At the start of summer, Scott Rosenkranz, English Curriculum Coordinator at Fullerton Joint Unified High School District and CEO of OnCore Education, Inc., was faced with a challenge: he had 15 days spread over four weeks to cover one semester's worth of units for an English class.
Working with 36 students from grades 9-12 who did not pass their English classes during the school year, his goal for this targeted summertime intervention was simultaneously simple and staggering: growth for all students. For 33 of the students that completed the course, this goal was achieved. When measuring student progress against Scott's rubrics, the students increased one level in writing proficiency.
We spoke to Rosenkranz about these impressive results, and he shared the trifecta of teaching strategies and tools that made this summer's intervention one of the most effective he's ever conducted. Here's his recipe for summertime success.
1. Goal-Setting and Metacognition
Because Rosenkranz had limited time to bolster student achievement, it was crucial for students to have a clear goal in mind for what they would accomplish throughout the four weeks. To initiate these goal setting and the associated metacognitive activities, he started with a rubric containing descriptive statements about what incremental success and excellence looked like. Based on the rubric, Rosenkranz helped each student come up with a list of four or five goals that they were going to work towards.
He then designed lessons and activities around those goals and ensured that students understood the relationship between the goals and what they are doing in class. For instance, students read a series of affirmative statements and evaluated their current performance against the 1 to 5 scale and criteria outlined in the rubric. Only once students could demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the classroom exercises and their goals were they allowed to start writing.
2. OnCore Education App
After goal setting was complete, Rosenkranz scaffolded the reading and writing that students would do during the remainder of the course. Throughout a mix of direct instruction, group activities, and independent work he employed the OnCore app, his own creation (!!). Think of OnCore as a Swiss Army Knife for classroom productivity; it performs a multitude of functions to make instruction both more effective and easier, including ensuring that teachers are engaging 100% of their students equitably and student performance data.
The OnCore app provided an impressionistic assessment of how students were doing in the moment and let him know if and how to intervene. For example, imagine that Rosenkranz introduced a prompt about figurative language. Once he had demonstrated how to use figurative language, sensory imagery, and active verbs, he employed OnCore to help him equitably call on three or four students to share their attempts. Because OnCore ensures that students are randomly selected to participate, this gave Rosenkranz a temperature reading of the class's overall performance and let him know if he needed to reteach.
3. Revision Assistant
Once the students were armed with an understanding of their goals and the concrete activities they would perform to achieve them, Rosenkranz needed a tool that provided feedback with enough frequency and immediacy to help students work towards these goals in the given time frame. That's where Revision Assistant came into play. Rosenkranz found that Revision Assistant's automated comments and feedback altered the way that students thought about their writing. He identified immediately that the clean and straightforward user interface invited students to reflect on their writing over multiple drafts and iterations.
Rosenkranz utilized the Signal Check feature in Revision Assistant over the course of the intervention. In the Signal Check module, students write to a prompt and receive automated, formative feedback based on their demonstrated strengths and weaknesses. With this personalized scaffolding, they are empowered to progress independently throughout the writing process. For pre- and post-assessments, Rosenkranz limited students to one Signal Check. This way, students were only able to see their scores once, and he was able to track how students performed without the support of multiple rounds of immediate feedback.
Thanks to the thoughtful combination of high impact instructional techniques and high quality, research-based educational tools, Rosenkranz's students experienced summertime wins. Now, they are armed to enter the upcoming school year with an improved understanding of both the writing process and their skills as writers.
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