In the first part of our series on Academic Discussion, we unpacked the critical balance between teacher inputs and student outputs to measure the effectiveness of student discussion. Specifically, the PAR formula below provides meaningful guidance to ensure student impact is measured.
Participation: Did all scholars have an opportunity to engage in discussion?
Achievement: Did scholars move towards mastery of learning expectations throughout the course of the discussion?
Rigor: Did scholars meet or exceed the academic expectation with a grade-level response?
So how do we support teachers in creating the conditions for meaningful student output, as measured by high levels of engagement and mastery of grade-level content? Teachers need and deserve clear and specific planning support, and leaders need to create set-aside professional development and planning time to engage teachers in building muscle. Most important, they need a common tool to guide the best practice of Academic Discussion.
This Academic Discussion Checklist does just that. It provides a roadmap broken into four central components:
- Teacher Actions – the inputs needed from the teacher, starting with the direction for the question, and ending with the stamping of the exemplar response.
- Student Actions – the outputs that reflects students’ response to the thinking question, as well as the students’ response to the discussion itself.
- Strategy Used – the method for engaging students in discussion, virtual or otherwise.
- Student Outcomes – the quantitative measurements of student engagement throughout the discussion.
As we’ve engaged teachers and leaders in the use of this checklist, we’ve seen powerful and impactful strategies for internalization and execution. Some ideas below:
- Engage staff in an Academic Discussion PD series, focused on modeling components of the teacher actions listed on the checklist, then providing time to reflect on effectiveness, and then ensuring space for planning and practice.
- Leverage the checklist with the school leadership team to support norming and calibration of classroom walks.
- Use the checklist to support individual coaching; let the checklist drive the affirming teacher actions and the student impact as a result, and engage the teacher in an action step from the checklist to work on next.
Regardless of how it’s used specifically, the power of this checklist lies in how it’s brought to life through internalization, planning and practice – with a focus on student outputs as the central measure of its success.
This is Part 2 of a two-part series. Find Part 1 here.
By Meaghan Loftus, M.Ed., Partnership Manager, Associate, CT3