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Low-floor, High-ceiling Criteria

Reflection for TRB Standard 5 / Lisa Dumoulin

Standard 5: Educators implement effective practices in areas of classroom management,

planning, instruction, assessment, evaluation and reporting. Educators have the knowledge
and skills to facilitate learning for all students and know when to seek additional support for
their practice. Educators thoughtfully consider all aspects of teaching, from planning through
reporting, and understand the relationships among them. Educators employ a variety of
instructional and assessment strategies (TRB Standards).

What evidence have I chosen to support this standard?

To support this standard, I have chosen a series of photographs that show how I and my
sponsor teacher and school used Straight Ahead, Hills and Mountains differentiated criteria.

What did I learn in creating this piece of evidence?

This strategy for differentiated criteria was shared in one of our courses, by one of my peers
who had seen their sponsor teacher use it.
At first, I had thought, That sounds neat, but Im not sure how Ill use it. After hearing Shelley
Moores keynote address and attending two additional pro-d sessions on Universal Design for
Learning, I began to understand this strategy as one way to put this theory into practice. I use a
term that I encountered in Marilyn Burns work to describe the function of this differentiated
criteria: low-floor, high-ceiling.

Using this strategy taught me three key things:

- When students are provided multiple entry and extension points, they dont feel
confined by a level. Students achieve where they feel competent and not where I
assume they might be. This gives me lots of information as a teacher.
- Thinking in differentiated criteria also helped me to structure learning experiences as
low-floor and high-ceiling ones. This has always been my goal, but having a strategy like
this helped make my planning process more concrete.
- Good ideas get tested and refined and shared. After debriefing from Shelley Moores
keynote address for the Cowichan Valley Teachers Association, I shared this strategy at
our staff meeting. Over the next couple of weeks, my sponsor teacher and I both tried
to use it to support learning in a variety of subject areas and experimented with
different ways to use it (academic and socio-emotional). Other teachers in the school
started experimenting with it too and the primary teachers all decided to use it to help
structure their district wide write in May.

How does this evidence relate to the TRB standard?

This evidence shows that I am conscientious of the relationship between planning, teaching,
assessing and collaborating. I strive to have my philosophies, planning, and practice align and
build one another. It is still an area of my practice where I have lots of growth ahead of me.
Learning about, trying and sharing this strategy has given me one concrete tool in my Universal
Design for Learning toolbelt.
Why is this standard important to me?
This is standard is important to me because it is the basis of good teaching. I believe (and have
seen) that effective planning relates to effective classroom management, effective classroom
management relates to effective instruction and assessment, and effective assessment relates
to effective management, planning and reporting.