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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Preparing for the New School Year #1

Beginning with the End in Mind

No matter what our role, we are thinking about 'beginning with the end in mind' this time of year in North America. In this first of a series of five blogs are practical first steps for teachers and leaders as they prepare for the upcoming school year.

Teachers - Beginning with the End in Mind

One of the first actions classroom teachers take as they prepare for the new school year is to build an assessment plan that will guide instruction over the coming months. Here are three key steps:

Step #1

The first step of an assessment plan is preparing to begin with the end in mind. To prepare to do this, ‘deconstruct’ what students need to learn into groups of 'big ideas' that make sense to the teacher. Then, develop summary statements in student friendly language to guide teaching. Each of the statements in these examples represents a collection of individual outcomes or standards.

Step #2

Next, consider what lessons, learning tasks, and activities will support students to learn what they need to know and understand, do, and articulate. Collect a variety of ideas so that once you meet your students you can select the best ones given their needs, interests, and challenges.

Step #3

Gather or create samples of student work to illustrate quality and development over time (these are sometimes called learning progressions). Samples of student work are important for three reasons:

  1. They inform the teacher about quality  expectations and learning progression or development over time.
  2. They can be used to help students understand quality and expectations.
  3. And lastly, they inform professional judgment and can support teachers to inform parents about expectations and quality.

    Research and practice supports these powerful yet simple ideas. You can find out more about this process by reading Chapter Three and Chapter Four of Making Classroom Assessment Work in English or in French. Secondary teachers might prefer to read Chapter One in A Fresh Look at Grading and Reporting for High School.

Leaders - Beginning with the End in Mind

Leaders, you can support your teaching colleagues by using the three steps above as a professional learning focus. As you think about the upcoming months, here are three more actions you can implement in support of the learning of your colleagues:

Action #1: Download Preparing for a New School Year: Building an Assessment Plan. It is a nine-page resource that provides a detailed ‘walk-through’ of the key steps for building an assessment plan.

We will post the #2 in the next few days. Isn't this a great time of year? We love new beginnings. We hope this is the best year ever.

All our best,

Anne and Sandra

PS If you have questions or need help, just call 1.800.603.9888 or 250.703.2920.

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