rubric can:

  • Guide student learning throughout the lesson.
  • Support student self-assessment.
  • Proved feedback for future student improvement.
  • Direct teacher assessment that is qualitatively and quantitatively equal from one student to the next.
  • Align to standards and measure desired outcomes.

In teaching my introductory monologue unit for sixth grade drama, I utilize a rubric that is effective in all four areas. The rubric provides simple statements that describe student achievement across five essential areas of acting. I expect that all five of these areas will continue to progress across the three year sequence; consequently, I do not expect students to achieve a perfect score in their initial performances.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 10.59.48 AMMany teachers will use a rubric at the end of a unit to grade a project. While this is an effective use of the rubric, there is often a missed opportunity to use the rubric throughout the lesson. In my sixth grade drama class I use the rubric to guide student learning. Students that pre-view the levels of achievement in the rubric have the opportunity to stretch their learning into the desired category. I purposefully include levels of achievement that are beyond typical sixth grade achievement. I introduce the rubric as “level based” and not point based. Using the metaphor of Karate Belts, students can conceptualize the idea that different students will be achieving at different levels. Pre-viewing the rubric will also give students an understanding of the entire project in advance of starting any work. This pre-view will help students make connections from one area of assessment to another and plan accordingly.

A well-designed rubric can be easily read and understood by each student. I take the time to explain the content in my rubric for this unit and ask that students explain it back to me. The student voice component here is an essential element of assessing the student achievement in relationship to the learning target aligned to the lesson. The rubric also includes the content of each learning target that is included in the unit. Because of this, a rubric will also help students to self-assess their progress throughout the lesson or unit. Students that work from the rubric can see where they are fully completing the task and where they need to continue to work (O2).

During the process of the project, the teacher can use the rubric as a quick method of assessment and feedback for the student. They can ask the student where they believe they are at any given level, reflect to the student on their observations, and use the rubric as a common language. The teacher can also point to work on the rubric that would take the student to the next level. If the rubric is organized for learning, each step should follow a logical progression of skills.

Regarding formative and summative assessment, the teacher can use the rubric for assessment. This assessment will clearly have a quantitative value where points are assigned across a number of categories. However, the categories can also be viewed with qualitative assessment in mind. I can use the rubric to describe the academic journey of the student.

Lastly the rubric includes the content that the learning targets support. If students work with the learning targets in each lesson and demonstrate developing or basic mastery of each learning target, they will easily score in the mid to high range of the rubric.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 12.32.03 PMIn future editions of the rubric, I plan to increase the effectiveness and include the actual learning targets for the unit within the rubric. This will increase the connection for each student form the individual lessons to the culminating project of performing a monologue. It will also assist students to assess their daily progress in relationship to the rubric and the learning targets simultaneously.

Chapter Tests Bloom in Taxonomy

One of the most sophisticated things a teacher can do is to offer appropriate challenge in the content area; curricula must be both standards driven and allow students to develop their competencies using multiple skill areas (e.g. reading, writing, oral communication, and technology).

Teaching social studies in the sixth grade breaks down into two central categories: ancient civilizations and academic writing. Both are based on state or national standards. Every unit, organized around one or both of these pillars, combines all the skills of Blooms Taxonomy.

The application of Blooms Taxonomy into lesson planning, along side learning standards, follows a natural progression that assists in the development of the student (P3); the use of different question types to provoke learning and assess progress is highly effective. When it comes to the end of the unit, students should be able to demonstrate their mastery across all of Blooms six categories: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, Evaluation, and Synthesis.

Students often start with a hook into the knowledge. For the unit on Mesopotamia we may watch a quick introduction video, in this case Bugs Bunny on Mesopotamia.

Continue reading “Chapter Tests Bloom in Taxonomy”

Theatre of Differentiation

Over the course of teaching and teacher training, it is important to center one’s practice on areas of potential growth. To do this, one must be reflective, collaborative, and evaluative of one’s teaching practice.

From one classroom to the next and one student to the next, education is never the same. There are similar aspects and best practices that are universal. However, the reality of it is that every day educators face new situations caused by a combination of contextual issues that come with each student.

These issues include: developmental issues of nature and nurture, an integration of multiple learning styles, and a student’s Zone of Proximal Development.

Nature and Nurture: As I noted in the first class discussion, neither side is every completely correct. Continue reading “Theatre of Differentiation”

Planning for Instruction

To improve as a teacher, one must reflect upon their progress, plan for future instruction, and adapt standards that are uniform across classes while allowing for the diverse needs of each student (P1). I have and will continue to do this in my teaching practice (E1).

It is interesting to think about teaching as a practice. It is never something that is perfected – it is practiced. Like medicine or an instrument it must be a continual activity where the practitioner improves and changes over time.

At the beginning of the summer, I made very general comments about lesson plans as I reflected on my past experience in the classroom. I stated, “At a basic level, lesson plans are a guide for the class. Lesson plans help to prepare for and to teach a class. A clear plan will help students understand the purpose, learning goals, and content.” I still stand by what I said. Continue reading “Planning for Instruction”

Students in a Plural World

Students deserve an education they can easily access. It should be of the highest possible quality, developmentally appropriate, and stretch the learning into proximal development. Student learning happens best across language barriers and ability levels.

John Medina writes on the value of Multimedia presentations. In the book, “Brain Rules (2008)” he cites five rules for multi-media teaching. These rules offer a memory boost to students because they engage the student across language land earning abilities. Their application to Theatre Arts or English Language Arts is immediate and necessary.

Rule One, Multimedia Principle. Application: Have students create maps of their learning. Students learn from words and pictures together. Students should map their knowledge. When they do this they are creating a framework for present knowledge and future knowledge organized into nodes of learning.

Rule Two, Temporal Contiguity Principle. Application: present a concept map or picture that has text integrated into the image. For drama or ELA, this can be done with a storyboard. The storyboard can pre-view the chapter or entire story. The storyboard can include images of major characters and places that they go along with character relationships, such as family relationships.

Rule Three, Spatial Contiguity Principle. Application: Words need to be presented near the image. For a theatre classroom, all the equipment, costumes, and props, can have labels that both help to organize the room and instruct students about what they are as they passively observe the room.

Continue reading “Students in a Plural World”

Three-in-one Approach to Teaching Drama

I teach Drama; this class can be a great equalizer when it comes to student success because it is malleable to a variety of skill sets. Every student can find success in drama because it works with many different facets of learning. This is my teaching philosophy when it comes to student learning: I must provide a variety of venues for each student to learn in a way that suits them best and to find success in the class. To do this, we often read plays; we analyze them; we perform them. In this praxis, students are expected to master a variety of skills that are best learned through a utilization of three theories of knowledge, Information Processing, Sociocultural Learning, and Constructivism (H2, O2, P2).

At the start of any project the best theory of knowledge that reaches toward my teaching philosophy is Information Processing. Students must turn their minds into computers. They are asked to memorize and encode the information of the play as they study their lines and seek to understand the sequence of events in the context of the character motivations. This is a simple input and output scenario. Several methods are utilized to memorize the text; regardless of the method it is mechanical and generally reliable. Students are able to retain the information so that they can proceed to the next step. Continue reading “Three-in-one Approach to Teaching Drama”