Posts by Katie White


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The Unbreakable Bond: Assessment and Instruction

“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


Navigating Changing Assessment Paradigms: My Personal Experience

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


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Summative Assessment Timing

“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


Observation and Assessment: If I Saw It, Does It Count?

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


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Self-Assessment: Breaking the Praise-Compliance Cycle

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).

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Running Out of Time

I have long asserted that one of my favorite things about working in education is the ability to experience a new beginning and a consistent end to each academic year. In the span of one year, we have the privilege of traveling alongside groups of students as they experience new content, new contexts, and new relationships each year. We structure environments that support learning over time and we have the opportunity to capture and celebrate each moment of growth through purposeful observations, conversations, and performance tasks. Read more


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Assessment and Emotion

There is something about assessment that provokes strong emotion. You bring up the topic in a room full of teachers and you can feel the energy in the room shift. Similarly, the moment you pull a pile of assessments out of your desk and prepare to return them, students will adjust their posture and conversations halt in readiness for the event. Read more


Engaging in Instructional Agility by Trusting Ourselves

The other day, I was sitting with a colleague after we had facilitated a reading intervention lesson with four grade six students. It had been a lively hour, with the students finding it difficult to engage in writing about reading after we had spent time reinforcing comprehension. They needed to be reminded often to focus on the task and apply their understanding of the text in written form.  We discussed these challenges and proposed reasons why the students were finding the work difficult. Read more


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Developing the Sub-Habits of Self-Assessment

The ultimate goal is assessment as learning, where assessment occurs in real time and is the process by which people reflect on their own thinking and diagnose how they’ve changed.
Sir Ken Robinson (2015)

In a previous blog post, I shared conditions that support an environment of habitual and authentic student self-assessment. This post will focus on “digging deeper” into why students may find self-assessment a challenging enterprise and how to develop the sub-habits that support this essential skill. Read more


Using Self-Assessment to Open Up the Learning Space

…how we act in the world around us is deeply affected by how we see and feel about ourselves.
Sir Ken Robinson (2015)

Self-assessment and goal-setting are processes we know we should do with students but, in reality, we often don’t see the effort yielding worthwhile rewards in our classrooms. Read more