April Hylton

Vocabulary Knowledge Rating (VKR)-Have I heard of this before?

When I began my journey to become a teacher, one of the first questions I was asked was “What is your philosophy of education?” After much thought and consideration, I came up with an answer.  Teachers are likened to artists.  The students are our medium.  We are to mold and shape these students into creations of successful learning.  With that being said, how do we, as educators, achieve this goal?  The response is simple, we help these children achieve a deeper learning.  

My journey into creating deeper learning for my students began when I was introduced to the Thoughtful Classroom.  I was tasked with developing a study in which I identified a problem with student learning within my school.  I would then choose an appropriate tool to create a solution and finally, reflect upon my findings.

Over the past few years, I had noticed that my students were using academic vocabulary less and less. This is a problem when, as their teacher, you want them to be able to use terminology and vocabulary in the correct capacity during written assignments and verbal discussion.  The more short-answer and extended responses I analyzed, the more evident the problem became.  Students were not using the content vocabulary in the correct capacity.

Each year, my district utilizes a universal screener such as iReady, MobyMax, and most recently, FastBridge to assess students and perform progress monitoring.  After reviewing universal screener results, my colleagues and I knew something had to be done.  The Deeper Learning Tool, Vocabulary Knowledge Rating, or VKR. This tool provides students with the means to self-assess their own knowledge of content specific vocabulary at the beginning, middle, and end of a unit of study.

At the conclusion of this study, students showed a profound improvement in their content vocabulary knowledge.  They were able to appropriately use terms in the correct context and define the term correctly and/or provide examples.

As a teacher, I consider myself to be a lifelong learner.  I want to instill the same in my students.  I am always in search of professional development opportunities to not only improve myself, but to improve my students.  By exploring the Tools for Deeper Learning, I feel I have done just that.  I have improved upon my teaching abilities, along with my students ability to learn.

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