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STUDENT LEARNING

C1. STANDARDS-BASED STUDENT LEARNING: INSTRUCTION

 

All students are involved in challenging learning experiences to achieve the academic standards and the Expected School-Wide Learning Results.

 

Standard and ESLR based Instruction

One of MorseHigh School’s instructional points of emphasis is to actively engage all students in challenging, supportive learning experiences. All courses are standards based and daily instruction supports the state content standards related to each course. Teachers reference the standards as they pertain to daily objectives and lessons and design units of study to emphasize the most important standards.  In addition to the state standards, MorseHigh School’s Expected School-Wide Learning Results (ESLRs) are also incorporated into the instruction provided by all teachers. The ESLRs are posted in every classroom and guide the instruction in all subject areas. In fact, all teachers assign projects or assignments that allow students to exemplify their mastery of these ESLRs throughout each semester.

 

Focus on Implementing Critical Thinking Strategies

An ongoing expectation of all teachers is to provide differentiated instruction on a daily basis.  During the 2009-2010 school year MorseHigh School emphasized rigor in the classroom by implementing writing strategies school wide. All teachers were expected to facilitate a rigorous learning environment focused on the state standards and the ESLRs with an emphasis on writing across all disciplines. Moving forward into the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years, the emphasis has been refined from rigor in the classroom to critical thinking. One of Morse’s school-wide focus strategies is centered on critical thinking, one of our ESLRs. All teachers engage their students in a manner that develops, fosters and advances their critical thinking skills. All teachers were trained in critical questioning during teacher preparation days prior to the start of the school year. Teachers were encouraged to share methods they had planned to implement critical questioning within their content areas.  Furthermore, Dr. Enoch Hale, a Fellow at the Foundation and Center for Critical Thinking, provided a one-day training session open to all core content teachers. This session included specific teaching strategies which promoted critical thinking by students. As a follow up process to help teachers implement these strategies, administrators provide release time for teachers to observe their peers. Several teachers participate in classroom observations within and outside their subject area in order to observe students engaged in various critical thinking activities. Teachers share feedback about the modes of critical thinking they observed while visiting the classrooms and gather ideas to provide more opportunities to engage students to think critically in their own classrooms.

 

Resources Teachers in Math and English Classes

Another component that has enabled Morse to provide challenging learning experiences for the students of MorseHigh School is the incorporation of resource teachers in mathematics and English language arts classes. Resource teachers allow for greater flexibility in planning lessons which ensures consistently high levels of instruction and provides extra assistance and instruction to students who need additional support. Additionally, the math and English language resource teachers assist teachers with the creation of common assessments. They scan student responses in DataDirector in order to analyze student performance in a timely manner and enable core content teachers to reteach key standards where students were not scoring proficient.

 

Emphasis on the Co-Teaching Model

At Morse we also emphasize the co-teaching model in several core content areas where a Special Education teacher is partnered with a general education teacher. Co-teachers in core classrooms enhance the learning of special education and general education students by using multiple strategies to meet the needs of students of all learning modalities. Co-teachers work together to assess students and make adjustments to the instruction based on student necessity. Co-teachers provide support through techniques such as small group instruction, use of visual representations and critical questioning. In most cases co-teachers share in delivering instruction and both provide timely feedback to all students in the classroom, allowing students to benefit from different teaching styles. An additional adult in the classroom helps both instructors refine the lessons and monitor student progress regularly.

 

Fostering Self-Monitoring of Learning Progress

Morse High School’s students are provided with multiple opportunities to track their learning progress in order to become independent learners. In addition to receiving grades at the conclusion of each six-week grading period, students may also regularly check their grades and progress using Zangle StudentConnect. Their parents may use a similar program, Zangle ParentConnect. Students can also work with their core content teachers to monitor their progress towards proficiency on standards based quizzes. The Core content areas (English, math, science, history and world languages) began administering CST-style quizzes starting in the 2009-2010 school year. These quizzes are administered every modified Wednesday and are common to each content area. Student responses are scanned into DataDirector and teachers use the results to alter their instruction based on the level of student mastery of the standards-based questions. Several teachers share data results with students and encourage them to practice the standards through re-teaching. Some instructors incorporate these CST quiz scores into their grades and offer incentives for student improvement.  The first year the CST quizzes were administered Morse’s API score rose from 667 to 701.

 

Rigorous Course Offerings and Emphasis on College-Readiness

Morse High School offers college preparatory courses to all students which meet the A-G requirements of the UC and CSU systems.  There are many challenging and engaging classes from which to choose. Currently, Morse offers a total of 19 AP, Honors, and Advanced courses. In addition, 12th grade students may take a political science course offered by MesaCollege on our campus with the opportunity to earn college credit. During an annual articulation process, students choose the courses which will best serve and challenge them with guidance from their counselors.  Counselors meet individually with students to review course offerings that will help them achieve their post-secondary goals. MorseHigh School emphasizes college readiness, and encourages a course of study which will best prepare individual students for their postsecondary education and career choices.  Also, the classes of 2012 and 2013 have been supported by GEAR UP, a discretionary grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education; therefore, many of them have been programmed in the most challenging courses we offer in order to prepare them for college. Besides, GEAR UP has increased the number of college ready students on our campus by paying for students to take the PSAT and has encouraged more students to access fee waivers through the College Board.

 

Since all Morse classes are college preparatory, all students are provided a challenging learning experience that is standards driven. Students are aware of the expectations of each class they take.  All teachers issue their students a course syllabus which clearly details the course description and expectations. This year, Morse teachers have also made their course syllabi available on their teacher page on the Morse website. Teachers also post daily objectives and agendas in their classrooms so that all students can clearly see each day’s instructional purpose and the ESLRs that will be addressed throughout the lesson.

 

 

 

·        ESLRs posters

·        Sample teacher posted agendas

·        Student projects addressing ESLRs

 

 

 

 

 

·        Critical thinking lesson plans

·        Agenda from Critical thinking professional development

·        Student observation forms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        Resource teachers’ schedule/calendar

·        Sample DataDirector reports

·        Lesson plans

 

 

 

 

 

·        Co-teaching schedule

·        Lesson plans

·        Graphic organizers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        Student Connect Reports

·        Sample student DataDirector report

·        CST quizzes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        Morse Course catalog with course descriptions

·        UC approved course list

·        Articulation student schedule planning cards

·        GEAR UP calendar of events

·        Sample course syllabi from core content areas

·        Teacher web pages

 

 

C2. STANDARDS-BASED STUDENT LEARNING: INSTRUCTION

 

All teachers use a variety of strategies and resources, including technology and experiences beyond the textbook and the classroom that actively engage students, emphasize higher order thinking skills and help them succeed at high levels.

 

Easing the Transition into High School

All freshmen are offered the opportunity to partner with mentor seniors and select juniors called Link Crew leaders.  Link Crew is group of upper classmen who mentor underclassmen by supporting them in the transition into high school by offering campus tours, giving advice about which courses to take and by informing them about all the clubs and organizations on campus. Morse values our Link Crew because they help freshmen become part of our community which sets them up for success in their academic and extracurricular lives.

 

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated instruction is expected of all teachers at MorseHigh School. The makeup and diversity of Morse, including the varying levels of English language proficiencies, demand a differentiated approach to teaching and learning. Teachers use a variety of strategies in their teaching such as small group instruction, jigsaw activities and Socratic seminars to address all learning modalities within their lessons. Several teachers also use scaffolding, journals, note-taking strategies and discussion boards to encourage student-centered instruction that allows students to engage in independent learning. There is an ongoing emphasis on data-driven instruction and this has helped teachers provide more individualized instruction for students not meeting standards. Beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, teachers have been trained in and encouraged to use DataDirector. All of the core departments discuss student data from these exams and strategize ways to help underperforming students. This has led to improved data analysis and as a result, teachers are revising their lessons to support students. 

 

Increased Use of Technology

Additionally, there has been a sustained increase in the use of technology to support and actively engage students. Of particular note is the i21 upgrade that has been occurring for the last three years and will continue beyond the current school year until 100% of the classrooms have received an upgrade. As this upgrade unfolds, each classroom is being equipped with: a Promethean interactive whiteboard, a class set of wireless netbooks, a surround sound system, complete with teacher microphone and a document camera.  All of these upgrades in the Math and English classes have allowed for greater student involvement and engagement in the classroom and have provided more opportunities for student-centered activities in these classrooms. Students use netbooks for learning activities such as completing standards-based research and preparing multi-media presentations.  Student access to netbooks has enabled them to work towards mastery of the ESLRs and content standards in a more efficient manner that will enable them to enhance their technological skills as well.

 

Other technology which is in use at MorseHigh School includes: Learning Upgrade, Language Assessment Skills (LAS) Links, Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS), and Rosetta Stone. All of these are available to provide additional, technology based opportunities for students to receive support in core subject areas, particularly mathematics and English language arts.  The programs are designed to be engaging to students, while providing opportunities to enhance the instruction they receive from teachers in the classroom. These individualized programs foster independent learning and provide additional standards-based instruction during the school day.

 

Postsecondary Preparation

Morse High School also offers a choice of courses geared towards engaging and challenging students while helping them explore postsecondary options. Morse offers robotics, computer graphics, engineering, computer science, AVID and several ROP courses. The ROP programs offers hands on experience in specific career areas. These courses include the Hungry Tiger (Culinary Arts), Tiger Paw (Auto Body), and Child Development. 

 

Hungry Tiger students learn both culinary skills and job experience. The Hungry Tiger is a licensed restaurant and catering business. Their hands-on experience enables students to learn professionalism and feel prepared to pursue a career in Culinary Arts. Through State Farm Insurance and Ford, Auto Body students are afforded the opportunity for off-campus internships as well. Students experience the technical side of repairing automobiles and have the opportunity to explore careers in the insurance industry. Morse Child Development students learn strategies to meet the needs of all students and get real-world experience at a community elementary school and the Morse Preschool. They design and implement lessons and as a result, they learn the skills necessary to become educators.

 

Every course on campus incorporates our ESLRs and includes lessons that emphasize critical thinking, problem solving and communicating effectively. It is expected that all instructors on campus integrate the ESLRs within every unit of study. 

 

All students are encouraged to volunteer for community service. In particular, 12th grade students are required to perform a minimum of 30 hours of community service or plan and execute a service-based project requiring at least 30 hours to facilitate. By emphasizing a connection to our local community organizations and career exploration options, Morse students become more prepared to enter a career in the 21st century. 

 

Data-Driven Instruction

Teachers at MorseHigh School analyze student work to inform instruction in a variety of ways. Home groups use professional development to create and examine the results of common site and district assessments. These assessments include, but are not limited to: projects, end of unit exams, skill assessments, benchmarks and end of course exams. With the implementation of DataDirector, teachers receive immediate feedback on student progress towards mastery of the content standards.  Teachers may also use DataDirector to create standard-based exams that can be shared with other teachers in the school and in the district. Student scores that are recorded in DataDirector remain permanently, and can be accessed when necessary. Teachers also use DataDirector and Zangle to retrieve pertinent student information like: California English Language Development Test (CELDT) scores, EL proficiency, transcripts and performance levels on state, district, or other common assessments which helps them gauge how to best design lessons that meet students at their performance level.

 

Professional Development focused on Improving Instruction

Teachers at MorseHigh School are in the practice of observing students and the instruction they receive in other classes, both inside and outside their own content area.  It is a school-wide expectation that all teachers participate in this observation process. This allows teachers to see the differentiation of instruction which occurs campus-wide, the critical thinking skills required of the students, and any teaching practices they may want to incorporate in their own classrooms.  Teachers also examine student work from all core disciplines to gauge the levels of instruction and critical thinking required of the students at Morse and share conversations with teachers in other disciplines.

Teachers are encouraged to attend professional development which will strengthen their instruction.  In the core content areas, teachers are encouraged to take two release days per semester in order to work with the other teachers on their content teams. During these release days, teams analyze student performance data, create common assessments and rubrics, and share best teaching practices. As the i21 implementation continues to unfold, teachers are trained to use the equipment and software, in particular the Promethean board and the Active Inspire software that provides an interactive experience for students. Teachers also are trained to use their class sets of netbooks and the Active Expression software which links the netbooks with the Promethean board.  In addition to district provided i21 training, several teachers have also participated in Quality Teaching for English Learners (QTEL) training which emphasizes methods of differentiated instruction focused on helping English language learners. The strategies can be used to improve instruction for all students.   Most Morse AP, Honors and Advanced teachers are GATE Certified and have participated in AP training. We continue to build our own professional development on campus through working in interdisciplinary school improvement groups on Modified Wednesdays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        Link Crew description

·        Link Crew agendas

 

 

 

 

 

·        Group project rubrics and assignment descriptions

·        Lesson plans

·        Student work samples

·        DataDirector reports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        Student work samples

·        Student NetBooks

·        Flip charts

·        Student projects and multi-media presentations

·        Learning Upgrade reports (ESL, Math)

·        LAS Links data (ESL)

·        ALEKS data

·        Rosetta Stone Progress Reports (ESL)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        Course descriptions and program brochures

·        Student work samples demonstrating he ESLRs

·        Community service forms

·        Senior Portfolio requirements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        Home group minutes/agendas

·        DataDirector reports

·        Student projects

·        End of Course exams

·        Benchmarks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        Student Observation form

·        Staff survey results

·        Release day notes

·        Professional development listed by department

 

 

 

Areas of Strength

·        Increased technology in classrooms and on campus

·        Objectives and expectations posted in classrooms

·        Increased use of DataDirector and common assessments

·        Increased use of differentiated instruction with an emphasis on critical thinking

·        Several teachers use their teacher page on the Morse website

·        All students and parents have access to Student Connect and Parent Connect

 

Areas for Improvement:

·        Common course expectations, grading scales, and syllabi

·        Increased opportunities for relevant professional development

Continue to improve instruction by incorporating more critical thinking strategies