How Can Tools for Teachers Foster High-leverage Classroom Discourse and Assessment Practices

Presenters will enlist audience’s help to expand their thinking about how a suite of Web-based tools that support ambitious forms of science teaching might be adapted for use beyond current research contexts and in more innovative ways. Classroom video of tool-supporting teaching will be shown. 

Date/Time: 
Thursday, December 2, 2010 - 8:30am to 9:45am
Product Feedback Session

How can tools for teachers foster high-leverage classroom discourse and assessment practices?

In this session, presenters enlist the audience’s help to expand their thinking about how tools for teaching are actually functioning in classroom settings, and how they might be adapted, customized, or used in more creative ways. The first set of tools created by the University of Washington’s Teacher Learning Trajectories project, are designed to support a more rapid transition from novice to expert-like pedagogical practice than is possible under common conditions of training and support. These expert-like capabilities are characterized in part by being able to (1) facilitate evidence-based reasoning in students through rigorous forms of inquiry in which they engage in the development, testing, revision, and application of scientific models, and (2) scaffold students—through classroom discourse and tasks—to construct evidence-based causal explanations for important scientific phenomena.

The primary resources for achieving these goals are three discourse tools that help teachers orchestrate valuable forms of classroom talk with and between students. Diagnoser Tools is the second system that will be described. Diagnoser Tools is a Web-delivered diagnostic assessment resource being developed by Facet Innovations, LLC, and collaborators including Seattle Pacific University. Each Diagnostic Unit spans a specific content sub-domain and comprises Learning Goals, Facet Cluster, Developmental Lesson, Diagnoser Question Sets, and Prescriptive Activities. The Learning Goals are aligned with national standards documents at the secondary level. The Facet Cluster describes the most prevalent student ideas (facets). Elicitation Questions bring to the fore many facets of student thinking, both productive and unproductive. Developmental Lessons are sets of activities that lead learners toward achieving the learning goals. Question Sets include multiple representations of a concept and are punctuated with distracters, each of which is mapped to a facet. The tools index specific facets to specific students. Prescriptive Activities for each problematic facet are activities that teachers may suggest to students with a specific diagnosed problematic facet. 

Presenters from each of the two projects will briefly describe the tool(s), the theory of action behind their design and use, and how research participants have taken up practices the tools intend to foster. Presenters then will each pose two of the most challenging issues they face with either the tools themselves or the tools-in-practice.  Presenters will distribute samples of the tools to audience members. After a few minutes, an interactive session will be held with posters around the room and video stations where more small-group interactions can occur. Here, presenters will seek comments, insights, and questions that challenge their thinking. With about 30 minutes left in the session, they will reconvene and allow audience members themselves to create a list of questions, ideas, and comments about the tools. They will conclude the session with group discussion about how they can collectively develop a theory of tool use for teachers to engage in more ambitious teaching.