I’ve just concluded a session at Arkansas ASCD conference, hearing Charles DeBerry, principal at a Harlem school. He explained one of the key tenets that has helped them improve to a grade “A” school: teacher inquiry teams. DeBerry described how teams of teachers meet regularly to review student work, focusing on a key target skill. They then discuss their findings and set immediate goals to remedy.
I’d love us to do this with our English department next year. We could form an English Dept. inquiry team, focusing specifically on improving student writing (especially content and style—our lowest scores on our essay EOL Literacy exam). I can imagine us grading a set of student essays (or small writing sample), targeting a specific area. Perhaps one week we focus on students using specific details. The idea would be to set goals, teach the concepts, then meet together to grade student work. We then reflect on their understanding to refine, reteach, improve our instruction.
Perhaps a good starting place is the end—to start by taking a close look at content and style, making a list of specific skills this entails, and then developing lessons that target those skills.
Language Arts Inquiry Team. Great idea.