Category Archives: Assessment

Focus on Learning: Observation of Practice (TBT Remix)

What if we add additional feedback loops in our culture?

How and when do adults in our schools receive formative feedback? If I have a question about my practice, how do I and from whom do I seek feedback?

If, as a school, we are studying formative assessment, self-assessment, and peer assessment, how are we practicing? Do I blog, journal, or keep a portfolio of my learning?  What might I want to learn? Are my students learning?

What if we focus on what is happening in classrooms in purposeful and focused ways? What if we model and embrace formative assessment of our practice?

What if we lend another our perspective?

We are going to pilot Observation of Practice this week in 4th Grade.  After reading my reflection of the class we taught together, Arleen and Laura both commented on how helpful it was to see their class from another perspective. We want to know if Observation of Practice will integrate formative assessment and reflection with peer observation.

What if we shift the focus of peer observations from observing our peers to observing the products of their work – the actions of students?

What if we focus on learning?


Job-embedded PD: Observation of Practice – Focus on Learning was originally published on November 18, 2013.

 

Try on a new lens – (TBT Remix)

We perceive only the sensations we are programmed to receive, and our awareness is further restricted by the fact that we recognize only those for which we have mental maps or categories. (Zander, 10 pag.)

The following was posted on the last day of Pre-Planning my first year at Trinity.  While no longer a stranger, I continue to need and learn from  the stories of our children and colleagues.

From August 14, 2012:

I am new to my community – a stranger, if you will.  As a fledgling member of the community, I need and want to hear the stories of the children and my colleagues, the history of the people and the place. One spectacular opportunity afforded me is to hear the same story from multiple perspectives.  I value the luxury of learning and seeing through multiple lenses.

Through which lens do I choose to look at my surroundings?  On what do I choose to focus?  How do I practice seeing bright spots?  How often do I focus on success rather than struggle?  How do I make the practice of bright-spot-seeking a habit?  Do I teach this habit to others?

For our children, school begins tomorrow. What will they want and need from us, their teachers?  How will we offer feedback as they learn and grow?  Is it our habit to highlight their success or their struggle?  When we mark student papers, do we “award credit” or do we “take points off?” Literally, what do we mark?  What is our habit? What are we teaching through our habit?

How do our actions impact the lens through which our learners see themselves? How does our habit impact the way we see our learners? I am learning to make a point to change my lens to see with different clarity.  What does the story say if I change my view? What do we learn as we try on a new lens?

The frames our minds create define – and confine – what we perceive to be possible.  (Zander, 14 pag.)

Draw a different frame around the same set of circumstances and new pathways come into view. (Zander, 1 pag.)

How do our actions impact the lens through which our learners see themselves? How does our habit impact the way we see our learners? I am learning to make a point to change my lens to see with different clarity.

What does the story say if I change my view? What do we learn as we try on a new lens?


[This post was originally cross published as Try on a new lens – edu180atl: jill gough 8.14.12 and “edu180atl: jill gough 8.14.12“]

Zander, Rosamund Stone, and Benjamin Zander. The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. Camberwell, Vic.: Penguin, 2002. Print.

Reflection required: Learning over time #MyLearning

I am not defined by my performance today. I can grow and learn more with continued goal setting, practice, and feedback.

Yesterday I posted Patience required: Learning over time (#MyLearning) (#ShowYourWork). I ended the post wondering my learning is evident to the viewer of these artifacts.

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” ― John Dewey

When serving as Trinity’s Personalized Learning Specialist, our Early Elementary Division Head of School, Rhonda Mitchell (@rgmteach), developed and refined a protocol for reflection.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 8.36.08 AM

We want learners to collect, select, and reflect.

My COLLECTion is archived on my MyLearning Journey for #ShowYourWork Doodles and Sketch Notes Pinterest board.

I SELECTed these two from the collection:

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 10.40.22 PM

And, I REFLECTed on my growth and learning:

Throughout the 2014-15 school year, I doodled notes during every professional development learning session that I attended.  I remember how nervous I felt about taking notes this way during Joe’s opening faculty meeting last August.  I used an erasable pen because I was so scared of making a mistake. I remember most of his talk. The importance of our vision of pedagogy to deepen understanding, empower learners, and to cultivate community through personal experiences is clear. These tenants are reflected in our actions with learning progressions and our My Learning e-portfolios.  George’s comments in June actually connect to Joe’s comments from August.  We are in an age or era where we have connections at our fingertips.  No longer are we promoting a Jeopardy version of success.  How will we offer learners voice and choice? What if we co-create knowledge, problem-finding and problem-solving, and joyful experiences with our learners?

It is clear to me that I am more confident with the process of doodling to learn. I’m no longer using an erasable pen; in fact, I’m informed and opinionated about what works best for me. Clearly, color adds value and communicates ideas.  I see growth in my sketches of people, ideas, and connectors. I am still in awe of how much impact doodling has on my retention and recall of ideas.

I’ve learned that I listen better, think differently and more deeply, and remember more when I exercise my creativity to use visuals to represent ideas.  It is true that a picture is worth 1000s of words.  When I frantically tried to write everything down – before doodling – I could record lots of words, but did I capture any ideas? Not often.

This reminds me of timed math tests. I know! Weird connection.  It reminds me of timed math tests because of the stress and pressure of time.  I learn and remember more through doodling because I’m not frantic. I’m not afraid that I’m going to miss something.  I know that I’m visualizing big ideas and their surrounding details.

I’ve also learned that the more I practice, the more I want to learn.  I see improvement, and I see where and what I want to learn next.

I plan to continue making my thinking and learning visible using sketch noting.  I am encouraged to learn and to share.  I am not defined by my performance today. I can grow and learn more with continued goal setting, practice, and feedback.

Again, I find value and real joy in having the collection.  My portfolio of doodles shows me several concurrent learning journeys. Reflection offers glimpses of what I’m learning and where I am now. I have choice in where I go next and in how I’m going to get there.

Worth repeating:

I’ve also learned that the more I practice, the more I want to learn.  I see improvement, and I see where and what I want to learn next.  

How might we teach, model, and facilitate experiences to collect, select, and reflect learning over time? What if we offer time, encouragement, and opportunities?

Patience required: Growth over time #MyLearning

Learning is not an insta-grow experience.

Struggle – working at the edges of ability – is critical.  Patience is required as is a growth mindset.

It might take a while to see evidence of growth. What if we practice, struggle, share, and seek feedback?

I’ve been tinkering with sketch noting, a.k.a. doodling, to make thinking visible, to listen differently, and to retain information.

I started last June, and it was awful.  You can see a body of work on my MyLearning Journey for #ShowYourWork Doodles and Sketch Notes Pinterest board.

Here is  page 2 of my notes from Joe’s opening comments for Trinity Faculty on August 4, 2014.dd23378ccd6e1a1ccb03646990fe5bcd

Is my thinking visible?

Here is page 2 of my notes while learning with George Couros during his Martin Institute keynote on June 9, 2015, just a quick ten months later.
ae3bd64b443e69796826e98275fd1370

Can you see my growth? I wonder if my learning is evident to the viewer of these artifacts.

I find value and real joy in having the collection.  My portfolio of doodles shows several concurrent journeys.

How might we teach, model, and facilitate experiences to collect, select, and reflect learning over time?

Growth over time…patience required.

Intent and Action: Assessment for Learning and Formative Assessment

I continue to work on my understanding of formative assessment and actionable feedback.  I’ve been thinking of formative assessment as assessment for learning.  I’ve been saying formative assessment requires feedback that causes action.

In the video below, Dylan Wiliam discusses the subtle difference between assessment for learning and formative assessment.

From the video:
Formative assessment – assessment that actually shapes learning.

“In order to engage in high-quality assessment, teachers need to first identify specific learning targets and then to know whether the targets are asking students to demonstrate their knowledge, reasoning skills, performance skills, or ability to create a quality product. 

“The teacher must also understand what it will take for students to become masters of the learning targets.  

It is not enough that the teacher knows where students are headed; the students must also know where they are headed, and both the teacher and the students must be moving in the same direction.” (Conzemius, O’Neill,  66 pag.)

If we are to continue to learn and improve, how might we create actionable experiences that form learning?


Conzemius, Anne; O’Neill, Jan. The Power of SMART Goals: Using Goals to Improve Student Learning. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree, 2006. Print.

 

Visual: SMP-8: look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning #LL2LU

Many students would struggle much less in school if, before we presented new material for them to learn, we took the time to help them acquire background knowledge and skills that will help them learn. (Jackson, 18 pag.)

We want every learner in our care to be able to say

I can look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
(CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP8)

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But…what if I can’t? What if I have no idea what to look for, notice, take note of, or attempt to generalize?

Investing time in teaching students how to learn is never wasted; in doing so, you deepen their understanding of the upcoming content and better equip them for future success. (Jackson, 19 pag.)

Are we teaching for a solution, or are we teaching strategy to express patterns? What if we facilitate experiences where both are considered essential to learn?

We want more students to experience the burst of energy that comes from asking questions that lead to making new connections, feel a greater sense of urgency to seek answers to questions on their own, and reap the satisfaction of actually understanding more deeply the subject matter as a result of the questions they asked.  (Rothstein and Santana, 151 pag.)

What if we collaboratively plan questions that guide learners to think, notice, and question for themselves?

What do you notice? What changes? What stays the same?

Indeed, sharing high-quality questions may be the most significant thing we can do to improve the quality of student learning. (Wiliam, 104 pag.)

How might we design for, expect, and offer feedback on procedural fluency and conceptual understanding?

Level 4
I can attend to precision as I construct a viable argument to express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Level 3
I can look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Level 2
I can identify and describe patterns and regularities, and I can begin to develop generalizations.

Level 1
I can notice and note what changes and what stays the same when performing calculations or interacting with geometric figures.

If we are to harness the power of feedback to increase student learning, then we need to ensure that feedback causes a cognitive rather than an emotional reaction—in other words, feedback should cause thinking. It should be focused; it should relate to the learning goals that have been shared with the students; and it should be more work for the recipient than the donor. (Wiliam, 130 pag.)

[Cross posted on Easing the Hurry Syndrome]


Jackson, Robyn R. (2010-07-27). How to Support Struggling Students (Mastering the Principles of Great Teaching series) (Pages 18-19). Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. Kindle Edition.

Rothstein, Dan, and Luz Santana. Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education, 2011. Print.

Wiliam, Dylan (2011-05-01). Embedded Formative Assessment (Kindle Locations 2679-2681). Ingram Distribution. Kindle Edition.

How to be a boring, bad writer…and other ideas (TBT Remix)

I hadn’t thought about it this way:

So, if you want to be a boring, bad writer:

  1. Never ever learn new words.
  2. Be afraid to say interesting things.
  3. Read as little as possible.
  4. Always play on your laptops.
  5. Never touch a dictionary.
  6. Copyright.
  7. Never make [the reader] see the action.
  8. Never revise your writing.
  9. Definitely take the easy way.

Since I want to be a better writer, I should practice 1) using new words, 2) saying interesting things, 3) reading as much as possible, 4) leveraging technology to enhance learning, 5) using available resources, 6) striving to be unique and citing my sources, 7) presenting a good story, 8) repeating a revision cycle several times, and 9) understanding to “embrace the struggle.”

I wonder if the same set of ideas can be applied to PBL.  How to avoid PBL, Design Thinking, and makery:

  1. Never ever learn new applications and strategies.
  2. Be afraid to try interesting, complex problems.  It might take too long.
  3. Read and research as little as possible. Don’t read and watch Edutopia, Deep Design Thinking, or It’s About Learning resources or ideas from 12k12.
  4. Always use technology for one-way communication.  Just tell them what to do.  Don’t offer students the opportunity to have voice and choice in learning.
  5. If you try PBL, and it doesn’t work; just give up.  Never seek additional support and resources.
  6. Never collaborate with others on projects and problems that integrate ideas and/or concentrate on community-issues.
  7. Avoid applications and real-world experiences.  Never offer the opportunity to present to an authentic audience.
  8. Never say “I don’t know,” or “let’s find out together.” Answer every question asked in class, or better yet, don’t allow questions.
  9. Definitely do the very same thing you did this time last year.  It’s easy.  Take the easy way. Remember…the E-Z-way!

How about applying these ideas to balanced assessment?  How to be single-minded about assessment:

  1. Never ever try new techniques, methods, and strategies.
  2. Be afraid to try alternate forms of assessment: performance based assessment, portfolios, etc.
  3. Read and research as little as possible. Don’t read anything by Tom Guskey, Jan Chapuis, Bob Marzanno, Dylan Wiliam etc.
  4. Always use assessment to generate grades.  Never try non-graded assessment to make adjustments to learning that improve achievement.
  5. If you use rubrics or standards-based grading, and students don’t respond; just give up.  Don’t allow students to revise their understanding and assess again.  Let them learn it next year or in summer school.
  6. Rely on results from standardized tests to compare students.  Just follow the model set by adults that have not met you and your learners.
  7. Never assess for learning and reteach prior to a summative assessment.  Think that you are teaching a lesson if failure occurs with no chance to revise.
  8. Never offer 2nd chance test or other opportunities to demonstrate learning has occurred.
  9. Definitely use the very same assessment you did this time last year.  It’s easy.  Take the easy way. Remember… E-Z-way!

I find this approach connected the anti-innovation ideas from Kelly Green in her 2/21/2012 ForbesWoman article I found by reading Bob Ryshke’s post, What schools can do to encourage innovation.  It also reminds me of Heidi Hayes Jacob’s style in her TEDxNYED talk I found by reading Bo Adam’s What year are you preparing your students for?” Heidi Hayes Jacobs #TEDxNYED post.

I like the provocation of the video and the anti-ideas.  I appreciate the challenge of rephrasing these ideas as statements of what I could do to get better.  I wonder how we should practice to become better at PBL, balanced assessment, innovation and creativity, etc.  In the comment field below, will you share how would you answer this prompt?

Since I want to be a better ___________, I should practice 1)  _____, 2)  _____, 3)  _____, 4)  _____, 5)  _____, 6)  _____, 7)  _____, 8)  _____, and 9)  _____.


How to be a boring, bad writer…and other ideas was originally published on February 26, 2012.