President’s Summer Message

Damian Cooper - Portrait

Dear CAfLN friends and colleagues,

I find myself with very mixed emotions today.  It’s a gorgeous sunny day, some down time is just around the corner, and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with nature at our summer retreat on Georgian Bay.  But before heading up there, I must travel to Staffordshire in the UK for the funeral of my dear father who would have turned 96 in July.

I share this with you because Dad always reminded me of the importance of human relationships.  While he happily embraced new technologies – he learned to use a PC in his mid-eighties and wrote his memoirs, he also valued face-to-face interaction above all other means of communication.  As long as he was able, we chatted on the phone every week.  But what he most looked forward to were my bi-annual visits to see him – visits where we hugged, went for drives in the verdant Staffordshire countryside, and inevitably wound up at a pub for fish and chips and a beer!

While as CAfLN members, we necessarily rely upon digital communication for much of our work together, I cherish our opportunity to get together, face-to-face, at the annual conference and symposium.  That is when I truly see and feel the passion and energy that you bring to education.  This past May, many of us gathered at Queen’s University in Kingston to share learning, meet new colleagues, wrestle with challenges, exchange ideas, and of course, enjoy good food and a drink.  During the symposium on Saturday, I watched with fascination as our Ontario members listened almost in disbelief, as their colleagues from British Columbia described the flexibility the Ministry of Education accorded them with respect to reporting:

“We can request not to use a report card at all, and instead, use e-portfolios for communication with parents.”

“You can??? Seriously???”

During the AGM which took place during the symposium, your CAfLN Executive asked for members to step up to fill a number of  existing board positions, as well as volunteering to serve as regional representatives to help coordinate the expansion of our network across Canada.  Lorna, Ken, and I had shared our concerns over breakfast that morning in terms of, ‘What should we do if no one volunteers?”  What a foolish question!  Hands shot up as we listed the various positions.  Perhaps a number of you were inspired by our secretary, Denine Laberge’s passionate account of how joining CAfLN, and subsequently taking on a leadership role within our organization, has enriched her life in so many ways.  Thanks again, Denine!  Sure, we often get passionate during our Google Hangouts, but occasionally, it is so wonderful to be in the same room, with a group of diverse educators from right across the country, who share a passion for children and learning.

And so, while I know that many of us will connect on a regular basis during the next academic year, using an ever-expanding variety of social media, I encourage you to begin making plans to join us next Spring (date to be confirmed in September) in Halifax, Nova Scotia for our 4th Annual Conference and Symposium.

In the meantime, I wish you all a relaxing, healthy, and happy summer.

Damian Cooper, President of CAfLN

Learning as a Continuum – Nanoose Bay, BC

Learning is a continuum Pic 1Teachers at Nanoose Bay Elementary School in BC  and teacher candidates from Vancouver Island University at have been developing a writing continuum that can be used by teachers and students to assess progress in writing. Based on the idea that all learning is a continuum coming out of the new BC cuuriculum, the goal was to show the progression of emergent through to fluent pre-adolescent writers and to provide a concrete example as well as a descriptor of what the author demonstrated at each stage of writing.

Residency: Powerful Assessment and Professional Practice

Residency Cover

Submitted by Veronica Saretsky

Written by Lori Jeschke, Dave Carter, Cheryl Shields and Deborah Bidulka the book outlines a large rural school division’s journey to affect sustainable, system-wide change in professional practice around assessment. The school system was moving to a new grade 1-9 report card and used this move to deepen the understandings of teachers in their assessment practices.

The division was looking for a model that supported sustainable change in professional practice. Their experience with “one-shot sessions or even multi-day workshops” had not created any long term changes in teacher practice.  When they attended a week long institute on assessment for learning, they heard of the residency model of professional development.  This book goes into detail about their implementation of that model and the learnings they gathered along the way.  It also offers suggestions on how others may use the model to affect systemic change in their systems.

Copies available from

Twitter Chat June 14th

Tuesday, June 14th will be our last CAfLN Twitter Chat of the year. The questions below will allow us to focus on how far we have come this year and where we are headed next year. Join us at 8 pm EDT.

1. What was the most important thing you learned about assessment for learning this year? #caflnchat

2. What was your greatest success in implementing AfL this year? #caflnchat

3. What was your greatest challenge / difficulty implementing AfL this year? #caflnchat

4. What summer professional development are you going to do? #caflnchat

5. What books are on your summer professional reading list? #caflnchat

6. What do you plan to do differently next year to enhance AfL in your school / classroom? #caflnchat

7.  Please share any random end-of-year thoughts, concerns or thanks. #caflnchat

If you are planning on joining us, please invite someone who may be interested in CAfLN to join us!

When Research Meets Practice

Filling up

CAfLN’s 3rd annual conference and symposium took place this weekend in Kingston. Chris DeLuca, conference chair was interviewed by the Queen’s Gazette about the goal of the conference; to bring people together to talk about research and practice in Assessment for Learning.

Panel 1

Peel’s Journey

At the 3rd Annual CAfLN Conference and Symposium, Kristen Clarke from Peel DSB shared her district’s journey of professional development to improve student learning. The innovative thinking and the willingness to think outside the box is wonderful to see. Storified tweets will take you through it. Feel free to check it out!

2016-05-17 Kristen Clarke

The Nanaimo Experience


2016-05-17 Nanaimo Group Kingston

Well, there are some exciting things happening in BC! As part of the 2016 CAfLN symposium, a team of educators (Justin Green, Marcy Boudreau, Joanna Atkinson-Cornthwaite, and Brittany Leonard) shared their journey in networking to enhance the learning experience of their students and the collective professional growth of their teachers. Their blog highlights this growth. The powerpoint includes the main points and some diagrams of their process.

Twitter Chat May 10, 2016

Please join us at 8pm EDT for this month’s twitter chat. Our topic will be Professional Networking:Strengthening Our Connections. Thanks again to Ken O’Connor for moderating these chats.