All posts by scottmpetri

Scott Petri has taught social studies for five years at the middle school level and six years at the high school level. He has also served as a coordinator and small school principal in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and a Masters in Educational Administration from California State University Northridge, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of San Diego.

Learning from Student Reflection

This year, I have made a concerted effort to build reflective prompts into the end of every project in my History classes. As I read through these responses (180 at a time), I have a hard time separating the superficial responses from meaningful commentary that indicates in-depth reflection. This post will detail how I am seeking to improve in this area. The problem of practice that I am trying to improve is the playlist (personalized) approach to learning that I have implemented this year. I have learned that giving students too many learning options and activities stresses them out. Instead of helping them focus and improve their time management challenges, the playlist approach causes a small population of students to misuse their class time, disengage from challenging work, and refuse to accept enough responsibility for their learning. The reflections that I ask the students to complete are designed to give me some insight as to their work habits, problem-solving abilities, and creative process.

Costa & Kallick (2008) describe in-depth reflection as making specific reference to the learning event, providing examples and elaboration, making connections to other learning, and discussing modifications based on insights from this experience.

student-reflection-16-638

Including guiding questions like these: (What resources did you find useful while working on this project? What did you learn about your work ethic, creativity and performance skills as you worked on your speech? Which was more difficult completing the Flipgrid or delivering the speech in front of class? How did PaperRater help you with this project? Thinking about your PVLEGS (Poise, Voice, Life, Eye Contact, Gestures & Speed) growth area, how will you improve this skill before your next speech performance? What part of this project are you most proud of? What would you change if you had a chance to do this project over again?) guarantees that a significant population of students will not delve into the dangerous area of original thought.  This student didn’t even bother to construct a narrative and instead answered my questions as succinctly as possible.
I found the teleprompter extremely useful. It helped me manage my time with my speech and eliminate the unnecessary information which was a very important factor. The articles you provided for us on strong openings/conclusions were useful as well. I learned that I work a lot better under pressure than I do normally. I learned that the most challenging part of writing the speech is not finding the information but delivering it to your audience. Listening to my peers giving their speech made me realize that creating an interesting speech is far more difficult than maintaining interest on a poorly written one. It is difficult for me to discern whether this student really put any effort into this project, or got anything out of it. 

Another student, however, listed several very specific goals to improve her next speech.  
I need to work on staying still while I present my speech because I was shifting my body side to side. I also should’ve practiced using the teleprompter more because it would have improved my performance while I was presenting. I wouldn’t have been as paranoid about messing up if I would’ve been more familiar with the software. I really enjoyed completing this project because it was the most entertaining project that I’ve done in this class. I’m usually good when it comes to managing my time, but for this assignment, I let it all slip. Next time I have speech assignment
 or any other assignment, I will plan out my schedule more appropriately to complete everything that needs to be completed on time. 

One of my repeat customers (a student who had me for World History in 9th grade and now has me again for US History in 11th grade) provided examples and elaboration.
Working on this speech I truly saw an improvement in my writing style. I realized that with this speech i was able to turn some not to interesting information into a somewhat interesting speech. A source of information that I found super helpful was the book Dr. Petri gave me Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. This was very helpful because it gave me a very detailed and wide view into the overthrowing of Queen Liliuokalani, as well as the overthrowing of Hawaii in order for it to become part of the United States. My work ethic has improved greatly since my freshman year with Dr. Petri, who even said that I have improved since then. As well as my creativity, I remember when I would normally do essays and/or speeches I would not make them very creative they would just be filled with a lot of boring information that no one cares about. But for this speech, I was much more creative especially with the way I started. For example, “Your brother dies, oh but let’s not forget he is the King of Hawaii. You, a woman, has to step up to the throne and be the next one in line to run Hawaii. This was how Liliuokalani, became Queen Liliuokalani on January 29, 1891.” I wanted to catch the audience’s attention from the very beginning and I wanted to keep it that way.

Showcasing student reflections that make specific references to the learning event, provide examples and elaboration, make connections to other learning activities, and discuss modifications (or lessons learned) based on insights from this experience can help students improve their reflections and learn from their mistakes. This slideshow illustrates how I use student exemplars with the whole class to improve subsequent reflections. Although I am having some problems with a small population of my students using this playlist approach, anecdotally I can say that I am getting higher-quality work and more engagement from the vast majority of the students in my classes. Reading their comments and compliments as they recognize their own talents and growth has rejuvenated my teaching.

Example A
Each component 
I did better than last time. I realized that I got more work done in the amount of time I set for myself. With that being said my performance in this class is getting way better, I’m not as lazy and I am actually happy to be doing work, at the end, it feels great to be done with assignments either on time or earlier. Helping me improve my performance can be really easy, you can do that by working with all the due dates and giving extra time, which won’t really be necessary now because I’ve changed my ways.

Example B
At the beginning when we started I didn’t really know anything about this subject. I’ve done similar work in this class before and other classes like English too. I think I’ve gotten better because I’m used to having to finish certain work by the due date and making sure
I finish it all. I think what I should improve on is my note-taking because I’m not really the best at that and I feel like I should write more notes.I think I did pretty good on all my work besides my notes because my notes weren’t really much and I feel like I could’ve written more notes that could be more helpful. I think my project was good because I had good info. to support what I was saying in my podcast. What I would like to improve on is note-taking because I need to work on writing more.

Example C
I did well on my project, but I could really improve by trying to do it ahead of time because I really waited last minute to finish the project. I’ve could have done so much better if I really focused on my project. The way you can help me solve this problem is by making the due dates shorter so that it motivates me to finish faster and the rest of my work would be much neater.

I feel like this has been my best semester ever and am excited to return to work after the Winter Break.

LACOE

It is always a pleasure to come and present to risk-taking and proactive educators at LACOE that want to increase the amount of speaking and listening in their classrooms. Most of the work I am presenting comes from the books of Erik Palmer and the course I taught with him and Corbin Moore on Canvas Network.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/e/2PACX-1vQUz2x-9v44o8uKiAUjSPYXUScBxKRoXSVqdvNlnGAvgKHbpDj5KodKSR5f6K_tbDzaNkrkqrWgVzyP/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000

Feel free to save the presentation to your Google Drive and use whatever parts you find useful.

Dark Side of Gifted Ed

Teaching gifted and high-achieving students comes with some baggage. Many teachers feel like gifted students are a dream since most have incredible work ethics and plenty of intrinsic motivation. Since I have begun incorporating SEL strategies into my everyday classroom practices, I have learned that there is a dark side to teaching the gifted. A significant population of my students have poor coping skills and do not handle failure well.

I have been taking a playlist approach to my 10th and 11th-grade instructional program this year. Students are given a menu of options and I measure how much they do. This has caused them more stress than I anticipated and I am currently re-thinking this approach. Last year, too many of our students turned work in late. As a faculty, we decided to change the culture by not accepting late work.  As an incentive, we offer a 20% bonus on each assignment that is turned in before the deadline. For the first major project, 72% of my students turned in their work early. Approximately a quarter of my students, 43 out of 167, did not turn their work in at all.

After reading their reflections on the project, I realized that a large percentage of my students need more support in managing their time. I have been using goal-setting strategies with my students for years. This NPR story shows how reflection and goal-setting eliminated the achievement gap in a college composition class. I asked my students to read the story and then answer the following questions. How often do you write down specific goals and strategies that help you organize your time and workload? Could writing down what prevents you from completing work and connecting your daily efforts to goal-setting help you become a better student? What type of anxiety do you feel when dealing with multiple and competing deadlines?

Their answers were startling and shocking. Two-thirds of my “gifted” students rarely or never write a to-do list to manage their workload. They said things like…

I hardly ever write down my goals or strategies I usually just have to remember or I have everything planned in my head which actually gets me more stressed out. I do think if I write out my plans every day I could be less stressed out but I’m a procrastinator and I just can’t manage my time at all. I get crying anxiety when all my emotions overwhelm me at once and I can’t control them at all.

and

I do not write down specific or ANY goals and strategies to help me organize my time and workload. I believe that if I had something that reminded me on the daily about work and due dates my work ethic could improve greatly. Setting goals will make me want to achieve them and do better so that I can be a better not only person but a scholar. When I see that I have work due I stress out a lot. I rush everything and nothing comes out right. I stress about it at school and I get a horrible headache just thinking about how my grade would go down the drain. But when I get home I just forget everything and I never do anything.

and

I usually don’t write down my goals or strategies that help organize my workload because I’m already organized and most of my thoughts on procedures and goals are mental so I do not have to write them down. Yes, I think if I wrote everything down that slows down my work or prevents me from doing better it will help me realize what I need to do so I can work better. I usually feel like I won’t be able to finish anything and I always feel like a failure.

On the bright side, one-third of my students almost always write down what they need to accomplish. They said things like this…

I often write down my specific goals in an agenda and I strategize my workload on what is due the earliest. For example, I would finish my English homework first because it’s my first period. I don’t write down the things that prevent me from working and but I do set goals for myself to become a better student. Sometimes I have a list in my head and I write down what I need to do on a checklist to prioritize my time. When I deal with multiple deadlines, I begin to freak out thinking about what I need to do all at once. I make a list of what I need to do and sometimes do the easiest assignments first to get them out of the way.

and

I write down goals often. Some of these goals include getting my work done and getting my grades up. I have tried writing what keeps me from doing my work down. I believe that you could change your habits and become a better student, but if you don’t want to, nothing is going to change. You have to want everything. You can’t just want to change for yourself. What keeps me going is wanting to change my habits so that I can look into my mom’s eyes and not feel guilty, to not feel like I am letting her down. I give myself time to complete deadlines its when I decide not to do it that it gets me. 

and

I have a big ¨vision board” in my room in which I put my goals, the stuff I want to have, the people I want to meet, the amount of money I want to make, the places I want to travel to, the car I want to have, and pretty much anything. The law of attraction says if you set a goal and remind yourself of it, you will get it. and I think that’s 100% true. My goals are very long term, like going to Harvard or becoming a doctor but in order to achieve that I have to maintain a good grade point average and be a good student. So I try to do my homework and manage my time wisely so homework doesn’t take any more time that it has to. I am a very organized person. I have a daily planner in which I put in all my assignments of the day. When I get home I prioritize and rewrite the assignments in order that I have to do them.

How do I teach the former group of students to be more like the latter?

Teaching Study Skills

Teachers at my school have identified several growth areas in student study skills and we are working collectively to address these deficits. At the beginning of this school year, I gave my students a study skills questionnaire from the University of Central Florida’s student resource center.  This thirty-item survey asks students to report whether they rarely, sometimes, or often use specific strategies in their academic practices. The domains assess student practices when reading textbooks, taking notes, studying, memorizing, preparing for tests, and managing their time.

StudySkillsBasics_800x533

A sample (N=191) of 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12 graders took the survey. The scores ranged from a low of 20 to a high of 270 with a median of 170. The test’s authors suggest that a score of 31-50 in each domain indicates that the study skill area is adequate, whereas a score of 0-30 indicates that this study skills area needs improvement. My students’ average scores are displayed in the table below.

Reading Notes Studying Memorizing Test Prep Time Mgmnt Total
25.64 23.43 30.97 27.40 31.55 25.72 164.70

The items in the survey offer good starting points for student reflections when using exam wrappers or project debriefings.  Each student was given their results and discussed their largest growth area with me in a private conference. After each major academic milestone this year (project, test, paper, speech and etc.) my students will reflect on how the activity helped improve their growth. At the end of the year, they will take the survey again to see how they have improved.

I am interested in learning more about how K-12 educators teach study skills, please join me for a Twitter chat on this topic this Thursday, September 21 at 9pm ET/6pm PT. The questions are below:

Teachers are notorious finger pointers. “You should have memorized your multiplication tables in third grade. You should be taking notes and reviewing for tests by 6th grade. You should know how to read a textbook by 8th grade.” The list goes on. This evening of #sstlap is dedicated to teaching study skills. Regardless of where you students are when you get them, where do you want them to be when they leave you? What study skills should students have improved after a year under your tutelage? Get ready to share the glory and the pain as we try to teach our students study skills that they can take with them on their academic journey.

:07 Q1 What is the most significant skill deficit students have when they arrive in your class? How do you learn about and remediate this skills gap?

:14 Q2 How can we be enthusiastic about teaching study skills to our students when we have so much content to deliver?

:21 Q3 What are the best ways to immerse students into a note-taking lesson?

:28 Q4 How does focusing on reading skills instead of delivering content build rapport with students?

:35 Q5 How can you tie student passions to practicing skills like test prep and time management?

:42 Q6 How can you reframe a memorization lesson to make content aquisition fun?

:48 Q7 What apps/technology tools can help teachers transform skills instruction into fun activities?

:54 Q8 #FLIPGRIDFEVER BONUS QUESTION Click on the link and explain your favorite skill-building tool or lesson in 90 seconds instead of 140 characters.

Resources

Archive of 9/21/2017 #sstlap chat

Six degrees of separation history lesson

https://www.teachbeyondthedesk.com/six-degrees

Quizlet Live gamifies study sessions

https://quizlet.com/blog/how-i-made-learning-fun-in-my-classroom-using-quizlet-live

Daniel Pink – To Rhyme is Sublime

http://www.danpink.com/2013/06/how-to-pitch-better-the-rhyming-pitch/

Timed note-taking drills

https://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/06/skills-practice-listening-and-taking-notes-via-times-podcasts/?mcubz=3

Teach Listening First

Teach Listening First: How to Link
Listening Instruction into your Career Pathway
EdTalk given at Cal State Poly Pomona by Scott M. Petri

 

I should start by saying if my wife was here listening to me talking about the importance of teaching listening skills, the laughter would be deafening. She often complains that I don’t listen to her, refuse to write anything down and don’t remember anything she tells me. It’s like she hit the lottery of clueless husbands. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a listening expert to teach listening skills. I started down this path by attending my daughter’s 2nd grade publishing party. Each child read their poem from the author’s chair and then each audience member gave them a compliment by focusing on one of the poetry terms. I really liked how you used personification. Awesome alliteration Alex. I loved your onomatopoeia. . .

I went back to my school wondering how I could implement this in my classroom without my 9th graders shouting BORING at each other. After talking with colleagues who reminded me that teachers set the culture in their classroom, we wrote an ASCD Teacher Impact Grant and were given funding to conduct a video lesson study on teaching listening and speaking skills. This experience inspired us to teach listening first.

As a history teacher working in a medical careers pathway, I have shifted my traditional instruction to skills-based instruction. It’s a simple concept. I demonstrate a skill for students. They practice it. I measure it, and we repeat. Students pursuing medical careers understand the need for strong listening skills. If doctors and nurses can’t listen during patient intakes, misdiagnoses happen and patients suffer.

So I teach skills now. Listening skills, writing skills, speaking skills, collaboration skills. Basically anything that can’t be measured with a standardized test. Practice skill. Measure. Repeat. Over the last 7 years, I have obsessively measured every academic variable in my classroom with the unwavering determination of a lunatic. This has made me popular with my students because I can show them where they are in relation to their peers. It’s only taken me 30 years, but I have finally become popular in high school.

If you have happy students, you are on your way to becoming Teacher of the Year. One way to create this atmosphere is to measure performance tasks that show student growth throughout the year. This is simple data collection. What I learned from looking at all this data is that what we don’t know is bigger than what we do know. This is especially true of our students, who are so intimidated by what they don’t know, that they often fail to engage in even the most basic of academic tasks. This is what exasperates teachers and leads to burnout.

How do we teach speaking to students who would rather take a zero than embarrass themselves in front of their peers? And how do we teach listening when as soon as you hit play, half the class reaches for their cell phones? The kids we don’t engage haunt us. How do we keep inspiring? How do teachers keep pushing that rock up the hill? Like the journey of a thousand miles. We begin with a single step. Goal-setting. This involves showing students where they are and showing them where they need to be.

We know students must leave high school with a working understanding of about 50,000 words in order to be academically successful in college. Good vocabulary teaching involves a lot of talk and practice using language. Listening to academic vocabulary being used correctly is an important first step in helping students gain confidence before they start speaking with new words.

Although most social studies teachers probably do not feel the need to teach listening, research shows that students learn 55% of their academic vocabulary in social studies classes. Listening is a key component of strong instruction and is often taught in elementary school, but fades away in middle and high school.

Speaking and listening standards have become the forgotten part of the Common Core. Few schools or districts formally assess them. A 2015 UCLA study found a majority of social studies teachers struggled to explain how they helped students develop speaking and listening skills. These teachers reported using small and whole-class discussions regularly, but rarely (if ever) assessed their students during these activities. Only 15% of these teachers spoke confidently about their speaking & listening instruction.

All of this convinced me that we need to teach listening first. Listening while reading helps people have successful interactions with text, where they read with enjoyment and accuracy. Research shows that students can listen two to three grade levels above what they can read.  Most importantly for CTE Pathway teachers like me who teach career readiness skills, listening has been identified as one of the top skills employers seek. Although most of us spend the majority of our day listening, how much time do we spend trying to become a better at it?

Very few educators provide instruction in listening. We assume that every student can listen, if they’ll just stop talking. Unfortunately, that’s just not true. Without specific instruction, students do not understand that listening is an active process under their control. If you have ever sat through a series of student presentations, than you know many students don’t listen to each other at all. We need to teach them how.

Sound expert Julian Treasure begged his TED audience to teach listening in schools. You know his wife is lucky. He’s a real listening expert. He developed a mnemonic RASA so educators can teach every student to Receive (pay attention), Appreciate (nod at the speaker, smile, make eye contact), Summarize (so?), and Ask questions (about what was said)–RASA. This is an easy poster to hang in your room and point to throughout the year.

Before I move on to specific techniques and resources that can help you teach listening, I want to remind you that just as students struggle to identify inferences and bias in text, they need practice and extensive coaching before they can learn to listen between the lines and hear the big picture. Students report greater comprehension when they ask questions, manage their interest levels, and discuss what they just heard. Mix these tasks into your listening activities for best results.

Now, let me give you three resources to help you embed listening into your classroom practices. The first is Listenwise, a service that aligns National Public Radio stories with content standards in ELA, Social Studies and Science. Listening to these stories regularly in class helps my students take this skill seriously. My high school students listened to 11 stories last semester. These were paired with assessments that tested their comprehension and tracked the results over time. This tool can help you teach listening in as little as three minutes a day. Practice skill. Measure. Repeat.

Second, I use longer podcasts to create note-taking drills that build listening stamina and focus. First, review the transcript and create questions that test how well students listen for main ideas, point of view, inferences, and academic vocabulary. Then, divide the class into four groups:

Group A: Is not allowed to take notes.

Group B: Takes notes but can’t use them on the test.

Group C: Takes notes and uses them on the test.

Group D: Takes notes, uses them and gets the transcript.

After listening, all of the students take the same quiz. Typically there is a 30% gap between Group A and Group D. This teaches students the value of taking notes and listening intently. I do not grade these activities on a traditional percentage basis. Instead, I divide them into listening proficiency bands and show students their growth over time.

I do this during the first week of school to demonstrate that the act of taking notes can move a student up three letter grades. Practice skill. Measure. Repeat. These longer listening drills have ended my least favorite question — should we be taking notes on this?  If I could only end — Can I go to the bathroom? and — How many points is this worth? I would be the happiest teacher in the world!

Students need practice listening to each other and many enjoy engaging in whole-class discussions, but this is a difficult format for one teacher to master. Monitoring who participates, how often they participate and keeping the flow of conversation collegial can be challenging. Many teachers worry classroom conversations can veer off course. The Constitutional Rights Foundation offers a civil conversation model that helps guide students discussing controversial issues like the Syrian Refugee Crisis and ICE Deportation Raids.

Regular use of these three tools: Listenwise stories, longer listening drills, and civil conversations helps students focus on the goal of listening comprehension. Understanding is the goal of listening. As teachers we need to prepare students to actively listen, avoid distractions and engage in conversations around what they just heard. Author Erik Palmer suggests before students engage in purposeful listening, their teachers should tell them what to respond to, how to respond and when to respond.

Today has been all about teacher leadership and affirming that teachers are better together. I have seen teachers across subjects and grade levels sharing lessons and ideas, but it is still too hard for us to connect and collaborate. Next year, I will be working with The Constitutional Rights Foundation in expanding Teacher Practice Networks for teachers integrating speaking and listening instruction into their classes. I invite you to join us and share what happens when you teach listening first. Together, we can work toward improving listening in all schools.

At the end of our Teacher Impact Grant, we realized that our explicit focus on listening instruction had also helped our students strengthen their attention spans and improve their collaborative skills. After reflecting, we realized that listening had a powerful effect on learning in each of our classes. I only wish my wife would tell me that I’ve gotten a little better at listening too, but I think I was supposed to pick up our kids 15 minutes ago.

Thank you for listening.

#BetterTogether Teacher-Led PD #sstlap

On Thursday, July 27, 2017 at 6 pm PT I will guest host a Twitter Chat for #sstlap on Being Better Together: Teacher-Led Professional Development. I will be delivering an afternoon EdTalk at Cal Poly Pomona. Thanks so much to Alex Kajitani, Emily Davis, Nick Salerno and Peter Paccone for giving me this great opportunity to talk about Teaching Listening First.

On Friday, July 28th, the 3rd annual Better Together: California Teachers Summit will bring 12,000 teachers to 35 locations across the state together for a powerful day of learning led by teachers, for teachers. The Summit is a unique opportunity for teachers to come together to collaborate, re-energize ahead of the new school year and be a part of a teacher network that will last beyond the Summit. The CA Teachers Summit will feature TED-style EdTalks presented by local teachers, Edcamp discussions on teacher-selected topics, and opportunities for networking and sharing ideas and resources with fellow teachers.

By bringing California teachers together, the Summit will empower teachers to support our students, protect our values as educators and set an example for the nation. The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, the California State University and New Teacher Center organized the Summit. The event is free to all California pre-K-12 teachers, teacher candidates, school administrators and other educators. If you are a California teacher, it’s not too late to register and choose from locations across the state at www.CATeachersSummit.com. If you aren’t a California teacher, but want to follow the events look for @CATeacherSummit on Facebook and Twitter and join the conversation using the hashtag #BetterTogetherCA.

#SSTLAP Questions

:07 Q1 Describe the most powerful professional development experience you have had in your teaching career.

:14 Q2 List a teaching tip that has helped you improve your practice and credit the person who gave you that tip.

:21 Q3 What is the best favor/teaching tip that you have ever given one of your teaching colleagues?

:28 Q4 What professional development events have you participated in that utilized the EdCamp model?

:35 Q5 How would you compare the EdCamp model to the PD you normally receive from your school/district?

:42 Q6 What professional learning events and organizations have helped you learn from teacher leaders?

:49 Q7 How can schools and districts improve teacher leadership?

:56 Q8 What role would you like to grow into as your career in education matures?

Resources

http://cateacherssummit.com/wp-content/themes/cateachers/img/FINAL_Agenda-Web_NTC17.pdf

https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/what-ideal-back-school-house-professional-development

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/about-edcamp-unconference-history

https://www.edutopia.org/edcamp-organizer-resources

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may14/vol71/num08/Edcamp@-Teachers-Take-Back-Professional-Development.aspx

https://www.teachingquality.org/content/blogs/jozette-martinez/how-create-teacher-led-professional-development

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept07/vol65/num01/Ten-Roles-for-Teacher-Leaders.aspx

https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/03/16/7-qualities-that-promote-teacher-leadership-in-schools/