How to Observe a Class by fdh56iuoui

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									How to Observe a Class
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I. HOW TO CAPTURE DATA ABOUT WHAT MATTERS MOST

Purpose of an observation:
1. To determine if the students are successfully learning, and if the learning is appropriate for
what they need to learn.

2. To determine what the influence of teacher decisions and actions is on student learning.

3. To determine which students are receiving the three critical messages about their capacity.

What exactly is the task the students are asked to do? Examine what the students are actually
doing at their desks or tables. The verbs you use to answer this question (as opposed to the verbs
that may be written in the objective) are telling, because some of these verbs indicate a demand
for students to think, to problem solve, or be able to strive to understand the relationship between
things, and others don’t call for much thinking or learning at all. You can clearly tell which fall
in which category:

Explain                                   copy
Compare and contrast                      listen
Summarize                                 read
Re-tell                                   find
Analyze                                   record


Are the students able to do the task successfully? Assess by direct observation if students are
able to do the tasks, and if not, what exactly they are struggling with.

Sit between and among, or at least close to students so you can see what students are writing and
hear what they are saying to one another (if applicable.)

What errors are they making? What gaps, misconceptions or missing prior knowledge are
interfering with the students doing the tasks? Quick-read or quick-do the tasks the students
are being asked to do to see what is required of the students.

You have to look over shoulders at what students are doing, and perhaps interview them about
their thinking to answer this question. Make students’ thinking visible by asking students who
are working on tasks how they are thinking about it, especially if they are struggling. Ask what
they did first, what they are going to do next, why they have done some step or response that you
notice is wrong or in the wrong direction.

Write down student quotes or what students are writing as evidence to show the nature of student
errors or struggle or of student success. Alternative: take a picture of their work with your i-
phone.

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       Research for Better Teaching, Inc. • One Acton Place,
Acton, MA 01720 • (978)263-9449 • www.rbteach.com
What is the teacher doing to deal with these gaps, misconceptions, or missing prior
knowledge? In addition to listening to whole class dialog for “checking for understanding,” and
re-teaching, you have to follow the teacher around and listen in on conversations with
individuals and small groups to answer this question.


What is the most worthwhile learning objectives(s) available in the materials the students
are using (the text; the problems; the equipment; the experience?) What should be lifted
for highlighting and long-term learning?
Examine the materials the students are engaged with and hypothesize the most worthy objectives
from this examination of the material


Do the students know what the objective is? Quick-interview students about what they’re
learning, what terms mean, what strategies they are using


What is the objective supposed to be given the curriculum being followed? You have to have
access to the curriculum guide to answer this.

Is doing the activity or task the students are doing likely to lead to learning the learning
they are supposed to be learning? Do the activity yourself, or a little bit of it, to see it the
answer to this questions is “yes.”


What is the impact of teacher planning on how the learning is proceeding?


What is the impact of teacher decisions on how the learning is proceeding?
Your literal notes on class dialog are where you go for these connections.

What is the impact of teacher interactive moves during the class on how the learning is
proceeding? Your literal notes on class dialog are where you go for these answers too.
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II. GENERIC SKILLS TO DEVELOP:
Be able to take detailed literal notes including
   • literal dialog from teachers and from students
   • time notations that show how long the different activity chunks and transitions took

Capture sufficient literal data about teacher-student interaction to be able to do a balanced
analysis of salient events in C, E, I format (i.e., a balance of Claims, Evidence, and Impact
statements.)

Capture teacher moves and dialog with students that are evidence of connection between teacher
behavior and student learning.

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       Research for Better Teaching, Inc. • One Acton Place,
Acton, MA 01720 • (978)263-9449 • www.rbteach.com
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OTHER DATA TO GATHER:
Scan the charts, diagrams and models that are on the walls. Are they current? Are they
academically relevant? Most of all, are they useful to students in remembering of guiding how to
do something?

On a diagram of the class, write down the patterns of who is called on, who responds, and how
the teacher responds to the students’ answers.

Note what artifacts in the room are evidence of routines, e.g., a triple ring binder where each
day a students records homework assignments and class notes for absent kids to use for catch-up
when they come back to class.

Follow a teacher around and listen in on conversations with individuals and small groups when
the teacher is asked for help, or volunteers with tips, corrections, or questions.

Note the movement of the teacher and which students get attention and what kind of attention.

Record examples of feedback you see on student work from the teacher. (You may have to look
in folders or notebooks for this.)




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       Research for Better Teaching, Inc. • One Acton Place,
Acton, MA 01720 • (978)263-9449 • www.rbteach.com

								
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