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WCPSS Secondary Literacy Observation Checklist

Teacher_______________________________________ Date of Observation___________________ Time_________________

Room #_________ Course_________________________________ Unit/Lesson/Topic_____________________________________

Classroom Environment





Seating Orientation:

Students face towards teacher

Students face towards each other

Room Arrangement:

Inhibits student interaction

Allows student interaction

Facilitates student interaction

Classroom displays:

Learning aids, concept-related items

Ongoing activities, projects

Examples of student work

Student recognition

Applications, careers

Racial, cultural diversity

Extracurricular opportunities

Lesson Overview:

Written objectives

Written agenda

Assignments posted

Classroom Culture

Major activities

of teachers & students

Lecture/note-taking, teacher-led work

Class discussion, small group discussion, student presentation or modeling

Hands-on activity following specific steps

Hands-on activity with open-ended instructions/latitude to decide steps

Seatwork: reading text, working on worksheet, questions, problem set

Processing: represent/analyze data, find patterns, write/reflect on learning

Assessment: test/quiz, performance task, questioning to assess learning

Using Discourse

Teacher-- Students



Collaborative culture

No collaborative culture

Some evidence of collaborative culture (e.g. group roles defined)

Evidence of collaborative culture

Collaborative norms clearly defined




Lesson Enhanced

Technology used: |_|iPad/iPod |_|Document Camera |_|Computer |_|Projector |_|Calculator |_|Interactive Board |_|Other

Researched Best Practices

|_|Old skill/information/spiraling

|_|New skill/information

|_|Similarities & Differences

|_|Summarizing /Note-taking

|_|Reinforcing effort

|_|Homework & practice

|_|Nonlinguistic representation

|_|Setting objectives/feedback

|_|Generating/testing hypotheses

|_|Cues, questions, organizers

Standards for Literacy

Text Complexity

Complexity meets or exceeds grade-level band (CCSS)

Complexity is below grade grade-level band (CCSS)

No text used during walk through

Text Dependent


Questions are developed in sequences that call students to examine textual evidence and discern deep meaning

Questions are confined to recall of text

Questions do not directly relate to the text

No questions observed during walk through


Evidence of some writing

On-demand writing

Process writing

Writing Type




Undefined/Warm-up/ General reflection/Journal

Writing Strategy

Integrated with reading to develop thinking

Writing from models

Writing conferences


Vocabulary and Language

Students have opportunities to gain indirect acquisition of vocabulary through reading and writing

Students are prompted to focus on the nuances of words in context and their effect based on context, syntax, and structure

Students engage in discipline- specific direct instruction of vocabulary through researched best practices (e.g. Marzanos)

Students engage in learning academic vocabulary

Students are provided lists of vocabulary to learn

WCPSS Secondary Literacy Observation Checklist

The Look-Fors : What They Mean and Why They Matter

Classroom Environment

What It Is

What It Isnt

Why It Matters


Arrangement of desks

Ability for students to engage with each other in learning tasks

Ability for students to see key information

Single: Student desk does not touch other desks

Pairs/Trios: Student desk touches 1 or 2 other desks

Groups: Student desk touches other desks in groups of 4 or more. This includes

seminar discussion circles

horseshoe and U arrangements

other arrangements with contiguous desk placement

For Observation purposes, it does not evaluate

teacher-chosen v. student-chosen seating

purposeful seating v. random seating

fixed room structures beyond the teachers control, such as door, built-in cabinets, lighting, or support columns.

Marzano, High-Yield Strategy 6: Cooperative Learning. Research shows that socially-constructed learning has an effect size of .73. (note: an effect size of .50 is considered medium)

Marzano, High-Yield Strategy 3: Reinforcing EffortEffect size .80. Peer evaluations and Self evaluations of effort require that students be aware of their own and their peers relative effort. Seating arrangements have a direct effect on this.

Marzano, High-Yield Strategy 7: Providing Feedback Effect size .61. Formative peer and teacher feedback can be given only when peers and teachers are able to see and evaluate student attempts at mastery.

Lev Vygotskys Zone of Proximal Development rests on the awareness that there is a difference between what students can demonstrate independently and what they can demonstrate with the help of others. Thus, seating that maximizes peer support is crucial.

Room arrangements themselves can be the trigger for the teacher to design a variety of student-centered learning tasks (McCorskey and McVetta, 1978)

Room arrangements influence teacher and student beliefs about the role of the teacher in the learning environment.

Flexible room arrangement allow teachers to adjust for a variety of learning tasks (Professional Learning Board synopsis)

Seating Orientation

Placement of desks and which way students face

Orientation towards one focal point, such as the front screen or teacher lectern OR

Orientation that allows multiple focal points, depending on the learning activity

Room Arrangement

Includes teacher choices of:

Placement of student desks

resource area(s)

teacher location(s)

materials and technology

Includes effect on movement and purposeful student interaction.

Inhibits means the room arrangement is fixed in a way that it deters students from interacting in meaningful ways for learning tasks.

Allows means the room arrangement is flexible enough for students to interact if needed.

Facilitates means the room arrangement is fluid and inviting for meaningful student interaction during learning tasks.

Classroom Displays

Easily seen displays especially designed to add energy and awareness to the learning environment.

Learning Aids: maps, word walls, concept posters, graphic organizers, skill reminders, and other easily seen supports for student learning.

Ongoing Activities and Projects: large and easily seen assignment specifications, models, anchors, exemplars, skill supports, milestones, benchmark displays

Examples of Student Work: examplars of admirable student work such as essays, tangible products, models, printouts of digital presentations.

Student Recognition: Data charts, Wow! Boards, extra-curricular awards and recognitions, for example

Applications, Careers: Easily seen representations of discipline-specific applications of content-area learning in the 21st-century world of work

Racial, Cultural Diversity: Representations of many types of students, their heritages and backgrounds, and their interests and values found in classroom displays. This includes holiday displays.

Extra-curricular opportunities: Notices of clubs, organizations, and other opportunities that support content-area learning, development of social and cultural capital, and leadership development, such as Debate Club, Robotics Club, Student Council, to name a few.

Static, never changing from Day 1

Trite, stale posters with little connection to particular needs of the students

Out-of-date information and representations, such as maps with last decades borders, or outmoded formats for resums, or representations of careers that no longer exist.

Hard-to-find, hard-to-see displays, unless clearly grouped and labeled as a classroom exhibit area

Student models and exemplars that clearly are from students of bygone years; torn, musty, faded examples of student work.

In order to make a difference in student learning and disposition, displays must have a meaningful connection to the curriculum.

(Marlynn Clayton, Classroom Spaces that Work, 2002)

Purposeful displays that include all students in some way send important messages to students:

The teacher values what students do

This is the students classroom as much as it is the teachers classroom

In this classroom, students share their learning with each other and get feedback from each other.

(Mike Anderson, Classroom Displays, ASCD , 2011)

Many researchers are looking at the factors of student engagement and dividing them into three areas: cognitive domain, emotional domain, and behavioral domain. Purposeful classroom displays affect student learning directly by activating the cognitive and emotional domains.

(Richard Jones, Strengthening Student Engagement, 2008)

Marzano, High Yield Strategy 3: Reinforcing Effort and Providing RecognitionEffect size .80. Displays of student work are central to providing recognition and demonstrating to students that teachers value their efforts.

Marzano, High Yield Strategy 5: Non-linguistic Representations Effect size .75. Maps, charts, graphic organizers, photographs, pictures, concept maps, and other non-linguistic representations are all types of displays that can affect the cognitive domain of student engagement and learning.

Marzano, High-Yield Strategy 9: Questions, Cues and Advance OrganizersEffect size .59. Teachers who use purposeful displays to pique interest, pose real-world problems, activate prior experience/knowledge are using Marzanos 7th high-yield strategy.

Marzano, High-Yield Strategy 1: Identifying similarities and differencesEffect size 1.61. This Super Yield Strategy is easy to achieve with charts showing similarities and differences among unit and course concepts.

Lesson Overview

Written objectives: Learning objectives for the day written in colloquial language that students can understand. These may be written as learning targets. These may be what students will demonstrate by the end of the class period.

Written agenda: The order of events and activities for the class period. Even better: include the expected time each event/activity will take. Even better: format the class agenda as a business meeting agenda would be, including the Who and the Why.

Assignments posted: Even in this day of teacher websites with postings and updates for assignments, having the assignments posted on the board is important to student learning. Include purpose, product, and due date. Even better: have the assignment handout and rubric of skills posted nearby adjacent to the assignments.

Written objectives that are copied straight from the CCSS or teachers manual; that use educational jargon, abbreviations, and acronyms; that are only for a full unit or course; that are canned or stock objectives.

Written agenda that

is a generic/ happens-every-day listing.

Assignments posted that are hidden or unreadable from student desks

Marzano, High-Yield Strategy 7: Setting Objectives and Providing FeedbackEffect size .61. Objectives and Agendas set purpose for students for the class session.

Marzano, High-Yield Strategy 9: Questions, Cues and Advance OrganizersEffect size .59. Objectives and agendas are advance organizers. Objectives, agendas, and assignments posted are all cues for students.

Marzano, High-Yield Strategy 4: Homework and PracticeEffect size .77. Assignments posted reminds students of the homework and practice opportunities they have.

Agendas help student make smooth transitions between parts of the lesson. In addition, it adds to a stable and orderly classroom routine. (Melissa Kelly, Steps to Starting a Class Off Right. )

Agendas that conform to a business-meeting format send the nonverbal message that learning is the students jobs, that the classroom time is purposeful, and that all students have a role in the culture of the classroom.

Not only do Agendas help students know what to expect, but they also are a visual cue to teachers as they manage the pacing of instruction and learning.

Classroom Culture

What It Is

What It Isnt

Why It Matters

Major Activities of Teachers and Students

Lecture/note-taking, teacher-led demonstration Classroom is teacher-centered at this point. Students are doing one or all of the following: listening to teacher-talk; copying or summarizing notes; watching the teacher show something.

Lecture/note-taking, teacher-led demonstration NOT Student-generated meaning-making.

Mini-lectures are valuable for giving direct information that student may need for background information or as the basis for a problem-solving task. Because research shows that students must make their own meaning in order to learn, lecture on its own has little impact on student learning of concepts or skills.

Class discussion, small group discussion, student presentation/board work Students are at the lead during this activity. Students are talking with each other about a course concept.

Class discussion, small group discussion, student presentation/board work NOT Teacher asking questions and calling on students, or a one-to-one conversation between teacher and one interested student.

Socially-constructed learning yields high retention rates because students are getting immediate feedback on their ideas from people who matter to themtheir peers. Highly interactive discussions or student presentations place students in the role of peer-teachers, which places higher value for the student on the need to understand and communicate concepts to peers. Research for peer teaching routines in multiple studies throughout the 1990s and 2000s indicate a high return on critical thinking skills and reasoning.

Hands-on activities following a set of specific steps Students are working together or independently to replicate a procedure or process previously presented.

Hands-on activities following a set of specific steps NOT Students watching one student do the whole process.

Adding to research supporting Constructivist theories of learning, 2013 research from Stanford University reports that students learn concept knowledge best if they explore hands-on projects prior to reading or watching videos on the topic.

Research stretching back 20 years or more shows that problem-solving skills used for solving predictab...


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