What an incredible learning experience I had yesterday. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to co-facilitate an assessment and evaluation workshop for a group of teachers and administrators from our school division. Our day had two purposes, reflecting on our experiences from the year as part of a pilot project and creating a tool for other teachers that will be adopting the new assessment practices next year. The goal is to change the way we evaluate students, from focusing on students simply earning marks to students learning content.
A prime example showed up at my school last week when I was on a walk-about. I heard all sorts of laughing and carrying on in the computer lab so I just had to stop in. In the lab I found six grade 10 students crowded around a computer watching the movie they had just finished editing. These students were asked to show their understanding of play Macbeth and decided to do so by re-writing it as a western. Not only did they re-write it they filmed and edited the movie on their own time! When I learned Macbeth I remember reading the play in school and writing essays and quizzes to show my understanding of the tragedy. It was shortly after those quizzes that I forgot most of what Macbeth was all about. That is the change we are aiming for, shifting from a focus on earning marks to a focus on learning content.
The workshop was an opportunity for other teachers and administrators who had also adopted this approach to come together and share what they had learned. One of the requirements for each teacher was that they needed to bring along some sort of artifact that demonstrated something they had done in the area of assessment this year. My role was to take the information they brought and put it all into a coherent format that would be accessible for other teachers in our division. I was amazed with the samples the teachers brought to contribute. From checklists, to rubrics, to lesson plans, to unit plans, to videos of helpful hints, there was something for everyone, from everyone.
What I took from this was the affirmation of my belief that we are always smarter than me. Without the teachers and all of their work "in the trenches" none of this would have been possible. They worked long, hard hours and in the end they created a variety of resources that will be very helpful to their colleagues. No one teacher had all the answers, and in the end our creation (found here: Earning to Learning ) does not promise solutions to every problem that will arise, but it is a start. The other piece that I took from this was the importance of leadership. While the teachers may have done all the hard work it was the expectations, encouragement, and support of the leaders in the room that helped make this a reality. I was so proud to be a part of this entire process and am excited to see where this journey we have only just started will lead.
As always, comments are welcome.