FSD Logo

FSD Logo

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Alberta Assessment Consortium Fall Conference 2015 September 24 & 25

Written by Lindsay Brooks, Instructional Coach

I had the opportunity to attend the Alberta Assessment Consortium’s annual conference.  The AAC advocates, promotes and supports sound assessment practices in Alberta schools.  The keynote speakers were Ruth Sutton and Rick Wormeli who are very knowledgeable speakers. It is from them that these reflections stem as great reminders for “evidence of learning.”

Making meaning and making mistakes

Effective lessons and assessments will create meaning making. Making meaning of information is way more powerful than regurgitating info. Kids need to actively create and be involved in the learning and the process of learning. They need to make mistakes, to be able to make edits and learn. Recovery from a mistake or is what teaches. When we edit or correct mistakes for students it robs them of learning opportunities. We need to allow our students to make mistakes and make meaning.


Teachers should be getting together to articulate what constitutes evidence.
What is the standard to what mastery is being assessed, what evidence will show mastery? Peer editing is a useful tool because it promotes and leads to mastery.
Students need opportunities for “re-do’s” to allow for mastery and the opportunity to present evidence that they have learned something.
These “re-do’s” need to cover the same outcomes. When we consider driving tests, if a student fails their learner’s permit on the first try, they must wait two weeks to “re-do” the test. There is no restriction to the number of times that someone may attempt his or her drivers test. The average is not taken of the tests. Why would we do this is education?


Assessment is inseparable from instruction. You cannot instruct without assessing. According to Ruth Sutton, “formative assessment should be renamed to feedback for learning.” Comments and feedback push the learning forward, grades do not. If it is formative then leave the grade out as scores and grades are communication (an accurate report of what happened) not rewards or compensation. Assessment is not a spreadsheet -- it's a conversation.
Grades don't motivate students to learn, they motivate students to get grades.
Formative assessment is meant to be risk free and should not be put in the grade book for parents to see. We need to ask ourselves are we assessing for short/long term retention? Are we continuing to assess throughout year or just at end of unit? We need to remember that summative assessment is post learning.

Assessment needs to be revelatory - reveal a story

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Integrating and Promoting Well Being in Science Math and the Arts

Written by Allen Davidson, Assistant Superintendent of Employee Services
CASSA – Conference July 2-4 Montreal, QC.

An integrated approach to student wellness across subjects. Well-being is best-understood and developed with attention to knowledge of brain functions and the importance of active lifestyle, skills for social functioning, and emotional self-regulation. It also involves a positive sense of spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice and personal dignity.

This session highlighted our responsibility as educators to consider the wellness of our students when designing and preparing for learning. All Principals with the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic School Division (20,000 students) are required to submit Mental Health Literacy plans. They shared one example of a school that gathered data on students who were having chronic behavior issues which resulted in staff developing Morning Mindfulness Session for students to attend: 

·      Morning Mindfulness Club/Session (10-15 min). – Students identified as needing mindfulness preparation were involved in stretching, breathing, discussion/sharing circles, etc. These sessions, all supported by brain research, were designed to ready students for the rigours of the school day. Result: Eliminated/Reduced explosive behavior in almost all of the identified subset of students. Students start the day with a positive space to create environment for learning.

Carney, Patrick (2015) Well Aware – Developing Resilient, Active and Flourishing Students. Pearson, Canada. (link here)

The presenters also directed our attention to the Brain Science that tells us what we must know about the Brain and it’s functioning when we put challenges (intellectual, emotional, physical, etc..) in front of our students. They focused on Dr. Dan Siegal‘s Brain Hand Model here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0T_2NNoC68