Learning the most successful planning, instruction and assessment techniques through reflection Callie Spaltholz As I start to take on the daunting edTPA (a state mandated test for teacher certification), I am learning the in-depth steps of planning a curriculum. Even though working through the tasks and commentaries of the edTPA is arduous, I find that it helps me critically analyze my teaching and my students’ development. After practicing the planning and instruction commentaries, I have become a stronger writer in terms of having to explain and reflect about my teaching experience in great detail.
I had a successful first semester in my fieldwork teaching K5 at La Escuela Fratney in Milwaukee. I had a diverse class of learners, which was a challenge, but provided for an extremely rewarding learning experience. I implemented a lesson on “exploring tradition through weaving” into their regular non-art classroom and had a series of assessments and evaluations throughout.
My first unique formative assessment was a take-home worksheet, which provided the student and parents a space for discussion about a special family tradition they share in their family. Before even beginning the lesson, I wanted students to come to the class prepared with some background knowledge of what tradition means to them. I had students share and explain their family traditions to the class. This was my first formative assessment for the lesson, which I followed with a writer’s workshop activity where students drew and wrote about their family tradition. Through these simple activities, I was able to gauge where each student was at in terms of understanding what tradition means to them and how it exists in other people’s families. To accommodate and reach all students’ levels of learning, I was able to assess students through oral discussion, written descriptions, or visual drawings.
Throughout the lesson, I incorporated a series of looking and talking activities in which we discussed and described contemporary weaving artwork and specific images from an award winning children’s book, Abuela’s Weave by Omar S. Castañeda. Students installed their weavings in a gallery wall space within their classroom accompanied by an artist statement, which they wrote their name and who they were going to share their weaving with (see picture).
My summative assessment for the lesson was the completion of a weaving that included a pattern of three colors and a successful installation with a written artist statement. I wanted my K5 class to act and work like professional artists, so I encouraged them to take special care of their weavings so that they may pass down their new tradition to others. I can gather which evaluation and assessment techniques were most successful by reflecting on what I have observed and directly from my teaching. I reflect upon my weaker techniques and figure out ways that I can reinvent them to be more successful for both my students and myself. If there is one good thing the edTPA has taught me so far, it is the utter importance of being a reflective practitioner.
For the first image of me reading with the class the caption is:
Reading Abuela's Weave with class.
For the second image of the gallery wall with weavings the caption is:
Los tejedores del Salón 12 (The weavers of room 12). Here is the gallery wall where students installed their weavings and artist statement. The gallery wall also included information about the essential questions and big idea of the lesson.