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The ReVIEW Team

Five Ways to Use our Group Management Tools

3 min read

004_small flickr photo by breity shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Enrique Martinez didn't know what to do. As a new assistant superindent the district relied on him to handle talent development. Yet in Enrique's mind he was a servant to the state and not to students. The talent development platform deployed by the district was designed to meet a checklist of unfunded federal and state mandates.

Teachers hated the system. Enrique needed tools that allowed him to differntiate the instructional support each teacher recieved. 

At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we strive to  build better teachers through high quality feedback. To accomplish this goal we created our platform to provide flexiility and customizations to meet the needs of people like Dr. Martinez.

Our group management tools provided Enrique with everything he needed so teachers could see talent development as a valuable process rather than a product of bad politics. Dr. Martinez quickly  discovered five ways to use our group management tools.

Video Based Calibration

Our professional development library became an immediate asset to Enrique. He was able to train all new administrators and had inter-rater agreement using our built in video based calibration.

When a group of administrators needed addtional support he created a new group, assigned videos and created tutorials about using frameworks for effective teaching.

Rubric Understanding

Dr Martinez knows the importance of teachers knowing the district's framework for effective teaching. He created a goal setting form teachers to identify indicators where they needed growth. Then Enrique created groups of teachers for training.

Online Classes

The way districts have done professional development needs to change. After reviewing last year's assessment data Enrique noted that many teachers needed to brush up questoning techniques in the classroom. Dr. Martinez used our group feature to create optional online classes. Now teacher could complete the activites online or attend the full day professional development sessions. Many teachers chose to work online so they could use district release time for team planning.

Mandatory Trainings

Food safety classes, coach recertification, dyslexia modules...The number of trainings the district was required to deliver keeps increasing. Dr. Martinez found our group management feature to be an invaluable tool to meeting these requirements.

Professional Learning Communities

Enrique feels blessed to have such a committed staff. In fact many teachers seek out professional development well beyond the minimum the district is required to devliver based on the union contract. Dr. Martinez worked with these teachers to set up a professional learning community using ReVIEW's group management features.

Want to know how easy it is to get started in your school or district? Check out the tutorials below:

Make a New Group

Add People to a Group

Add Events to a Group

Set Form Frequencies to a Group

The ReVIEW Team

Using ReVIEW As Grant Management Tool

3 min read

Globe 6 flickr photo by Guru Sno Studios shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

In part of of our efforts to give back we give access to ReVIEW Talent Feedback System to any non-profit research project for free.

At Southern Connecticut State University we were awarded a grant to focus on bringing Geographic Information Systems.

Using ReVIEW Talent Feedback System to Manage Grants

After demonstrating the functionality to my colleagues and comparing the features to other CMS options such as Blackboard and Google Classroom the Principal Investigators (PI's) on our Geographic Information Systems Grant (I abstained from the vote and then checked with our Dean to make sure there was no conflict of interest) chose to use ReVIEW Talent Feedback System as our tool to organize the institute.

What Can You Do with ReVIEW Talent Feedback System?

Our PIs chose ReVIEW Talent Feedback for numerous reasons:

  • Allowed for differentiated participation between 100% face to face, hybrid, and fully online participants.
  • Created a repository for all of our learning activities.
  • Allowed participants to upload artifacts from the institute.
  • Provided an observation tool for coaching when teachers deliver lessons in the school year.
  • Provided an assessment tool for evaluating submitted lesson plans.
  • Collected demographic data
  • Created robust reporting tools for publication.

How did it Work?

During our two week institute participants had access to all of the learning materials. If they were on the ground the activities were completed in our sessions. Online or hybrid participants completed activities in a self paced approach.

Participants could navigate through the activities

We could then download all responses for any type of qualitative analysis

How will it work?

As we move from the institute into the classroom ReVIEW will work as our coaching and feedback platform. We will begin by scoring their lesson plans against Domain 2 of the Connecticut Framework for Effective Teaching.

The CT SEED model uses four domains to evaluate teachers. The second domain is the planning domain. We then provide written feedback on how to improive the lesson.

Then when the school year begins we will go in and score the lessons on Domains 1 and 3 of the framework. These domains focus on teaching and assessment.

When we finish our coaching and observation we will be able to use our robust reporting features to help prepare data for publication.

Want to Use ReVIEW in Your Grant?

As we have said we make ReVIEW free to any grant that utilizes internal reviews or needs a data collection and analysis tool. If you are a third party or outside reviewer on a grant we have very affordable prices and tools that will make your evaluations more cost effective for your partners.

Simply email Greg at [email protected] for more information.

The ReVIEW Team

7 Lessons I Learned as a Bad Online Teacher

8 min read

Remix of "Nodal Network" flickr photo by -mtnoxx- shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license and Education Reform: Insert your favorite “Wrath of Khan” joke blog title here" flickr photo by opensourceway shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

I love teaching online. I have also messed up along the way and draw important lessons from these failures. So then I iterate.

Over my last decade of teaching online, which began in my blended 6th grade classroom in 2004-2005, I have focused on seven key lessons that drive my instructional design.

Day 55. Classroom. flickr photo by davidmulder61 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Know Your Learners

I always want to create those magical moments. Where networked learning thrives. It rarely happens. Too often I design for the wrong audience.

I think about the participatory learning environments where I live. Places often celebrated by digital bards and nomads jumping from pop up like learning events that differ vastly from the public perception of MOOCs. I want that in my classes.

I can't have it; not without a lot of scaffolding and time, probably spanning multiple classes. There is a difference between learners who want to be there and who want to be there. We must design accordingly.

More importantly I do have to consider the complexity and frequency of tools I want to introduce. I am committed to students controlling their space for learning. Privacy through data empowerment. Yet I need to recognize that navigation must be fluent in all learners.

What to do?

Before each class I draw up a persona of three typical learners in the class. I try to think about their writing skills, their technology skills, and their experience in complex and distributed learning environments.

I offer a week zero class with face to face time before the class begins. I also record these sessions and put them online.

I also build in design studio time in my hybrid classrooms and open video office hours in my online classes. You can drop in any time for help.

empty goal flickr photo by tadekk shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Set Clear Expectations

I always strive for maximum flexibility. Students often grade themselves or each other.  I say,  "No due dates, those are guidelines. I care that you learn, not when you learn." I was wrong.

Even classes with the most open structure  students must know your expectations for assignments and participation. I am not saying apply a rubric to everything or set up, "Post to the discussion board twice by Tuesday and reply three  times by Sunday," but students must know what to do and when.

What to do?

Have due dates. When you work with students who often have multiple jobs, children, and a full class load do not be surprised if they look to your flexibility as a time management opportunity to finish other tasks.

Model the weekly expectations. You may not complete the same tasks as students (though this is my favorite model) but don't do what I do and let weeks of tasks and feedback pile up.

I want a fluid syllabus. The idea that course content can not change in response to students is silly. Yet you need to have expectations of major assignments and group worked laid out early.

Alone. flickr photo by mildiou2 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Online isn't Alone

Just because we do not gather in a room together doesn't mean we don't hang out in class. Yet I have to think about the complexity of tools we use to encourage engagement.

Some of my favorite experiences often occurred when using the Google Suite of applications. This was before Google Classroom but the single sign on and experience of Hangouts, Docs, Google+, Google Sites, and Google Forms made instructional design easy.

I also have to remember I am not teaching a correspondence course. Having students submit a 250-500 word submission each week could be done by mail. Do more.

What to do?

Choose a suite of tools and provide training on how to use them. Do not assume a lack of use is a lack of engagement.

Mix groups of on campus and off campus students. When allowing self selection watch out for geographical segregation or remote or commuter students.

Create assignments that depend on collaboration. Collaborative case studies or weekly debates are two of my favs. In my children's literature classes I love to do book clubs as well.

Wilson teaching flickr photo by Portland Seminary shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Good Pedagogy is Good Teaching. Online or Off.

I bought the latest screencasting software. I made the powerpoints. I hit record. I needed to stop. Watching a narrated slidedeck online is just as bad, if not worse, than watching it in the classroom.

If a practice works in the traditional classroom it probably works in the online classroom. We are not reinventing teaching just changing the mode and medium of delivery.

What to do?

Take what you do already and move it online. Your lessons work because they are good and you have honed them for years. Find a peer who has taught online and ask them to move online.

Take what we know about classroom discussions and writing instruction and include these into your teaching. 

Don't record powerpoints. My favorite way to introduce new content is with expert interviews or scheduling podcasts with authors of articles we read. 

Make! flickr photo by Sklathill shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Production Based Learning

I used to equate readings with rigor. Word counts with wonder. I was wrong. 

We need to make our online classes production based learning environments. Students need to curate and create learning artifacts that provide evidence of knowledge growth over time.

They need to remix readings with their own ideas. You know...analyze and synthesize.

What to do?

Create assignments that require students to use the learning material in novel ways. Get students making.

In more well defined domains such as math this can include making instructional videos to teach others about algorithms being studied. 

Have them design their own space for learning. When students create a stream of their learning or a portfolio f artifacts you get deeper learning.

JUL2011_ 1645 flickr photo by torres21 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Provide Timely and Focused Feedback

I created a rubric for everything. In my first publication "Forums and Functions of Threaded Discussion" I even shared an acronym rubric. Two bad habits of teachers. Seeing acronyms everywhere and trying to grade everything.

I have also just allowed classes to move organically. Just dipping my toes into conversations. My students deserved more. I needed to find the balance.

What to do?

Don't grade every discussion and post. Do you provide a rubric for each response when a student raises their hand in class? No. Why would you do this online? Doesn't mean you can't have a holistic participation grade.

You can have a rubric but you don't need to score students on every criterion every week. Target your feedback on areas where students need growth.

Coach your students. My best feedback is rarely attached to grades. Instead I either your recorded screencasts or video chats to provide feedback.

Filigree - Nicolás Paris (1977) flickr photo by pedrosimoes7 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Model. Model. Model

I often expected my students knew what to do. I would begin each week with a short video introducing the tasks and then let the class go. I was wrong.

Students need layers of of differentiated scaffolding and examples from you and peers.

What to do?

Go back to rule one. Remember most of your students may never have had an online learning experience. Let them see you doing what you ask of them.

Connect your classes across semesters. I utilize the same classroom stream each semester. Students have the option to delete their data but most do not. This creates a library of example of students can use as models.

Recognize the leaders in the class. Students will turn to a few for advice. Online learning requires this kind of emerging leadership. Plan pathways around this.

Empower students as models. Choose students, especially those not overly involved and pre teach them a skill a skill or content. Have them lead the class.

Model how to model.

Online learning and teaching take constant growth. Always Iterate. These seven lessons guide my instructional design and they can help you rethink how to teach online. 

Greg McVerry, is an international expert on literacy and technology. He received his PhD in Educational Psychology as Neag Fellow at the New Literacies Research Lab at the University of Connecticut. If you would like to learn more about how he uses ReVIEW Talent Feedback System to help improve online teaching across the globe feel free to email him.

The ReVIEW Team

Reduce Bias: Focus on Tasks not Teachers

3 min read

Remixed from: The New York Times’ Double Standards flickr photo by shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Surprisingly (cue sarcasm) very few evaluators self-report bias influencing their observations. People know how to respond to survey questions with the socially appropriate answer. They can't be bias because they know being bias is bad.

You are bias. I am bias. This influences our observations because it permeates every bit our existence. Instead of trying to eliminate bias let us recognize that we all bring unique perspectives and life experiences to our teaching and this  impacts our classroom.

When you recognize multiple perspectives you can begin to see beyond the teacher and recognize the practices that best improve student learning.

The existence of bias does not mean we shouldn't do everything we can to reduce it. it just means we can not eliminate it completely. In teacher observations this goes far beyond the critical goals of reducing racial, social, and cognitive bias in the classroom.

Bias Exists in  Practices of  the Classroom.

You may have a favorite method of reading instruction. You may believe that rote math learning will always do more for learning than area models. Opinions about standardized testing, charter, choice, and testing can impact a teacher's daily life and you may not share the same ideas.

Yet the biggest threat of bias in teacher observations emerge from the pre-existing relationship between the administrator and the teacher. People and our motivations do not always fit nicely in rubric boxes.

While schools must nuture a relationship of feedback and growth an evaluator must always consider the task over the teacher. This helps to reduce bias and also increases instructional capacity.

Learning from Research

Valarie Schute, in her review of the research on formative feedback, found a focus on the task rather than a learner drives growth. In other words if you focus your observation on the learning in the classroom you reduce your bias and help the teacher.

To steady your focus on learning and not the learner we recommend letting your framework for effective teaching drive your written observations.  This means putting the computer down and opening not just you ears but also your mouth and eyes

When you work with a teacher we suggest letting key lever coaching drive the conversation. Your schools chosen framework acts as a driver of the conversation. You utilize the evidence of tasks the teacher use and what you know about effective teaching to coach the teacher to new levels of growth.

If you want to learn more about how to use ReVIEW Talent Feedback system to focus your feedback on the task and not the teacher email [email protected].

The ReVIEW Team

Seeking Partners in India for Research Study on Teacher Evaluation

4 min read

Humayupur's public school-1 flickr photo by New Delhices shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Learning is universal. Yet across the globe schools struggle to address the shifting economic, political, and social forces that our networked society has unleashed on the world.


Sometimes we all just need to take a deep breath. Let’s take a step back and realize if learning is universal than many of the lessons we have learned over the centuries still apply.


Focus on Growth

We believe feedback is one of the great truths of teaching. Modern research, specifically the work of John Hattie, provides data to something every exemplary educator knows.  If feedback helps student grow the same holds true for teachers and administrators.


At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we base our models on modern research and common sense. We work with schools and states to build systems that increase the instructional capacity of teachers.


So if we want our students to grow we must help our faculty grow through high quality feedback.


We want your help in developing our model of increasing instructional feedback. We are seeking 6-10 public or private schools in India to take part in a formative design study.


Formative research starts with a pedagogical goal. We ask, “How best we can we help schools grow by increasing the capacity of administrators to deliver high quality feedback to teacher?” We then work together to identify the variables that help or hurt this goal.



We seek 6-10 schools across India to engage in this project with us. The schools can be of any size. You will have a small team or an individual willing to work with us.


We are international experts in school improvement through teacher evaluation. Patrick has worked with hundreds of schools across the globe. He successfully built ReVISION Learning Partnership. Greg received his PhD as a Neag Fellow at the New Literacies Research Lab at the University of Connecticut. He has experience working with Indian educators through his efforts as a Mozilla volunteer.


We will also be hiring a local project manager to help coordinate our efforts and be a partner you can trust throughout the project.



This project will focus on increasing the instructional capacity of teachers by coaching you or your staff to deliver high quality feedback about effective teaching.


This will be driven by a professional learning community built on our talent development platform, ReVIEW Talent Feedback System.



We hope to begin the project in August with remote planning meetings. We will then pilot instruments in September through October and begin classroom observations and coaching in November and December. We will wrap up the project within six months.



We will gather remotely through video conferences for bi monthly check in meetings. All of our training materials and data will be collected in our talent development platform ReVIEW Talent Feedback System.


Talent development is something you do. It can not be a plan done to you. We seek partners in India because we know their is a national focus on teacher quality. We hope to take the lessons we have learned over the past decade observing over 7500 teachers and sharing these with you.


We will begin by collecting baseline data about your school. We will never sell or share any of your information. You will also own all of the data you share with us and can delete it any time.


We will then meet over video conferences with partnering schools to develop a framework for effective teaching. We will create an open source rubric that captures quality education. Each school will be able to reuse or remix our rubrics. You can also bring your own.


Participants will then have the option to complete a series of online modules designed to help you improve your evaluation skills and learn to coach for growth through high quality feedback.


We will then meet as a group and develop the evaluation forms you need. Again these will all be open source. We will create forms such as teacher goal setting, classroom observations, mid year reflections, and end of the year reflections.


You will then begin to observe teachers. After you submit your report our coaches will provide tips on how to improve your high quality feedback.


We will continue to gather as a professional learning community and identify the factors that help our teachers grow.


To Learn More

 If you would like to be considered for this research opportunity please reach out to Greg at [email protected] system and he will let you know more about the application process.

The ReVIEW Team

Speak Up: Your Teachers Want the Feedback

4 min read

Speak Up global flickr photo by speakupglobal shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Mr. Daniels always wondered how his administrator, a former elementary school teacher with a background in literacy, could ever evaluate his teaching. After all, he taught AP Physics, and felt the only fair way to judge his teaching would be by another content area expert.

At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we worked with Mr. Daniels and his administrator to realize if you turn to the experts that were in the room, the students, an evaluator can find evidence of not only great teaching but great learning.

Evaluators need to speak up.

After working with us Mr. Daniel's administrator, Dr. Akahmi, began to ask students questions. As Patrick notes, "Open you mouth and talk with students to truly discern what they are learning and how deeply they are learning it!"

Dr. Akahmi asked a student to explain to her how motion works under constant acceleration. As a former first grade teacher she did know but Mr. Daniels had explained they would need this knowledge moving forward in the lesson. The student was then able to not only write down expressions for velocity and position as functions of time but also made a few sketches. As an evaluator Dr. Akahmi new deep learning had occurred.

Evaluators should never sit in the back of the room hiding behind a laptop taking laborious notes. Instead get involved with the learning. Some critics complain that there may not be time or opportunity for this type of interaction. If this is the case, that a period goes by with no time for dialogue, then that in itself is indicative of the quality of teaching.

Also feel free to provide just in time coaching to teachers you observe. We only choose partners who see talent development as a capacity building program and not a compliance task with loads of paperwork to complete.

Some of the best schools we work with do not even use forms for formal and informal observations. They do quarterly summaries inside of ReVIEW Talent Feedback System, but time in the classroom focuses on coaching.

When they return to their office they jot down a few notes inside our App and save this information for their quarterly reviews.

How to coach your administrators to Speak Up

At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we encourage you to train your evaluators to talk to students.

First begin with the stated or posted learning objectives. Have your team describe what it would look like for students to truly understand what it would mean to be able to explain mastery, why they are learning the material, or what success would look like if the teacher is using new content. The easiest way to do this is have students teach the evaluator.

Next have your staff examine your framework for effective teaching. Choose an indicator or attribute. Brainstorm what questions an evaluator could ask the student or the teacher that would provide evidence of effective teaching against this attribute. Finally have the team then describe example of evidence against the scales of that indictator or attribute. So, for example, what questions could you ask a student to gather information that a task required "high cognitive demand" what would those answers sound like at the developing or effective level?

Want to learn more about how to use ReVIEW Talent Feedback System in your school or about our partnerships to increase evaluator effectiveness? Reach out to Greg at [email protected]

In line image credit: "X is for...340/365" flickr photo by AndYaDontStop shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The ReVIEW Team

Making the Web a Better Place

3 min read

Mad World flickr photo by Sabbian Paine shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

The web has shifted the way we live. A knowledge economy has emerged. This means we need new feature releases in our teachers. Future ready simply means everyone can read, write, and participate on the web. 

As the web matures forces begin to gather power and influence. For the web to  unleash a new wave of knowledge and opportunity across the globe we must act. Not only does open web need advocates but we must ensure that opportunities on the web do not get concentrated in a few countries. As a society we must fight for the rural villager, the urban poor, and the average citizen.

ReVIEW Talent Feedback System wishes to congratulate Greg for being selected as one of fifty people in tmost fighting for a better web across the globe. Mozilla selected Greg McVerry, co-founder of ReVIEW Talent Feedback, along with 49 other people as influencers within the Mozilla Network.

The Mozilla Networks represent the decentralized efforts of staff and thousands of volunteers advocating for a healthier internet.

Mozilla writes of Greg:

Greg McVerry is an Ed-Tech entrepreneur, teacher, and digital inclusion advocate. He works as an Associate Professor of Education at Southern Connecticut State University. He has been active in the internet health movement as a Club Captain and a technical contributor. He is a member of our first cohort of "Network50.”

Greg drives the Internet health mission forward through his contributions as a participation lead, Mozilla Club Captain, curriculum tester, and Thimble champion. As a teacher, Greg naturally thinks about how our tools and curriculum will be received by learners. His thoughtful feedback about how Thimble is used in learning contexts helped us make important decisions about the user experience, the feature set, and the curricular content. He has been an active tester of our curriculum and has made valuable contributions, helping to increase the overall quality. He has taken many of the principles mentioned above into an Ed-Tech startup he founded to create technologies that develop the instructional capacity of teachers. Finally, Greg is one of the most active network members in Github, demonstrating a strong commitment to working and learning in the open.

Having someone like Greg on our team has helped to ensure students remain the central focus of ReVIEW Talent Feedback System. Greg has organized learning events in India, helped to shape Thimble, Mozilla's online code editor and mentored dozens of leaders across the globe..

The ReVIEW Team

To Observe You Must Open Your Eyes

2 min read

Classroom flickr photo by Patrick Q shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license


Shut the laptop. Stop Scripting. Good teacher evaluation does not revolve around capturing every word. Instead you have to use evidence to paint a picture of teacher effectiveness. The data you use require more than dialogue.

Artifact Review

A classroom has rich evidence hanging on the walls. How a teacher uses this space gives many clear indicators to learning. Granted this approach does favor elementary teachers who often have greater control of their classroom but their students often need the greatest visual support in foundational learning.

You can even in a "Classroom on Wheels" use artifacts to observe teachers.

No matter the grade level or how much control the teacher has over their space you can review products and deliverables that move the needle on student learning.

What to look For?

Wrong question. You need to ask what are the ongoing behaviors in the teacher and the student if that teacher is effective? Then you must ask how would these manifest in the artifacts around the room.

This could include a semantic feature analysis map in high school social studies, a cognate cheat sheet in Spanish II, Anchor charts in 3rd grade, and word walls in Kindergarten. You have classroom libraries, school and classroom policy posters, desk arrangements. Most importantly student work.

How to Train Your Staff

Every administrator must build the coaching capacity of your staff. We need instructional leaders not building managers trying to squeeze in every observation. 

First choose an indicator. Then have faculty brainstorm what artifact evidence they could  collect that aligns to this indicator.

Want to Learn More?

At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we built a platform that makes artifact evidence easy to collect and anaylze. We also have partnership deals to help provide the training your faculty need. 

Email Greg at [email protected] to learn more.


The ReVIEW Team

Build Better Teachers Together

1 min read

Teamwork flickr photo by Crossroads Foundation Photos shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Foundations will fall if you do not forge partnerships. At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we find increasing instructional capacity no different. We must work together.

Our mission of increasing the effectiveness of teachers begins by creating a culture of feedback. We believe that a focus on evaluator capacity through the training of discrete skills leads to better educators.

When administrators create the space for reflection and have training and delivering high quality feedback your school with see growth in teachers.

Tough budgetary times have brought the need to collaborate on talent development more into focus. So we curated a learning experience in partnership with Amplify's Personal Learning Maps, ReVISION Learning Partnership, and ReVISION Online Learning.

Together the four of us have come together to provide a set of packages designed to improve how your administrators observe, evaluate, and coach teachers. The different price points meets the need of any budget while providing you with rich data on the quality of your talent development protocols. 

You can learn more about the low cost yet comprehensive solutions by reviewing a detailed description here

The ReVIEW Team

Using Standards to Help Guide Coaching

4 min read


We find the posting of standards and objectives meaningless in most classrooms. You must look much deeper if you coach faculty and staff on the delivery of teaching aligned to standards used in school.

Students need to understand what success looks like and reflect on their growth towards grade level expectations. Teachers should open class with a brief description of where the class has been and where they are going.

Learners should articulate how the learning objectives fit in long term unit goals.

Beyond noting how teachers set the context of learning you must also observe practice. In order to coach for standards based teaching you must provide teachers with the tips they need to make the instructional shifts required in your school's standards. The lessons they deliver should reflect the rigor embedded in the standards.

In English Language Arts, for example, you need move beyond posting an objective and look for the quality of texts, the task, and the questions educators use. The you need to apply these tasks to ensure ALL students make progress to towards the targeted learning goals.

Quality of Text

Literacy involves the act of decoding and encoding meaning on the world through a growing wealth of agency and knowledge.

We ignore lexile levels. Okay, that's a little strong. At ReVIEW we just favor everyone reading texts of choice on their own and sharing in challenging texts together. In fact in the classrooms we observe lexile levels have lead to a lowering of expectations with many classrooms using digital tools to "find the correctly leveled text" which results in many students reading far below grade level. Lower grade levels equate "guided reading or reader's workshop" with "just right instructional texts."  Instead look for the qualitative elements (if teachers control the text being used) of the choice.

More importantly look for lessons that require the use of multiple texts. Even in the youngest grades high quality lessons either use or draw upon linkages to multiple texts.

Text Based Analysis

Standards based teaching in the language arts classroom requires students to pay attention to specific structures, concepts, and evidence. When observing teachers look for evidence that the tasks require students to frequently return to a text to build an answer. Make sure success on the task requires evidence from the text.

The tasks should also help students build academic vocabulary. Look for the ways teachers incorporate syntax and new words into the tasks they create. They need to support students in their word study.

Educators should also sequence their tasks to support comprehension. A scaffold should exist that requires students to dive deeper and deeper into the text and society.

Text Based Discussion

Whether you are discussing a dance, a movie, a website, or a classic novel  standards based lessons in English language arts revolve around text based discussions.

As an evaluator you should observe for discourse patterns. Is the teacher talking more than the students. How many follow up questions to educators ask? Do students challenge, critique, and build off each other?

The questions teachers ask should require students to cite evidence from the class. In classes taught by great teachers students use evidence from the text to challenge each other.

You should also look to see if the discussions require students to integrate academic vocabulary. Word study means nothing if you never apply new knowledge and syntax.

We need to ensure every student can read and discuss the text required in standards based learning.

Involving All Students

Effective teachers provide all students a chance to demonstrate their knowledge growth. Too often teachers do not turn to content when differentiation. Look for educators who know the next grade level band up and down on any given standards. Do they use the actual knowledge and skills required to meet the needs of all students or simply assign more or less work.

In a classroom with  effective teachers students show persistence in continuing to return to the text when engaging in the learning materials. 

Students will also build on the work of other's while also demonstrating independence on the task. This type of "strategy exchange" is a key look for when supporting educators and classrooms.


How We Can Help

Everyone needs to work together. We find Addressing the literacy needs of today's youth too  important an issue to tackle alone. As a school administrator you can observe and coach your staff on specific "look-fors" that lead to growth.

If you want to learn more about working with us to improve how your team does evaluation and coaching email or find us at Twitter at @ReViewTalentFS