This web site represents an association of individuals and educational organizations that focus on looking at student work to strengthen connections between instruction, curriculum, and other aspects of school life to students' learning. This association grew from a meeting on "Examining Student Work and School Change" held in Chicago in October 1998, hosted by the Chicago Learning Collaborative and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. A second meeting of the association was held in November 1999, in Atlanta. The site is offered as a resource for teachers, administrators, staff developers, and others who work with teachers, schools, and students.
This web site presents the work of educators committed to new ways of looking at student work that emphasize teachers looking together with colleagues, focusing on small samples of work, reflecting on important questions, and using structures and guidelines (?protocols?) to talk about student work.
Target Student Population:
The target is in-service teacher development through collaboration among teachers, administrators, staff developers, and others who work with teachers, schools, and students in math and science. The teachers meet in reflection groups to review student work. They analyze evidence with the goal of improving instruction.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basic Internet skills, knowledge of teaching, and an interest in collaboration.
Type of Material:
Collection of protocols, examples, and guidelines for teacher collaborations. The collaborative emphasizes the seriousness of student work and promotes activities that focus on the study of student work and the improvements that come from studying the work. Guidelines are provided to help groups of educators study student work in an effective manner.
This is a portal to resources with a few links out of the web. For example, on the page at http://www.lasw.org/resources_stuwork.html there is a section called ?HOT PICK.? If the user follows one of the links on that page, the user will have to navigate on his or her own to return to http://www.lasw.org. The risk of getting lost in the navigation structure and leaving the web without knowing it is reduced by effective use of a web design with a multi-colored navigation bar that makes the experienced Internet navigator aware when links leave the LASW web.After submitting surveys using CGI-forms, the user is directed to http://www.annenberginstitute.org . It is a bit awkward to get back to the LSW site. The text area boxes are small on the CGI form?not really user-friendly for any comments that take more than one short sentence.
Evaluation and Observation
The study of what students think and do is essential. Based on the reviewers? work with teachers? questioning techniques and teachers observing student academic behaviors, the need for groups of educators coming together to study student work is strong. Teachers can help one another know what it means to ?understand concept xyz,? identify what students misperceive about ?concept xyz,? design instruction that will facilitate learning ?concept xyz,? and create assessments that help to evaluate students? achievements in learning ?concept xyz.? This is very much in concert with results from observation of Japanese teachers in a ?lesson study? during the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). (Stigler, J. W., & Hiebert, J. (1999). The teaching gap: Best ideas for the world's teachers for improving education in the classroom. New York, NY: The Free Press.) If more teachers practice these types of activities, they could move from teaching and assessing ?mechanics? to teaching in ways that emphasize processes.
The resource list is outstanding, providing references to important and current quality work. The probing questions ?Pocket Guide? provide a useful reference that encourages reflection to venture into the discomfort and risk territory that might lead to productive change.
Although not advocated by the creators of this site, teachers could create a lesson for high school students to study the work of their high school peers (peer review). This project holds promise for bridging the gap between research and practice, but in terms of science and math education, it fails to do so.
On April 14, 2001, one reviewer filled out two surveys, and was sent to http://www.annenberginstitute.org . So the user must navigate to return to the LSW site. Both surveys should add selections that are pertinent to university faculty. The surveys are aimed at an audience of K-12 teachers and administrators. Although that is understandable,
adding a few boxes would help gather information about others who visit the site, use the LSW resources, and complete the survey.
The math and science and the families research links are deficient. Since the opportunity to suggest new research links is provided, one wonders why participants have not developed the research-based aspect of the project.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This site can be an effective tool for focusing on using student work to strengthen connections between instruction, curriculum, and other aspects of school life to students' learning. Teachers need to have strong content knowledge, a variety of instructional experiences, and basic knowledge of assessment fundamentals to apply what is being promoted by the LSW group.
The materials themselves are valuable, but for most teachers, receiving guidance on this process and working with a group is absolutely necessary. ? The material could be used for introductory through refresher stage(s) in the learning process/cycle. ? The target learner(s) should have fundamental understanding of assessment, instruction, and curriculum in order to benefit and apply the intended outcomes of this process. ? The material improves faculties? abilities to teach and students? abilities to learn the material. ? The learning material can be readily integrated into the curriculum and pedagogy of the discipline.
Under the research section, some case studies could be used for developing practices. For example, http://www.annenberginstitute.org/leadership/ACPBCaseStudies/pds.html, Puesta del Sol Elementary School, Rio Rancho, NM, involved parents in looking at student work. The teachers wanted to build stronger relationships with parents using tools and practices they had developed. Parents and community members crafted a rubric for student work that would then be applied in the classrooms.
The reviewers will definitely use the protocols provided with both novice teachers and for faculty development.
At the time of this review,
the topics covered were: Welcome, Who We Are, Protocols, Resources, Research, Contact, Beyond, with a secured communication and peer review space set up for the Looking at Student Work Collaborative members.
Lack of evidence for change that resulted from looking at student science or math work.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The navigation structure with the menu bar at the top and the name and index for the sub-directory to the left is excellent. Many resources should be useful for teachers.
Some of the student work is difficult to read. For example, ?The Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me? at http://www.lasw.org/vp_work.html is slightly blurry.
Sometimes the user is not certain where to proceed next. For example, where should the user go after being at the page ?The Prompt,? at http://www.lasw.org/vp_prompt.html?
In addition to the navigation problems with the on-line surveys, no indication is provided about how the survey results are confirmed, shared, or used.