Archive for May, 2011

Love this, such a powerful experience for kids and their teachers.

Does anyone else do “buddy reading” or anything else like that? Have you done it before? What benefits did you notice?


Assessment Review

One thing we will need to do very soon, perhaps early next year when we have a bit more time and space to do something so important, is review our assessment of language arts. We’ll need to take a close look at what we assess, how we go about doing it and what resources we find most effective. We’ll also need to establish some clear agreements about the purposes of different forms of assessment and, therefore, how we will record the data we gather about our students. I have been doing some research into assessment practices and have found the work of Dylan Wiliam to be very interesting. Wiliam was one of the people behind the “Working Inside the Black Box” booklet on formative assessment that swept across the UK about 8 years ago.

William groups assessment practices into the following three categories:

I suggest we use these three categories in order to inquire into our own assessment practices. Together, we can make sure we are not “under-assessing”, “over-assessing” or anything like that! We need to know that:

  • our practices are genuinely informing student learning
  • our “certification” of individuals is meaningful and being passed on as students progress through school
  • the assessment instruments that hold us accountable are genuinely reflective of who our students are and the way they learn

When going through Kelli’s photos of her SLCs, I was blown away by the richness of the experiences that were being had by the students and parents of her class. Even though these are “silent” photographs, each picture definitely “tells a thousand words”. The language, both English and mother-tongue, must have been so rich in that room!

One of the main things we can learn from this set of photos is the immeasurable value of taking photos as a way of gathering assessment data. Kelli learned a lot about her students by watching them so closely through the lens of the camera. She knew what she was hoping to see and then captured it visually.

Check out the parents who built a puppet theatre from scratch – priceless!

What were the highlights of your SLCs?

David Crystal’s “Language and the Internet” is a very timely and provocative read:

“In recent years, the Internet has come to dominate our lives. E-mail, instant messaging and chat are rapidly replacing conventional forms of correspondence, and the Web has become the first port of call for both information inquiry and leisure activity.

How is this affecting language? There is a widespread view that as ‘technospeak” comes to rule, standards will be lost. In this book, David Crystal argues the reverse: that the Internet has encouraged a dramatic expansion in the variety and creativity of language.”

I’m undecided about all of this, I do see his point and I am helping my students to be as literate in this new era as possible. However, I am also fearful of some of the other trends I see: the Year 8 students who don’t play or talk with each other in the mornings now they have laptops to stare at, the over-reliance on the Internet for research when books, people and observations would be better options, the Facebook-update-style way that kids are starting to say sentences… expecting a “comment”, “like” or “share” at the end of each one!

Where do we go with this as educators?

There’s no real reason to write much here, just watch the video.

Do you run a similar system to this? How is it going? Anything to add?

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The move from the old building to this new, renovated building has been a revelation, I’m sure you will all agree. We have all had to rethink the way we set up our classrooms and consider our use of space with creativity and with the kids firmly in mind.

I was inspired to take photos of the Year 2 classrooms when I popped in there this morning as I felt that they were filled with language and visible thinking. Here’s a virtual tour.

Can any of you spot the object that Colleen went and bought for each class?

This is an excellent little video captured purely by chance while walking around classrooms. These kids really impressed me with their explanations and the way they were engaging with the text in a really meaningful way. I also really liked the fact that they were going to demonstrate these skills and habits to their parents in the Student Led Conferences on Monday.