Erin Cracker has been teaching since 2011, where she graduated from Simpson College as an Elementary Education major, endorsed in the areas of K-8 Reading/Language Arts. She has taught fourth grade and 7th grade Reading/Language Arts. In addition to teaching, she is endorsed in K-12 Athletic Coaching since 2013.
Standard 1 Demonstrates ability to enhance academic performance and support implantation of the school district's achievement goals.
A. Provides multiple forms of evidence of student learning and growth to students, families, and staff.
I believe documentation of a student revising their endangered species paper (2016-2017) reflects evidence of student learning and growth. I was fortunate to conference with this student, using metacognition with them to expand their introductory paragraph as well as one of their body paragraphs. Although there were only a few areas that their score was enhanced, they were able to expand their depth of knowledge regarding animal endangerment.
B. Implements strategies supporting student, building, and district goals.
Please refer to standard 7D for artifact and reflection.
C. Uses student performance data as a guide for decision making.
I believe a district walk through that was conducted on October 30th, 2014 reflects using (informal/formative) student performance data as a guide for decision making. On this particular day in Language Arts, the students were thinking about characterization and completing a character questionnaire. As the students were working, I was having conversations with students about their characters, and challenging them to reflect as a writer. In closing, I believe it's important to have conversations with students. Based on our informal conversations, I am able to help guide them with a particular strategy that will either demonstrate reteaching or extending their thinking.
D. Accepts and demonstrates responsibility for creating a classroom culture that supports the learning of every student.
I believe a district walk through administered by my supervisor, Laura Atwood, demonstrates my responsibility in creating a classroom culture that supports the learning of every student. As noted in the walk through form, the students were engaged in a higher-order thinking task. For example, the students were working on a writing scaffold, constructing their knowledge that pertained to their epidemic thesis statement. Meanwhile, as they worked, I conferenced with students, asking them reflective questions pertaining to their points noted in their thesis statement.
E. Creates an environment of mutual respect, rapport, and fairness.
I feel that a picture of students collaborating regarding the concept of digital citizenship reflects creating an environment of mutual respect, rapport, and fairness. As one can see in the attached photo, the students are in thoughtful conversation, listening to one another by giving clear eye contact. Their body gestures also indicate a respect for one another. In conclusion, the group of students that are working together indicate a positive interaction with one another, and part of that is demonstrated by the positive environment I have created (where students feel they can take risks with their voice).
F. Participates in and contributes to a school culture that focuses on improved student learning.
During the 2015-2016 academic year, I wanted an additional challenge. Little did I know that my role as a secondary literacy coach would instill a great deal of reflection within me. For instance, I realized the importance of the Measured Academic Progress (MAP) assessment. In my reflection I state, "No longer can teachers such as myself teach to the “mainstream” audience. We need to alter our instructional practices to best meet the students." Although this is certainly important, it has also helped me realize the impact of creating strong core work. Once a firm curriculum is instilled, differentiation can begin to come into focus, thus using the MAP ELA data. With that said, it was like my reflection that I wrote in spring 2016 foreshadowed our (FSCD) professional development work for the 2016-2017 school year. All in all, my secondary literacy coach position did not necessarily reflect how I impacted my school, rather my reflection documented what our school district needed to improve on regarding student learning.
G. Communicates with students, families, colleagues, and communicates effectively and accurately.
I believe a Data Team agenda e-mail that I wrote on February 14th, 2017 expresses my communication with my 7th grade team in an effective and accurate manner. This past year, I was asked by my principal, Laura Atwood, if I would facilitate Data Team meetings. As a Data Team leader, my team and I have focused on individual CORE work, as that has been a drive in the Fairfield Community School District's professional development (2016-2017). In addition to being a facilitator and a secondary literacy coach, there are times when I'll share instructional literacy strategies (as seen in my artifact). Lastly, I'll communicate the team agenda the day before our team meeting to prepare our focus as a team.
Standard 2 Demonstrates competence in classroom knowledge appropriate to the teaching position.
A. Understands and uses key concepts, underlying themes, relationships, and different perspectives related to the content area.
I believe a student's epidemic (informative) paper reflects understanding of using key concepts, underlying themes, relationships, and different perspectives related to the content area of Language Arts. Every year, the students choose an epidemic (yellow fever, influenza, smallpox, plague, etc.) to research in the content areas of Science and Social Studies. Next, in Science they organize their notes, then in Language Arts the student crafts an informative paper. As one can see reading this student's paper, they have established a thesis statement to reflect why yellow fever was an important epidemic and had a lasting impact on society. Next, one may notice that they constructed their knowledge of the three content areas by creating strong paragraphs that reflect topic and concluding sentences, and elaborated key details, demonstrating their knowledge of research and prior knowledge from Science and Social Studies. Overall, this student's informative paper reflects how the content areas of Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts work together on an interdisciplinary unit.
B. Uses knowledge of student development to make learning experiences in the content area meaningful and accessible for every student.
I believe a student's literary analysis shows knowledge of student development to make learning experiences in the content area of Language Arts meaningful and accessible for every student. According to the Common Core, students are to cite textual evidence and draw inferences (7.RL.1). With that said, the artifact shows a student inferring various story elements and citing word-for-word textual reference. Plus, this student was able to craft a formal response using the RACE (re-state/answer the question, cite textual evidence, and explain the evidence) strategy. All in all, the components stated above illustrate student development within the scope and sequence of the Common Core.
C. Relates ideas and information within and across content areas.
I feel that an example of a student epidemic debate (2016-2017) relates ideas and information within and across content areas. For example, in Social Studies the students have formal debates. As part of an ELA team, we decided to carry over the formal debate concept demonstrated in Social Studies, and have the students get in epidemic groups and debate whose epidemic had the most impact on society. As one can see by observing this video, the two groups that were debating were cholera and the plague. Each group introduced themselves, conveyed an argument regarding the impact their disease had, then the other team challenged their arguments, then the team that argued was able to respond to the rebuttal. Overall, this is a similar format that is demonstrated in Social Studies, therefore relating ideas and information within and across content area.
D. Understands and uses instructional strategies that are appropriate to the content area.
I believe the vocabulary strategy, Context + Clues = Clarity documents my understanding of an instructional strategy that is appropriate to the content area of reading. This strategy is used during an epidemic novel ("Fever 1793"), and is supported by Jennifer Serravallo, author of "The Reading Strategies Book," pg. 314. Overall, the strategy focuses on a student reflecting what is happening in a given part of a book, think about how the identified word is being used (noun, adjective, or verb), and infer the definition based on what is happening in the text and how the word is being used.
Standard 3 Demonstrates competence in planning and instruction.
A. Uses student achievement data, local standards, and the district curriculum in planning for instruction.
I believe the attached document, Reading, Quarter 4 Characteristics of Fairy Tales, Fables, and Poetry demonstrates the use of student achievement data, local standards, and the district curriculum in planning for instruction. According to the Common Core, it is important for seventh grade students to be aware of craft and structure in literature. With that in mind, along with the use of 7th grade ELA data team, a pre/post test was created for the student to learn the craft and structure of fairy tales, fables, and poetry. The first document attached indicates my pre/post test results from the 2015-2016 academic year. Whereas, the next artifact demonstrates the pre/post test document. Overall, I was able to use the pre-test results as a means to guide my instruction throughout the mini unit.
B. Sets and communicates high expectations for social, behavioral, and academic success of all students.
I believe the Common Core 7.W.2 Informative/Explanatory rubric sets and communicates high expectations for social, behavioral, and academic success of all students. For example, I collaborated on this rubric with my 7th grade ELA (English/Language Arts) counterparts. This was a rigorous process that capitalized student outcomes for an informative piece of writing. With this said, the attached rubric communicates an aligned standards-based approach, that sets high expectations of an informative/explanatory piece of seventh grade academic writing.
C. Uses student's developmental needs, backgrounds, and interests in planning for instruction.
I believe a student created YouTube video that emphasizes figurative language incorporates student's developmental needs, backgrounds, and interests in planning for instruction. During the 2015-2016 school year, an interest of mine was to incorporate YouTube in the classroom. I wanted to integrate my students interests and connect with one another using social media. With that said, Tina Breen (FCSD Technology Integration Specialist) and myself modeled step-by-step how to create a YouTube channel per the Fairfield Community School District's Google accounts. After practice videos were made, the students were able to collaborate with their classmates and create a commercial using figurative language per the Common Core State Standards, and upload them to their YouTube channel.
D. Selects strategies to engage students in learning.
I believe a student's creative writing piece that they wrote based on an image (2015-2016) reflected a strategy that engaged them in the learning process. The attached button, "Tell This Story," is an image of two Amazon boxes, making snow angels in the snow. Based on the image, a student wrote a narrative to develop an imaginative experience using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences (per Common Core 7.W.3 A-E). Overall, the student was able to use vivid details, personification, and effective dialogue to create a writing piece that supports the Common Core narrative writing standard.
E. Uses available resources, including technologies, in the development and sequencing of instruction.
I believe a collaborative, student creation using Garageband demonstrates using available resources, including technologies, in the development and sequencing of instruction. Last year (2015-2016), I collaborated with FCSD Technology Integration Specialist, Tina Breen, on a digital citizenship lesson pertaining to a creator's rights. One of the activities the students did for this lesson was create a student (original) version of "Happy Birthday." The attached artifact reflects a small group writing original music, creating a song on Gargeband, then turning it into an MP3 file.
Standard 4 Uses strategies to deliver instruction that meets the multiple needs of students.
A. Aligns classroom instruction with local standards and district curriculum.
I believe the 7th grade English/Language Arts curriculum map supports classroom alignment with local standards and district curriculum. Sarah Marble, 7th grade ELA teacher, Amber Earnest, 7th grade Special Education teacher, and myself (all teachers in the FCSD) have worked diligently on creating a core curriculum that not only supports the Common Core, but follows a logical sequence. One will notice by viewing our curriculum map that we have broken down the Common Core standards into student-friendly "I can" statements and what teachers should look for in student ability. By breaking down the core standards, we are able to develop our summative and formative assessments to drive our instruction. In conclusion, our 7th grade ELA curriculum map has been a model for secondary developed standards-based planning with local standards and district curriculum.
B. Uses research-based instructional strategies that address the full range of cognitive levels.
I believe a formal observation that was administered by Laura Atwood on December 8th, 2016, reflected me using research-based instructional strategies that addressed the full range of cognitive levels. The lesson she observed pertained to identifying important versus interesting details when noting a central message of a text. In her observation notes she stated that higher order thinking skills were evident, especially the application of metacognition. In addition, she wrote that formative assessment was used to gauge student learning. Overall, this led to self-reflection if students were understanding the research-based strategy of important versus interesting details.
C. Demonstrates flexibility and responsiveness in adjusting instruction to meet student needs.
I believe my YouTube videos giving revision directions regarding student fables (2015-2016) demonstrates my flexibility and responsiveness in adjusting instruction to meet student needs. Being a Language Arts teacher can be difficult because there may be times when directions need to be repeated numerous times. (I was experiencing this moment the day before I filmed these videos!) At the time, I was incorporating YouTube in my classroom and had an epitome to video myself giving clear expectations pertaining to fable revisions. The idea was to be used when a student had a question on how to revise (and if I was working with another student), they could go on my YouTube channel (because each student followed me), and view my directions. In conclusion, I feel that creating directional videos allowed me to differentiate and respond to student needs in a creative way, because a student could repeat/watch the directions as they deemed necessary.
D. Engages students in varied experiences that meet diverse needs and promote social, emotional, and academic growth.
I believe a picture documenting Dr. Seuss' Read Across America event (2014-2015) supports students engaging in varied experiences that meet diverse needs and promote social, emotional, and academic growth. Mrs. Lantz, Fairfield Middle School media specialist, partnered with Mr. Benge, Pence Elementary principal, to have reading classes from the middle school read to elementary classrooms. With that said, one of my 7th grade reading classes read to a 3rd grade classroom. Overall, my students were able to participate in this experience, demonstrating Trojan Pride (prepared, respectful, integrity, dependable, and environmentally aware & safe) in a diverse setting.
E. Connects students' prior knowledge, life experiences, and interests in the instructional process.
I believe a student's reflection and video (YouTube creation) regarding cyberbullying connects to their prior knowledge, life experiences, and interests in the instructional process. During the 2015-2016 academic year, I collaborated a great deal with Tina Breen, the FCSD Technology Integration Specialist. We focused on lessons in fostering the importance of leaving a digital footprint (due to each student having a district YouTube channel). With that said, this student uses elaborate communication to express his understanding of cyberbullying and the connection he has made in the news. He also realizes the importance of leaving a positive, digital footprint (thinking before you post to social media).
F. Uses available resources, including technologies, in the delivery of instruction.
Please refer to reflection in standard 3E.
Standard 5 Uses a variety of methods to monitor student learning.
A. Aligns classroom assessment with instruction.
I believe a student's informative writing pertaining to an endangered species represents alignment of classroom assessment with instruction. According to the Common Core, students will be able to write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content. In order to create instruction for this unit, my ELA counterparts and myself created a summative rubric to convey our expectations of the informative/explanatory unit. By creating a summative assessment at the beginning of the unit, the rubric was able to guide our instruction to create lessons pertaining to writing a thesis statement, introductory & concluding paragraphs, as well as body paragraphs. With this said, a solid seventh grade informative/explanatory paper was produced.
B. Communicates assessment criteria and standards to all students and parents.
Please review standard 1A for artifact and reflection.
C. Understands and uses the results of multiple assessments to guide planning and instruction.
I believe my 7th grade English/Language Arts team understands and uses the results of multiple assessments to guide planning and instruction. For example, we created a W2 Informative/Explanatory rubric for essentially any piece of informative writing. Yet, when we used the rubric to grade our endangered species informative papers, we realized that there were aspects of the rubric we wanted to change due to student performance. With that said, came the revised copy of the W2 Informative/Explanatory rubric. Some criteria that was revised were in the categories of secure and exceeding within the introduction and concluding paragraphs, along with the body paragraphs. Essentially we want our students to use more elaborated communication (Authentic Intellectual Instruction framework) and provide new insights (conclusions) regarding the topic. All in all, I feel that our rubric(s) will be continually revised on an annual basis due to our team evaluating student progress.
D. Guides students in goal setting and assessing their own learning.
I believe the 2015-2016 MAP Movie Qualifying document reflects students in goal setting and assessing their own learning. As part of the 7th grade team at Fairfield Middle School, we felt it was important for the seventh graders to be cognizant of their MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) Assessment scores. With that said, we had our students make goals according to their projected proficiency score in the areas of science, reading, and math. For example, in the attached document, one will notice next to a student's name there are columns for each subject area, and a number (1 yes, 0 no) indicating if they made their goal. If the student made at least two of their goals, they qualified to watch a movie, celebrating their success in goal setting and assessing their own learning.
E. Provides substantive, timely, and constructive feedback to students and parents.
One way I communicate with families is through Bloomz (https://app.bloomz.net/#/app).
I believe communicating the weekly ELA (English/Language Arts) agenda with families supports providing substantive, timely, and constructive feedback to students and parents. At the beginning of the 2015-2016 & 2016-2017 school year, I gave students a Bloomz sign-up form (to give to their families). This form contained directions and a code for family members to either download the app or use the website. By family members signing up with this communication device (it looks similar to a Facebook page), the parents are notified each week regarding their child's learning. Overall, Bloomz has been a beneficial tool, providing timely updates, and reflecting on the content that has been demonstrated in my classroom.
F. Works with other staff and building and district leadership in analysis of student progress.
I believe the Intervention Tracking Tool document pertaining to a student supports working with other staff, building, and district leadership in analysis of student progress. At the beginning of the 2015-2015 academic year, I analyzed IA Assessment scores of past years (regarding the students that I would be receiving). With that said, the student that exemplifies the Intervention Tracking Tool document was significantly below IA Assessments in the subjects of Reading and Math since second grade. In addition, the student was significantly below the MAP (Measured Academic Progress) assessment in the fall of 2015. They received a score of 189, with 217 being proficient. By reflecting over this student's data, I felt it was more than appropriate to collaborate alongside the Title 1 teacher and GPAEA Education Consultant to put them on an I-Plan. Overall, the student is now receiving additional supports in the areas of math and reading. This was demonstrated by working together with Fairfield Middle School staff, GPAEA consultants, and the student's parents, to create a plan that would help provide the best learning environment for their child.
Standard 6 Demonstrates competence in classroom management.
A. Creates a learning community that encourages positive social interaction, active engagement, and self-regulation for every student.
I believe the homecoming door decoration (2014-2015) experience creates a learning community that encourages positive social interaction, active engagement, and self-regulation for every student. Each year during Fairfield Community School's homecoming week, grade level homerooms are given time to participate in a door decoration contest. The homeroom students come together as a community and collaborate to come up with a design, and assign student roles to decorate the door(s). With that said, documentation is provided of my homeroom students collaborative work.
B. Establishes, communicated, models, and maintains standards of responsible student behavior.
I believe an e-mail exchange between a student's parent and myself establishes a communicated model that maintains a standard of responsible student behavior. The brief conversation that I had with a student's parent documents their child's work ethic, participation in class, and the simple joy it is to have them in the classroom. Overall, more often than not, parents/guardians get negative feedback from school, so it's important to celebrate with family members the positive success of their child.
C. Develops and implements classroom procedures and routines that support high expectations for learning.
I believe a student's vocabulary assignment using the strategy, "Mood as a Clue to Meaning," (Jennifer Serravallo) represents a routine that supports high expectations for learning. For example, the student had to critically reflect if the mood surrounding the vocabulary word was positive or negative. Next, they had to infer what the term meant based on the mood and context clues given in the text. Overall, the student was able to explain their rationale regarding the mood and thoroughly explain their inference using textual evidence to support their conclusion.
D. Uses instructional time effectively to maximize student achievement.
Please refer to standard 4B for artifact and partial reflection. To add to 4B's reflection, in Laura Atwood's formal observation notes, she noted that my lesson was structured and I reviewed the lesson's "I Can" statement with my students. I believe stating the goal for the lesson(s) is important for my students, because it gives them a clear focus of their learning expectations. In addition, I strive to use the Gradual Release of Responsibility model in my lessons to lessen my instructional emphasis, promoting my students to collaborate and explore their thinking on the "We Do" portion of Gradual Release of Responsibility.
E. Creates a safe and purposeful learning environment.
I believe a student's express of gratitude (2014-2015) reflects that I have created a safe and purposeful learning environment. I taught this student in the area of Language Arts, and he represented Trojan Pride (FCSD's PBIS terminology) in the upmost degree. It's when I get notes such as this that I reflect of the learning environment I've created. All in all, this student felt secure in my learning setting where they felt valued as a learner.
Standard 7 Engages in professional growth.
A. Demonstrates habits and skills of continuous inquiry and learning
I believe my Drake University acceptance letter fulfills the criteria of demonstrating habits and skills of continuous inquiry and learning. In fall 2017, I will begin my Masters of Science in Education degree in Education Leadership. It is my hope one day to fulfill a position in administration. By obtaining my Masters degree, this demonstrates my desire of being a lifelong learner.
B. Works collaboratively to improve professional practice and student learning.
I believe my digital collaborative work with Tina Breen demonstrates an example of professional practice and student learning. At the end of the 2014-2015 school year, I met with Tina, sharing a vision that I had for the following school year (2015-2016). The vision I had was to use social media such as Instagram and YouTube in the classroom. However, YouTube was the form of social media that was integrated in my classroom. The first link demonstrates ideas for digital citizenship lessons that would be implemented prior to YouTube work. Whereas, the second link reflects the notes that Tina and I collaborated on pertaining to setting up student YouTube accounts. Overall, I thought it was important to work with Tina, improving my professional practice with technology, and catering to my students interest by using social media in the school setting.
C. Applies research, knowledge, and skills from professional development opportunities to improve practice.
I believe the Decoding and the Struggling Reader certification (August 2016) reflects an opportunity that I was given to improve practice within my secondary literacy coach position. As a literacy coach for the Fairfield Middle School, it's important to have an understanding of the Really Great Reading programs (Boost, Blitz, and HD Word) used with fifth grade along with sixth through eighth grade intervention classes. By receiving this professional development opportunity, I have a general understanding of phonemic awareness that students have not yet mastered. Overall, this has resulted in the students to not be proficient according to Iowa and Measured Academic Progress (MAP) assessments. In addition, in hopes of being more involved as a secondary literacy coach, I would like to use my professional development opportunity to possibly teach a remedial Really Great Reading class. This experience would allow me to be immersed in phonics instruction, and help coach other teachers in Really Great Reading instruction.
D. Establishes and implements professional development plans based upon the teacher's needs aligned to the Iowa teaching standards and district/building student achievement goals.
I feel that my collaborative (2016-2017) IPDP mid-year reflection (along with my 7th grade ELA counterparts) demonstrates our understanding of the Common Core by reflecting how we have impacted district/building student achievement goals thus far. For instance, we have realized the importance of creating strong rubrics tied to the core. By creating robust rubrics (and tweaking them along the way due to student work), it has created a strong foundation for teacher instruction and student work within our classrooms. We have also realized the importance in guiding our students towards proficiency, and sincerely analyzing student work, along with our rubrics and the Common Core to justify if a seventh grade student is proficient towards a particular benchmark. All in all, my collaborative IPDP mid-year reflection documents the importance of CORE work that has been given by our district to create more cohesive instruction.
E. Provides an analysis of student learning and growth based on teacher created tests and authentic measures as well as any standardized and district-wide tests.
I believe the 2016 5th-8th grade IA Assessment Analysis/Goals document provides an analysis of student learning during the 2015-2016 academic year. By analyzing the reading portion of the IA Assessment, I was able to decipher that citing evidence to support the analysis of what the text states was a student weakness on the standardized test (this was just one example). With that in mind, citing evidence became an imperative focus for the 2016-2017 academic year. For example, when the students were learning about theme (fiction) and central message (non-fiction), citing the best evidence to support the message was important. I taught the students to think about interesting versus important details when thinking about the theme/central message. In addition, they learned to critically write a response applying their best evidence and explaining it to support a theme in literature and/or non-fiction. Overall, by analyzing skills that were weak according to the item analysis, I was able to reflect about Common Core benchmarks that were a priority for the upcoming school year.
Standard 8 Fulfills professional responsibilities established by the school district.
A. Adheres to board policies, district procedures, and contractual obligations.
I believe my Fairfield Community School District contract illustrates that I am fulfilling my obligation to board policies, district procedures, and contractual obligations. For instance, I attend in-services and professional development meetings that are planned by the Teacher Leadership Committee, middle school administrators, and curriculum director. I also fulfill my contract by teaching one hundred seventy-one days. However, if I am ill or an event occurs, the district procedure is to put in a substitute request in AESOP (an online program) to request a substitute (to ensure that I am complying with my contract).
B. Demonstrates professional and ethical conduct as defined by state law and district policy.
I believe my final secretary notes (as secretary) for the Jefferson/Van Buren International Reading Association demonstrates my professional and ethical conduct as defined by state law and district (International Reading Association) policy. For example, from September 2012 through April 2013, I was our reading organizations secretary. (I reported council minutes at meetings.) Then from September 2014 through April 2015, I was the vice president (noting some of my duties in the attached artifact). In conclusion, my secretary notes for the Jefferson/Van Buren International Reading Association is an example of professional and ethical conduct; volunteering in a leadership position within a committee in my school district.
C. Contributes to efforts to achieve district and building goals.
Please refer to Standard 4A regarding the artifact (7th grade ELA curriculum map) and reflection.
D. Demonstrates an understanding of and respect for all learners and staff.
I believe the "Call Me Maybe" video that was created while I was teaching fourth grade at Libertyville Elementary (2012-2013) demonstrates an understanding of and respect for all learners and staff. Our staff was interested in participating in the FCSD Faculty Follies (a yearly program to support our district's education foundation), therefore the "Call Me Maybe" video idea was born. Overall, it was a meaningful experience, collaborating with staff and students, to show our district that Libertyville Elementary has a positive climate and culture.
E. Collaborates with students, families, colleagues, and communities to enhance student learning.
I believe the article I wrote during the 2015-2016 academic year for the Fairfield Community School District's website, "Mistakes help me learn," said Growth Mindset, documents collaboration with students, families, colleagues, and communities to enhance student learning. When I was a Fairfield Middle School literacy coach during the 2015-2016 academic year, one of my responsibilities was to write a professional article for the Fairfield Community School District. The article documented what a growth mindset is, and how one can develop such mindset. Overall, the article I wrote fosters teachers, family members, and coaches to understand a growth mindset, and apply it to enhance student growth.