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Instructional Focus

We will develop our students' critical thinking skills by explicitly modeling skills and strategies, providing differentiated tasks and activities daily, and aggressively monitoring student learning
We will develop our students' critical thinking skills through the explicit modeling of skills and strategies by providing differentiated tasks and activities daily.  Our classroom look fors will include turn and talks, stop and jots, connections to previous learning, graphic organizers and manipulatives, flexible groupings through the use of data, and tiered assignments and tasks.  
We will support individual growth by clearly communicating expectations that will develop autonomous learners.  This will build off of our previous work on articulating effective Learning Targets and feedback to students.  Additionally, teachers will implement a student goal setting and reflection protocol as one step in creating and maintaining learning environments that help students take charge of their own learning to navigate rigorous and developmentally appropriate learning tasks.
Teachers will develop shared expectations, norms and protocols for effective questioning and productive discussions, and engage in on-going progress-monitoring of student proficiency of reasoning skills in both written and verbal communication as measured by teacher created school wide learning progressions.
Our instructional focus will build on last year’s work.  Teachers will engage in on-going progress-monitoring of student proficiency in (short-response) writing, using a teacher-created (short response) learning progression scales and utilize appropriately challenging scaffolds to provide multiple entry points for students, in the development of these skills.
Our instructional focus will build on last year’s work.  We will question ourselves and each other on how we select and provide feedback for student writing utilizing articulated learning progressions.  Much of this work comes down to how we effectively communicate.  We must look very closely at how and what we say to students to maximize their learning, build their confidence and encourage them to be resilient.  We must look very closely at how and what we say to parents to communicate their child’s strengths and areas of improvement.  We must look very closely at how and what we say to each other to hold one another accountable to our shared values and commitment to our students and our own professional growth.  That old adage, “Actions speak louder than words,” will guide our practice this year. 
Our instructional focus for the 2013-2014 school year will be on argumentation in communication, specifically writing.

Students are engaging in units of instruction designed to help them create better arguments in their writing.  Last year, students demonstrated progress in citing evidence from the text to support their opinions.  To build on that work, we are helping students to enhance their ability to explain and connect evidence to their claim, determine the validity of their evidence, acknowledge counter claims and refute them. 

We have developed a learning progression that students will use to improve their arguments in ELA, Social Studies and Science.  In addition, one has been created and being refined for arguments in Mathematics.  The learning progressions will help give students clear next steps to improve their work so that their arguments are logical, supported by evidence and recognize and refute counter claims.  To do this, teachers meet in teams across grades and discipline to analyze student work, identify trends and gaps and determine next steps and develop action plans.

Help students ground their opinions, judgments and analyses in evidence from the text.