When two colleagues whom I greatly respect for the depth and breadth of their CLASS knowledge contacted me within 24 hours of each other to ask about how the CLASS defined the indicator of transitions under Productivity, I thought it was probably a good topic for a blog post.

Both noted slight inconsistencies in how the master code justifications explained transitions. One had just completed a K-3 Observation training and noted that in the video,100th Day Estimation, the students listen to instructions, and then physically more around the room to start their estimation. However, the master code justifications note that, "Although they [students] move, there is no transition between activities." 

In contrast in the Heavier and Lighter video in that same training, the teacher has the kids turn briefly to the back wall to review the words related to the math activity, and this is counted as a transition. In fact, the justification includes the length of that transition. The trainer wanted to know why, when both videos show the students waiting for materials to be passed out, transitions were counted as occurring in one video and not in the other? 

Before I respond to this particular question, let’s look at how the CLASS defines transitions. If you read your Pre-K or K-3 manual, you will note that the examples describe whole group movements. For example, the Pre-K Manual states, “all the students know that once certain activities have ended and they have cleaned up their area, they should be on the carpet looking at a book” (pg. 53). But we really look at three types of transitions: 1) The movement of students from one activity to another; 2) Within group transitions as you see in Heavier and Lighter in the K-3 training and Letters and Book Review in the Pre-K training; and 3) Individual child transitions. Think about the how the teacher the Pre-K video in Making Butterflies invites children to come and join them at the butterfly table. Even thought it’s one child at a time, it is considered to be a transition.

Participants do note the inconsistencies in the justifications and it’s OK to say that we have evolved in how we think about transitions and if they note these smaller transitions, they are correct. I also point out that we don't include everything that the master coding team saw in the justifications because it would be overwhelming for someone who is new to the CLASS.

The ABCs of the Parallel Process