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The Assessment Center Activities

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Early Adolescence/English Language-Arts

Content Knowledge Examination

  • Completes three, two-hour essay assessments that explore knowledge of composition, literature, and language and language development. Literature and articles from professional journals are provided as a stimulus for each task.

Analysis of Student Writing

  • Analyzes a set of student papers and prepares to discuss the writing and instruction the candidate would design for the students.
  • In a videotaped interview, discusses the writing analysis and how to help the students become better writers with an interviewer.

Instructional Analysis

  • Reads a written commentary and watches a short videotape of a discussion lead by a first-year teacher in a 6th-grade English language-arts class.
  • Writes an analysis of the teacher and makes recommendations for improving her instruction, demonstrating an understanding of young adolescents and how they learn, cultural awareness, and the dynamics of discussion.

Cooperative Group Discussion

  • Candidate is asked to become familiar with eight novels for young adolescents before coming to the assessment center.
  • After a preparation period, participates in a videotaped discussion with other candidates that simulates putting together a 7th-grade curriculum unit on personal relationships. Is given background about the school district and asked to select four of the eight novels for the instructional unit, discussing reasons and recommending ways for teaching the unit.

Early Adolescence/Generalist

Instructional Resources

  • Candidate is sent SimCity, an interactive computer simulation, and asked to become familiar with its potential for teaching history and social studies, science, and mathematics.
  • Is asked to draw on knowledge of content, young adolescent learners, understanding of resources as learning tools, and school-site experience with the simulation to prepare a written analysis. May use brief notes in writing the analysis.

Instructional Analysis

  • Candidate is given materials about a teachers' instruction in mathematics, including a videotape of the teacher's classroom and samples of students' work.
  • Observes and comments on teacher's practice, suggesting strategies that might be more effective and recommending ways to extend the study of mathematics into the arts.

Exploring Curriculum Issues

  • Candidate is asked to think about how middle-grades students might investigate systems of government, ecosystems, and influences of the media.
  • In a group discussion, three or four candidates are given a theme that might be useful in helping students examine the questions. They are asked how the theme might be explored with young adolescents. The discussion is to stimulate candidates' thinking and is not be assessed.
  • Completes a two-hour written assessment that describes the ways the candidate would develop a specified theme and how the content from one of the subjects studied at the school site might contribute to students' understanding.
  • Takes three one-hour, written subject examinations.

SOURCE: National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

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