January 31, 2023
In many parts of the country, students and teachers are preparing to end one part of learning and begin a new one. For some this may mean a new term or semester or simply the halfway point of the school year. This mid-way point presents us all with the opportunity to stop and reflect on what has worked during the first half of the year and where we might want to see some things change.
While it may be a challenge to take on any new approaches, it can be accomplished if we think of taking small but mighty steps that will help us reach our final destinations. Checking the clarity we have on the learning destination and success criteria we can begin to think about strategies that will support achieving the learning expectations. Think: Is there a strategy you have heard about that you could implement in some small way? Are there others around you facing similar challenges you could tackle together?
There is no doubt that we are living and working in challenging times. No matter the grade level, we could list the challenges that have emerged in our classrooms in the past few years. This is exactly why we should take this challenge as an opportunity to shift our practice in small but mighty ways that can have lasting effects in our teaching practice.
Why not try one or two of the following strategies to reinvigorate or change your journey with your students:
- Start having students collect evidence of their learning to develop a learning portfolio. You may model what makes for evidence of learning by showing past examples a student has gathered or, generating questions with your students on why this piece of work shows evidence of learning i.e. What does this tell about my learning? How does this show my understanding? Not only does this engage students in collecting evidence of their learning, it helps them to see that “everything counts.” But don’t be overwhelmed! In the beginning, this does not have to be a collection of all their work but can one or two pieces in a unit or a subject area that students can reflect on using sentence stems such as:
(From: Collecting Evidence and Portfolios: Engaging students in Pedagogical Documentation by A. Davies, S. Herbst, B. Augusta)
- Another strategy you might implement in the next few weeks could be to have students engage in self-assessment. Using success criteria, students can reflect on whether or not they have “met” or “not yet met” and what they want you to notice about their learning.
(From: Self-Assessment and Goal Setting by K. Gregory, C. Cameron, A. Davies)
These strategies actively engage students in their learning and the assessment process. Both strategies start to place the collection of evidence in the hands of the students. While teachers are still the ones to make the final, professional decision in regard to reporting progress to others, we can engage students in their learning by encouraging and showing them how to reflect upon their progress.That’s the beauty of a new year, new semester, new term, new starting point – it’s an opportunity for small steps in the service of supporting and enhancing student learning.
All our best wishes,
Rita and the Connect2Learning team