Friday, July 24, 2015

Student Goal Setting, Monitoring and Reflecting

As adults, we set goals all the time. I have goals for everything; from what I want my electricity bill to look like in August, to how much I want the scale to read when I step on it. Following through with the goals we set for ourselves can be difficult at best and downright impossible if we don't find a way to monitor our progress and make adjustments along the way. The habit of setting, monitoring, and reflecting on goals must be taught to our students since it is not a skill that is inherent in most people.

The district that I teach in embraces the Continuous Improvement (CI) model.  While there are many fantastic tools to help drive goal setting; the Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle is the cornerstone to using the CI model in the classroom. Every teacher uses this cycle a little differently, I'm sharing how I approach this cycle in my classroom for whole class goal setting, monitoring and reflecting.

I will also share a link for my PDSA for individual students and a link for an assessment tracker for district-level assessments.

Two Teaching Taylors Plan from PDSA

The plan is determined by your curriculum. You control how you want to present the lesson to the students but the overall concept is decided by your state's student expectations. I live in Texas, so my PLAN is usually one of the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). On my PDSA board under Plan, I post anywhere from one to three "I can" statements that reflect the state expectations that will be covered that week. I have the students copy the plan on their personal PDSA sheets in their data folders as well.

You have a lot of flexibility for the DO in your PDSA cycle. This is where you describe what you and/or your students will do in order to achieve the learning plan. I use Marsha Tate's 20 Instructional Strategies that Work as the DO options for my students. I select 5-6 of the strategies (which I have on individual, laminated cards) and have the students complete a consensogram to select the four learning strategies that they want to do during the process of learning that week. In reality, we complete a dozen or more learning strategies but I make sure to fit in the four that the class chose. This gives the students a sense of ownership over their learning and ensures buy-in for my lessons. After the students have selected the DOs for the week, I post them on our PDSA board as a reference. They remain posted until we complete the PDSA learning cycle. Then the students select new DOs for the next cycle.

Other options that you can use for your DO learning strategies include: Marzano’s High-Yield Instructional Strategies, Rich Allen's Teaching Techniques That Accelerate Learning, Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures or a mixture of all of them.

Two Teaching Taylors PDSA for Success

Assessment is a necessary part of all learning in our classroom. We have to make sure that the students are progressing and that they ultimately meet the expectations set in the learning plan. Formative assessments allow us to tweak our lessons as we go so we can provide additional support for struggling students. However, summative assessments are where the data for the STUDY portion of the PDSA cycle comes from. In my classroom, I use a bar graph to display the results of the assessment each week. I make sure that my assessments are relatively short (5-10 questions) and that they are targeted to cover only the expectations of the PLAN for that week.

When graphing the results, I use the percentage of students in the class who passed the assessment to determine the value on each bar.  In addition to this measure, I also record the number of students who passed and the number of students who took the assessment, in fraction form. This allows me to model the same data in two different ways for the students. I really like using the fraction of students who passed over students who took the assessment. After a few assessments, the students start to see how one individual student can effect the results and it leads to a discussion on team work and helping others to be successful.

After studying the results of all the learning that has happened, the students have to decide what they will do to ACT on this information. We are looking at classroom data, so I group the students into cooperative teams and have them discuss what went well with the learning that week. They talk about whether or not the learning strategies they selected worked or if they should have chosen something different. They also talk about personal and group effort. After 2-3 minutes of monitored discussion, I pass out two post-it notes per team. One post-it note is for the team to record their Pluses (what went well and should be continued for the next learning cycle) and the other post-it note is for the team to record their Deltas (what did not go well and needs to be tweaked for the next learning cycle). I then take all of the team Plus/Delta post-it notes and post them under the ACT for their class on my PDSA board. 

Each step in the PDSA cycle should be posted where the students can easily see it during the learning process. I teach more than one class so I've adapted my class PDSA board to accommodate three classes worth of data.  The Plan box is one long box because all three classes will have the same learning plan.  The other sections are separated for each class so that their PDSA cycles are customized for them. This picture shows my classroom PDSA board all set and ready for school to start. As the year goes on, it will be filled with goals, graphs, and reflections. I'll post a picture after we've completed a few cycles.

In addition to our class PDSA board, I have each student keep their own PDSA learning cycles.  I've created a single sheet tool that students can use for an entire grading period. The PDSA cycle is designed for short cycle learning (a week or two tops).  The assessment data usually comes from short quizzes or other types of assessments.

These short assessments prepare the students for the many district-level assessments that are given several times a year to prepare the students for the state-level assessment. Whew! That is a lot of assessments!  The students keep their PDSA cycle sheets in their Data Folders. They also keep their district level assessment tracker in that folder. I've given links to both tools below if you would like to take a look at them.

I'd love to hear how you use Continuous Improvement or the PDSA cycle in your classrooms.

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