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


Anonymous said...

Man I would have lost it.

You're much cooler than me. I would have made him eat the table and said something akin to "hey sparky, you think you can do **&^ better show me how."

I teach high school, all I have to submit is benchmark, objective and modification for special or 504. I do more, because as I say "the more I plan the better I do."

My principal is more concerned with what he sees when he walks in. He says "anybody can write awesome lesson plans, I want to see action."

If he walked in and saw students up and doing exercises (as he often does in my class) he would be rolling with joy.

17 (really 15) more years said...

I barely got through this posting, that's how aggravated I was getting reading it.

I'm all for lesson PLANNING- but that's all it is - a PLAN, and occasionally we have to deviate from it. Whether it be due to unforeseen circumstances (the bomb scare), or the kids really not getting it (in which case, I would reteach the topic in a different way, not necessarily replan it)if I deviate from it, I sure as hell don't go home and replan every night. The best I would do is put a post- it in my planbook to remind me what I needed to do the next day.

Your AP is an ass, and must have been a crappy teacher.

Moriah Untamed said...

Hobbitt, Thanks, maybe that's why administrators don't usually come to these hearings. They get to sit in their own cozy office and communicate by speaker phone. No danger of being made eat the table. But I do hope this post makes him want to eat his words.

17/15, Thanks, it's aggravating for me to write it. The only reason that I am putting all this stuff into writing is because they shouldn't be allowed to get away with saying things like this in secret little rooms. It's a PUBLIC school system. Let them take PUBLIC responsibility for their words and actions.

17 (really 15) more years said...

Moriah- What really gets me is with the total, abysmal shortage of qualified science teachers, they're going after somebody with both knowledge and experience? I'm part of a department of two- in the10 years I've been in my building, there has been a revolving door of incompetents teaching science- not one of them certified to do so.

Too bad there are no more seniority transfers- I'd be honored to work with you.

Anonymous said...

Moriah, I'd love to have you as my son's grade 7 science teacher!! The burnout my son has needs to go, he's not working hard at all, and you are such a fine teacher, I can tell from your detailed and very well thought out lesson plans. Keep fighting, this is such a contrived cat-and-mouse game.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Ms. T.

I hate to be a conspiricist but this process that M is going through is designed to drive her out of the system as we all know that the decision is already in the bag!

They need qualified Math and Science teachers but they want them inexperienced, submissive and most impoortantly at the lowest end of the pay sclae!

Anonymous said...

Here are two historical items which may be of interest to you:

I recommend that you use a search engine to search for "Office of Appeals and Reviews" to find some newer items.

Moriah Untamed said...

Ms T.
Thank you for your comment. What is your son interested in? No matter what it is, there is a link to science. My son's interest in photography eventually led him to related fields in chemistry and physics.

As long as he knows that his education is important to you, he'll keep on learning.


As usual, we agree.

Moriah Untamed said...

Annon April 6,

The links to a case of child sex abuse and the old-boy's network in the old Board of Ed are interesting.

I used to think that child abuse and its coverup was the worst thing happening in the old BOE.

Now I think that there is a large scale witchhunt against innocent teachers who have done nothing wrong. The witch hunters are always using the word--ABUSE. Verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse. These charges are being thrown at innocent people who have dedicated their lives to the education of other peoples' children.

I hate child abuse in any form. But I hate the witch hunt that Bloomberg has launched against all of us with the excuse that he is getting rid of abusive teachers. He is the abuser, and so are his abusive administrators. It wouldn't surprise me if some of them were the real child abusers and that they are still protected by the same old-boys network.

Anonymous said...

Moriah, is there any further news? Is the administration still on your case? Have you seen the report of the Chancellor's Committee?

Moriah Untamed said...

Hi Anon May 12,

I've been too busy with science projects, the 8th grade statewide exam and 3rd & 4th marks to post.

Since the 4th marking period is ALMOST over I now have time to write. This weekend I plan to start catching up.

I have not seen the report of the Chancellor's Committee. What is it about?