8 Major Accomplishments for Learning in 2012-13…

June 18, 2013

The end of the school year of 2012-13 affords us opportunity to look back and reflect on what we have achieved. I cannot BELIEVE that it has only been a year in some of the work we have undertaken. Everything below speaks to the amazing and wonderful staff of Keeler School, and how they have pulled together to achieve some astounding and remarkable work! I have only one word for it all… Holy Smoley! 🙂

  1. Our Focus on Students’ Learning Rather Than Just Behaviors – From my observations, student engagement and behavior issues have an absolute indirect correlation. We went from 80 fighting incidents down to 12 in 2012-13. We went from 26 suspensions down to 10. My perception is that this is mostly due to greater student engagement and relationship building in the classroom. After all, kids will do well if they can… (Thanks Ross W. Greene!)
  2. Standing Up to Bullying – Our students identify that they are feeling much safer and happier at school, and that teachers really care for our students. We have worked hard to help students know how to deal with bullying behaviours when they do happen. Students know they are welcome to join in other activities during lunch, as many classrooms and the Learning Commons are open for students to work or participate in other activities. They are too much to list, but having staff run 39 different clubs and extracurricular opportunities was a big part of this!
  3. Resource Program – The work that is happening is effectively supporting all of our students, our parents and our teachers to support successful student learning. Thanks to all of our teachers, but especially to Ms. Bartel and Ms. Alexander for all you bring every day to support special needs!
  4. Learning Commons – has only been going for not even one year! What a transformation to the space itself and to teaching and learning at Keeler School! It has truly become the extremely busy “Hub” of Keeler! http://keelercommons.weebly.com
  5. Arts and Student Legacy Projects – They may not all be installed yet, but the work the students have created is truly wonderful. The Kindergarten silhouettes, the grade 1 clay self-portrait mosaic, the grade 2 stepping stones, the grade 3 murals, the grade 4 mixed-media canvases, the grade 5 stairwell, and the grade 6 mural based on the quote “Use what talents you possess: The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” http://schools.cbe.ab.ca/b318/showcase.htm
  6. Changes in Student Assessment – Formative assessment and rubrics have been truly integrated into student work. Assessment is no longer something that only happens when a student turns in a finished project, but something that happens from the beginning to the end of the work.
  7. Learning Through Educational Technology – Through a number of grants we worked very hard to get, Educational Technology has been completely revamped and updated at Keeler! Brand new iPods, iPads, Laptops, and even a brand new Server. Thanks to our School Council for all of their support! Students are using the new tools to truly become “Creators!”
  8. CILO Time and PLCsCreating Innovative Learning Opportunities (CILO) Time and Professional Learning Communities have allowed our teams time to work collaboratively to enhance learning. Changes in our schedule have allow for more large blocks of team planning by having Music and Learning Commons blocks together for grade communities. Best thing is we have been able to tinker to allow for even more time for teams in the schedule for next year!

What are our next right steps…?

  1. Student Engagement – Continued development in student engagement around Mathematics and Science…
  2. CBE Expertise & Knowledge – Draw on our own Keeler & CBE expertise, and on the learning and the work Keeler students are doing… Let’s make our student learning public and let the community see and celebrate and build upon the work and the learning!
  3. A Keeler YouTube Channel – We need to share our work out there in the big wide world! We need to look into possibilities and FOIP, but to be able to video teacher practice and lead educational innovation, but also for our own reflection on our professional learning. Stay “tuned!” 🙂
  4. Focus on a Disciplined Inquiry Model and the Teacher Effectiveness Framework and Rubric (TEFR) – Continuing to take ownership of enhancing our practice, greater professional collaboration, “you can do that at Keeler” model of student learning, designers of learning sharing proactively early or in the middle of the work (rather than at the end), and celebrating “getting in the mud” for both students and teachers. http://www.cea-ace.ca/publication/what-did-you-do-school-today-teaching-effectiveness-framework-and-rubric

Again, what a year! I hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as we have, and that each one of our students has grown as much as Keeler School has as a whole. I truly cannot wait for 2013-14!

As always, work hard, learn tons!
D

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Reporting on Learning – Back to Designing Great Learning Opportunities in the First Place…

June 5, 2013

“If we do what we’ve always done, we will get what we’ve always done.”
~Adam Urbanski

Assessment and reporting has undergone huge changes in the past years, and especially since I was a new teacher and “assessment” was merely doing report cards. How things have changed…

Assessment has and must continue to become part of our daily work, rather than just an “event” in November, March and June. It is not unidirectional from teacher to student to parent, but is intended to build the learning during the process rather than only provide feedback at the end when the work is already complete.

Pre-work – Assessment becomes part of our pre-work in creating innovative and excellent learning opportunities for our students. Student are creating and discussing what great work will look like before they do it, so the end goals are clear. They need to know what constitutes great work in order to create great work, helping students understanding where they are going to go…

During the Work – Students, parents, teachers, staff, community members and experts all have a role to play during the learning and in providing feedback throughout the process. Students will gain skills, knowledge, understanding through working together and helping each other, rather than a competitive process where the teacher is my only audience. Each grade community in our school is creating a Legacy Art project that will live at Keeler School. Their authentic audience will be students, teachers, parents and guests to the school for years to come, not just their teacher. Knowing that, students will work harder to create better work, but need time to discuss, share, and push each other into better places…

After the Work – There is much more to this than just report cards. This is all around improving student achievement. Schools will need to deliver descriptive, constructive feedback on the student’s learning and achievement. The assessment reporting should include student and peer reflection, tools like Student Learning Plans in IRIS and Individual Program Plans, telephone connections, Parent-Teacher Conferences, oral conversation, appointments and emerging meetings, and include textual, technological, and face-to-face communication. This work would be all working to answer that ages old question – “How is my child doing at school?” and “What is important to help my child grow and develop?” This work must be strength-focused, be inclusive of student voice, and help students to see where they are in their learning and to where they are headed to next… Essentially, no parent should ever be surprised at anything on the report card…

Changing practices around assessment provides the biggest impact we can have on personalizing student learning. We have seen it, we now know it, and our work is now developing how to continue to make assessment a more seamless endeavor around enhancing student achievement, not just reporting on it!

Work hard, learn tons!
D


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