Reporting for learning

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It’s report time (hooray!).  At our school, we are always trying to make reports better for learning. At times this can make things a little more difficult for teachers, but we’re always hoping for the best for learning.

So, I am wondering about how are reports really helping students succeed.  The PD I’m getting and the books I’m reading suggest descriptive feedback is one of the best ways we can help students grow.  If this is true, does the mark really matter? And who does the mark matter for?  I understand that we need to have something standardised so students can go to other schools, university, etc.  so I guess when does the mark matter, and how do we best communicate it? 

Just some random thoughts before reports. 

Learning Community

In our school garden

The enhanced PYP moves towards action for the learner and this new focus or (re)newed focus on the importance of the learning community.  I guess the easy connections are parents, other people within the school, and maybe even experts from outside our school but somewhat connected to our school community.  

I’ve been thinking more about how our community should involve the more than human world (a phrase I love from Place, Being and Resonance). This idea that we don’t really go out and treat our place as a community, what do the little lizards have to teach us, what about the ants, the leaves, anything? If we want students to love our land we have to know it, but maybe before we know it we have to acknowledge it’s a part of our community.  

There’s been a lot of reading, reporting, new role wondering this past week and I really think that this idea is one I have to think seriously about how to incorporate into the rest of the year.  

First week

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Wow, the beginning of the school year flew by.  The first week is over (almost) and the real fun is just starting.

This week I tried to focus on making good relationships, with my team and my kids. I really believe that this will set the whole year up for success. If we trust each other and believe in each other we can work things out together and with each other in mind.

Maybe more cynically I’ve been reading and listening about how people make decisions, and for good or ill, we make them based on our identity and usually our identity revolving how we see ourselves in a group.

If this is true then we need to make sure our group feels cohesive. We need to make sure we feel united so our decisions reflect how we can best work together. We’ll see how it goes, but it’s been a good start.

First days

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First week of new staff at school. It’s amazing the things you forget, the things that become ordinary, the things we somehow don’t know but should, and the way we normalise our work lives.

I’ve been getting a lot of great questions, about the hows and whys of school, not just the whats which is really exciting. It’s good to be back in the flow of things, good to be writing, and pushing thoughts and just reconnecting with the lit review writing too. Still need a lot more to go, but feeling really confident this year, and happy to be working on getting some great things done in the fifth grade.

Hoping the next couple weeks continue being great.

Pursuing Narratives

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I’m at the paper writing time of my school work. So things are full on, and it’s difficult to find time and desire to write about things. Especially school things.

For one of my assignments I have to choose a methodology that supports my research questions.  I’m mostly interested in the how we are regarding where we are.  Why do we act certain ways in different places, how does the interact with our idea of teacher identity and maybe what does that mean for learning?

I think pursuing narrative inquiry is the way to go for this type of work.  I really want to know who the teachers are, I want their story and I want their ideas.  I want to know how we are linked together, not just because we work together, but because our stories are connected. Stories are woven together, and nothing is isolated, so I hope that this path works out.

Sharing Stories

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Talking to a colleague today about how to start the beginning of the year.  We’re thinking about the importance of sharing.

Working in grade six the kids are making a transition into high school. The students are a little nervous and want to know a little more about what’s coming. I’d like to be more honest and open with them about some of the transitions I’ve made, and what problems I’ve encountered and how I dealt with it, but I think more importantly I have to listen and actually acknowledge their fears and concerns.

By promoting the idea that it’s okay to feel certain things, and believe certain things I hope the students are better able to cope with emotional changes.


Creating as learning

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of personalised learning and how to set it up so different people learn differently.  If we can encourage curiosity and provide engaging contexts we can have students pursuing their own goals.

Our next unit is about how our changing understanding of energy effects living things.  I think this a pretty great unit for students to start exploring their own interests. We are asking them (for at least three times every week) to work on a problem they see connected to our central idea.  At first we had some issues if we needed to provide different problems for students to explore, however, after some talking to colleagues we agreed that we would let students pick their own problems.

We used forms to ask students what they thought a problem might be, we lumped the big ideas surrounding each problem together and a teacher will take a group with related problems together.  Students can decide to work in either groups or on their own to pursue this idea.

It starts on Monday, really looking forward to it.  Any ideas for things they might be able to create?