How proficiently do you want your students to use a Biblical perspective?
Gary (high school English teacher) has asked Michael (director of school improvement) for coaching. Gary wants to get a more specific answer to his own question “How proficiently do I want my students to use a biblical perspective?” Seated at desks in Gary’s classroom, they have just started talking.
Gary: Thanks for coming today. I’ve been thinking about our recent inservices on helping students understand and use a biblical perspective. I’ve really enjoyed the inservices. I’ve started asking my students questions like “What’s wrong with the world?” and “Who is my neighbor?” The discussions are really good—kids are connecting course content, their lives, and a biblical perspective.
And I’ve started designing and giving unit assessments that fit these questions. For example, for the last essay, I used the following prompt:
In an essay (700-100 words) reflect on the power and prevalence of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination; how are Christians to think about and respond to them? Support your answer from literature, history, current events, your experience, and the Bible. Be sure to:
- Describe power and prevalence of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination with examples, including at least 2 quotations from Night.
- Analyze the biblical principles regarding how God intends for people to treat other people, using at least 3 quotations from the Bible.
- Give at least 1 general action people can take and 1 specific thing you can do.
Michael: You’ve made real progress on implementing what you learned from the inservice meetings. Good.
Gary: Yeah, I’m feeling pretty good about the results. And here’s a sample of what one student wrote on a recent short-answer test question for a unit on discrimination: “Discrimination, prejudice, etc., is wrong. No one has any right to decide they’re better than others. Although I don’t go around killing people from a single race, by disliking people, I’m dishonoring God because that person is made in God’s image.”
I really want my students to be able to apply a biblical perspective to course content. I think I could help them more effectively if I had a clearer understanding of how proficiently I want my students to use a biblical perspective. The inservices were about getting students to apply a biblical perspective to course content. I want to take it a step further and define a goal of some sort regarding the proficiency with which I want them to apply a biblical perspective. Having a goal will help me focus efforts.
Michael: Well, with what level of proficiency do you want your students to apply a biblical perspective?
Gary: Let me think about that… My overall goal is for my students to apply to a biblical perspective to the course content they have learned. To be honest, my goal used to be having kids learn course content. So, since applying a biblical perspective is now my goal, I want my students to do as well at applying a biblical perspective as they do on their essays, projects, presentations, and the AP English test.
Michael: Tell me more about that.
Gary: I want my students’ use of a biblical perspective to be automatic. Being educated involves being able to do some things automatically. You know, typing the correct letters on the keyboard, knowing when to go left in a basketball game, using the writing process when doing an essay, knowing that 5 X 5 = 25. Using a biblical perspective should be automatic.
Michael: So you want your students’ application of a biblical perspective to be automatic.
Gary: Yes. It should be efficient and effective. My students need to be proficient. Their scores for biblical perspective application need to be at or above standard. The scores should be based on rigorous assessments. On a variety of assessments. Like essays, projects, and presentations.
Michael: You want your students to apply a biblical perspective efficiently and effectively on a variety of rigorous assessments.
Gary: Yes. That sort of puts it all together. But I need something more definite. More specific.
Michael: How will you know if you are achieving this goal?
Gary: Good question. What I have so far isn’t very measurable. I think having a measurable goal would help me answer my question. I think I need to set a learning target that includes the percentage of my students I want to be at or above standard. You know, C or above.
Michael: What criteria will you use to set that percentage?
Gary: Overall, my students do pretty well. Class average is about a B+. About 90% of them will attend college. It’d be great if 100% of my students could meet the standard (you know, get a C) on applying a biblical perspective. But I think that’s shooting a little high. So, I think I’ll go for 90% of my students scoring at or above standard on applying a biblical perspective. I’ll base their scores on 3 types of assessment—projects, presentations, and essays.
That’s a good place to start. I can change the goal later if I need to. I probably need to do it a bit, collect the data, and decide if the goal needs to be revised.
Michael: How do you feel about your goal now?
Gary: Seems clearer, now that I’ve added a percentage. And now that I’ve added the 3 assessments I’ll use. Seems clearer.
Michael: Earlier you asked, “How proficiently do I want my students to use a biblical perspective?” To what extent have you answered your question?
Gary: I think I have a pretty good answer. Knowing the percentage and the types of assessments will help me focus my efforts. Might be a good idea to set a schoowide goal about this. But right now, I need to figure out how to work on my goal. A good place to start might be developing rubrics for the assessments. I’ve already got a rubric for essays. I need to add a section on applying a biblical perspective. Then when I assess the essays, I can pull out the data and see how my students are doing.
Make your own goal:
_____ % of my students will be at/above standard on applying a biblical perspective, scores being taken from the following assessments: ____.
Take action on your goal. Today.