Saturday, November 9, 2013

Formal Observation

I had my formal observation on Friday and I am so glad to be done with it!! Hopefully it went well enough that I won't need another :)

I wanted to share my lesson with you because I absolutely loved it and the kids did SO well with it! We use Marzano for our observations, and this lesson was designed with that in mind--lots of Marzano tallies! ;)

My formal observation was on Friday, but I started teaching about children now/children then on Monday. We always start by going over our learning goal. The learning goal correlates to one of our social studies standards.
 Then we discuss where they feel they are on the learning scale. When I say 'status check' the children reply with 'status check' and then they hold up their hand-displaying a zero, one, two, three, or four depending on where they think they are on the scale. You can find my learning scale HERE for free. As you can see below, on Monday 17 students felt as if they were at a two and three students felt as if they were at a one when it comes to comparing/contrasting children now/then.
 Throughout the week we read Sarah Morton's Day and Samuel Eaton's Day. I only read a couple of pages a day. As I finish reading, I have children turn to their buddy on the carpet. I clap my hands twice and say 'teach'. They clap their hands twice and say 'okay!' When they turn to their buddy they discuss anything new that they have learned. When they are finished I call on different buddies to share what they discussed. I wrote down their new learning onto a post it note and give it to them to 'splash' onto our anchor charts. Here is what our anchor charts looked like by Thursday.
On Monday we also 'splashed' on our new vocab words for the week. Everyday before reading I remind my students of the words and tell them to put their thumb up if they hear a word during reading. If they hear a word we move it over the the left side of the Word Splash and we discuss the meaning. (I don't like to put pictures on the vocab cards because I want students to figure out the meaning.)

Now fast forward to Friday ;)

Friday morning my observation was at 8:15. Before it began I quickly went over the learning scale and reminded students that today was the day we were going to do another 'status check' to see if they moved up on the scale!  I had the children come up with their own goals. They decided that in order for them to hold up a three at the end of the lesson they should know 4 facts. In order for them to hold up a four they should know 6 facts, etc. 
When my observation began I read over the learning goal again. I asked students why that goal was important. They responded with things like, 'the Pilgrims were one of the first to live in America and we also live in America'. Then I reminded them that on Monday 17 students felt they were at a 2 and 3 students at a 1. I told them I can't wait to do a 'status check' today to see if they have gotten better! 
I then said that before we started the lesson for the day I wanted a couple of students to review what we had on our anchor charts. I called on a couple of students to share some differences between children then/children now.
Then I sat down and we went over our carpet rules. You can find these rules HERE. I say 'mirror' and they say 'okay'. As I read the rules, they repeat after me. 
I reminded students to listen for a Word Splash word while I read. Then I read one page from the book, If You Were On The Mayflower. The page discussed the chores that Pilgrim children had. (I only read one page because I wanted to make sure I got through the entire observation before my vice principal left!) On the page they heard our vocab word Pilgrim. When they did they put their thumbs up. I paused from reading and had them remind me what Pilgrim meant, then I continued. When I was finished I had children turn to their carpet buddies and discuss whether they learned anything new that was NOT already on our anchor charts. They came up with a couple of things and we quickly talked about it. 
I then told the students that it was time for their challenge! It was time for me to see whether they have met their learning goal!! I explained that I was going to give each group a bag of statements and that group had to decide where it went on the Venn Diagram. 
If you look closely at the photo above, you will see that in the corner of each statement there is a shape. This is so I know what group put the statements on the Venn Diagram in case they put it in the wrong spot. Each group took their bag to their tables. They had to work together to figure out where it went. (Keep in mind...I did this lesson before for practice with bats/birds) Each group had their own tape too. So after everyone agreed they taped their own statements onto the Venn Diagram. At their tables you could hear them reading the statements (one reader in each group), asking each other where they thought the statement went, and finally asking if everyone agreed. If they did, then the 'taper' went and taped it onto the diagram.
These statements are from my November Unit on TPT here.
When everyone was finished they met me back at the carpet. I invited one group at a time to stand up next to me. I read their statements and the rest of the students had to give a thumbs up if they thought the group had placed it correctly and a thumbs down if it was incorrect. We celebrated the groups success and then I called the next group up, etc. 
I really wanted someone to put a statement in the wrong spot so we could have a mini debate, but they got them all right! 
I told them I was so proud of them and then we did our final 'status check'. This time one person felt as if they were at a one, four people at a three, and sixteen students at a four. I then explained to the students that it was okay that 'little Timmy' felt as if he was at a 1 on the scale because 16 students thought they were at a 4! That meant that they knew at least 6 facts AND they could help a friend! So if they can help a friend, they can help 'little Timmy!' 
I then told them that I had an extra challenge for them!!! Since so many students were at a 4 on our scale I wanted them to go back to their groups and write one fact (as a group) that we did NOT put on the Venn diagram. When I gave them their papers some of them were like 'wow this is a challenge' it was so cute! They all got right to work and I went over to 'little Timmy' and asked him a couple questions about children then/now. He answered all of them and I told him that I think he knows more than he realizes and gave him a high-five. 
At this time my vice-principal closed her computer and headed out! She told me it was awesome! HUGE relief!
Believe it or not we did ALL of that in about 40 minutes!

...and I am done! YAY!


  1. Super lesson! Congrats on your observation going so great. Thanks for sharing. We are studying Pilgrims next week and now I have some great ideas. Sounds like you are using WBT. I started implementing it this year and I love it. Have you been a WBT class for a long time? I would love to see a post on how it is working in your class.


  2. A+!!!! You are a rock star!! I have an observation coming up and I might just steal this one...LOL!

  3. Wow!! I'm going to use this lesson. I absolutely love it. Maybe my principal will walk in and see us in action. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I love every part of this! Thank you for being so detailed in your description:) My observation is in a week and a half so I will be referring back to this post frequently! You're amazing!

  5. Love your ideas. I will be doing this with my kinders.

  6. Lucky you know when yours is...ours is drop in :). Keeps me on my toes!!!

  7. Congratulations on a great observation! I have mine coming up in 2 weeks and am so stressed. Even though I've been teaching for awhile, these observations always stress and freak me out.

  8. This was an awesome lesson! Thank you for sharing it. :)

  9. Wow! What a great lesson! I love the idea of using a "word splash." You should be so proud of yourself for a job well done!


  10. Great lesson! My administrator has an "educator crush" on Robert Marzano. Ha! This lesson would score me big points with her!!!

    What a relief to be done!!

    ABCs and Polkadots

  11. Love it! We also use Marzano- I am not in love but admits ration and legislators here sure are! Your lesson was amazing! Think I may be using some of it too!

  12. Great lesson! We are using Marzano as well. I kept mentally referring back to my Marzano chart thinking about all the areas you covered. Wow!

  13. What great learning and teaching you have going on in your class! Would love to have seen your lesson in action! So much covered in such a small amount of time!

  14. I wish you would have filmed this! I would have loved to watch this lesson. :) Film a lesson in the future? I like seeing how the kids do with whole brain teaching techniques!

  15. Sounds and looks to me like you had a solid lesson-good luck! Believe it or not but I had my unannounced formal observation Friday morning as well! We were running about 10 minutes behind schedule but that is what happens in a real classroom, right!? The good news is they got to see how wonderful my kiddos are at Daily 5 as well as the writing lesson, which was finishing up introducing the thinking map, Bubble Map. Our goal for the week was understanding the thinking used for the bubble map and being able to create a bubble map. After finishing adding bubbles to describe themselves, the kiddos did an exit ticket of a bubble map all but 5 had it-the five confused the circle map w/bubble map-so will need to review w/them. I love the 'status check' and will download immediately! I have a system for criteria for their work, but this is Marzano-iffic! Don't you just love WBT? I've used WBT for over 5 years now. Bless Chris Biffle and his team.
    Thank you!

  16. Thanks for taking the time to share your lesson! I have a feeling that this is my week to be observed. Our district is observing all 1600+ teachers this year, regardless of cycle. Because I'm new to the district, I'll be observed informally 4x and formally 4x. Lots of pressure!

    I'm adding your unit to my wish list!
    Chrissy at ReadWriteSing

  17. I love your venn diagram group exercise! This post has given me some new ideas for the Thanksgiving unit! :D THank you. Also, I am trying WBT method this year. I noticed you are using mirror, and teach-okay. What other things are you using in your class?

  18. I love this lesson! Do you happen to have a unit plan for this unit like you did for your bats? It was really helpful for ideas! My email is Thanks!

  19. I love the Venn diagram!! Would you sell that separately on TPT? I would love to purchase that activity!!

  20. So glad your observation went well! I love your anchor charts!


  21. Maria, email me and I can split that up for you :)

  22. Love your ideas! You are a very talented teacher!

  23. Congratulations! You are such a talented teacher! I am so glad that I found you blog! Thanks for sharing your ideas!!

  24. Do you have your lesson plan template for this lesson? I want to know how you write this lesson out when being observed using the marzano model. Thank you so much! Your lesson looked like a lot of work!

  25. Do you have your lesson plan template for this lesson? I want to know how you write this lesson out when being observed using the marzano model. Thank you so much! Your lesson looked like a lot of work!

  26. Thank you for sharing! Such a wonderful lesson with so many innovative ideas. I teach third grade but I love how you've incorporated the self-check component into all of your lessons. Did you create the "status check" posters? I looked on your TPT account and didn't see them but I am very interested in buying/downloading them! Thank you!!!

  27. I did make those 'status check' posters. I know I posted them somewhere but don't have time to look haha. Just email me at