My goodness, how the time flies – now that I’m well into my 60’s! Here we are, in mid-December and it’s -8 outside. Much colder in Winnipeg, I understand! Yet it seems as though the school year just began. But since time is flying by, I must be having fun, right?
It has been a busy but satisfying fall term for me. And I certainly hope you feel the same way. Never before have I been so happy to live in this wonderful country called Canada. I won’t elaborate since my dear friend, Ken O’Connor is, by now settled into his other home in Florida – and he gets very upset when I mention “you know who”!
CAfLN has been busy. Last night we hosted the latest Live Twitter Chat, focusing on the exciting changes in curriculum, assessment and reporting occurring in British Columbia. Many thanks to Justin Green, Jimmy Pai and Ken for their work ongoing work to connect CAfLN members through this medium. We urge our members across the country to join us for the live chats – the second Tuesday of the month at 8 pm Eastern time.
Plans are well under way for our 4th Annual CAfLN Conference and Symposium, taking place May 5-6 in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Details are constantly updated on the CAfLN website. Registration is open so avoid the rush!
I hope that you are able to take some time during the holidays to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate with family and friends. Maybe that means checking our email less frequently, keeping our heads up rather than tilted down, going for a bracing walk instead of another trip in the car – relishing the sights, sounds and joys of all things natural. Perhaps the holidays will have a religious element, perhaps not. But I think we all benefit from reconnecting with our spiritual side at this time of year. Because as Canadians, we are truly “blessed” to live in this wonderful place.
I wish you and your loved ones peace, health and contentment now, and in the coming year.
President, Canadian Assessment for Learning Network (CAfLN)
Many parents and educators will argue that “This is the way we’ve always done it and it isn’t broken!” To this, Starr Sackstein offers some sound advice, “… the world has changed in the last hundred years and … a 19th century system doesn’t prepare kids for the creativity and critical thinking required of the 21st century.”
Starr Sackstein gives her readers something to think about in this quick 131 page read by putting the focus on what matters in assessment. Going gradeless is a big step for many teachers but, as she clearly demonstrates in this book, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Organized into 10 “Hacks”, this book starts at the beginner level, for those thinking about making the switch, and progresses right through to the details of a successful transition to a gradeless school environment. Sackstein addresses concerns that may arise from teachers, administrators, parents and even students, giving sound reasoning to keep the initiative alive.
For me, this book affirmed that I am on the right track in my growth as an educator and learner. For others, it may inspire an awakening of what our real mission as educators is; to lead our students to become independent, responsible thinkers and lifelong learners. The best way to do this is to involve the student in his or her own assessment of learning. After all, who would understand their learning better than themselves?
Teachers 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org