Teacher Casebook Roundtable: A GCTE19 Reflection

Six of the original case writers for the Teacher Casebook interact during a roundtable at GCTE

The Georgia Council of Teachers of English (GCTE) annual conference once again re-energized and rejuvenated me as another spring semester begins. I love this conference for many reasons, but none more important to me than the conversations I have with fellow teachers outside of the school setting. The conference reminds me every year how much I take for granted teacher discourse across contexts and experiences, which is so valuable and energizing to my own practice.

This year Nick Thompson and I conducted a roundtable discussion with six of our original case writers for the Teacher Casebook project we launched just a few weeks ago. Inside the post is my reflection of the experience and what we hope are the next steps in the project.

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See You @ GCTE 2019!

If you’re in Brasstown Bald this weekend for the Georgia Council of Teachers of English annual conference, be sure to come find me.

I’ll be facilitating our first ever roundtable for the Teacher Casebook on Friday at 1:00PM.

Saturday, I will help facilitate the second year of “The Future is Now” roundtable where preservice teachers share their experiences and research during student-teaching.

I look forward to catching up with many and enjoying some much needed, personalized PD!

See You @ JoLLE 2019!

The University of Georgia is holding their annual Journal of Language and Literacy Education (JoLLE) this Saturday, and my co-creator and friend, Nick Thompson, will be presenting on The Teacher Casebook project.

Here’s our info on the session in case you are going to be there:

Breakout Sessions 1, Saturday, 9:35 – 10:25 am

The Case for Teacher Case Reports: Connecting Teacher Experiences to Teacher Research

Kyle Jones (Gwinnett County Public Schools) & Nick Thompson  (The University of Georgia)

Keywords: Teacher Case Report, Education Research, Teacher Writing, Professional Development

Abstract: Teachers can feel their experiences in classrooms and schools are isolated, unique, or disjointed from the experiences of others. Bringing educators’ stories and experiences into an open, public forum, this session introduces participants to teacher case report writing. These cases share teachers’ lived experiences in lesson planning, teaching, and relationships, couching these experiences in current education research. Participants will have an opportunity to write their own case and learn more about the ongoing project.

Introducing the Teacher Casebook

Today I get to let you in on a project that I have been working on with my friend Nick Thompson (The University of Gerogia) for the last several months. The project is the Teacher Casebook, a website that will act almost as an academic journal in the public sphere, inviting current classroom teachers to share their experiences through writing case reports to share with the world.

The project is inspired by the work Shulman and Colbert (1988) conducted in the late 80s/early 90s where student teachers and mentor teachers wrote case reports that reflected on their instructional practices and relationships in the schoolhouse. Their work, coupled with discussions with friends and family who are in professions outside of education, is our catalyst!

The Teacher Casebook seeks to build a repository of teachers’ stories that are concise, powerful narratives that are couched in current education research. The research component is what is most important about these case reports. Teachers discuss and even write about their experiences frequently, but how often do we look at those experiences through the lens of research and what the field says about our experiences. Consider the benefits of finding cases that speak to your own experiences–the realization you are not alone and there others concerned or experiencing the same or similar schoolhouse moments. Consider the benefit of seeing that there is research to speaks to those moments as well. Consider how case report writing and reading are similar to what professionals in the medical and law fields participate in writing and reading. Consider being able to read and digest this kind of writing in mere minutes!

Each case is limited to approximately 1,000 words and is identified as either an Instruction-Type Case (experiences related to lesson planning, classroom instruction, pedagogical moves) or Relationship-Type Case (experiences related to interactions with students, parents, colleagues, and communities at-large). Currently, there are only a few cases written and available, but the hope is to grow the collection and push beyond language arts teacher contributions, creating a public, digital space for educators to seek out and share experiences connected to one another.

If you want to take a look for yourself, here’s the web address:
https://teachercasebook.com

And here is a link directly to a case I wrote as an example:
https://www.teachercasebook.com/casebook/using-banksy-s-art-to-inspire-new-approaches-to-literacy-instruction

If you’re interested in writing a case and being part of the project, click here: https://www.teachercasebook.com/submission-guidelines

If you want to learn more about the project beyond the website, you have a chance to see me and Nick present the project at the JoLLE conference in Athens the first weekend of February as well as see a roundtable discussion with a few of our original case writers at GCTE in Brasstown Bald the second weekend of February.

I also invite you to tweet at me (@theprofjones) or email us at teachercasebook@gmail.com.

Please spread the word! If you know a teacher who would love this sort of opportunity, pass along the information and share, share, share! We are out to create another professional development opportunity empowered by teachers and the research that speaks to teaching experiences.

Shulman, J. H., Colbert, J. A., ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education, W. D., Far West Lab. for Educational Research and Development, S. C., & ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, E. O. (1988). The Intern Teacher Casebook.

Single-Point Rubrics = My New Obsession

Making a great rubric is hard, which is why I know many educators opt to find something pre-made they can change a bit to suit their needs or just try and use what they find as is. Rubrics require good backwards design skills and demand a teacher plans with intent, keeping the learner and focus of the learning in mind throughout the process. This means good rubric making, even if ripped from the internet, takes time, which can become disheartening the moment a teacher realizes the rubric falls short of his or her needs. Yet, a rubric can and should be a powerful feedback tool for student and teacher alike. The question, sometimes, is the juice worth the squeeze? How much time and energy can a teacher put into making (or finding) a great rubric? Recently, while on a mission to help my district’s career and technical education teachers with their rubric making, I came across the concept of the single-point rubric via Cult of Pedagogy contributor Jennifer Gonzalez while adventuring on Twitter. Truly, you can go to the link above and get all the information you need on what the rubric is and how you use it, so I will encourage you to visit Jennifer’s post directly.

I simply want to expand on its potential and specifically why this approach to making and using rubrics is powerful in our current standards-driven world of education.

Example of a Single-Point Rubric from Jennifer Gonzalez’s post in Cult of Pedagogy

The single-point rubric is particularly powerful for student goal-setting and self-reflection. As Jarene Fluckiger explains, “The single point rubric is an ethical tool to assist students with their responsibilities of goal setting and self-assessment of their own education.” The beauty lies in its simplicity and focus. Whereas holistic and analytical rubrics can be sprawling, jargon-filled, and light in feedback, the single-point rubric brings a student’s attention directly to what is classified as a proficient demonstration of knowledge or skill with room to provide feedback on where there is excellence and areas of growth. In essence this is easy to read and understand by both student and teacher, and more importantly it is a rubric a student can actually help create and self-monitor with.

Student goal setting is a powerful instructional practice that can feel elusive; I know it did for me at times. This style of rubric gives a practical and tangible means to have students set goals and track progress throughout any assignment in a class. For a teacher, it helps focus on the knowledge and skill needing to be assessed. While there is no limit to the number of criteria a teacher can include, the format of a single-point rubric tends to ask a teacher to be discerning about the criteria to be chosen.

The downside? Well, the rubric demands feedback and reflection, which certainly takes time to write and discuss. But really why even use a rubric if not to help aid and monitor the growth of knowledge and skills where feedback is imperative to achievement? Think of the power in students reflecting on their work using this style rubric paired with the regular feedback a teacher could provide leading up to a finished and revised products.

If I’ve piqued your interest and you want to dabble in using the single-point rubric, click on the link at the beginning for Jennifer’s post where she offers a few downloadable templates. This style of rubric is absolutely the one I will be introducing to the teachers I work with going forward. My hope is to write a follow up post with a genuine review of how the use of the single-point rubric has panned out in my teachers’ classrooms. If you decide to use it in your own classroom, share your story and tweet at me (@theprofjones) or comment on the blog!

Happy rubric making!