Wednesday, June 12, 2013

National Board Application Part 1: Portfolio

Whether or not I achieve National Board certification this year, I am proud of myself for completing the application process this year.  This school year has been the most challenging year thus far, both professionally and personally.  I finished and submitted everything on time despite a miscarriage, surgery, severe student behavior problems, new curriculums and standards, unsupportive administration, threats of felony charges, family illness and death, exhaustion, morning sickness, and more!  I decided to apply for Early/Middle Childhood Literacy.  Here are the requirements for each entry and how I chose to complete them:

Entry 1: Promoting Literacy Development through Writing
In this entry: You select one student to feature as an example of your work with students in promoting literacy development through writing. You submit two work samples from the selected student. You will also submit a Written Commentary. Your approach to assessment of the student’s needs, analysis of that assessment in the design and implementation of instruction, and selected work samples demonstrating the student’s writing development over a period of time are the focus of this entry.

I selected a student who was reading above grade level but writing below grade level.  His two work samples were taken from the beginning and end of a six-week unit on clarification/persuasive essay writing.  In his first writing sample, his entire essay was a two-page paragraph with no topic sentences.  He also strayed from the prompt and wrote stream of conscious narrative thoughts.  After working with him throughout whole group mini-lessons, small strategy groups, and individual conferences over a period of six weeks, he excelled in organizing his writing.  His second writing sample consisted of distinct paragraphs with topic sentences.  There was a clear introduction, body, and conclusion.

Entry 2: Constructing Meaning through Reading
In this entry: You submit a 15-minute video recording, a Written Commentary, and instructional materials that demonstrate your knowledge of the reading process and your ability to nurture learners in their growth as readers through your use of assessment and instructional materials.
I felt like this was my weakest entry.  Another teacher filmed me teach a whole-group mini-lesson using the reading workshop model.  The goal of the lesson was to get students to make inferences by using evidence from the text to support their thinking.  Students had not performed well on the open-ended portion of an assessment, so this lesson was the first of 5 reteach lessons.  I modeled with pictures first by writing my background knowledge about the subject of the picture and then using specific visual clues as my evidence to support my inference.  Then students worked in partners to do the same steps using a different picture.  We had a shared demonstration by reading a short excerpt and making inferences.  We underlined phrases from the text that helped justify our thinking.  Finally, students read and completed questions on a second excerpt independently. 

Entry 3: Integration of Listening, Speaking, Viewing, and Visual Literacy
In this entry: You submit a 15-minute video recording, a Written Commentary, and instructional materials of an interdisciplinary lesson integrating technology that demonstrates your knowledge and understanding of the relationship between listening, speaking, and viewing in literacy development.

Since I naturally integrate social studies and reading every day and am able to use technology throughout each lesson, this was the easiest entry to complete.  I planned a two week unit on slavery, after the 5th grade attended a field trip to the America I Am exhibit and viewed hundreds of artifacts related to African American history.  The video was allowed to be two segments.  Another teacher filmed the class viewing images of artifacts (shackles, chains, Door of No Return) on the SmartBoard and students discussing the images.  Students then watched a video reenactment of the Middle Passage and took notes.  In the second video segment, groups of 4-6 students were given a dilemma with three options.  [If you were an enslaved African, how would you respond to the inhumane conditions of the Middle Passage? (A) refuse to eat and resist help from the slave traders (B) organize a revolt (C) comply with slave traders in order to survive the voyage]  The students had to debate which would be the best option.
Entry 4: Documented Accomplishments: Contributions to Student Learning
In this entry: You illustrate your partnerships with students’ families and community, and your development as a learner and collaborator with other professionals by submitting descriptions and documentation of your activities and accomplishments in those areas. Your description must make the connection between each accomplishment and its impact on student learning.

I chose to highlight four accomplishments over the last five years.  They were:
1. Completing my thesis on literature circles-My students showed incredible growth in reading (43% reading on grade level in September to 83% reading on grade level in May).  I was also able to collaborate with community partners by writing grants and raising funds for book sets.  I led a professional development workshop for the entire staff and my classroom was a learning lab for other teachers to observe literature circles in action.
2. International Baccalaureate Training-I attended three different 2-day trainings to learn how to teach using the IB method.  It was then that I learned how to create integrated units and inquiry-based lessons.  I also became the lead teacher for project-based learning.
3. TIPS Homework-After completing a course on family partnerships during grad school, I created and implemented weekly interactive homework assignments.  They are sent home each Monday and due each Friday.  They relate directly to what we learn and require students to interact with a family partner to complete the assignment.  Parents/family partners were required to write feedback and sign each week.
4. Science-I voluntarily completed a year-long Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fellowship. The STEM Fellows program required a lot of collaboration by attending retreats, filming and uploading lessons, writing on a wiki, etc.  I used the knowledge to lead my team and use data to drive our instruction.  I created a pacing guide for the year, weekly quizzes, and student data trackers.  Students graphed their assessment scores each week and used their folders to help conduct parent-teacher conferences.

After completing detailed writing for each entry, I was also required to write a two page reflection on what I would do differently and why.  This was the first year that the portfolio was submitted online, which required many tedious hours spent scanning documents into PDF files so they could be correctly uploaded.  Student work samples, instructional handouts, video clips, diagrams of the classroom, school statistics, etc all had to in specific formats.  My technology facilitator saved the day by staying up until 1 a.m. reformatting the video segments for me after my brother-in-law and I spent many, many hours failing to do so correctly.  Everything was submitted with six hours to spare.  Now I play the waiting game until December when I will receive the results.

I guess it's a good thing I will have plenty of distractions until then!

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