Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Clarifying Authentic Connections during H.E.A.T. Walkthroughs

The key to a successful informal walkthrough program is ensuring for a high level of reliability among observers relating to a pre-defined rubric or set of look-fors. In the H.E.A.T. Walkthrough model, each of the categories (Higher order thinking, Engaged learning, Authentic connections, Technology use) includes a specific rubric to gauge the level of H.E.A.T. applied to student learning.

One category in particular, Authentic Connections, includes a graduated set of statements that describes the degree of real world connections used during a lesson episode.  Since reliability is the “bread and butter” of informal classroom visits, let’s examine this element of H.E.A.T. in greater detail.

Authentic Connections
1  The learning experience is missing or too vague to determine relevance
Commentary:  There is no documented lesson plan and/or written/verbal objectives
to determine any degree of relevancy of the current lesson episode. Students are
unsure what they are learning or why they are learning the content.

2  The learning experience provides no real world application, or represents a group
of connected activities
Commentary:  Students are unable to make any practical or real world connections or
ascertain any common thread or theme linking one learning activity to the next.

3. The learning experience provides limited real world relevance
Commentary: The teacher as opposed to the students is the one making, sharing, or modeling how the learning experience(s) relates to the real world.
4. The learning experience provides extensive real world relevance
Commentary: Two way interactions among the students and/or the teacher and the students provide an open forum for all parties to make, share, or model how the learning experience(s) relates to the real world.
5. The learning experience provides real world relevance and opportunity for students to apply their learning to a real world situation
Commentary: Students are not just talking about real world connections, but are actively applying their learning to a real world context involving the transfer of skills and knowledge to a new and unique situation.
The learning experience is directly relevant to students and involves creating a product that has a purpose beyond the classroom that directly impacts the students
Commentary: Students are self-motivated to apply their learning to a real world problem or challenge that impacts them personally involving themselves, their family, their local neighborhood, and/or the larger global community.

Rating the category, Authentic Connections, accurately and consistently along with other elements of H.E.A.T. is critical to generating reliable data that directly impacts the quality of professional development planning system-wide leading to ongoing continuous improvement.