Slice of Life Tuesday: “With Fidelity”

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I’m upset about the word FIDELITY in education. This word has given me headaches for at least 2 years now, as I attend meeting after meeting, session after session, on how, if teachers would just use “the program” or “the strategy” or “the textbook” “with fidelity,” that students will be successful in school. Teachers are evaluated, schools are graded, and the one thing that is reported about education is if we could all just make this one change — fidelity — then we could all succeed in life. I looked up “fidelity in education.” Here’s what Google showed in the first pop-up screen (a Google definition of “fidelity in education”):

“Fidelity of implementation occurs when teachers use the instructional strategies and deliver the content of the curriculum(s) in the same way that they were designed to be used and delivered.” (Yep. It said, “curriculums.”) Does that ever happen? (A question for another time)

The second intriguing link (from the Center on Instruction’s RTI CTRL:http://www.rtictrl.org/files/Fidelity%20Checklist%20A.pdf showed a Fidelity Checklist — a checklist/worksheet that an observer can use to collect data on if a teacher is using curriculum “with fidelity.” The sheet includes Instruction/Presentation, such as “teacher and student materials ready,” “follows steps and wording in lessons,” “provides students many opportunities to respond,” and “completes all parts of teacher-directed lesson.” The checklist also has a category for General Observations of the Group, including “student engagement in lesson,” “student success at completing activities,” and “teacher familiarity with lesson formats and progression through activities.”

Well…

Oh, wait! There’s more! A third link at www.rtinetwork.org/getstarted/evaluate/treatment-integrity-protocols says this about Fidelity Checklists:

“These protocols have been developed by a variety of sources (publishers, graduate students, practitioners) and no claim is made for their sufficiency or thoroughness. They are posted as an aid to practitioners and researchers and should generally be considered as experimental products that require research as to their psychometric characteristics.”

What does this mean to me? Well…

  1.  This means that “fidelity” to anything in education, especially a curriculum (program, what have you), is following the program to the letter — even “following steps and wording…” — which makes me so angry that I spent thousands of dollars receiving my license to teach! What this says to me is that as long as I can read a script, and “provide students many opportunities to respond,” I can be a successful teacher. This is WRONG! According to the checklist above, teachers should also be “familiar with lesson formats and progression through activities.” Many teachers are not trained in this way. Teachers do not know WHY they are reading this script, doing this lesson, following this instruction. They just do it. They are observed as working “with fidelity.” This is MADDENING, as outcomes for “success” are shown as minutes using the program, NOT how well a child learns the material (or if the child even uses the material once the program is over).
  2. This also means that “fidelity” includes students themselves — “student engagement in lesson” and “student success at completing activities.” Have you ever seen a group of students use a program with fidelity? Really? I haven’t. A whole group of students mindlessly completing activities is NOT LEARNING, and I’m sorry (not sorry), but one or two members of any group at any one time are NOT fully engaged, nor are they successful at completing activities. Students (or teachers, or politicians, or whoever) completing activities does not equal success. Can you say a group of people — let’s say teachers, for instance, are teaching with fidelity when they watch their students (proctor – that’s the word) take a standardized test? NO! Those same students don’t pass the test, and then everyone is up in arms about the lack of “quality education.”

Let’s all take a hard look at “FIDELITY” in education. Please. Let’s go back to the question of “WHY.”  WHY do my students need to work with this program? WHY will they gain more if they complete this task, rather than that task? WHY does minutes with a program mean more than an intelligent conversation (I’m thinking here, a conversation around a book’s theme, for example.)?

WHEN will society change?

(Just my evening of rambling. Please take this post with a grain of salt, or respond intelligently, as you wish. Thank you for reading.)

 

Slice of Life Tuesdays: Computers Don’t Teach

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I’ve been thinking

about thinking and learning, you see

and what I have found (between you and me) is

Computers Don’t Teach.

(But no one is asking me.)

 

Reading books is worthwhile, you see

and what I have found (between you and me) is

it’s something to see —  faces light up when you say,

“I have a new book for you all today!”

 

“I don’t have time to read it, though.

We only have 10 more minutes to go.”  Get back to the screens —

Focus! Don’t play! We must make you learn! You must pass…(you did?) Hooray!

What I have found (between you and me) is

Computers Don’t Teach.

(A research-based statement? Yes/Maybe, someday!)

 

Thank you to the TWO WRITING TEACHERS blog for allowing me to read, write, and share my thinking. Maybe someday my research will show how students think, learn, and succeed in school…and in life. 

 

 

 

Slice of Life Tuesday: New Year, New Position

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I’m finally living the dream. Last week I started my new position as School Librarian in my corporation. I love it! There is stress; I’ve completely reorganized the large library space and I’m done with the fiction section of the room (alphabetical order isn’t as easy as it seems). As I work with the nonfiction shelves, I remember my learning of the Dewey Decimal system, wondering if this is the best way for patrons to find what they are looking for when they come to the library. I gathered stacks of books that I want to restock in different parts of the room, and made a list of books and materials I want to order (growing by the minute! — my director is going to say, “You don’t have that kind of budget!”).

My number one goal this year as a new librarian is to spread the love of reading and books to all who visit the library. I typed some author quotes and made little displays all over the area, and placed small “Did You Know…?” trivia around the room. When students are perusing, they can use these to be inspired and make choices that pertain to them. I am passionate about reading (and learning), and I want my patrons to share their learning, too.

I returned home today exhausted. I almost didn’t write this post, but I’ve skipped enough Slice of Life days this summer, and it’s time to start my own “homework” again. I ran across this saying about writing today, and it made me laugh — the perfect way to end the day.

(pictures are mine, from Facebook post memes: Katrina Monroe author quote, and Values.com)

 

Slice of Life Tuesday: Playing Games

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Playing Games

Let’s play a game. It’s allegedly a research-based, highly engaging, educational game, meant to make participants think, compare, contrast, guess, and check. We’ll see:

Two Truths and a Lie

  1. I have less grey hair now than before Christmas break.
  2. I failed this week while teaching.
  3. I predicted (correctly) the winner of the 2016 Caldecott Medal book.

Think you know? I’ll bet you don’t!

Slice of Life Small LogoSlice of Life Tuesdays are sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. Check them out at www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Thank you, Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, Anna, Kathleen, and Deb so much for your support of teachers, awesome literacy learning, and writing! Join us this year for some writing fun!

Slice of Life Tuesdays: Start With the Why

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During the summer, I attended the All Write Institute which advertised the theme, “Start With the Why.” I’ve been thinking about the WHY today as I prepare to start another school year. I’m torn. I want to get back to work, but I would love to read more books, have more time to travel, and get household activities done. So…here are my WHY lists for both.

WHY go back to school?

Ok, let’s be realistic. I need the paycheck again. But “I’m in it for the money” is not what teachers say. First, I want to share all the wonderful lessons and book titles I learned about this summer. I read many books, wrote a little, made new friends, attended functions, and traveled, and I want to tell others about all of it. Second, I miss my friends. (Students sometimes come to school just to see their friends. Teachers do, as well!) Third, it will be nice to be on a productive schedule again. I haphazardly complete tasks when I know there’s not a deadline. I look forward to school; I can socialize with students and colleagues, continue to grow in my practice, and help students to grow and learn, too.

WHY stay home?

I’m still trying to live my One Little Word this year, LEAN. I need to finish cleaning the clutter in my office and in the empty bedroom (formerly home of my daughter–who has moved out on her own). In the spirit of cleaning, we need to finish the home projects, and I cannot wait to get them done. It’s going to be fabulous! Other reasons to stay home? More Reading! More Writing! (Oh, wait. I can do that at school.)

Yes, I am looking forward to going back to school now. WHY? It’s going to be a great year!

 

Slice of Life Tuesdays: Celebrating

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Slice of Life Small LogoCelebrating

The Fourth of July, vacation, time to spend with family, sleeping in, staying up late, and homework? Yes, I am celebrating late tonight — thinking about how much I’ve done this summer, how much I’ve grown professionally and personally.

The fireworks at Newton Park were fabulous. I’m so glad that my daughters went with me, even after the rest of the family stayed behind due to exhaustion from playing sand-court volleyball (which was entertaining to watch). The girls are almost grown now, and they won’t be with me on these “minor” holidays forever. I have to enjoy the time while I can. (Hey, I’m NOT old!)

Fireworks2015Vacation time is so relaxing, yet busy! I’ve spent time with my granddaughter each week and my husband was off work this week, so it’s nice to see him again. I’ve stayed up late, mostly to watch movies and read, but also to eat S’mores by the campfire.

Passion Small BW Photo campfire from AshleyHomework? Yes! I have homework. Since I signed up to use the All Write Institute as a 3-credit “class” (to renew my teaching license next summer), I have spent time reading, studying, reflecting, and writing about teaching and learning. Literacy education is such a fascinating topic for me. It really is! I love reading and writing and I want to share my passion each and every day. I am learning from professional development opportunities, too.

RSBookMany blogging friends and current colleagues have helped me learn to use more technology in my personal life. I switched back to my iPad mini for some e-reading and other productivity tasks, and I started “voxing” on Voxer (a walkie-talkie-like app on my phone), which is fabulous for collaboration with teachers from around the country! I love being able to talk to people and hear their voices and feel their presence while I think, read, and write.

voxer-logo-blackI am celebrating life tonight! Fireworks, vacation, family time, reading, writing, technology — Whew! Now, I must settle down and get some sleep!

 

 

Slice of Life Tuesdays: Still Learning…

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Slice of Life Small LogoStill Learning…

Today I learned that teachers are passionate!

Today I learned that some teachers think what’s best for their students is completely opposite of what I think is best for students.

Today I learned that teachers are truly and deeply terrified of the consequences of their teaching actions in the classroom.

Today I learned that people still believe that standardized testing is the only way to assess students’ success in schools.

Today I learned that I need to keep writing and speaking about what is truly best for students.

Today, and every day, I am passionate about teaching and learning.

Today, and every day, I am passionate about the need to continue an education revolution in this state, in this country.

Today, and every day (thanks for the words, TCRWP!), I will think and act with students in mind — that growth mindset that we all so deeply need to incorporate into our teaching existence.

We are all still learning.

 

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