The first few months of the year were consumed by GradeBook training. While this has been very, very interesting and excellent learning, one of the best parts has been the collaborative work with coordinators and with talented techies Erin and Paul. The curriculum coordinators bring deep understanding of outcomes, assessment and instruction and Erin and Paul bring their knowledge of PowerSchool. Thanks to all school based consultants for supporting this initiative in schools. Lastly and most importantly, thanks to RPS grades 1 – 8 teachers who have embraced this new technology. While I do not work face to face with all staff, I have worked closely with PowerTeachers. I feel like I know many through email and telephone queries. It is the questions and the feedback from these conversations and from the survey taken after the first reporting period that allow us to make improvements and move forward with GradeBook.
The end of January I was invited to two schools to participate in PRO-D. At Wascana I led a twenty minute opening to their day where staff first examined their curriculum outcomes to identify aboriginal content and perspective directly and indirectly stated. They as other groups that have done this were reminded of the amount of FN & M content built right in our curriculum. I tried to connect the dots to assessment by showing three year cohort data. It helped staff put a face on the statistical mask the data provided and specifically relate it to aboriginal students. I think this was the easy part of the day (at least for me). It led very nicely into a collaborative planning secession led by Jackie T. Her knowledge in this area is inspiring and her passion about stereotyping and willingness to share her knowledge with others always results in much learning. Jackie showed us many quality resources. Together she and a colleague shared how they taught the grade six math outcome regarding quantity in First Nations culture. Jackie brought our attention to stereotypes and reminded us once again that we must be able to critique materials found on the Internet as well as print resources that are abound. We discovered a lesson involving a craft activity where students made pipes. Some knew that such an activity was not appropriate but could not actually explain why. Now we know that a pipe for First Nations people is a sacred object much like a bible for Christians. We don’t generally do paper art and craft activities related to the bible so why would we do so for the pipe. Jackie pointed this out not to discourage us to integrate First Nations and Metis content and perspective but to remind us to do our homework in regards to this. I was reminded that there are many educators in our system with FN & M expertise and I won’t hesitate to contact them when I need advice.
The second part of the day was spent at Albert School as they participated in an afternoon centred on assessment. Luke and Lisa led their staff in professional discussion that included tapping into “Today’s Meet“, a free online tool that allows backchannelling to take place during a meeting. As a result of that afternoon I have used it three times in meetings I have conducted…..excellent professional conversation. The Albert staff received some background information provided by Damien Cooper and by Luke regarding assessment practice and about Assessment For, As and Of Learning. During the video much good professional conversation, including questions was happening in Today’s Meet. Teachers were supporting each other with their comments.
Staff participated in problem solving conversations as they rotated through assessment scenarios. Feedback was collected regarding whether the teacher was assessing outcomes or assigning grades, what was going well in this scenario, opportunities for growth and suggestions for the teacher. Feedback was collected on large charts divided into four sections with the above written in each section. As each group rotated through they added their comments, questions, ideas. Everyone was engaged.
The next part of the day was framed for teachers to examine their own assessment practice. They identified various assessment practice as for, as or of learning and then related it to what type of assessment they were placing in their GradeBook. The actual time spent on GradeBook was a very small amount. I was reminded of how important it is to examine our assessment practice and to spend time together inquiring and sharing ideas around this important topic. When educators participate in sharing stories and build networked learning communities, the philosophy of assessment begins to move forward.
Other assessment notes:
Progress Monitoring for LLI – Each group that has been trained has set students up for progress monitoring in Inform. You will see examples of this Monday afternoon.
Tell Them From Me Survey – This is a student survey that will be mandated by the ministry for the entire province in 2015. We are beginning the process by inviting schools to survey their grade 7, 8 and 9 students. The information gathered gives schools information related to student engagement and student safety as well as risky behaviours at the highschool level. Watch for an RPS webpage soon. For now refer to the Monday communication.
EYE – All schools have participated in a teacher moderation session. Vulnerable kindergarten students will be reassessed in spring.