Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ch. 2 Mastery

Prior to the last class, we had each of you write YOUR definition of Mastery. As you look at the varied definitions of Mastery, describe the conversations you have had around Mastery and Proficiency in your content area/PLC's. If you haven't, what will it look like when you do?

46 comments:

Mary said...

I think that in our PLC we are reaching a place where we can start defining what mastery of the essential learning may look like. We are particularly discussing what a common assessment question may look like and how we make that different (or do we) depending on the level of the course. We are attempting to have a way to measure the same essential learning across A.P. to IEP Geography. The presentation of the essential learning may look different and mastery may not happen for the lower level courses.

Rob said...

I struggle with the term "mastery," particularly when our primary focus for essential learning, to date, has been the development of an effective thesis statement. Our conversations at PLC meetings convince me that this may be a skill that is never fully mastered. Rather, all of us move along a continuum towards mastery. Nonetheless, students can improve and even reach proficiency with this skill. In our PLC meetings, we had general agreement that a student who could write a thesis statement that is debatable and provable, is at least proficient.

Crosby said...

I agree with Rob - I don't know that the skill of writing is ever "mastered" by high school students - or even most adults for that matter! Our common assessments are essays, and our rubric assesses the quality of the thesis statements, organization, evidence/details and analysis. Students who write well-organized, detailed and analytical essays that successfully argue the positions taken in the thesis statements are considered proficient, at least for the writing component of that unit.

Additionally, the content of our essentially learnings involves the skills of compare and contrast, and identifying cultural legacies of various civilizations. A student can "master" these skills, I suppose, and be able to compare and contrast and identify legacies without the assistance of the teacher. Actually, yesterday in class we were disscussing the Byzantines and the development of the Cyrillic alphabet, and one of my students said to another student in her group - "Oh, so this alphabet is a legacy because Slavic languages are still written using this alphabet." That student clearly demonstrated proficiency - but does this prove she has "mastered" the skill?

Señorita DiSepio said...

As the book states "ask members of your faculty to define mastery for their subjects and their responses will vary". Our PLC statement includes the word mastery for certain concepts, however I do believe that everyone's definition of this varies. We do not definie mastery in our statement, just refer to it. If we were to dicsuss our own perspective of mastery, who is correct? How do we determine these standards of everyone's definition of mastery? I believe that we can agree on what this means but actually determining the "mastery" of concepts can have different results depending on personal teachers' beliefs.
I think the more challenging part of this is where they reference that mastery is not just the students echoing the material but understanding it's components, application, exploring other possibilities, etc. We teach the students to this point. The problem I find personally is that the students are really good at doing this when we are focusing on the topic- practicing it, working with it and then being assesed on it. Students shine. However when it is time for the final all these "mastered" concepts are put together and the students have large issues demonstrating this mastery and it is seemed to be lost. So, did they really master it the first time? Or what will it take for them to completey master the subject? Many times I feel essential learnings are more attainable at this point and feel discouraged because mastery can not be obtained until the students take the language into the real world for application, something I have no control of. And mastery of the language is a battle, one I am not going to win. So what do I do? Do the best I can? But it still isn't good enough because the end goal is MASTERY.

James H said...

I agree that mastery is a tough thing to identify and accomplish at the high school level. With math, there are so many things going on in a problem that it might be difficult to identify what is being mastered and what is being missed. In a Calculus 2 class that I took, there were students in the class that were missing problems because of simple math errors. Does this show that they have no mastery of Calculus or just that they know Calculus and not Algebra?

E. Firchau said...

In our PLC we have discussed the question "what will we do if the students have not learned the concept?" As a team, we have defined "proficient" as receiving a score of 70% or above. Students who scored lower than a 70% has the option to come in, get one-on-one help and then retake the assessment. We also decided as a team that by retaking the assessement, the student could bring their grade up to a 70% instead of averaging the two grades.
We have not talked about "mastery", but I agree with Rob and Amanda that I don't really think high school students are able to master the content. I, as an adult and teacher, am always learning.

M. Wayman said...

Mastery is a complicated topic/word. In out PLC we have discussed, how do we measure for mastery? Do we use multiple choice questions, written responses...? Our essential learning states we want students to think critically and problem solve. I'm not sure we have successfully found a way to measure those two things. Currently, we are defining proficiency as passing an assessment with a letter grade of A or B. We are following the same procedure as the chemistry team which Emily described in her blog.

Davis said...

We have discussed proficiency of our essential learning. In looking at topic sentences, we wanted our 9th graders' answers to be clear-cut: an A, B, C, etc. I broke our team into small groups and each group realized that it wasn't about a leveled score, but a proficiency of skill. There certainly could be levels, but we realized we need to be clear with what is exactly needed to reach proficiency in a topic sentence and eventually a thesis statement. This clarification really helped as we began to sort our students determining where they were.

We have not talked about mastery; I liked the analogy of connecting the dots. I want to urge the 9th grade PLC to ask our students to show mastery with a topic sentence, not only with a literary paragraph (or paper), but with non-fiction pieces as well.

mmarchino said...

Grades don't necessarily reflect mastery, but can be an indication of mastery. I just gave back a quiz and talked to the students about retaking the quiz to become proficient. Naming compounds and writing formula's are crucial to continuing on in chem. I told them that even if they got an 80% that grade might not be good enough for future success. It is not just for this quiz or that test, but to use in multiple applications. I think that learning that builds is an important skill to teach to help with mastery. I think that mastery is not just good enough to get an A, but to be able to use it in this chapter, the next and so on.

Jill said...

I tend to struggle with the idea of "mastery" when dealing with some of the concepts in my content area. There is not always one right way to master an idea in art therefore; true mastery is hard to measure. In most cases, art is a process and many times mastery does not come quickly. Some times we don't see true mastery until several art classes later; our class is just the foundation for that mastery.

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