Do you ever find yourself using a lesson you found from the Internet, or one you created, thinking it had high potential for learning, and then quickly realized after you used it that while the products may be beautiful and artistic, no real learning happened? I’ll admit it…I have! I remember a couple projects I gave where I wanted students to summarize their learning, connect to a real world topic, and display their learning visually, but somehow the end result was a bust as far as students transferring their knowledge. While I always think it important to celebrate successful projects and lessons, these, deemed “Flashy Poster Syndrome” lessons, are the ones that weigh on my mind because I wonder why it just didn’t work.
On Friday, we had a book study at work with the book, Facilitating Teacher Teams and Authentic PLCs, and this rubric below jumped out at me as a way to intentionally vet lessons like the ones I described above to achieve “high quantity and quality of learning.” As the book stated, I think this can be very useful in PLCs if teams are finding themselves deciding on an activity that had been used in years past or one pulled from the Internet. By using this tool to analyze the activity, the focus of the conversation becomes more proactive rather than reactive. Therefore teachers can spend less time discussing “What do we do if our students don’t learn?” and more time discussing, “What’s the best way to teach this so that our students learn it in the first place?” (This aligns with DuFour, FuFour and Eaker’s 2nd PLC question: How will we know students are learning?)
It is important to know several things. First, if using this as a team, it is safest to use this with a lesson that is not specifically tied to one individual on the team because the authors noted “there is a vast psychological difference between scoring a stranger’s work found on the Internet and scoring a colleague’s work.” Secondly, do not always throw out high maintenance tasks, but give that thought when planning. Finally, I LOVE the questions the book asks to determine rigor: “Who is doing the thinking here-the teacher or the students? Who is asking the questions-the teacher or the students?” Give these attention as questioning and student voice will bring out new levels of learning in your classroom.
This quick check list can help teachers have an “evidence-based” conversation and although you do not need to come to consensus on the exact “scoring”, it rather focuses on strengthening the lesson for student learning.
Source: Facilitating Teacher Teams and Authentic PLCs, Daniel R. Venables