Early Release/Teacher Collaboration at Nancy Ryles Elementary
At Nancy Ryles Elementary, all grade level teachers are seated around tables in the library. In the front of the room, a Master Teacher from Teacher's College, who also happens to teach 2nd grade at Nancy Ryles, is training her fellow teachers on how to better evaluate student writing.
The teachers are poring over a 2nd grade student's story titled "The Snowman." Did he put thought into how to begin his story? Is he using transition words? Is he using descriptive language? Is he using the correct punctuation? Is his spelling at, above or below the second grade level?
They are working off of a rubric, debating the level and score for each measurement. The goal? To ensure all the teachers at Nancy Ryles are evaluating writing the same way. This creates consistency in grading between classrooms. It helps teachers in 1st grade know where students should be by the end of the year. It helps 3rd grade teachers understand what to expect from their incoming students, creating a smooth progression between grade levels.
The teachers evaluate, debate, score and start again. The instructor points out how teachers can use evaluations on individual pieces of writing to see how a student is growing and progressing, areas they may be excelling, and also areas where they need a little more help.
Next, teachers from each grade level evaluate the same writing sample and compare scores. Are they evaluating and scoring the writing the same? They discuss and debate. Their instructor then shows them how to use their evaluations to help students improve areas of weakness.
This is exactly what the Beaverton School District had in mind, when it moved to early release Wednesdays to allow time for teacher collaboration. This is just one of the ways teachers are spending their time Wednesday afternoons, to assess where their students are at, determine areas of growth and areas where students need a little extra help, to increase student achievement and prepare all students for post-high school success.