what are they learning and how do you know?

what’s going on?


Is this, perhaps, the most important question for new teachers? Not only are the students are learning, the teacher must have verifiable proof that they are learning. It seems like it would be useful to think of teaching like a scientific experiment. What am I teaching them? What is the procedure? What observations and data do I need? Was my lesson good?  Continue onward!


Now that I am left to my own devices while my master teacher is off on an adventure, I need to be really serious about how I know the students are learning. Glazed over looks doesn’t count. Nodding heads doesn’t count. Projects count. Writing counts. Discussions? They help to inform, and there are standards on speaking, but for math, science, etc. I need more varied data.


This week I’ll be teaching a little of everything. I’m still teaching my SS unit dubbed American Foundations. I’ll be teaching small groups literacy. I’ll be teaching math (and observed again!). I’ll be doing morning and afternoon routines. By golly, I’ll be doing almost everything, but that’s just the way the week will work out. For SS, last week I collected good data using a MCT and discussion. That will help me plan this week. For math, I’m a little lost because of the week on/week off schedule. What are we learning? Geometry. What exactly? I’ll find out. For literacy, we’ll be following a direct instruction model with a gradual release of responsibility. That means the students will have to show me (written?) that they can do the task (drawing conclusions). It’ll be a busy week, especially with finals. I’ll just have to take it day by day.

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5 thoughts on “what are they learning and how do you know?

  1. Your comment about proof made me think about last week and my CT being gone the whole week. She left me and the substitute with lesson plans to follow, and for the most part the students learned what they were supposed to. Yet, there was one science lesson that did not go as well. We are currently working through a lesson on flight. For class last Wednesday, the students were going to watch a video about possible missions to Mars. The video was informative, but I did not set the students up to think critically about the information presented to them. I did not ask them to pay attention to anything in particular, which I think hindered their ability to focus on all the information presented to them. I began wondering how could I have assessed what students learned by watching this video? How could I show that they actually learned something? That will be something to ponder for future lessons.
    Good luck with your teaching this week!

  2. It is the question to end all questions isn’t it? Boy, teaching would be so much simpler if we didn’t have to think about making sure the students learned something. When we speak of teachers being professionals, I think this is one of those things that we should point to. It sounds like you are being very thoughtful in ensuring that you are taking consistent assessments and taking what your students learned to inform your teaching for next time.
    Yikes, thinking about doing this when we are teaching full-time, for every lesson, sounds exhausting! But, like you said, we just take it day by day. We are adaptable like your racoons. Quite crafty.

  3. […] posts, here and here, show my growth as a blogger, because they started a conversation. The latter post is the […]

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