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Recently, a teacher asked in an online forum how the Danielson assessment system can be “worked” within a Comprehensible Input-focused classroom. So I’ve included my rubric interpretation here. My disclaimer also should be that I rate myself high, but with rationale, and then ask my administrator to prove I’m wrong. But I want my administrator to give me specific things I should improve if they don’t feel I’m doing the best possible job. (Obviously, I totally know I can improve in many areas. But I’m not going to make it easy on them.)
Please also remember that just because these can be connected to all parts of the framework within a CI class, they aren’t a given. They must be done consistently to merit a “4”, and many of them, if you just whip out an all-star use for your evaluation observation, it will likely not look natural. I don’t do all of these all the time. I’m a work in progress too. But at least this may give an idea how to tick all the boxes where you can.
Component 1a: Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy
The descriptor for 4-Distinguished includes the following:
-The teacher displays extensive knowledge of the important concepts in the discipline and how these relate both to one another and to other disciplines
Okay, that seems simple enough. Teaching language automatically connects with their English/Language Arts classes, and often with social studies. Also art, music, physical education, family and consumer ed. I bet if I put in even more thought, I would connect to other disciplines in school but these are what jump out at me. Extensive knowledge of important concepts of the discipline? Well, I read extensively and listen to Bill Van Patten’s podcast, so I’m quite aware of concepts not only in language but in language instruction.
-The teacher demonstrates understanding of prerequisite relationships among topics and concepts and understands the link to necessary cognitive structures that ensure student understanding.
I got this. Justify why I teach things in the order I do. Cognates and high-frequency words first. Link to cognitive structures to ensure understanding? Well, knowledge of language acquisition, order of acquisition, judicious and purposeful use of the first language. As my aunt would say, “Boom. Done.”
-The teacher’s plans and practice reflect familiarity with a wide range of pedagogical approaches in the discipline and the ability to anticipate student misconceptions.
Yep. I use TPRS, One Word Images, MovieTalks, Pop-Up Grammar, limited error correction, you name it. And it is rare that I’m incomprehensible without realizing it in the moment. I’ve learned when I say “la boca” and point to my mouth I need to clarify that “boca” doesn’t mean “lips”.
Component 1b: Demonstrating Knowledge of Students
– The teacher understands the active nature of student learning and acquires information about levels of development for individual students.
This is SO comprehensible-input-ish. Every day as we talk, I’m taking formative assessments. We do speaking, listening, reading, and writing and I use that to plan instruction going forward. When my 3’s came in this year showing REALLY weak grasp of the past tense, that told me we’re gonna talk about the past. A lot.
-The teacher also systematically acquires knowledge from several sources about individual students’ varied approaches to learning, knowledge and skills, special needs, and interests and cultural heritage.
The kicker here might be “systematically”. I’ll admit that might be a sticking point (since the “3” descriptor says “the teacher purposefully acquires…” I will submit though, that doing something like special person interviews or student of the week is systematic. Wanna bump this up? Contact other teachers. Make regular contact with the special ed case managers. Do weekend chat times to find out about their interests. Ask them to compare holidays (even non-target culture ones) with how they celebrate to how your family celebrates. My family did Christmas Eve gifts at grandma & grandpa’s house, and always eat sloppy joes (which we call “barbecue”) and dad and grandpa would eat bologna and onions. Very few kids’ families celebrate that way, and many don’t celebrate Christmas but celebrate other holidays or none.
Component 1c: Setting Instructional Outcomes
-All outcomes represent high-level learning in the discipline. They are clear, are written in the form of student learning, and permit visible methods of assessment.
If you run a completely non-targeted classroom, this might be a bit tricker. But if you have anything that could be called a “unit” or “chapter”, you’re good here! Even a novel or a song. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Find a way to phrase it that kids can understand and that will help everyone know where you’re going. Visible methods of assessment do NOT necessarily mean a test. It can be a listening activity where you name body parts and kids touch them. It can be a retell of a story. It can be ANYTHING that would prove that students met (or are closer to meeting) your target. Heck, make a target “can use the super 7 verbs in the present tense” and then find ways to measure their comprehension and then production of those verbs throughout the year.
-Outcomes will reflect several different types of learning and, where appropriate, represent both coordination and integration. Outcomes are differentiated, in whatever way is needed, for individual students.
We’re aces in CI at differentiation. Asking a yes/no question to a student with lower proficiency, and a more open-ended question for the heritage speaker IS differentiating outcomes. Asking the native speaker to use accent marks while encouraging the novice to begin putting together complete sentences is differentiation. Different types of learning? All language skills, and different modes! Interpretive Listening…maybe add kinesthetic with some TPR. Interpersonal Speaking…greet them at the door and ask a question or two. Presentational Writing…put up some pictures and have them tell the story (even in isolated key words for the novices).
Component 1d: Demonstrating Knowledge Resources
-The teacher’s knowledge of resources for classroom use and for extending one’s professional skill is extensive, including those available through the school or district, in the community, through professional organizations and universities, and on the Internet.
Well, extending one’s professional skill? If you’re here, you’re active in professional learning communities at conferences or online (or you’d have NEVER heard of this site!). Resources…finding things like Señor Wooly, you favorite Teachers Pay Teachers sellers, finding nifty web-based tools like Gimkit or Quizlet, the good ol’ Teacher’s Discovery catalog, etc. You probably know all sorts of resources. If you help students learn where to find help or info, and they have ways to extend their learning independently, even better. If you’ve got kids who are obsessed with a certain blue and green scarf and binge watch the videos, this fits the bill. As for what your district offers? That you’d know. As for universities? You can investigate local schools, but consider if you use the University of Austin listening proficiency exercises, or get materials from CELTA or CLEAR, both based out of universities.
Component 1e: Designing Coherent Instruction
-The sequence of learning activities follows a coherent sequence, is aligned to instructional goals, and is designed to engage students in high-level cognitive activity. These are appropriately differentiated for individual learners. Instructional groups are varied appropriately, with some opportunity for student choice.
Whooo…this one is bigger than it looks. So, following a coherent sequence, aligned to your goals. If this isn’t happening for you, ya might need to focus on this one. Even non-targeted classes can have a coherent sequence: talk about something, read a text that uses the same structures (written after the fact), do some activity. Seems logical. High-level cognitive activity is a little hard to see for language acquisition, so asking kids to make predictions or to compare today’s character to a celebrity or a teacher or even yesterday’s character is high-level. If you want to score all the points, have them support their opinion. Even novices can do that. “Today’s character is like Einstein. Both like math.” “The dog is probably going to run away with the aardvark. They both like adventure.” As for groups, just make sure that when you group kids there is a reason why they pick friends for this activity and you assigned groups for the next one. Always give thought to if they should work with friends or some other grouping.
Component 1f: Designing Student Assessments
-All the instructional outcomes may be assessed by the proposed assessment plan, with clear criteria for assessing student work. The plan contains evidence of student contribution to its development.
So, you’ve got your goals, and you’re going to assess all of them in a logical way. The key here between 3 and 4 is that students have clearly had some impact in its development. I would argue that this could be as simple as offering a choice between a couple of different ways to do the assessment (maybe write something or narrate something). But even better if, when setting up the unit, you can take time for students to develop the goals and assessments. Yeah, I know. Not many people do this. But a 4 should be something we have to work for, right?
-Assessment methodologies have been adapted for individual students as the need has arisen. The approach to using formative assessment is well designed and includes student as well as teacher use of the assessment information.
This is another toughie. Differentiation/adaptation is no biggie, we’re used to offering kids shorter assessments or whatever they need. The tricky part is that students USE the assessment information. How do students process their assessment results? Can students use those results to improve performance and re-attempt? Or is there a reflection that they do after seeing the feedback you provide? But bring it down to a more small scale. A tiny scale. If I say “Hello, good morning” to a kid who replies “Good, and you?”, I will give some feedback by asking, “Wait, what?” Even that tiny feedback of “Your reply was not comprehensible and I need clarification.” offers them an opportunity to use that assessment information to tell their answer wasn’t right, and that they perhaps misheard the question or misspoke their intended answer.
I hope this thinking-through has helped Decode Danielson, at least somewhat. Stay tuned for the upcoming sequels that think through the other three domains.
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