Using the Performance Continuum Within the Teaching and Learning Cycle

The EFF Teaching and Learning Toolkit describes how practitioners can use the EFF teaching and learning cycle to plan and carry out instruction based on the EFF Standards. This section suggests key points within the teaching and learning cycle where teachers can use the performance continuum to guide planning and assessment based on the Cooperate with Others Standard.

Before Instruction: Assessing Prior Knowledge

In Steps 1 and 2 of the EFF Teaching and Learning Cycle, teachers and learners determine individual and then group goals and purposes and identify the standard that will help the group to achieve a shared goal.

Once students have selected a standard to work on* teachers need to determine students' prior knowledge in relationship to the standard. Teachers also need to assess any subject area or content knowledge students have or need to have to accomplish their goal. The performance continuum can be an important tool at this stage. Below are some tips for using the performance continuum to assess prior knowledge.

*See the Supports section of the Teaching and Learning Toolkit for tips on working with more than one standard.

Using the Performance Continuum to Assess Prior Knowledge

  1. Look over the performance continuum to familiarize yourself with what is required for proficient performance at each level.
  2. Review what you already know about your students, based on intake assessments you or your program may have conducted, standardized test data, student portfolios, and previous student work. Determine the performance levels that appear to best reflect your students' proficiency levels.
  3. Gather additional information you need by asking students to demonstrate and/or reflect on what they already know. Step 2 of the Teaching and Learning Toolkit has several tools you can use. Tailor the questions you ask to fine-tune your understanding of the performance levels of your students.

To understand how the performance continuum can be used with the teaching and learning cycle, consider this activity from an evening adult education class made up of ten adult basic education students at the beginning basic education level and five or six ESL students at the low intermediate level. The class meets for 6 hours a week but students are able to come to the classroom an hour before and stay a half hour after each class session to use the computers. There are five personal computers in the classroom. As the class discussed their learning goals about midway thorough the semester, it became clear that many of the students would like to spend more time learning how to use the computers and practicing their keyboarding skills. The ESL students also wanted to be able to use the Internet to e-mail family and friends in their home countries. A "first come, first serve" policy wasn't working as some students could arrive earlier than others. The teacher suggested that coming up with a plan for sharng the computers would make a good collaborative project. After some discussion the class decided to work on this goal using the Cooperate With Others Standard.

Once the goal and the standard were selected, the teacher reviewed the performance continuum. Since none of the existing assessments her program used assessed cooperation, she found it a bit harder to determine students' current performance level. To help her to assess student levels, she asked students to describe their previous experiences in using cooperation skills using some of the questions and activities in the chart below. Based on what she learned, she determined that most of the class would be working toward achieving proficiency at Level 3 of the continuum.

Gathering Information about Prior Knowledge
Examples from Cooperate with Others
Describing Your Experience Can you think of a situation in which you have had to cooperate to reach a common goal?
  • What did you do to get input from others?
  • In what ways did you offer your own input?
  • What happened when group members didn't understand one another?
  • What happened when they disagreed?
  • How did you adjust your own behaviors to take into account the needs of the group?

How comfortable do you feel working cooperatively in a group (fluency)?

How much help do you think you will need to complete this task (independence)?

Have you ever worked with a group to come up with decisions similar to the ones we will work on (deciding how to share the use of computers)?
Strategies Interview Form Make a list of the strategies that you think members of groups can use to work cooperatively.

Name two or three things you do when you are in a group to make your own voice heard.

Name two or three things you do to get the input of others.

Name two or three things that can be done when a group disagrees.
Cooperation Sample Ask students to respond to a simple cooperation prompt, working in small groups. Choose a topic somewhat similar to students' goal. Observe your students as they interact. Create a simple checklist based on the performance continuum to evaluate students' interactions.

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