“Informative assessment isn’t an end in itself, but the beginning of better instruction.” —Carol Ann Tomlinson
For your students to learn and grow, formative assessment should be considered. There are several ways in which an educator could use Formative assessment such as evaluating student comprehension, academic progress and learning needs.
The opposite of a formative assessment is a “summative assessment” that measures the sum of a student’s learning at the end of a unit or year. Where formative assessments are used to measure progress, summative assessments measure the end point—thereby revealing more about outcomes instead of where to go in the future.
I have witnessed many of my collegues are skillfull in classroom management through my occasional “learning walk” and they seem to be most effective. While summative assessments (like unit tests or yearly examinations) are familiar curricular tools, it is imperative that teachers properly employ formative assessments to most powerfully impact their students’…
As you leader you need good judgment. You also cannot afford to be judgmental. That’s never more important than when considering the potential of the people on your team.
If you’re like most leaders you’re always watching your team to determine how effective they are in their roles. That’s good leadership. But good leadership is not good enough if your goal is to grow your organization.
Growing an organization requires great leadership and great leadership requires more than simply watching your people. It requires consistent two-way communication.
If you’re not “out there” interacting and talking with your people in an intentional manner then you’re probably missing out on the information that you need to advance from good to great leadership.
When I say “intentional” I mean very very intentional. You must make it a point to invest time each day, every single day, to learn something about someone on your…
Performance management has three elements—planning, day-to-day coaching, and evaluation. When I ask managers which of these elements takes the most time, they almost always say evaluation. Sometimes I hear long statements full of frustration about the forms, activities, and deadlines involved in the evaluation process. It makes me realize that people are putting the emphasis […]
As many of you are aware, for the last 9 months I have experienced the privilege of leading an emerging preschool to post school learning community known as St Luke’s Catholic College. Although we are at the very early stages of our evolution as a learning community, we are responding to the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta transformation agenda, led by Greg Whitby who challenges all school leaders to act with “the fierce urgency of the now”.
Part of the now is to develop the social skills and enterprise skills required for a changing world. A recalibration of jobs and lifestyle is taking place before our eyes. According to many experts, the changes have only just begun, so much so, “Five million jobs will be automated by 2030,” – SMH 4/3/17. Our Kindergarten class of this year, our Year 12 graduates of 2029 (that’s if there is such as thing as Year 12…
Most educators out there would have loved the show and the online discussion that was generated around the relevance of much of what ABC highlighted. Many in school leadership roles around the world have been witnessing many many schools struggling with an adequate response to this question posed by Sarah Ferguson. I think the short answer is NO many schools are not adequately teaching students for their future and the struggle schools are having is how can they shift?
What resonated with me was the section that focussed on the schools behind the scenes. I think I saw at least two in the show — one of them being the Australian Science and Maths School in South Australia. Both schools looked and sounded like they were committed to whole school change processes, not simply one or a handful of teachers innovating in their classrooms that probably more accurately reflects the many schools I have worked in or visited. I noticed the huge engagement on the part of the students and the excitement they had about sitting in the driving seat of their learning.
This made me reflect on my school and what I see as the key issues in building such excitement and engagement with students in my school. Here are some of my thoughts.
10 Factors to help Build Whole School Culture
The show and comments I read later on social media reinforced to me the idea that if schools are to change their learning culture they MUST:
Be Whole School Focussed and Committed to LEARNING
Have Leadership that MUST resource and drive the learning VISION
Build Learning experiences that are authentic and linked to real world problems
Reinvent their notions of what relevant curriculum is for students
Knock down walls and open up new learning spaces – no more industrial rooms
Engage parents and wider community as “experts” to give feedback on students projects – invite them in to student showcases of work
Commit to training of teachers as coaches and experts in new models of delivery of learning to students
Be Future Focussed as a school learning community on the students future careers
Build TEAMS of students that work on 5 week projects to create a PRODUCT
Be places of continual reinvention and innovation that reflects digital disruption in society
Project Based Learning Curriculum – one way forward
In San Diego a consortium of schools called New Tech run schools such as High Tech High that has achieved remarkable success by building the entire school culture around a carefully designed project-based curriculum.
Many schools in Australia have discovered this holy grail of building student engagement success. My learning portal into the future has been heavily influenced by Parramatta Marist High School in outer Western Sydney that as been on a similar journey to High Tech in rebuilding their school and in the process has reinvented one of the oldest schools in Australia into what is arguably now one of the most successful and innovative schools.
“In 2007, the school principal (Brother Patrick) visited Napa New Technology High School in the Napa Valley, San Francisco. The school was considered to be part of a small but crucial educational revolution in the United States which focused not solely on the content that students needed to acquire before they left high school, but also on the 21st Century skills that students would need in order to be successful in life. With guidance from an overseeing organization (New Tech Network) and support from the strong underlying model of Project Based Learning, the school was successful and had strong community and parental backing.
On his return, Brother Patrick spoke to staff about the changes he had witnessed in schools overseas and to consider the future direction of Parramatta Marist High School. Several staff intrigued by this PBL model attended a week-long conference in the United States and then on their return, began the task of planning for the implementation of this model at our school, for 2008. Since then, Brother Patrick and the CEO (Parramatta) have shown their belief in the model and their dedication to improving the learning of students by allowing further staff to train in the model, by redeveloping current learning spaces and also encouraging staff to strive and achieve their Train the Trainers Certification. This certification enables staff to provide teacher training in the PBL model, both at our school and overseas.”
Centre for Deeper Learning (CDL)
The ongoing journey of transformation that began in 2007 continues to this day in ever new and exciting ways. The school has established its own staff training facility called the Centre for Deeper Learning that has trained countless teachers in their PBL method of curriculum delivery. I have been a visitor many times to this outstanding school and group of educators that lead the vision of PMH.
I am now in the privileged position of leading a school community and I like many leaders am constantly looking for a recipe that guarantees school success for each individual. We are now in the process of committing our school to a vision of building a Project Based Curriculum starting in the Middle Years in 2017.
Why Middle Years PBL?
Most resistance, disengagement, boredom and resistance to learning comes in the teenage years when students, particularly boys, but also girls, get past the point the age of Primary schooling and early High School years of learning to do the ‘right thing’.
Some would say pick Year 7 which is an easier group arguably for a new program to succeed.
Building a PBL Curriculum
So how does/will this look for your typical Year 9 or Year 10 student next year? My school is currently researching and planning this. Conversations around where to start and who or what subject areas to start with are in discussion with Leaders of Learning. Of course we are using Parramatta Marist as our ‘critical friend’ and people such as Kurt Challinor, Director of the Centre for Deeper Learning is helping us in many ways.
My school is beginning the journey of implementing Project Based Learning as a core method of curriculum delivery in 2017. As we begin this conversation and start planning how our rollout will look next year we have started talking to teachers, investing in our staff visiting in groups Parramatta Marist which is what I believe to be the Gold Standard School of PBL as a school wide pedagogy over several years.
They have trialled and developed their model many times and I firmly believe now they can assist us greatly to evolve learning at our school in our context. It’s not going to be the same journey as PMH but I know there will be enough similarities in the PBL model of curriculum design and team delivery that we would be foolish not to invest significantly in learning from an Australian school that has walked the talk of leading change for over ten years now.
I look forward to leading and being a part of the journey.
I think it is really important as an educator that we are constantly revising our practices and breaking down what we do. For Project Based Learning part of this is going back to the beginning to have a look at how we design projects. This blog post will cover aspects of Project Design for best practice PBL.
Firstly I will consider Gold Standard PBL. Recently, the Buck Institute revised its PBL Model. Take a look –
The above image shows the old model and below the revised. As a staff we considered why they would change it, leading us to also begin to revise our practices. If the change is coming from the top then we should definitely follow.
We considered the differences in the models and discussed the following:
The change from in-depth inquiry to sustained inquiry:
We want students to be moving forward in their learning and need…
Tonight’s 15 minute forum was led by geography teacher Hannah Townsend. Last year, Hannah carried out a small scale ‘Practitioner Research Project’ to explore what it means as a teacher to have a growth mindset? We often talk about this quite loosely, but what do those teachers who strongly believe in the idea of mindset do, on a day to day basis? Based on our knowledge of our staff, a sample of teachers who were perceived to be very growth mindset in their approach and, based on their student outcomes, were successful teachers, were observed by Hannah. Based on Dweck’s research, Hannah was looking for certain features of their teaching that linked to the idea of growth mindset, as outlined below:
Following these observations, Hannah found that these teachers who embrace the idea of growth mindset in their their teaching, rather than simply agreeing to it in principle, seem to ensure challenge