I couldn’t help but think that laying on my bed in my flannel pjs watching very cool digital stories last Tuesday was a great way to spend an evening. Once again I walked away with so many new ideas and so many new tools at my finger tips.
On Wednesday I left for Saskatoon to attend the Assessment conference sponsored by SPDU. It was excellent and very practical. I absolutely loved our first speaker, Sandra Herbste-Luedtke, superintendent of River East Transcona School Division in Manitoba, and her very sincere message on transforming barriers to assessment for learning. Ken O’Conner spoke about his 15 Fixes for Student Grading Practices and I now think that I could answer questions intelligently and feel much more confident in my ability to guide my staff to the understanding of the new assessment practices in our division. Lucky me though, because I also got to attend a session by Dean Shareski as he discussed using technology to support and enhance best practices in assessment.
The best part of Dean Shareski’s session was that my principal came with me and now she has a better understanding of the things that I am always yattering on about. I also think she has a better idea why I am so passionate about sharing my information with my staff. I think there were 3 ideas that stood out for me about Dean Shareski’s session.
1. “Teachers spend way too much time doing the wrong things”. This is an idea that we have discussed often, this fall, as an administration team in our school, and I think it is very true. Sandra Herbst-Leudtke also spoke in her session of the bag of marking that was always “calling” her before she learned to used other forms of assessment. There are so many tools out there for us to use for student engagement and assessment, but for some reason we cling to old practices even though they make our daily lives harder than they need to be. I was looking at a bunch of web sites this morning that could help alleviate this idea. These are a couple of them:
2. “It is not information overload, it is filter failure”. Again could not be more true, and again, could this be the reason that teachers are feeling overwhelmed? Could it be that we can’t give up our traditional ideas and latch on to something new? Could it be that we are not making the best use of other assessment tools that are available to us? Could it be that we feel like we have to do everything sometimes, so we don’t try anything new?
3. “On average, only 42 people see a student’s work during their K-12 education.” Now that is sad. Dean went on to say ” if kids do not have an audience, kids don’t care.” We have so many opportunities to give our students an audience, so why are we not doing that? Just today I was searching away, going from web site to web site, and I discovered a short video entitled, “42“.
As you can tell I left the conference pumped up about student assessment for learning in many different ways. Upon reflecting on the questions given to us by Alec on Tuesday, “how have all these tools changed the way we do things and think about things?” Well, to tell you the truth I don’t think they have that much. I think there are still a lot of us that are reluctant to jump in and get our feet wet and take advantage of the tools that are available to us.
I think back a few years to when I was teaching drama and wanting my students to make digital stories and the trouble we have with video cameras, cords, lack of equipment, etc. What I would have given then to have what I have now, or maybe I did not realize what I had. See you on the back channel.