With Phase 2 of our Digital Citizenry curriculum with students finishing this past week, we again have two 'topics/questions' for the week...
1) To align with our work with students this month about 'digital footprints' and 'digital citizenry', our first topic/question of the week is: If parents had digital footprints in middle school, what might they have looked like? And, what does your digital footprint look like?
2) To help encourage conversations about the importance of looking at the process of learning, our second topic/question of the week is: What would happen if on occasion we assessed the process rather than the results?
I hope that everyone enjoyed a nice weekend. After an evening out with friends on Friday, our Saturday was split amongst errands and activities with the kids. Owen and I enjoyed going to cheer on the MHS girls basketball team in the state championship on Saturday and then enjoyed a pretty low-key day on Sunday. Looking ahead at the warmer temperatures predicted for the week, I am hoping it is a sign that the light at end of this wintry tunnel is near.
With another busy week ahead I am keeping this week's blog entry brief(er!), sharing just a few thoughts. Last Friday we hit the 2/3 mark of the year and with grades being due and report cards going home this week, it is an appropriate time to take a step back and reflect upon the process of learning/mastery and how that ties to our system of feedback. In an effort to better align our methods with our mission, core values, and philosophy, our students will benefit from this practice - and, we as educators, will as well. We have been reflecting on these questions throughout this year and, although our system is not perfect, I feel as though we are making progress with our discussions. This Tuesday for our professional day we will be focusing as a staff on the overarching question - 'How can we curate the progression of student learning and growth?' With this question in mind, I am sharing a couple of articles that have helped center me and keep me open to future possibilities, questions, and discussions...
7 Things Every Kid Should Master
by Susan Engel in The Boston Globe
Engel's post will be used as the 'framing tool' for our work Tuesday afternoon, as it offers a fresh perspective on learning, testing, and assessments. She shares the view that assessments can be useful if they focus on those 'abilities' that are most important to master: Reading, Inquiry, Flexible Thinking and the Use of Evidence, Conversation, Collaborations, Engagement, and Well-Being. It was in the Globe's Sunday Magazine edition a couple of weeks ago, and the article resonated with a number of teachers and parents (I have received a number of e-mails with the link) - this has been meaningful for me on many levels, indicating the shared commitment and understanding of the importance of examining our practices and learning in a collective manner as a community.
"Most tests used to evaluate students, teachers, and school districts predict almost nothing except the likelihood of achieving similar scores on subsequent tests. I have found virtually no research demonstrating a relationship between those tests and measures of thinking or life outcomes."
"The answer is not to abandon testing, but to measure the things we most value, and find good ways to do that. How silly to measure a child’s ability to parse a sentence or solve certain kinds of math problems if in fact those measures don’t predict anything important about the child or lead to better teaching practices."
Grading: A Duct-Taped System Students Weigh In
post by Brianna Crowley (@AkaMsCrowley)
Last week I shared Crowley's first post in a three-part series on grading. Part two shares perspectives offered by students in response to these questions: 'What’s the purpose of grading? Is it a positive or negative influence on learning? What should change?' The input from students will not serve as the only guide for the direction we head with grading and feedback, but it is important to collect and keep in mind. Their thoughts will help us better understand if our intent for our students matches the impact. I particularly like the questions she poses at the end for us to 'grapple' with...
"What would happen if students were allowed to try a new system of feedback and accountability for learning? How do we define “success” when evaluating a system of grading or evaluation? How many students find success within our current system vs. how many are disenfranchised by it?"
Bridging these ideas and melding our initiatives (Study Skills, Homework Practices, Reporting Student Progress/Feedback, Foster Internal Motivation, Authentic Assessments) is a big and daunting task, but one that is necessary and excites me. Our mission will continue to guide the process: Blake Middle School believes in a living mission statement, based on the concept that our community seeks and respects knowledge, integrity, character, wisdom, and the willingness to adapt to a continually evolving world. My hope is that our day-to-day work and meetings this week as a staff will help us progress towards the possibilities that lie ahead in a tangible manner.
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