“How did the simple act of identifying strengths first in your students’ writing make you feel today?”
This was the question I posed to the eight teachers sitting around the table, after our fourth grade professional learning community (PLC) team had spent half an hour analyzing (not scoring) student writing artifacts. Read more
Let us talk about shopping for shoes. I am not one of those people who meanders through shoe stores, struggling to narrow down my choices (no judgment for those who do—that is just not me). Rather, I am a very pragmatic shoe purchaser. I have specific kinds of shoes I favor, and I am clear about my shoes size. So when I head into a store, I get what I need and get out. Read more
When we consider all of the ways to ensure successful learning outcomes, knowing the criteria for success definitely tops the list. When we know where we are going, our chances of reaching that destination increase dramatically. But what about those times when we are trying to invite open-ended experiences: creativity, play, and imagination? How does criteria-setting fit within that paradigm? Can assessment practices, such as criteria-setting and self-assessment, live in harmony with these open-ended or emergent outcomes? Read more
A few years ago, after a number of professional learning experiences on the topic of assessment, several principals in my district asked how they might recognize strong assessment when they saw it during classroom observations or walkthroughs. They also wondered what questions they might ask to invite further reflection and refinement. These were fair questions because we often develop our assessment philosophies and practices in environments removed from the classrooms in which they will eventually be applied. Understanding something is one thing, and implementing it is an entirely different enterprise. So how do we recognize quality assessment as it is being lived out in classroom spaces, and how can leaders support teacher reflection on assessment practices? Read more
Imagine you walk into your doctor’s office, ready for the follow-up appointment where the results of your diagnostic tests are shared with you and your prognosis is revealed. You are a little anxious and uncertain, but you are confident you are in good hands. You understand that this appointment is intended to communicate information that may lead to future healthcare processes. You expect that you may need to shift your diet or your exercise and that you may need further tests or supports from additional health care personnel. You also know that there is a system in place that will take care of you the best way they know how, so in spite of your uncertainty, you feel confident you will leave that office knowing what you need to know. Read more
“I can see why I should probably do this assessing all the time! You really learn a lot about your kids!”
The words of this teacher, new to the profession and new to reading instruction, were music to my ears. Our collaborative time together had been initiated because deadlines were looming on the reading assessment required by both our district and our provincial government. However, I had asserted that we were actually learning about it because it was essential for reading instruction and great for students. The young teacher initially seemed skeptical so, after practicing a diagnostic assessment with two of her first grade students, when she came to see the true value of the assessment to inform her instruction immediately, I knew we had made a breakthrough. Read more
This week was filled with diverse experiences. I attended and presented at a conference and engaged in an online interview, sharing my school district’s eight-year journey into standards-based assessment. I spoke with a colleague in another country to brainstorm ways to move past road blocks in assessment reform and I worked with new teachers to refine their assessment practices. Finally, I planned a future session on data engagement and reflection between Board of Education members, in-school administrators, and district office personnel.
I mention these extremely diverse experiences because each one provoked deeper and deeper thinking about education, assessment, and what it means to adjust our approaches over time. Read more
“The strongest of all warriors are these two – Time and Patience.” Leo Tolstoy
“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.” Mahatma Gandhi Read more
The first step in gaining awareness is to pay attention to what’s going on. On the surface, this sounds simple enough. However, the devil is in the details. You must be intentional about looking for, and noticing, different components of your classroom. (Hall & Simeral, 2015, p. 52) Read more
I have been working with a teaching colleague in her first and second grade combined classroom for the last number of months. Together, we have been exploring ways to enhance young learners’ abilities to self-assess. Over a series of lessons, we have focused on inviting students to practice some of the sub-habits needed for self-assessment (I have outlined these habits in a previous blog post). This past week, we were working on the sub-habits of revisiting, revising, analyzing, and decision-making (all important parts of a strong self-assessment process).