Being Data Informed – Student Driven Conversations

Funny thing around data – when students are an intricate part of the conversation, it takes on a whole different meaning. Recently, I was facilitating one of our Joint Teams (LSS/Classroom partners and Learning Technologies) with a focus on supporting learners with written output challenges. There were several tools that provide significant success for  students. These I’ll write about at a later date. What really intrigued me was the rising conversation from teachers about the connections to communicating student learning. I had shared how we could use audio and images as a enhancer for students to record their understandings and how important it was to have snapshots of these over time to reflect. As these take advantage of a digital realm, the use of a place like our “student blogfolios” rose as a consideration. This allows a student to share and hold their story in the digital world, opening the door to a range of possibilities: 

  • access anytime anywhere by participants
  • collaborative feedback in an organized manner
  • connected communication between student, parent, teacher (of course anytime, anywhere)
  • historic snapshots of whole child learning processes

Knowing your “why” aids in this journey. Without any advertising, our Learning Technologies team have seen this expand exponentially (yes we really only started last year with a small pilot). The implications are huge as we attempt to work through what it means to communicate deep learning in different ways, to empower students to own their voice and story, to share these breakthroughs with parents in a way that allows for dialogue. 

If you are interested in this, please contact any member of the Learning Technologies team or go straight to our FORMS page to apply.  

September in the Wind

beachumbrella

Fall is definitely in the air, though I’m holding out for those rays of sun peeking out from the clouds.  Some of you have started using the online Raz-Kids for your Running Records assessments, which is also available to any of your students.  This will give you a fabulous pre/post running record of error counts [omissions, insertions, mispronunciations…], WCPM [words correct per minute], error rate, and accuracy score. Matching these against the Reading Fluency chart will provide insights of where the students are in relation to an expected percentile range.  These scores can also be used in your schoolwide assessments.

Some news that I’ve been waiting which will offer more flexibility: Raz-Kids has app_razkidslaunched their app for ipad!  Students can now access their Raz-Kids accounts from the ipad.  You should use a headset [the speaker jack from your headset goes into the jack on the top of the ipad].  The recordings can be done with the ipad mic, rather than the mic attached to the headset.  However, consider using the program in a quiet spot as sound will travel. More information on the program can be found here.

If you are interested in accessing Raz-Kids, please email me.  A session is listed in the Staff Development Calendar to help with the details.

Discovery and Relationships

It’s June and I’m really not sure what happened to this year.  The ten months prior have whizzed by and here we are again.  I wanted to take this moment to share some reflections of the year.

headset_icon2Our Fast ForWord teams saw a boost and challenge in the delivery of this Tier 3 intervention program.  The move to an online environment meant that more schools were added, more students were included.  Teaching teams were challenged with a new approach in supporting reading achievement and student motivation each time we met as a group and during site visits. It was a humbling experience to watch the dedication and intense energy of this group of educators as they supported their students. One student stated “all I ever want is to learn to read”.  He came extra early to school to make sure he could get in his session. After years of struggle, he is well on his way. Grateful to all the educators for going the extra mile for our students!

ipad iPads took the education world with a storm.  Several sets of learning series from beginner to advanced gave school teams and individuals the chance to explore, connect and extend their knowledge of how this device could be used to enhance learning.  Many times we saw ‘aha’ moments when experiences collided with the teachers’ knowledge of student needs. At these times, the sharing was electrifying as others stopped and were drawn into conversations.  Questions  like what criteria to use when choosing apps, how to negotiate the workflow for seamless experiences, how to develop better questioning techniques, how to document the reflective journey and how to create something that never before could be created were tackled with gusto and teamwork.  One teacher chose to take the framework and work with all the EA’s in her school to extend their learning.  Now that’s action.

online-writing-communityWhat happens if we offered a dedicated laptop and projector to a teacher to develop an inquiry idea? I can say that wonderful sparks happened.  In one class I observed such engagement and “shining eyes” (Benjamin Zander’s words) that I was blown away by the focused level of dialogue as students discussed their work.  Thank you for showing determination, persistence and purposeful actions to deepen practices.

balancing rocksWhat if you asked a group of secondary teachers to reach high and envision big! You get an inquiry team regardless of subject, who dreams big, reaches big and actions big. This small group from across multiple schools dove into strategies like standards-based assessment or flip classroom or refining questioning, all through seamless use of technologies.  Little did I know that excitement from this group meant that they were driven to share not only in their schools but to share their discoveries by rotating meetups at most of the secondaries where everyone was invited to drop in. What I took away from each of these added sessions was the power of collaborative conversation; conversation that started with honest sharing experiences (with all its bumps) and circled with audiences asking questions and challenging the notions. Back and forth until clarity was reached and what we thought we knew to be true of these strategies and environments was worked and reworked.  What I learned was the courage it took for these teachers to “risk big” not only privately but publicly in front of their colleagues.  In doing so, they shared the greatest gift, the gift of possibility.

These are only a small number of the projects we were so privileged to be a part of the learning.  I truly believe  that what we lived was an experience in how we view the world, to live into the possibility, and grow beyond what we imagined.  We found champions who were there in our corners to bounce ideas, to challenge our thinking and to help us “dare greatly“.  As another year comes to a close, I leave you with Rita Pierson who spoke at TED – “Every Kid Needs a Champion”.   THANK YOU for being the champions of our students.

iPad/iPod Apps ShootOut – Multisensory Blitz

District Pro-D arrived on February 22nd.  Offered at two sites (Byrne Creek and Taylor Park) complete with video feed of our keynote to Taylor Park, it served as a reminder that connection, collaboration, ideas generation happen when we all come together.  With over 110 sessions, it was an electrifying event. No small feat for a large school district!

The iPad ShootOut Panel of Dragana Mihic (Teacher-librarian at North), Dave Maclean (Principal at Westridge), Livia Chan and Janet Chow (District Learning Technologies) provided a series of fast-paced rounds of idevice apps framed around the following questions:

apps_processquestions

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Quick Markers As Evidence Along the Way

We all understand that having current information about a student’s learning help in guiding our ongoing practice.  When there are so many things that compete for time in our day, sometimes it’s difficult to get to those formative assessments. And it’s in these times that I find efficiency and speed is my friend.  Even though you do have access to our One-Minute Fluency assessments, maybe you want to do your own or share it with your classroom teachers.  That’s where  Intervention Central has some great interventions that may be useful.  On this blog’s Resources links, you’ll find  CBM Reading Passages and CBM Maze Passages.  These two generators allow you to create your own One-Minute Fluency running records or Maze Comprehension measures [with assigned readability levels].  Take your favourite passages and copy/paste into the boxes and a PDF is generated for you to use.  Information gleaned from the running records will offer insights on what needs to be addressed.