Episode 11 – The Wonder Years

Kristen

In this episode we interview Kristen Clarke, who is the Instructional Coordinator for Assessment in Peel. She talks about the importance of reflection when considering strategies of Informative Assessment (one of the Innovative Elements in Empowering Modern Learners.)

What’s New in the World of EML?

Jim shared on-going work in schools he supports related to improving assessment and instructional practices. One of the important conclusions during some recent discussions with teachers was point 1. below. It was exciting that, while Tomlinson’s article was used as a minds on resource, through discussion and sharing, we provided evidence from our teacher practice that #7 in her list was a very accurate statement:

  1. One cannot separate assessment approaches or philosophy with pedagogical approaches or philosophy – discussions about assessment always in context of content and pedagogy (understanding #7 in Tomlinson’s article).
  2. Technology-based tools can be used to organize and focus informative assessment strategies (e.g., seesaw, fresh grade, sesame, SLN, Google Forms, etc.) How a tool is used is far more important than which tool is used; however, some tools are better suited to certain goals or tasks… 
  3. Inquiry can occur in different ways or levels with students (we were looking at this graphic by Trevor MacKenzie) and sometimes different levels of assessment can occur at the same time within one class – question is – what do students need to know in order to be more independent during inquiry-based learning?
  4. Use of structured inquiry itself can function as an assessment approach, diagnostic in nature — this will inform decisions for ‘freer’ inquiry

Amit shared the work that he is doing at Larkspur Public School with Beth Lyons and Surya Naidu around introducing the Maker Mindset and Maker Culture to the school. He shared the idea of bringing grade level leads in to learn about Making and how they can bring that back to the teachers on their team. He also shared the website that Beth has created entitled Explore Tinkering in the Forest that was inspired by Melanie Mulcaster‘s site from last year.

Links from the Interview with Kristen Clarke

Shares for the Week

Jim shared the article he referred to during his “What’s new” segment in more detail. The article is called Learning to Love Assessment by Carol Ann Tomlinson and available for free from the ASCD site (linked above). Dr. Tomlinson’s writes about her professional learning journey regarding assessment practice. A summary of her list of learnings:

Informative assessment isn’t:

  1. just about tests
  2. about the grade book
  3. always formal
  4. separate from the curriculum
  5. about “after”
  6. an end in itself
  7. separate from instruction
  8. just about student readiness
  9. just about finding weaknesses
  10. just for the teacher

Amit shared a new Canadian work, called Acha Bachaat Theatre Passe Muraille, in co-operation with Buddies in Bad Times. He shared the article, by Doreen Nicoll, that speaks about the importance of this play in hyper-racialized times and how it relates to the ideas of equity and inclusion as well as culturally responsive pedagogy in relation to Empowering Modern LearnersScreen Shot 2018-01-02 at 10.48.17 PM

Part of the article that stood out to Amit was a quotation by Nethersole where he states that, “Reading a play for the first time can sometimes be a tedious task, but I devoured Acha Bacha in no time. These characters are not ‘other’ and they are not defined by being Muslim or queer. They are human beings, real, complex and fully realized.” 

As teachers of global citizens, we can empower our students by not reinforcing the same negative ideals and status quo and the play reminds us to question whose agenda is being served.

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