Saturday, March 29, 2008

U-rating Hearing: Cross Examination by Assistant Principal Z

NOTE FROM MORIAH: This post will continue the Cross Examination by Administrators with Assistant Principal Z questioning me about the lesson he observed on Friday, February 16, 2006 during the last period of the day before a vacation (Mid-winter Break). I got an unsatisfactory rating for this lesson (of course). I posted Mr. Z's written observation report and my response on August 18, 2007 under "Third Unsatisfactory Observation". Someday I will learn how to make the magic blue words that automatically take you back to 8/18/07. For now, you'll just have to scroll.

Because we constantly refer to these lesson plans throughout this post, I will place them at the top.




Students will be able to:
-design an experiment given a source idea.
-carry out the experiment
-collect the data
-draw conclusions
-share discoveries

By the end of the week, 75% to 100% of the students should have their projects in the following format:



Independent Variable:
Dependent Variable:
Controlled Variables:

Problem: How will ___________ affect ___________?
Hypothesis: If_______________, then________________.
I think this way because __________________.



Idea #1 How long does it take a material to decompose?
Source: Bottle Biology by Kendall-Hunt

Idea #2 How does height affect temperature?
Source: Matter and Energy p. 118

Idea #3 How do insulators affect heat transfer?
Source: Matter and Energy pp 122 and 123

Idea #4 Which substances change temperature faster?
Source: Matter and Energy p. 112

Idea #5 How do rocks affect acidity
Source: Chemical interaction p. 143 question 4

Idea #6 How do Christmas tree lights work?

Idea # 7 What are the properties of a polymer?

Idea #8 What are exothermic and endothermic reactions?

(During the preobservation conference, I explained the following to Mr. Z:
“All of my students have already done at least ten experiments and written up ten lab reports. This week, students will be divided into eight groups. Each group will work on one of the problems above. During the week, they will go through all of the steps of a science project. Given the problem, the students will state a hypothesis, define their variables, design a procedure, gather data, and state a conclusion. If a group prefers to work on their own project instead of one of the assigned projects, they will be given permission to do so. By the end of the week I want them to have their own science project organized into the PROJECT TEMPLATE on page one.” This explanation was not written into the weekly plan.)



SWBAT Explore the topic of their experiment (or an assigned experiment).
OPENING: Explain goals of the week
MINILESSON: Review the Template for the experimental design.
GROUP WORK: Explore the experiment idea and topic. Read Text references.
Identify the Problem, Hypothesis, Materials, Procedure, Variables.
SHARE: Experiment topic.
HOMEWORK: Ask questions about the topic.


SWBAT: Prepare a detailed procedure and data table.

OPENING: Review Procedures and tables used in previous labs.

MINILESSON: Review Template.

Write procedure
Prepare data table

SHARE: Explain to class about experiment.

HOMEWORK: Prepare data table, Ask questions, Read about Topic



SWBAT: Carry out an experiment and collect data.

OPENING: Give out materials.

GROUP WORK: Carry out experiment.

CLOSING: Clean up after Experiment

HOMEWORK: Read about your science experiment topic. Write one of the parts of the LAB.


SWBAT: Make a Project Poster and share their results with the class.

OPENING: Give out colors and paper.
MINILESSON: Review Poster format
GROUP WORK: Make poster for experiment carried out in lesson 3.
SHARE: Take turnes doing “walk aobut” students visit each other’s tables and discuss results.
HOMEWORK: Prepare a template for your science project.


SWBAT: Prepare a detailed procedure and data table for their own science project.
(See lesson #2)


ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL Z: There were comments made that during the lesson I observed the wording about students sitting passively and was vague. Is it not true that there are students specifically listed as sitting idlely?

MORIAH: You say a few students you name two. Two is not a few.

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL Z: That is true. It says a few students including… Therefore the few students included the two.

MORIAH: You noticed a few students off task. I was going around helping those few students who were off task get on task. In the end everyone but the two students you mentioned were on task and eventually even those two became somewhat involved.

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL Z: Somewhat involved. The question is, how did you know that. There was no planned share. No assessment, summary, or closing. How would you know the status of the class at the conclusion of the lesson without any summarizing activity, closing, share or assessment.

MORIAH: I went around to each group and talked to each group in turn. They were planning their science projects and I thought that it was inappropriate to interrupt the groups from planning their projects, because it was the last day before the vacation and they needed to get each other’s telephone numbers and make sure they could get in touch, make lists of what they had to buy, etc. So to interrupt and have them share when they still weren’t finished, I felt was inappropriate. My interpretation of share and assessment is not necessarily that it has to be whole class, but that we could have small group shares as well. That was my understanding at that time.

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL Z: Ok there are variations of the summary. Although a lesson might extend over several days, this does not mean that there should not be closing summary at the end of each and every lesson. How would the students know if the class had met the objective of the day if there was no summary to articulate a closing, review, wrap up or summary?

MORIAH: I don’t understand why there can’t be small group assessing by the teacher, if its right for that lesson. Wouldn’t it be more exact to know what each group is doing? You’re talking a lot about “differentiation”. If it is a whole group and they are at different levels, how am I supposed to know where each group has gotten to. In that particular lesson, I wanted to know how each group was doing, because if not, I could always contact them during the vacation or get them in after the vacation to help them one on one. So it really was a small group assessment rather than a whole group. My problem is that The America's Choice Workshop Model comes from ELA and Math. You aren’t using a lot of materials. It’s all about from book to paper and back. I can understand how you can plan a lesson and know exactly what is going to happen, but in inquiry science, we don’t always know what is going to happen and how long it is going to take for each group. So at that time it wasn’t appropriate to have whole group.

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL Z: It is good pedagogical practice for students to be able to share and assimilate their learning, to share their ideas, to pick up from each other. I would like to point out that the statement you just made regarding planning for other subjects, but we do have to plan for science as well. My question is, where is the lesson plan for February sixteenth?

MORIAH: It was on the paper that was on the board. Class 8E lost a period because of the bomb threat and another two periods because of parent-teachers’ conferences. They only had two periods that week whereas other classes had five. So as I told you in the post observation conference, I had to take five lessons, and make them into two. They had already had a lesson in which they had talked about different projects and they had shared, and so this was really the time when they had to talk within their own science project group and come up with a plan that they could follow during the vacation. So I understand rules and pedagogical philosophy but in real life we have to be flexible and adjust. And a bomb scare is one of those times. If anyone had taken an interest in what 8E did for their science projects you would have seen that in the end it all came together.

Here is a list of their science projects:
1. How does temperature affect the stickiness of gum?
2. Which soda bottle will lose more liquid?
3. How does age affect memory?
4. Which fruit will rot faster?
5. Which glue is stronger?
6. Does soft fabric burn faster than rough fabric?
7. What is the effect of color on heat absorption?
8. Which material is the best insulator?
9. Which is the best lubricant, oil or cream?
10. How does music affect sleep?
11. What is the difference between an exothermic reaction and an endothermic reaction?

ASSIST. PRINCIPAL Z You did say to me in the post observation conference that you had to modify the lesson due to the bomb scare, but my question is, where is the lesson plan for the lesson you gave. You did not give it to me during the preobservation conference. I observed your lesson. There was no written lesson plan, nor did you bring one to the post observation.

MORIAH: There was a written lesson plan on the poster chart in the front of the room—on a large piece of paper at the front of the room.

ASSIST. PRINCIPAL Z – The Agenda, do you mean?


ASSIT. PRINCIPAL Z –That was for the students. Where was the teacher’s lesson plan?

MORIAH: That was my lesson plan.

ASSIST. PRINCIPAL Z: Let me just clarify then that your lesson plan was the Agenda that you had posted in your room?

MORIAH: That’s correct.

ASSIST. PRINCIPAL Z: And according to the Chancellor’s Regulations that have been quoted to you several times, how would you submit that lesson plan to a supervisor upon request?

MORIAH: I assumed that my supervisor was sufficiently aware of the events that had taken place in the building that week and had already received lesson plans that covered that whole week and would see that the lesson plan was a “succinction” of the five lesson plans that I gave you. In other words it was not the exact fifth lesson plan, but it was a coming together of the five lesson plans that I had already given you. In other words I modified lesson plans that I gave you, but I did not give you that modification.

ASSIST. PRINCIPAL Z. –Ms. Moriah, the Agenda is not a lesson plan. I would like to draw your attention to the third lesson plan for that week that has an objective: Students will carry out an experiment to collect data. It is obvious that this is a hands-on lesson with materials, but when I observed your lesson, there were no materials and no hands-on lesson. How was that lesson a part of the lesson I observed?

MORIAH: I’m sorry to have disappointed you. I would also like to state that although I shared all these lesson plans with you, you did not tell me what day you would observe me. You came in the last period on the last day before the Midwinter Break.

ASSIST. PRINCIPAL Z. I’ll rephrase. How was that hands-on lesson incorporated into the lesson that I observed. I would assume that on the last day of the week, you would be finishing up the objectives of the week. My question is, did you meet those objectives.

MORIAH: Please refer to PAGE ONE where it says “Lesson Plans: February 12 through February 16 “Goals for the Week” : Students will be able to design an experiment, given a source idea, carry out an experiment, collect data, draw conclusions, and share discoveries. By the end of the week, 75 to 100% of the students should have their projects in the following format.” This is the modified lesson plan you observed, because this was the ultimate goal of the week. It shows the template that the student used on the 16th. The template in the plan is the same one that was on the Agenda. It has drawing vs drawing, independent variable, dependent variable, controlled variables, problem, hypothesis. I had to take what I wanted as the goal for the whole week and make sure that it happened by Friday, and it did because most of the students were had an idea for the project they were going to do and they did refer to their projects as “Versus experiments”

ASSIST. PRINCIPAL Z. Are you saying that the goals of the week are individual lesson plans? I am confused.

MORIAH: No. I’m stating that the goals of the week, PAGE ONE where it states that 75-100% of the students should have their projects in the following format—that is the lesson of that day.

ASSIT. PRINCIPAL—Ok then on PAGES THREE AND FOUR I see five individual lesson plans—Lesson 1, Lesson 2, and so on. Which one of those lesson was the lesson that I observed on February 16?

MORIAH: The introduction, where it says “Goals of the Week” beginning “by the end of the week…PAGE ONE. That was the lesson plan of that day.

ASSIT. PRINCIPAL Z. The other pages THREE and FOUR show individual lessons. Are you saying that the “Goals of the Week” was your lesson plan for the entire week?

MORIAH: I’m saying that it was for that day. They were able to do LESSON 3. Remember, this was the class that had only two lessons because of the bomb scare and parent-teacher conferences. This class did LESSON 3 approximately. They did not do the project poster. They did not prepare a detailed procedure and data table, but they did set up an actual experiment with an independent variable and dependent variable and contRolled variables with a problem and hypothesis. It had to be modified. It’s a good idea to have “Goals of the Week” because then I can modify and make it happen as much as possible.

ASSIST. PRINCIPAL Z. Are you stating that in the observed lesson a large number of the objectives were not met?

MORIAH: No. Am I stating that the Goals of the Week were not met during that week? The class lost three periods that week. They did not cover everything in each of the lesson plans—those objectives were met subsequently-- but they were able to meet the Goals of the Week. The main Goals of the Week stated on PAGE ONE WERE ACHIEVED for 75 to 80 percent of the students in the class.

ASSIST. PRINCIPAL Z – In our post-observation conference you did state that you modified your lesson plans and I stated that it was your responsibility to rewrite your lesson plan. Did you do that for that particular lesson? The bomb evacuation was on Monday. The observed lesson was on Friday. My question is: had you prepared in those five days a written lesson plan for Friday, February 16 according to Chancellor’s Regulations?

MORIAH: For me, and again, these lesson plans are for me—the “Goals of the Week” on page 4.3 was sufficient because they state the end goal for the week.

ASSIST. PRINCIPAL Z. Didn’t you just say to me that you were following LESSON THREE for that observation?

MORIAH: No I said I was following PAGE ONE--the introductory page where it says “Goals for the Week”. If you see, it is very similar to what you wrote as the Introduction to that lesson.

ASSIT. PRINCIAPL Z. Am I to understand that the “Goals of the Week” is the lesson plan? It is not part of lesson 1, lesson 2, lesson 3. How would I know that?

MORIAH: Well, if you had told me that you were coming, and when you were coming, I would have told you what I was doing. I asked you in the post observation conference if you expected me to modify my lessons every single day and you said that I was supposed to rewrite the lesson plans over and over again every single day if I was not going to follow the plans exactly as I had written them. I don’t really need that, but if you do, then it would be good for you to tell me when you’re going to come because I would have been glad to rewrite that lesson plan so that you would know exactly what to expect when you walked into the classroom.

ASSIST. PRINCIPAL Z. As a professional I am sure that you are aware that you need a lesson plan every day whether a supervisor is coming into your classroom or not. I would like to draw your attention to Principal P’s letter to you in which she directs you to meet with me every Monday to discuss your lesson plans for the week. Each day must be planned separately. There must also be an assessment as to whether or not you met the objectives of the day. In your statement before about modifying, is that following the directive of your Principal—to plan each day separately?

MORIAH: Ok Am I now being told that I have to rewrite a different set of lesson plans every single day?

AP Z : Yes and that’s according to Chancellor’s Regulations. You must have a lesson plan for each class lesson. If you had to modify a lesson as you stated, wouldn’t you in best practices rewrite a lesson plan?

MORIAH: If a lesson plan is for me, and I know what I’m doing, and I don’t see the necessity of rewriting it because it’s already written right there on the page, then I don’t see the necessity. What you are trying to do is set a precedent for every teacher in New York City to have to rewrite their lessons every night.

ASSIST. PRINCIPAL Z.: Are you stating that you do not see the necessity to follow Chancellor Regulations?

MORIAH: I’m saying that we have a difference of opinion about what that Regulation means.

ASSIST. PRINCIPAL Z. I think the Chancellor’s Regulations are very clear, Ms. Moriah. Would you like me to read them to you?

ADVISOR : Objection.

MORIAH; I don’t think we’re going anywhere. What do you want me to say, Mr. Z? I think I had a lesson plan, and you think I didn’t so there’s a difference of opinion, and I’m not going to say that I didn’t have a lesson plan, because I think it stated very clearly what I was trying to do. If you didn’t understand what was going on because it was out of sequence, I’m sorry and I would have been glad to talk it over with you before the class.

ASSIT. PRINCIPAL Z. Once again you use the term, “I don’t see the necessity”. Ms Moriah, do you not see the necessity to follow the Chancellor’s Regulations and the directives of your Principal?

At this point the Hearing Officer interrupted, and said were going around in circles.

NOTE FROM MORIAH: During my testimony I claimed that my lesson plan was on a large chart paper at the front of the room. That chart paper read as follows:

OBJECTIVE: SWBAT plan their science projects

MINILESSON: Project Description Template

Represent the project as a simple Drawing ________________ VS _________________

Hypothesis: If I ________________ then _______. I think this way because ________________.

Independent Variable: _________________
Dependent Variable: ___________________
Controlled Variables: __________________

Problem: How will _____________ affect _______________?
independent variable dependent variable

GROUP WORK: Fill in template for an experiment

SHARE: Plan how you and your partners will work on the project during the vacation

HOMEWORK: Bring in project written in lab report form by February 26

Sunday, March 23, 2008

U-Rating Hearing Cross Examination by Principal

PRINCIPAL: Ms Moriah, when I entered your room on Nov. 14, what was your statement?

MORIAH: I was in the middle of a lesson in which 8 lab groups were finding the density of two bars of soap and there was a lot of equipment, and I could not find the lesson plan I had it and I asked you if I could give it to you after wards, because I was very busy with the lab groups.

PRINCIPAL: In the meeting of Nov. 14 in presence of your UfT representative, what was your response when I asked you why you did not have a lesson plan?

MORIAH: That during a lab it is very disruptive to stop and have to look for a lesson plan. I am always glad to see the principal come into the room, but to please wait to ask for the lesson plan after the lesson.

PRINCIPAL: At that meeting, did you not tell me that you did not need a lesson plan and that the lesson plan is in your head?

MORIAH: There is a big difference between not having a lesson plan and not having a lesson plan on the desk during a lab.

PRINCIPAL: Tell me what the difference is.

MORIAH: The difference in not having a lesson plan would have meant that
I did not know that I had to bring 8 triple beam balances. I did not know that I had to bring 8 graduated cylinders, two bars of soap. In other words, I would not have known what to do that day. But the lab was very very carefully planned. All materials were present. I knew the exact procedure. All the children knew the exact procedure. There was 100% success rate in finding the density of both bars of soap. Children were able to write up a lab, an example of which I gave you and which I have here. So it would be impossible to do all that without writing up a lesson plan, but my emphasis was on having the equipment rather than having a piece of paper that I have memorized. You are always welcome to ask for it. I usually have a written lesson plan, but there are times when perhaps I might get caught without the piece of paper, but the lesson is not only planned, I have it memorized in my head.

PRINCIPAL: But as per Chancellor’s memo 666 and the faculty handbook that you received at the beginning of the year, you must have a written plan and you must have the lesson plan available when it is requested. You said just now that you “usually” have a written lesson plan. All teachers must have a planned lesson. A written lesson plan. Please explain to me why you did not follow the faculty handbook, the Chancellor’s Regulations and the Principal’s Memos. You must have a written lesson plan ALL the time.

MORIAH: I am fallible human being. I am very sorry that in addition to all of the equipment I was not able to put my hands on the lesson plan. I had already collected 160 lab reports. It got mixed up with those. I was a traveling teacher. It is my fault that I couldn’t put my hands on the lesson plan. But I don’t understand why you didn’t make any remarks on the extremely successful lesson that was given and all of your emphasis was on one thing.

PRINCIPAL: Your are saying that you did not follow Chancellor’s regulations, and you did not have a lesson plan.

MORIAH: I already said that I am a fallible human being and that I made a mistake.

PRINCIAL: On March 23 2007 you did not have a lesson plan when Assistant Principals X and Y entered the classroom, you did not have a lesson plan. I ask you why in this instance you did not have a lesson plan.

MORIAH:Could you wait just a minute please? What date was that again?

ON march 23, 2007 I was a traveling teacher and I had a small cart with 13 science project boards from 7F the lowest class that I had.

The science projects were:

How does color affect the melting rate of ice?
How does a change in air pressure affect an egg?
How does temperature affect an electromagnet?
How can we use cabbage juice as a pH indicator?
Which substance filters water the best?
What is the effect of soda on the fizz of a soda?
Will seeds grow better in a covered jar or an uncovered jar?
How do we find if a food has starch?
How much bounce will a handball lose if it is dropped from different heights?
Have you ever wondered how clouds form?
How will different amounts of baking soda and vinegar affect how high a film canister will pop?
How does density of a liquid affect how ice floats.
How can we test different liquids for pH?

At that time I was overwhelmed by the number of boards on the cart. We were going to have a science project fair for 7F. Ms X came in and asked for the lesson plan and when she couldn’t find it she turned around and left without looking at the science projects of 7F. Without giving the children the approval that this low level class needed.

PRINCIPAL: Let me repeat my question. Why did you not have a lesson plan?

MORIAH: It was buried under 13 science boards.
PRINCIPAL: How were you going to address all of those topics without a written lesson plan?

MORIAH: There is a difference between not having a plan on a piece of paper and not knowing what to do. The science project fair was very simple. They were going to go around and critique each others science projects. We had gone over this before. It was a matter of setting up the 13 boards and giving the students a chance to see each other’s work in a matter of 45 minutes. Because I was a traveling teacher, I had to set them up fast, and I’m sure that if Ms. X had stayed around to see the projects, she would have seen my plans as well because my plans were at the bottom of the projects.

PRINCIPAL: Please explain why you didn’t have a lesson plan. You are supposed to be able to produce a lesson plan at the time it is requested. Are you saying that you did not have one?

MORIAH: I am saying that I had one. They were at the bottom of 13 science boards. We set up the science boards. The lesson plan was there. As soon as the lesson was over I went directly to Ms. X’s office and gave it to her.

PRINCIPAL: Did you not say to Ms. X that your lesson was in the lab. You stated that your lesson plan was in the lab.

MORIAH: I had a plan in the lab, and I had a plan on the cart because I knew that I have to have a plan.

PRINCIPAL: So you are saying that you did not have a lesson plan.

NOTE FROM MORIAH: I DID have lesson plans for the lessons that were mentioned, I just couldn't produce them ON DEMAND during the time I was teaching my students: Here are they are.



OBJECTIVE: Students will be able to compare and contrast the densities of two bars of soap and predict whether or not each one will float.

1 large transparent jar of water—for teacher’s use

8 set-ups:
Ivory Soap
Jergens Soap
Triple Beam Balance
Metric Ruler

Note: This lesson does not have a teacher-prepared worksheet. Students are being trained to write their own procedures and to organize their data themselves.

OPENING: (Whole Class) (5 to 10 minutes)


1. Dictate the Problem: Which soap has a greater density? Ivory or Jergens?
2. Assign Jobs according to instruments used
a. Find the volume of the bar of Ivory: Ruler
b. Find the volume of the bar of Jergens: Ruler
c. Find the mass of the bar of Ivory and the bar of Jergens: Triple Beam Balance.
d. Find the density of the bar of Ivory and the bar of Jergens: Calculator
3. Monitors help hand out equipment

GROUP WORK (30 minutes)
1. Students find the density of the two bars of soap and write their data in their journals in the following table:




2. Monitors help retrieve equipment

ASSESSMENT (10 minutes)

Use the Data to set up a problem and a hypothesis

Problem: Can Soap Float
1. Teacher explains the rule for density.

0.9 g/cm3 < 1.0 g/cm3 < 1.1 g/cm3
float float sink

2. Groups share their data and predict whether or not one or both of the soaps will float based on their measurements.
3. Students write their hypotheses in their journals
4. A monitor places each soap in water to test its density.
5. Students write down whether their hypothesis was confirmed by their observations.



OBJECTIVE: SWBAT Evaluate other students' science projects.

OPENING: Explain to the students that today we will be holding a class science fair. They will be walking around the classroom observing the work of other groups. Because there would be only two or three minutes to visit each project, students should focus on the problem and the conclusion: What was the question, and what was the answer. They should also notice the hypothesis, data, visual presentation, and art work. Remind students that next Monday, they will begin the group presentations. This will give students a chance to preview the science boards up close before the group presentations.

Have students move the desks to the sides of the room and place the project boards around the room.


Students view the work of all groups and answer the following questions:

1. What was the question? (Problem)
2. What was the answer? (Conclusion)
3. Did the data support the Answer?
4. Does the visual presentation help you understand the project at a glance? Does it "sell" the project?


Place the project boards on the cart. Replace the desk in rows. Vote for your Four Favorite Projects.


Ask three questions that you can answer after viewing the projects of other students
Ask three questions that you cannot answer, but would like to know the answers to.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

U-rating Hearing: Advisor's Statement Re: Observation #4

ADVISOR: Please refer to the Observation of May 29, 2006 by ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL X

Recommendations: bullet #1 “During the lesson when you stated, ‘How can a brain cell live w/o oxygen?", you answered the question without giving students the opportunity to respond. This demonstrates that student needed prior knowledge and proper wait time.”

This was an Honors class. Students did not mind being asked questions that they could not immediately answser. It did not make the students feel frustrated or disrespected. It simply made them feel challenged to find the answer. Some of the students attended weekly biology classes at Long Island City High School, and they did have prior knowledge that Ms. Moriah thought they might be able to share with the class.

Looking at the 4th bullet: “Assignment seemed easy to some students” because they figured out how to use the textbook and the fact sheet.

Some groups finished before others. Ms. Moriah had not expected anyone to finish in 15 minutes. She expected them to take this time to familiarize themselves with the information and model. The real problem solving would take place the next day.

Ms Moriah is criticized for not going over the findings. The problem is that after 15 minutes one group had the answer and the other groups were still searching for the answer. She preferred to wait until the next period to address the findings of all the groups. To do so otherwise would have been to rush most of the students through the challenge and not allow the time to think it through.

NOTE FROM MORIAH: I responded in detail to this observation on Untamed Teacher in the post titled "Uninformed and Inflexible", dated August 29, 2007

U-Rating Hearing: Advisor's Statement Re Observation 2/16/2007

ADVISOR: Please refer to the Observation of FEBRUARY 16 2007 by ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL Z.

In the middle of the preobservation conference, there was a bomb threat necessitating the evacuation of the building. Ms MORIAH had given Mr. Z the lesson plans of the week. To her knowledge the lessons including the objectives were approved by Mr. Z.

Mr. Z states that when he entered the room the students were sitting passively.

Ms. MORIAH was reviewing what she had done during the last lesson. During that lesson she had introduced the project template and they practiced using it. She modeled its use by demonstrating one of the experiments in the Idea Fair.

The statement that the students were sitting passively is vague and lacking in specificity. No mention was made of who those students were. How do we know they were passive? No criteria inidicating what determines passivity on the part of the students was established.

Mr. Z criticized the group work segment. All of the students were to fill in a project template using one of the experiments that they had done. This was a higher order thinking assignment. Students were engaged in analyzing past projects in order to find the variables. Pairs worked together in order to indentify the variables.


I wrote detailed response to this observation and posted it on Untamed Teacher under the title "Third UNsatisfactory Observation" on Saturday, August 18, 2007.

U-Rating Hearing: Advisor's Statement RE: Principal's Observation

ADVISOR: Please refer to document 3.0- The Observation of 12/19/2006, written by Principal P.

According to document, the preobseration conference was conducted on December 19, 2006 (Weekly meetings with ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL Z ). The observation also was on December 19. Based on this information, and what Ms. MORIAH has relayed to us, there was no formal preobservation conference for this particular lesson. It is true that Ms. MORIAH did meet with MR. Z. on a weekly basis, sharing with him her planning. However, on December 19, the date that she was observed, there was no conference in which they sat down to discuss the actual lesson that was being presented that day. A teacher in danger of getting a U-rating is to be afforded the opportunity to have a preobservation conference prior to the lesson itself. The supervisor critiques the plan, discusses it with the teacher, and offers suggestions if necessary so that they come out of the conference with the information necessary and with an understanding of what a successful lesson should entail.

It is true that Mr. Z did have weekly meetings with Ms. MORIAH, but she was not aware that she was going to be observed by PRINCIPAL P and she did not have the opportunity to sit down and discuss that particular lesson with PRINCIPAL P and to take into account any advice or suggestions that PRINCIPAL P OR MR. Z could have offered her to help her in the presentation of her lesson.

At the post observation conference lessons are reviewed and discussed. Suggestions are offered to help the performance of the teacher. Here we have a situtation in which the teacher was observed (by PRINCIPAL P) on Dec. 19. The post observation conference was held one month later, Jan 19. That is a time period of one month with a Christmas recess in between. At the post observation conference, the lesson is discussed and comments are made. There is no record here of when the lesson was reduced to writing and whether it falls within the three-month time frame. The only indication that we do have is that Ms. MORIAH did sign it on March 20. Between January 19 and March 20 we have no idea as to when it was written. It is true that Ms. MORIAH did speak to PRINCIPAL P. on January 19, but 4 weeks is a very long period of time for an observation to have any worth. Four weeks later, other lessons have been taught, and the recommendations designed to help Ms. Moriah improve were not said until Jan 19. This is not a system of GOTCHA. It is the professional responsibility of the supervisor to observe a teacher (and here we do have a teacher in danger of getting a U-rating), and it is incumbant on the administrator to meet with her in a timely fashion, and to reduce the information to writing so that Ms. MORIAH can use this observation as a learning tool, so that she can implement any recommendations for improvement and then at subsequent lessons, be assessed on the degree to which she made improvements.

Please refer to Page 3.2 of the observation report: Recommendation #2. "Students were asked multiple questions right after another. "

According to Ms. MORIAH, students were not asked multiple questions one right after another. There was a lively give and take of ideas.

Recommendation #3. "Most of the questions asked during the lesson were based on a single recall from text. This kind of questioning is at the lowest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy."

Blooms taxonomy is a hierarchy of skills. You have to start with lower level thinking especially when the subject matter is new or difficult as we have in science. Lower order questions are also appropriate if the readability level of the text is close to the frustration level as it was in this case.

Recommendation #4 ""Student participation limited to a few. "

Student participation was not limited. Most students were in pairs. They were assigned to ask questions and to anwer them from the reading assignment. They shared answers with those sitting directly across from them.

Recommendation #10 "Homework was dictated and not meaningful"

Homework was assigned verbally, but it was a homework assignment that Ms. MORIAH often gives. It does not need to be modeled. She had previously demonstrated the technique of summarizing a lesson in paragraph form. Criteria had already been established. Students knew how to successfully meet her expectations.

NOTE FROM MORIAH: I wrote a sentence by sentence response to Principal P's observation report. You can read the complete observation and response on Untamed Teacher under "HIV UNscripted". See Friday, August 27, 2007.

U-Rating Hearing: Advisor's Statement--RE: Plans

File Letter written Nov. 17 2006 from Princial P. to MORIAH

ADVISOR: Although Ms. MORIAH did not physically have her plan book present at that moment when it was requested, The lesson did involve considerable planning and preparation. Ms. MORIAH teaches a hands-on inquiry lesson needing a lot of scientific equipment. She was teaching in a nonscience classroom, and all the students in her charge were successful in learning how to use their equipment—how to find mass, volume, density and how to write a lab report. The students were interested in what they were doing, and all of them participated in the lesson. According to the UFT contract, the planbook and it's format is at the discretion of the teacher. Ms. MORIAH did in fact plan for these lessons, and she had at her disposal information that provided her with the knowledge of exactly what she was going to be doing during that lesson as was evidenced by the lesson that she did teach the children.

NOTE FROM MORIAH: I posted the complete letter from the principal and my reply on this blog. See Unobservant Principal--Thursday, August 16, 2007.

U-Rating Hearing: UFT Advisor's Opening Statement--Letters of Commendation


My advisor opened by saying that I had been a teacher for 23 years and had taught science at IS. 666 for the past seven years. Prior to the 2006-2007 school year, I had always earned satisfactory ratings.

The advisor then entered into evidence two letters that I had received from Principal P:

1. December 17 2004. "Dear Ms. Moriah, As we close out the 2004 fall semester it is with great pleasure that I take the opportunity to thank you for your time, energy and efforts given to I.S. 666. We are very grateful. Now rest and have a safe and restful holiday.

2. December 8, 2005. "Dear Ms. Moriah, Thank you for your willingness to help make Meet the Teacher Night such a wonderful success. The night was possible only because you and other teachers generously gave up an evening to meet and greet the parents. Each parent I spoke to appreciated the presentation in which you clearly explained the curriculum and our expectations for the school year. They were thrilled with your presentation. Your continued support and willingness to help have enabled the school to progress. You are a definite asset to our school."

The advisor observed that one year I was being complemented and was earning satisfactory ratings and the next year I received a U-rating. People's abilities don't usually diminish that quickly.

Monday, March 3, 2008

U-Rating Hearing: UFT Cross Examines Administrators

Advisor: Is it so that the observation referred to in document 3.0 to 3.5 was written on March 20th, 2007?

Principal P: It wasn’t written on March 20th. I was out on sick leave after the post observation conference. It was faxed in on March 20th, but it was not written on March 20th. I met with her on Jan 19.

Advisor: Is it so that on this observation repord of December 19th that there is no date appearing on document 3.0 to 3.5 indicating when the observation report itself was written?

Principal P: It was written right after post observation on 1/19.

Advisor: My question is: Referring to the observation of Dec. 19 in which there was a preobservation conference on Dec 19 and a post observation conference on January 29th, is there on this observation report an indication as to when the observation was actually written?

Principal P: No

Advisor: Thank you

Sunday, March 2, 2008

U-Rating Hearing--Statements by Administrators

Statement by Principal P (barely audible)

As Principal of I.S. 666 I gave Ms. Moriah an unsatisfactory rating because of her:

Lack of lesson planning
Ineffective delivery of lessons
Lack of engaging students
Lack of differentiation to individual needs
Lack of adapting to individual needs

Statement by Assistant Principle Z

During the observation process: preobservation, observation, and postobservation Ms. Moriah has on several occasions not been able to produce lesson plans. She stated to me that they are unnecessary for her. She has been teaching for many years. Therefore, she does not need a written lesson plan. I was asked to meet with her on a weekly basis to review her lesson plans. She did meet with me, and during those weekly meetings, she stated that she herself did not need a copy, Therefore acknowledging that lesson plans were for administrative purposes only and not for her use in class.

Assistant Principle X

It is my supervisory judgement that Ms. Moriah should receive an unsatisfactory rating for the following reasons:

1. Lesson planning. I went into her classroom and asked her for her lesson plan and she did not have one. And she told me she would give it to me the next period.

2. I observed an unsatisfactory lesson.