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
Posts by Katie White
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).
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
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
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