Designing and Using Performance Tasks: Enhancing Student Learning and Assessment

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Tracey K. Shiel

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  • Copyright

    Acknowledgements

    For my late parents, Richard and Patricia Flach. The writing of this book represents lessons learned from each of you.

    List of Figures and Tables

    Acknowledgments

    The process of writing a book is daunting, but the completion of the book is so rewarding that it makes the challenges along the way worth the effort. There are certain people who deserve to be acknowledged, as each and every one of them has had an impact on me as I’ve worked to complete this book.

    First and foremost, I need to thank my loving husband, John. He was witness to me writing my first book, but this one was very different and required a different approach. John tolerated our having to turn down opportunities to meet with friends, or to go out to dinner, and we even postponed a trip to Hawaii. This book would have not come to fruition if it were not for his support and understanding throughout the process, and his enabling me to take the time I needed to write it.

    Early in the process, I had a few meltdowns as I wrapped my head around how to approach this book, and a few rants may have ended up on Facebook. In particular, I need to thank Dr. Angela Peery for setting me straight, responding to questions, sharing writing advice, and overall being a good friend. I could always count on Angela responding to me through Facebook Messenger just when I needed a little nudge to keep me moving forward.

    I have to thank a few particular educators at W. Reily Brown ­Elementary School in Dover, Delaware. First is Dr. Susan Frampton, who arranged for me to present an initial process to a handful of her staff last summer; based on their feedback, I was able to refine the process. Additionally, once I had refined the process, Michelle Caulk and Emily Peterson, with the support of Monica McCurry, were able to write a performance task using the template and use it with ­students. Both Michelle and Emily shared written reflections with me and provided a few student products that are included in Appendix 1. They took a leap of faith in employing the template and the process, and I am very thankful for all they did as busy ­classroom teachers.

    The process for writing a performance task presented in this book is different from that in my first book, Engaging Students Through ­Performance Assessment (Flach, 2011), as a result of my learning and professional growth. In particular, a lot of visible learning concepts are embedded in the process discussed here, and I want to thank several people who are connected to visible learning who had email exchanges with me that helped to clarify my understanding and application of the concepts to the performance task development process. These include Dr. John Hattie, Jayne-Ann Young, Kristin Anderson, Dr. John Almarode, and Pam Hook. My thanks to all of you for responding to my emails seeking clarification and understanding, so I could incorporate some of the best aspects of visible learning into the process for developing and using performance tasks to deepen student learning and application. A thank-you also goes to my friend Josh McCarthy, a winemaker by trade and a technology wizard who rescued me after I attempted to re-create the effect size “barometer.” All of you helped my thinking to come together.

    A special thank-you goes to Jerome Sanchez, a deputy sheriff with the Erie County Sheriff’s Department in New York. Jerome was a seventh-grade student at the Wellsville Middle School during my first year as a social studies teacher (1990–1991), when I experimented with a version of performance tasks in my classroom. Through Facebook, I reconnected with Jerome a few years ago, and in December 2015, I reached out to him to find out what he remembered about my social studies classroom. He sent me a response, which I received a day before my birthday, that I will never forget—it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, Jerome, for sharing how I affected your life; your note made my years as a teacher worthwhile. I can only hope that other teachers realize the importance of teacher–student relationships, so that they understand that they can take the risk of using performance tasks in the classroom without mayhem breaking out.

    Finally, this book would not be possible were it not for Corwin and all of its wonderful staff. A second thank-you needs to go to ­Kristin Anderson for believing in me and the topic of performance tasks and encouraging me to submit a proposal for consideration. Dan Alpert and Jessica Allan are the two Corwin editors I worked with throughout the process, and I am very appreciative of their understanding of my personal circumstances as I worked on this book. The editors are the ones who bring the book to life, and their importance cannot be overlooked. A particular thank-you to Jessica for tolerating my numerous emails and providing her wisdom and support to help me finalize this book.

    My thanks to each and every one of you who played some role in my writing this book. I can only hope that it has as much of an impact on teachers and administrators as you had on me as I was writing it, so that students can reap the benefits of challenging and engaging learning.

    Publisher’s Acknowledgments

    Corwin wishes to acknowledge the following peer reviewers for their editorial insight and guidance.

    Perri Anne Bentley

    Grade 3 Teacher

    Ballentine Elementary School

    Varina, North Carolina

    Cathy Bonneville Hix

    Supervisor of K–12 Social Studies

    Arlington Public Schools

    Arlington, Washington

    Dr. Leslie Hitchens

    Peer Assistance and Review Consulting Teacher

    Saint Paul Public Schools

    Saint Paul, Minnesota

    Pamela L. Opel

    Teacher

    Gulfport School District

    Gulfport, Mississippi

    Michelle Strom

    Middle School Language Arts Teacher

    Fort Riley Middle School

    Fort Riley, Kansas

    Dr. Ann M. Yanchura

    Literacy Coach

    Forest Hill Community High School

    West Palm Beach, Florida

    About the Author

    Tracey K. Shiel has been in the field of education for more than 25 years, in several positions, including teacher, principal, school business administrator, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and interim superintendent. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Richmond, a master’s in reading education from Syracuse University, and a certificate of advanced study in educational administration from the State University of New York in Oswego. She has been an educational consultant in some capacity since 2005, providing educational services nationally and internationally, focusing on instruction, assessment, leadership coaching, and implementation. She is currently an author/consultant for Corwin and is a certified presenter for seminars on visible learning. Through her company, Thought Partners, Tracey provides research-based educational services, including leadership coaching, professional development, implementation planning and execution support, and special project educational services of the highest quality, to support and develop educational leaders’ ability to lead classrooms, schools, and districts to superior academic performance. As a skilled communicator, she is adept at facilitating the development of implementation success action plans to achieve ­critical educational goals. Tracey was initially certified as a leadership performance coach, and she has also been certified as a hallmarks educational coach. She has provided leadership coaching to administrators for state departments of education, district administrators, building administrators, and instructional coaches to support the achievement of critical projects as well as to develop their leadership capacity and that of those around them. Currently, Tracey is refining her own leadership coaching model, balanced educational leadership coaching, which melds coaching techniques with mentoring and consulting components. Tracey retains a passion for classroom instruction and assessment, specifically nonfiction reading and writing instructional strategies and performance tasks. She is well versed in the Common Core State Standards, which emphasize her passions. Tracey is the author of Engaging Students Through Performance Assessment: Creating Performance Tasks to Monitor Student Learning (2011), which incorporates Common Core examples throughout. She brings a wealth of real-world experience, researched-based knowledge, and attention to detail to her presentations, coaching, and implementation support, providing powerful educational services to her clients. As principal Dr. Susan Frampton has stated in reference to Tracey’s coaching: “My work with Tracey Shiel has benefited my staff, community, and most importantly my students. Well versed with current research and the ability to effect change, Tracey supports me by asking the difficult questions that challenge my thinking. A guide, Tracey helped me clearly assess where we are as a school, plan where we are going, and monitor our progress. My work with Tracey gets results for my students and provides me with a safety net when the going gets tough.” Tracey Shiel can be reached at traceyshiel@corwinlearning.net.

    Introduction

    Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

    —W. B. Yeats

    When I think of my own 13 years of K–12 education, I realize that most of my learning experiences were the “filling of the pail,” with only an occasional “lighting of a fire.” Most of my learning experiences involved sitting in rows of seats, listening to the teacher, and independently completing worksheets. The learning experiences I remember that would fall into the category of “lighting of a fire” include bringing our cat Fluff to school for show-and-tell in first grade; sewing together a patchwork apron with pink, blue, and flowered patches; creating an ink drawing of a forest that was published in the middle school arts publication Black on White; constructing a six-bottle wine rack for my parents; writing a research paper on mountain lions; dissecting a frog; writing a research paper on Reaganomics and the “trickle-down effect”; and writing a poem using alliterative verse after reading Beowulf. In all of these cases, I was either learning through application or demonstrating what I had learned through application. This is the essence of performance tasks, the application of knowledge and skills. What learning experiences from your K–12 years of education do you remember favorably? How do they compare to mine?

    Standards: Then and Now

    With the 2016–2017 school year, the educational standards movement in the United States came full circle. The movement started as a responsibility of the individual states in the 1990s, and by 2010 the federal government stepped in and pressured states to adopt certain standards, specifically the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), as a condition of applying for Race to the Top grant funds. With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act at the end of 2015, the standards that students need to attain were once again up to each state. Just to bring all readers up to speed, since there is a growing influx of new and younger teachers as baby boomers retire, I offer below a brief history of the standards movement. The standards are at the core of all performance tasks, and if we truly want every student to succeed, we need high-quality standards for students to attain.

    History of the Standards Movement

    A year after I graduated from high school, the National Commission on Excellence in Education published A Nation at Risk (1983), which asserted that the U.S. education system was plagued with “mediocrity” and had lost sight of the “high expectations and disciplined effort” needed to provide a high-quality and enriching education. That research paper was the trigger for a series of educational innovations, initiatives, political policies, and laws, all intended to improve the quality of education in the United States. As a result of the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994, which was the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the standards movement began. States individually created and adopted grade-span (K–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12) standards and conducted assessments in grades 4 and 8 and once in high school (Flach, 2011).

    Then, on January 8, 2002, under the watch of President George W. Bush and Secretary of Education Rod Paige, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was signed into law, and the Age of Accountability was born. Periodic assessments were now replaced with grade-specific assessments in math and reading for grades 3–8 and one assessment in high school. The birth of adequate yearly progress (AYP) occurred with NCLB, all in the name of closing the achievement gap between Caucasian students and their African American, socioeconomically disadvantaged, English language learner, and special education counterparts. If a school failed to meet AYP for two or more years, it was forced to implement a series of measures that were intended, in the eyes of the federal government, to support the school (Klein, 2015). The measures, however, were more punitive than helpful. This was accountability in action.

    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Barack Obama, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the mastermind behind the Race to the Top grants funded by the act, which were intended for state education departments. States needed to address four priorities in their applications in order to be considered for Race to the Top grants, and one of those priorities was adopting the Common Core State Standards, which were in the process of being developed (U.S. Department of Education, n.d.). The Race to the Top grants enticed states to adopt the standards in hopes of filling their education coffers, as funds were being depleted as a result of the recession that started in 2008. Initially, only 44 states and territories adopted the CCSS (Flach, 2011).

    During the 2014 and 2015 school years, there was a lot of turmoil over the Common Core State Standards as well as the Next Generation Assessments (created by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), which went online in the spring of 2015 to measure student progress on the CCSS. Numerous articles were published in both educational journals and news outlets, some criticizing and others promoting the CCSS and the Next Generation Assessments. Parents started to rise up against the Next Generation Assessments by opting their children out of taking the tests and urging other parents to do the same. The CCSS and the Next Generation Assessments were running into problems across the country as parents began organizing and states began to reconsider the adoption of the CCSS. Luckily, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was the grounding legislation for all of the subsequent acts, was up again for reauthorization, and by midsummer Congress was closing in on a final agreement. It could not have occurred at a better time.

    The Standards Now

    On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The touted coup for the legislation is that it relinquishes a fair amount of the federal government’s control over the states and diminishes the role of the U.S. Department of Education. It is not clear yet how much control will truly be relinquished, but the pendulum is swinging back to the states having more control and decision-making powers concerning education, including standards and assessments (Klein, 2016). Thus, it will be up to state legislatures and state departments of education to make decisions that will focus education on student learning, embracing teachers and administrators as the professionals they are rather than instituting demoralizing legislation that penalizes instead of supports them. States still must retain high standards, but they do not have to be the CCSS—this freedom is a key piece of the 2015 legislation.

    Even though Ohio, Missouri, and Maine abandoned the CCSS before the adoption of ESSA, states should not make hasty decisions on the CCSS. The standards were developed to meet certain criteria, which they have largely achieved. As the Common Core State ­Standards Initiative (n.d.) states on its website, the standards are:

    • Research- and evidence-based
    • Clear, understandable, and consistent
    • Aligned with college and career expectations
    • Based on rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills
    • Built upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards
    • Informed by other top performing countries in order to ­prepare all students for success in our global economy and society

    If the CCSS meet all these criteria, what are the reasons to change from the CCSS and spend time and money at the state level to develop a different set of standards or revert to previous state ­standards?

    An Opportunity for Change

    There is currently an opportunity for states and their departments of education to reflect on the significant changes that have occurred over the past few decades and learn from those experiences. ­Accordingly, in the 2016–2017 school year, some states transitioned to new standards, with full implementation of these plans to take place in the 2017–2018 school year (National Conference of State ­Legislatures, n.d.).

    At no other time in education have we known more than we do now about what works best in schools, as well as how the brain learns. We have the research to support what works best, so what is preventing schools and districts from acting on this knowledge and making the changes that are necessary to close the achievement gap and promote student progress and growth for all students? The most influential research in this area has been conducted by Dr. John Hattie and published in his book Visible Learning (2009), which will be elaborated in Chapter 1. Hattie has applied his research to practice in the classroom, resulting in the publication of his book Visible Learning for Teachers (2012). It is through Hattie’s work and my own study of visible learning that I have come to understand the assessment-capable learner and the attributes of such a learner. Assessment-capable learners (also discussed in depth in Chapter 1) are actively involved in their learning; they have a sound understanding of what they are learning and how they are progressing in their learning, and they are able to determine what they need to learn next.

    The “fire” in me is roaring at this time because so many of the attributes that an assessment-capable learner exhibits can be nurtured and developed through the planning and implementation of performance tasks, whether they are used as learning experiences or as assessments. I just wish that I had known more about performance tasks and assessment-capable learners when I first started teaching.

    Passion for Performance Tasks

    My first experience with performance tasks—and I am using the term loosely—which I still remember clearly, was during my first year as a teacher at the Wellsville Middle School in the Southern Tier of New York. I was hired to teach seventh-grade social studies about three days before school started; I was to be a long-term sub (filling in for someone who was ill), responsible for teaching American history from exploration up to the Civil War. At times, I had students work in small learning groups, but what was most memorable was engaging them in tasks as their learning experience rather than as an assessment. A performance task can be the learning experience and not just an assessment of what students have learned—and that is the main premise of this book. Typically, when I used a performance task for learning content and processes, students also took a unit test at the end of the instructional period. A performance task, in my view, has students applying what they are learning as a means to learn (formative), or it can also be an application of what students have learned (summative), and the task is relevant because it makes the learning real.

    Two performance tasks used during that year stand out in my mind 25-plus years later, and both were used as means for students to process their learning, not as assessments. The first performance task was the creation of a class “colonial newspaper” for which the students served as the reporters. Each student had to do some type of research and writing on colonial life and events to include in the newspaper, which we printed on 11-by-17-inch tabloid paper. As students were engaged in their learning through the performance task of being reporters for a colonial newspaper, the classroom was alive! The students were motivated to learn, and they were in control of their learning.

    The second performance task I used as a learning experience was one focused on the American Revolution. Students worked in small groups and selected an event that led up to the American Revolution or was a key event during the Revolution. They then needed to research the event and present what they learned to the rest of the class; they could choose how they presented their information. One group knocked their presentation out of the park by reporting live from the Battle of Bunker Hill using the school’s closed-circuit TV. This was about the time of the Iraq-Kuwait War, and that was the first time students had seen television reporting from the battlefield, with gunfire in the background. The students creatively modeled what they saw on real television by taking on the roles of television news reporters and reporting the news to the citizens (their classmates). Between the colonial newspaper performance task and the Battle of Bunker Hill presentation, I was able to further clarify how a performance task is defined.

    These two performance tasks were not perfect by any means, but they led me to develop my own definition of a performance task, which is succinctly stated in Chapter 1. I did not have a model to follow to create or implement the tasks; I just used my best judgment based on what I had learned as an education student and first-year teacher. I often reflect on all I could have done to make these engaging learning experiences even more powerful, given what I know now. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. These two performance tasks, in their infancy, sparked a “fire” in me about planning learning experiences for my classroom that would be relevant and motivating to students. I want to provide you with a process that can guide you through the development of performance tasks and accompanying scoring guides that will challenge and motivate students to want to learn and keep on learning even if it is difficult. By using performance tasks for learning and not just assessment, you can develop assessment-capable learners in your classroom.

    Organization of This Book

    Following this introduction, this book is organized into seven ­chapters:

    • Chapter 1, “The Lasting Power of Performance Tasks,” ­establishes a rationale for planning and creating performance tasks to use in your classroom.
    • Chapter 2, “Building the Base: Begin With the End in Mind,” focuses on standards, as they are at the center of every performance task. When it comes to any aspect of instructional planning and assessment, the standards are always the shining star.
    • Chapter 3, “Building the Base: Learning Progressions,” introduces the idea of learning progressions and makes connections to a few different practices with which you may already be familiar, in order to meld what you already know with something that may be new.
    • Chapter 4, “Building the Base: Going SOLO!,” discusses the SOLO (structure of the observed learning outcome) taxonomy and how it can support the creation of learning intentions and success criteria that build progressively from surface learning to deep learning.
    • Chapter 5, “Performance Task Attributes,” introduces the topic of how to create high-quality performance tasks that students will be motivated to complete and that will leave them wanting more. This chapter is not placed earlier in the book because before you plan a performance task, you should work through Chapters 2–4, which establish the base for the performance task.
    • Chapter 6, “Scoring Guides, aka Rubrics,” reviews scoring guides with the aim of providing some new insights that you can develop for your performance tasks.
    • Chapter 7, “Implementation Considerations,” is intended to help you with the implementation of performance tasks in your classroom, school, or district—or, for that matter, across a state. Why not think big?

    As you progress through the chapters, you will encounter examples, mainly from core subject areas representing elementary and secondary grades, that will support your understanding of the key points of the concepts being discussed. Each chapter ends with a list of a few key takeaways, followed by a few questions for you to reflect upon. You will also have online access to a performance task planning template to complete a performance task as you read the book if you choose to do so. Consider allotting some additional time to reflect as well as to develop your own performance task as you are reading through the chapters. Chapter 2 is where you will start applying your learning by creating a performance task, if you choose to do so.

    My hope is that as you read this book you will use the online planning template to create your own performance task and that you will try it out in your classroom. If you are an administrator, instructional coach, or other educational professional who does not have your own classroom, seek out a willing colleague who does have one to try your performance task with your support. When you implement performance tasks in your classroom, they will sound different and function differently than in other circumstances, so it is important to read the final chapter to ensure the success of your hard work in creating a performance task. It could potentially be a very important chapter for you no matter what your position.

    I hope that once you engage your students in the completion of a performance task that you have created, you will feel like it is “the lighting of a fire” for both you and your students. Are you ready to be revved up about teaching and student learning through performance tasks?

    10.4135/9781506343402.n1
  • Appendix 1: Unit Planning Template: Performance Task

    Teacher(s)/Team: Michelle Caulk, Monica McCurry, Emily Peterson

    Grade Level: Third

    Unit Title/Type (topical, thematic, skills-based): Narrative Analysis and Opinion Writing

    Step 1. Identify the Primary Standards and Secondary Standards.

    Unit Primary Standards

    W.3.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

    • Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.
    • Provide reasons that support the opinion.
    • Use linking words and phrases (e.g., because, therefore, since, for example) to connect opinion and reasons.
    • Provide a concluding statement or section.
    Unit Secondary Standards

    L.RI.3.7 Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

    L.RI.3.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 2–3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    Step 2.Learning Progressions: What do you need to teach first? What follows? What comes next, etcetera? This includes subskills and enabling knowledge that is needed to attain the skills and knowledge within the standard, which are the end of the learning progression. Identify the understandings, etc.

    W.3.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

    Subskills and Skills

    Enabling Knowledge (information, facts) and Concepts

    DefineOpinion or stance
    DifferentiateConvincing versus nonconvincing reasons to support your opinion
    IdentifyEvidence that supports reasons
    ListComponents of an opinion introduction
    ListLinking words associated with opinion writing
    ListComponents of an opinion conclusion

    Understandings: “This is important to learn because …”

    Writing opinion pieces are to convey your point of view in an attempt to change one’s perspective, belief, or call them to action

    A clear organization when writing your opinion more convincing

    Performance Task
    Performance Task Basics

    Authentic task: Contest

    Role/position: Student/third-grade student

    Audience: Principal

    Motivating context: Famous African Americans represented in school display case

    Performance Task Student Description

    In honor of Black History Month, Dr. Frampton (school principal) would like your opinion of who should be honored in the school’s display case. Write a letter telling her about an influential African American and why that person should be honored.

    Source: Blair 1

    Source: Blair 2

    Source: Emma 1

    Source: Emma 2

    Source: Jayda 1

    Source: Jayda 2

    Source: Jayda 3

    Source: Triniti 1

    Source: Triniti 2

    Source: Triniti 3

    Appendix 2: Unit Planning Templates: Examples for Grades 3 and 11

    Grade 3 Unit Planning Example

    Teacher(s)/Team: Sample

    Grade Level: Third

    Unit Title/Type (topical, thematic, skills-based): Narrative Analysis and Opinion Writing

    Step 1. Identify the Primary Standards and Secondary Standards.

    Unit Primary Standards

    RL.3.2 Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

    RL.3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

    W.3.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

    • Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.
    • Provide reasons that support the opinion.
    • Use linking words and phrases (e.g., because, therefore, since, for example) to connect opinion and reasons.
    • Provide a concluding statement or section.
    Unit Secondary Standards

    RL.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

    L.3.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

    • Form and use the simple (e.g., I walked; I walk; I will walk) verb tenses.
    • Ensure subject–verb and pronoun–antecedent agreement.
    • Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.

    Step 2. Learning Progressions: What do you need to teach first? What follows? What comes next? This includes subskills and enabling knowledge that is needed to attain the skills and knowledge within the standard, which are the end of the learning progression. Identify the understandings, etc.

    RL.3.2 Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

    Subskills and Skills

    Enabling Knowledge (information, facts) and Concepts

    DifferentiateRelevant and irrelevant details
    IdentifyThe central message
    IdentifyRelevant details in relation to the central message
    DetermineTime order of key events
    Recount (retell)Story

    Understandings: “This is important to learn because …”

    Stories are written to communicate key messages.

    Authors include details to clearly communicate their key messages.

    Stories are written with a key message and several supporting messages.

    RL.3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

    Subskills and Skills

    Enabling Knowledge (information, facts) and Concepts

    DefineCharacter traits
    IdentifyCharacter traits
    DefineMotivation
    IdentifyCharacter motivations
    IdentifyCharacter actions
    IdentifyStory events
    DescribeCharacters
    ExplainConnections between character actions and events

    Understandings: “This is important to learn because …”

    Just as every person is different, every character in a story is different.

    Describing a character in detail brings a character to life.

    Actions of characters, good or bad, drive the plot of the story.

    W.3.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

    • Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.
    • Provide reasons that support the opinion.
    • Use linking words and phrases (e.g., because, therefore, since, for example) to connect opinion and reasons.
    • Provide a concluding statement or section.

    Subskills and Skills

    Enabling Knowledge (information, facts) and Concepts

    DefinePoint of view, opinion
    DistinguishFact from opinion
    DistinguishAn argument from an opinion
    NameOrganizational structures (list structures)
    IdentifyOrganizational structures of texts
    NameCommon linking words and phrases
    StateAn opinion
    IdentifySupporting reasons
    ExplainConcluding statement or section

    Understandings: “This is important to learn because …”

    Writing is an important means of communicating.

    Everyone has an opinion, but you need to support your opinion with sound information and facts.

    How writing is organized depends on the style of writing.

    Certain words serve different functions in writing.

    Performance Tasks
    Performance Task Basics

    Authentic task: Literary conversation

    Role/position: Student/member of a book club

    Audience: Other book club members

    Motivating context: Your book club has decided to read E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web in honor of the book’s first publication 65 years ago. Each book club member will be assigned a main character from the book that he or she will closely follow throughout the reading of the book. Each book club member should be able to speak about his or her character and how the character is involved in the plot of the story.

    Performance Task Student Directions

    Your book club has decided to read E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web in honor of the book’s first publication 65 years ago. The book club has decided that each member must select a main character to follow closely throughout the book. Each book club member is responsible for the following:

    Generic Scoring Guide, Book Club Conversation—Students Self-Assess the Book Club Group

    • Be able to discuss the plot of the portion of the book assigned for that book club session.
    • Be able to describe his or her selected character and the character’s role in the actions of the story.
    • Be able to discuss the central messages of the story.
    Performance Task Basics

    Authentic task: Written opinion

    Role/position: Student

    Audience: School librarian and community members via web page

    Motivating context: Celebrating the 65th anniversary of the first publication of Charlotte’s Web

    Performance Task Student Directions

    Mrs. Richards, the school librarian, is celebrating the 65th anniversary of the first publication of Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White, by asking students to write opinion pieces on their favorite Charlotte’s Web character, including why those characters are their favorites. From all the written submissions, Mrs. Richards will determine the favorite character among the students, and five opinion pieces will be randomly selected each week of the month to be included on the school’s web page for community members to read, along with a graph of the results of the choice of the favorite character at Oakridge Elementary. The guidelines for submitting an opinion piece are as follows:

    • Introduce Charlotte’s Web.
    • State an opinion on your favorite character.
    • Include a description of your favorite character and his or her role in the story’s events.
    • Use an organizational structure to explain your opinion.
    • Justify your opinion with reasons.
    • Use common linking words and phrases.
    • Provide a concluding statement or section.

    Grade 11 Unit Planning Example

    Teacher(s)/Team: 11th Grade West—Hicks, Gifford, Synokowski, Renniger, Bradford

    Grade Level: 11th

    Unit Title/Type (topical, thematic, skills-based): Foundations of American Government

    Step 1. Identify the Primary Standards and Secondary Standards.

    Unit Primary Standards

    CE.2 The student will apply social science skills to understand the foundations of American constitutional government by

    • explaining the fundamental principles of consent of the governed, limited government, rule of law, democracy, and representative government;
    • examining and evaluating the impact of the Magna Carta, charters of the Virginia Company of London, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on the Constitution of Virginia and the Constitution of the United States, including the Bill of Rights;
    • describing the purposes for the Constitution of the United States as stated in its Preamble; and
    • describing the procedures for amending the Constitution of Virginia and the Constitution of the United States.

    CE.6 The student will apply social science skills to understand the American constitutional government at the national level by

    • explaining the principle of separation of powers and the operation of checks and balances.
    Unit Secondary Standard

    R.HS.11.12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

    Step 2. Learning Progressions: What do you need to teach first? What follows? What comes next, etcetera? This includes subskills and enabling knowledge that is needed to attain the skills and knowledge within the standard, which are the end of the learning progression. Identify the understandings, etc.

    CE.2 The student will apply social science skills to understand the foundations of American constitutional government by

    • explaining the fundamental principles of consent of the governed, limited government, rule of law, democracy, and representative government;
    • examining and evaluating the impact of the Magna Carta, charters of the Virginia Company of London, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on the Constitution of Virginia and the Constitution of the United States, including the Bill of Rights;
    • describing the purposes for the Constitution of the United States as stated in its Preamble;
    • describing the procedures for amending the Constitution of Virginia and the Constitution of the United States.

    Subskills and Skills

    Enabling Knowledge (information, facts) and Concepts

    Define/describeConsent of the governed
    Define/describeLimited government
    Define/describeRule of law
    Define/describeRepresentative government
    Define/describeDemocracy

    Understandings: “This is important to learn because …”

    American constitutional government is based on fundamental political principles that go back over two centuries.

    These fundamental principles are present in our daily lives as U.S. citizens.

    Subskills and Skills

    Enabling Knowledge (information, facts) and Concepts

    DescribeCharters of the Virginia Company of London
    DescribeVirginia Declaration of Rights
    DescribeDeclaration of Independence
    DescribeArticles of Confederation
    DescribeVirginia Statute for Religious Freedom
    DescribeConstitution of the United States (including purposes)
    DefineBill of Rights
    ListBill of Rights
    DescribeConstitution of Virginia
    ListSteps to amend the Virginia Constitution and the U.S. Constitution

    Understandings: “This is important to learn because …”

    American constitutional government is founded on concepts from earlier documents.

    The U.S. Constitution is still the basis for interpreting laws and discussing issues.

    The U.S. Constitution is founded on such strong concepts; there is good reason the process to amend it is challenging.

    CE.6 The student will apply social science skills to understand the American constitutional government at the national level by

    • explaining the principle of separation of powers and the operation of checks and balances.

    Subskills and Skills

    Enabling Knowledge (information, facts) and Concepts

    DescribeThe three branches of government and their roles
    DefineSeparation of powers
    DefineChecks and balances

    Understandings: “This is important to learn because …”

    Separation of powers is one means through which the Constitution prevents the branches from abusing power.

    The system of checks and balances further curtails any one branch from exerting too much power.

    Performance Task Basics

    Authentic task: Information brochure

    Role/position: National Archives Museum curator

    Audience: Tourists

    Motivating context: Preparing an informational brochure titled “The Foundations of American Government: Virginia’s Role,” to be distributed at the museum

    Learning Intention Alignment
    • We are learning to explain the fundamental principles of American constitutional government.
    • We are learning to explain the significance of the charters of the Virginia Company of London, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.
    • We are learning to identify the purposes of the Constitution of the United States and the procedure for amending the Constitution of Virginia and the U.S. Constitution.
    Performance Task Student Directions

    You are the curator at the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C. The museum houses the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. You have been charged with creating an informational brochure for tourists that will outline Virginia’s role in the establishment of the foundations of the American government. Within the brochure you need to include the following sections:

    • “Fundamental Principles”
    • “Virginia’s Role in American Constitutional Government”
    • “The U.S. Constitution, Preamble, and Bill of Rights”

    In the “Fundamental Principles” section:

    • Define and describe the fundamental principles behind American constitutional government: consent of the governed, limited government, rule of law, democracy, and representative government.
    • Analyze the significance of each of the principles, and to emphasize that significance, make a prediction of how the American government would change if one of the principles did not exist.

    In “Virginia’s Role in American Constitutional Government” section:

    • Describe the charters of the Virginia Company of London and their relationship to the Virginia Declaration of Rights.
    • Compare and contrast the Virginia Declaration of Rights with the U.S. Bill of Rights.
    • Explain why the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom is viewed as the foundation for the U.S. Bill of Rights.
    • Evaluate the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom to determine which had more influence on the U.S. Bill of Rights and why.

    In the “U.S. Constitution, Preamble, and Bill of Rights” section:

    • Describe the goals and purposes of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.
    • Describe the function of each of the components of the U.S. Constitution.
    • Analyze the components of the U.S. Constitution and explain why the Constitution is organized the way it is.
    • Create a visual of the process of how the U.S. Constitution can be amended and justify the amendment process.
    • Explain the causes behind the creation of the Bill of Rights.
    • Hypothesize how the U.S. government would function if Article 1, 2, or 3 were not included in the U.S. Constitution. Select only one article.
    • Hypothesize the social and financial impact on the United States if the 21st Amendment were repealed.

    As you create the brochure, try to do the following:

    • Write accurate information.
    • Apply organizational structures as needed to written responses.
    • Use section headings to aid comprehension.
    • Use effects such as varied fonts and font sizes, shading, graphics, and pictures to enhance reader comprehension and visual appeal.

    Appendix 3: Combined List: SOLO and NCEA Verbs

    Appendix 4: Unit Planning Template: Ideas for Products and Performances

    The key to choosing products and performances for students’ learning experiences is to contemplate the products and performances of real-world people working in their everyday jobs and occupations. Following is a list of some of the many kinds of products and performances from which you might choose, along with a few of the jobs, occupations, and businesses associated with them.

    Products and Performances

    Jobs, Occupations, Businesses

    PoemsAuthors (books, magazines, newspapers, journals)
    Short stories, fables, myths, or literature of other genresAuthors (children’s literature, adult literature)
    ArgumentsLawyers, politicians, scientists
    ScriptsPlaywrights, screenwriters, television writers
    Letters (business, friendly)Businesspersons, students
    Informational reportsScientists (geologists, marine biologists, botanists, meteorologists, and so on), political lobbyists, museum curators, nutritionists
    Informational articlesAuthors (magazines, newspapers, journals)
    Products and PerformancesJobs, Occupations, Businesses
    Informational brochuresMarketing firms, advertising agencies, chambers of commerce, tourist organizations, zoos, aquariums, national parks, museums
    EditorialsCitizens (newspapers, magazines, journals)
    Critiques or reviewsCritics for topic-specific magazines (movie review for Entertainment Weekly, book review in the New Yorker), critics for newspapers
    Business plansEntrepreneurs
    Literary analysesAuthors (magazines, newspapers, journals)
    Observation logs, with summaries and hypothesesScientists, nutritionists
    CartoonsArtists, political commentators, authors
    SpeechesSpeechwriters (for politicians, lobbyists, business executives)
    Web pagesWeb designers, students
    VideosAdvertising agencies, marketing firms, documentary directors
    Oral presentationsInformational speakers, politicians
    Excel spreadsheetsAccountants, survey analysts
    Artworks (paintings, drawings, sculptures)Artists, graphic designers, interior designers, advertising agencies
    ModelsEngineers, inventors, model makers, Lego designers
    GraphsPolitical analysts, financial analysts, scientists
    ExperimentsScientists, social scientists
    Theater performancesActors, students
    Musical performancesMusicians, students

    Appendix 5: Implementation Success Action Plan: Guidelines

    No matter the level (classroom, grade, department, building, or district), the successful implementation of any educational initiative relies on the establishment of an implementation success action plan to guide implementation efforts and keep the endeavor on track. Failure to achieve implementation at deep levels tends to be the downfall for most initiatives, preventing them from improving student achievement and growth as much as they could.

    The starting point for developing an implementation success action plan is to complete a “vision versus reality” activity such as the one presented in Appendix 7. Once you have articulated your vision and completed an honest assessment of the reality, the gap between where you are and where you want to be will determine the steps you need to take to close the gap.

    The implementation success action plan recommended here (see the template in Appendix 8) follows a format that includes four major components: front matter, implementation strategies, implementation action steps, and a monitoring and evaluation plan. Each component should be completed no matter the level (classroom, grade, department, building, or district) on which the plan will be utilized.

    The front matter identifies the project title, the project team, and the project lead. The number of people on the team depends on the level for which the plan is being developed, but bear in mind that managing teams of eight or more can become a bit unwieldy. The front matter also includes a statement of the district mission as well as the district goal the project is targeting. In the case of implementing performance tasks, the intent is to see improvement in student achievement. A building goal that is aligned to the district goal may be stated, and if you are focusing on classroom, grade-level, or department implementation, you can add another section for that level’s goal.

    The implementation strategies section of the plan lists two to four overarching strategies that will close the gap between reality and vision and keep it closed. These may be strategies such as providing professional development and ongoing support, building leadership capacity among staff, improving communication, or securing supplies and materials. The action steps that are listed are related to the strategies established. You may want to consider creating the action steps first and then determining the emerging themes among the steps, such as professional development or communication. There are no “implementation success action plan police”—no hard-and-fast rules say that you have to create the strategies before the action steps.

    The action steps take into consideration all the minor details that might get overlooked as implementation is being rolled out. Additionally, there is no harm done if you decide to change, add, or delete any action steps as you are proceeding through them. The implementation success action plan should be considered a living document. The plan template includes spaces for noting which strategies are supported by the action steps, as well as who is responsible for each action step and the due date of the step. The final column on the template is space for comments and notes about next steps. This column is filled in after the action step is completed. Sometimes the completion of one action step generates another step, or you may need to note a reminder about a particular step. The key thing to remember is that the steps are intended to close the gap between reality and vision.

    When determining specific action steps, it is useful to list them in the implementation success action plan in the order in which they need to be completed; also, no action should be considered too small to be included. The goal is to be proactive rather than just go from action to action.

    Here are a few guidelines to follow and questions team members should ask while developing action steps:

    • Include initial professional development.
    • Include ongoing professional development.
    • Include parental engagement.
    • Remember the importance of using consistent language among teachers, students, and parents.
    • What will make it easier for teachers, so that from day one they can start implementation?
    • Do any guidelines for implementation need to be developed?
    • Do any materials need to be ordered or bought?
    • Does anything need to be laminated?
    • If you think there will be pushback, are there actions you can take to help mitigate that?
    • How can successes and challenges be shared to keep the implementation moving forward?
    • How can data (not including the names of teachers or students) be made transparent to all staff, students, and parents?
    • Do timelines for data collection need to be developed?
    • How will successes be celebrated?

    The final component of the implementation success action plan is the monitoring and evaluation plan, which identifies the kinds of data to be collected on a regular basis (typically monthly, but that may not apply to all data collection items, as you can see in the example plan in Appendix 6). There are two types of data, cause data and effect data, and you need both to see the whole picture. The purpose of collecting both types of data monthly (when possible) is so that you can determine the impacts of the cause data on the effect data and adjust the implementation strategies and action steps if they are not having the desired results. Most educators at the classroom, school, and district levels are more familiar with effect data, as these are the data that students produce—for example, the percentage of students who attain a passing score on an assessment, the percentage of students present every day of the month, or the percentage of students with no discipline referrals each month. On the other side of the coin are cause data: data collected on specified teacher/leader actions. So, the percentage of students passing an assessment could be related to the number of performance tasks completed during the month; the number of students present could also be related to the number of performance tasks completed in a month or the number of one-on-one conferences each teacher had with individual students to discuss progress and feedback. Discipline referrals could also be related to the number of performance tasks in a month, as well as the number of teachers who established and practiced classroom procedures during performance tasks. The monitoring and evaluation plan includes due dates for data collection and specifies who is responsible for collecting the data. Once the details of data collection have been determined, the implementation team may find it necessary to go back to the list of action steps to incorporate additional steps related to data collection sheets, explanations of data collection for teachers, and so on.

    Once the data are collected, they should be graphed to show the connections between causes and effects. Are the teachers who are using the most performance tasks for instructional purposes versus assessment purposes getting the higher student scores on assessments? Are behaviors better in the classrooms of those teachers? Has attendance improved in those classes? Such benefits are the intended outcomes of performance tasks, which have the potential to improve student learning, resulting in greater student achievement, engagement, and motivation.

    Appendix 6: Implementation Success Action Plan: Example

    Project Title: Development of real-world performance tasks to measure attainment of CCSS

    Project Members: Susan, Jean, Wendy, Monica, Robert, Alyssa, Pam, and Robin

    Project Manager: Robin

    District Mission: Recognizing the value of each individual, and building upon our commitment to excellence, the Rodney School District is dedicated to the mission of preparing students for a successful, productive, and purposeful life in a diverse, global community by:

    Providing quality educational opportunities for all students; and

    Promoting caring attitudes through the school community.

    District Goal: Meet or exceed the adequate yearly progress (AYP) targets and state progress determination (SPD) goals in all core content areas in the school accountability system, with emphasis on the special education cell.

    Building Goal: What is the building goal, aligned with the district goal above, that the project is aimed at achieving?

    To increase academic proficiency in reading for grades 3–5 as measured by the SBAC in June 2018. Specifically, increase grade 3 from ____% to ____%, grade 4 from ____% to ____%, and grade 5 from ____% to ____%.

    To increase academic proficiency in reading for special education students in grades 3–5, as measured by the SBAC in June 2018. Specifically, increase grade 3 from ___% to ___%, grade 4 from ___% to ___%, and grade 5 from ____% to ____%.

    Implementation Success Action Plan Strategies: Reflect on your vision and reality activity. What strategies will it take to close the gap? Identify the overarching strategies the project team will utilize to fully implement the project and achieve the identified school building goal. These are the main components that will move the project forward and close the gap between the VISION of the project and the current REALITY. These are the BIG PICTURE actions the project team will put in place.

    1. Establish a vision and communicate the vision for the implementation of performance tasks.
    2. Build leadership capacity.
    3. Provide initial and ongoing professional development and support.

    Project Implementation Action Steps: Identify the specific action steps you will take to achieve the Big Picture strategies, what strategies they support, the team member(s) accountable for accomplishing the action steps, and when the action steps need to be completed. Sometimes an action step has its own subset of action steps; these can be listed below the action step.

    Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: What data will be collected to monitor and evaluate the level of success of your plan and allow you to make adjustments as needed? Cause data are the data collected on adult actions; effect data are the data produced by students.

    Appendix 7: Implementation Success Action Plan: Vision Versus Reality

    VISION: If your project is put into place, what will it look like, sound like, and feel like for all stakeholders involved (teachers, students, parents, administrators, community members, and others)?

    What will it look like in the school building when the project is fully implemented?

    What will it sound like in the school building when the project is fully implemented? What will stakeholders be saying, and how will they be saying it?

    What will it feel like in the building when the project is fully implemented? What culture and climate characteristics will the school be exuding?

    REALITY: What is the present status of the project you want to put in place? What does it currently look like, sound like, and feel like for all stakeholders involved (teachers, students, parents, administrators, community members, and others)?

    What does it currently look like in the school building with respect to the project?

    What does it currently sound like in the school building with respect to the project? What are stakeholders saying, and how are they saying it?

    What does it currently feel like in the building with respect to the project? What culture and climate characteristics is the school exuding?

    Appendix 8: Implementation Success Action Plan: Template

    Project Title: ______________________________________

    Project Members: ______________________________________

    Project Manager: ______________________________________

    District Mission:

                                                                         

    District Goal:

                                                                         

    Building Goal Aligned With District Goal: ___________________________________

    Aligned Inquiry Statement (“If … , then”):

                                                                                                                           

    Implementation Success Action Plan Strategies: Reflect on your vision and reality activity. What overarching strategies (professional development, building leadership capacity, effective two-way communication, and so on) will it take to close the gap between reality and vision?

    Strategy 1:_______________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Strategy 2:_______________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Strategy 3:_______________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Strategy 4:_______________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Project Implementation Action Steps: Identify the specific action steps you will take to achieve the strategies, what strategies they support, the team member(s) accountable for accomplishing the action steps, and when the action steps need to be completed. Sometimes an action step has its own subset of action steps; these can be listed below the action step.

    Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: What data (cause and effect) will be collected as evidence of the project’s effectiveness and allow the project team to make adjustments as needed?

    Measurable Evidence: Effect Data

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