Posts Tagged ‘assessment’

Learning Skills-Self Assessing and Reflecting

I created the below document to help my students learn about the learning skills we assess them on in Ontario. I am going to give them this document at the beginning of the year so that they can create goals about these learning skills. I want my students to  be able to self-assess and reflect on what they can do better for the next term.

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Click on the picture for the link.

Rethinking Letter Grades

The debate on grading is going strong in the education realm. Throwing out Grades or #TTOG is a very popular topic on twitter. Check it out here.

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I received ” Rethinking Letter Grades: A Five-Step Approach for Aligning Letter Grades to Learning Standards” by Caren Cameron and Kathleen Gregory in the mail and I was so excited to start reading.

I assumed that this book would be about why letter grades are outdated and further the debate to not have letter grading. It definitely does discuss these negative aspects but it addresses the point that letter grading is what we as teachers have to do. The book gives us theFive-Step Process which helps us choose these grade in a more structured and transparent way.

IMG_5882The Five-Step Process of grading that this book discusses really goes beyond and above. It gets you to choose 3-5 big-ideas, make a statement about what you need to see from students to receive a specific mark for that big idea and shows you how to link student conversations, student products and teacher observations to each big idea to show their learning.

My Key Learnings in this book:

  • Teachers need to trust their professional judgement more.
  • We need to be collecting multiple sources of information ie: different products, teacher observations, and conversations with the student
  • Make learning objectives clear to students and parents
  • Grading and planning should be done together with teachers that are teaching the same grade and subjects

Things NOT to do with grades:

  • Stop docking marks for being late
  • Only assess one product of work the student has completed. It doesn’t give you a sense of what they actually know.
  • Participation and effort are hard to measure and should never be placed in with marks.

I definitely recommend this book to read and discuss with your colleagues. I’m excited to implement this grading process into my classroom next year! Please let mw know what you think in the comments. If you would like to buy this book, click the link here.

*Discloser – I received this book for free from the publishers but as always my opinions are my own. 

Debating Report Cards

A couple of days ago the Toronto Sun posted an article written by Catherine Porter about Ontario Report Cards called “Honesty and report cards prove a toxic mix.” The articles states that teachers are frustrated with the positive language they must use due to the Ministry of Education and principals push to keep parents happy. To read the article, click here.

The problem they are stating that teachers can not communicate really how students are doing because they have to put a positive spin on everything written.

Here is a quote from the article “…instead of telling parents their kid was disorganized and his desk was messy, the teacher now writes: “Johnny consistently places his materials inside his desk in a random order. He is highly encouraged to adopt a more streamlined organizational style, so that during in-class work periods he is able to locate his documents with greater ease.”

I honestly think that times are changing. Education is in the middle of the biggest flux that it has ever experienced. In the past, schools were a one room school house in the tiny local community. When I was attending school (1986-2001), it was a school that contained several separate classrooms but you only interacted with your own class.

Now with our world of ever changing technology, school has to be different. We can connect with other schools, authors, and experts globally at the touch of a button. We need our students to be able to think critically, communicate clearly, collaborate, problem solve and be creative.

Below is Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson’s series, report card from 1971-1972.

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So what has changed since 1971? In Ontario, we have a section at the top of our reports that focus on Learning Skills: Responsibility, Initiative, Organization, Independent Work, Collaboration and Self Regulation. We have also added comments to the report cards so parents have more information on what was learned. But comparing the report card now and from 1971, they are pretty much the same.


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With all of the changes in our world and with technology, shouldn’t our report cards have evolved as well?    

Focusing on Learning

During the last Ontario Edchat we were chatting about Report Cards. It was an amazing discussion that really made me start thinking. We should be focusing on our students learning, not just assessing for grades. I decided to create these learning focused worksheets that your students can use to see what they knew about the topic before the unit and what they learned after the unit is completed. In an ideal world I would use these sheets unit after unit so that the routine is automatic and the students feel confident about it. Here are the two different versions.


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The next one I thought would be neat to do more of a brainstorm on. The students can fill out what they know about a particular subject and fill in the box attached to “What I think I know” in one colour. At the end of the unit they can add what they learned about that topic but in another colour and add another colour to the box attached to “What I know now.” I decided to choose the wording “What I think I know” because it makes the students feel more comfortable to write things down and when they are writing about their learnings after the unit is complete they can cross out what they learned is not true.

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Please let me know what you think of these printables in the comments and let me know if you used them.

Assessment with Sandra Herbst

Here are my very rough notes from a professional development day I spent with Sandra Herbst on November 19th, 2014

Aurasma is a great app to record videos and just scan a worksheet or picture and it will bring up a video of the student talking about

-Create Success Criteria for a period of time. Don’t waist your time doing to every couple weeks.

-We need to share with parents what we see in class-are they using manipulatives, using the vocabulary, and can verify what they are saying.

-success criteria needs to focus on how to use manipulatives properly, using vocabulary properly (will change), and verify/check their work

-check if they have their capitals and period

-check if addition is right

-focus on 4 students per day to mark if they are using manipulative, vocabulary, verify

-Our purpose is for students…

  • -to picture quality
  • -to use language of assessment
  • -to self monitor towards success

Growing Success talks about:


-Co-constructed success criteria

-triangulation evidence

-self and peer assessment


-communicating learning to others

-Have on your walls samples of work

-have them in a continuum from left to right or right to left switching them so students don’t realize that they are doing badly or good.

-make sure you have one that everyone in the class can do and have one that everyone in the class cannot do yet.

-no marks or grade labelled on it


Assessment: qualify, language,

Evaluation: assign, judgement


-Having a writing continuum and get students to compare their work to another.

-models, thinking, critical thinking, self assess,

-Don’t use a rubric-kids know where the sweet spot is where we can get teachers and parents off his back.

Co-Constructing Criteria with students

-Show samples of work and sort them into groups that they think go together

-Co-Criteria with student

-Sort the criteria into sections and choose a colour to match the heading

-get the students to highlight with that particular criteria heading in their work



Criteria Details
I read and understand the problem
I chose a strategy that makes sense to solve it
I can explain how I solved it it to others
I can have a connection outside of the math class


-Put success Criteria on Arrows. Get students to glue the success criteria arrows onto their work where they have shown that specific Success Criteria.


End of the day idea:

Create a list of words you learned in science class and then email parents the words.




Continuum for many:

English Writing Continuum:


Reflecting on my new assessment practice and taking some advice

So before the year began I really wanted to improve my assessment practices. I wanted to have an easy and detailed way to track all my notes, thoughts, and my students goals.

I came up with this method:

I made a new spreadsheet or sheet as Google calls them for each of my students and a new tabs for each strand. I loved how organized it was and as I started using it this week I loved it even more.

BUT then, I began documenting all my students work and opening up different sheets and tabs for each of the students took forever.

So I’m adapting and following advice from Joel Frey, and Kimberly Pollishuke. Thanks guys for taking the time and commenting on my post!

I’m creating a form for me to use to make notes about my students progress and to conference with them and make new goals.

Here is what it looks like:

I’m excited to try it this way and hope it is easier and quicker to use!

Sesame IO Vision


Easily create your own lessons with rubrics and checklists that align with curriculum standards and learning skills.


Use Sesame Snap to capture real artifacts of learning that are accompanied by your assessments.


Clearly communicate comprehensive learning progress with personal learning portfolio for every student.

And it has Ontario Curriculum!!!!!!!

Sesame IO Vision