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Innovate West is moving to October!

We look forward to seeing you at the new Innovate West weekend, October 24-25, 2014. The feedback from the last few years was loud and clear: a fall date makes it much easier for teachers to attend, and will provide the opportunity for relationships and connections to grow all year long (and beyond).

Join us on Friday, October 24th for school tours in the morning and the first discussion block in the afternoon for those of you wanting to start the conversations early. Saturday will be similar format (3 discussion blocks) with the reception to occur that evening. Based on feedback from prior years, we have decided to finish the conference Saturday evening, foregoing the Sunday sessions.

Keep checking the website for more information. Registration is open!

Exemplary Teaching and Learning Frameworks

by Dan McWilliam 

In 2011 staff at the Connect Charter School, Calgary Science School at the time, were asked "What does exemplary teaching and learning look like?"

The process and rationale for the creation of the frameworks is described here. 
"In addressing this question, reference was made to the work that has been done on student assessment through our AISI project; the Galileo longitudinal research study of the Calgary Science School one-on-one laptop program and student engagement initiatives; the expectations for exemplary teaching outlined in the Alberta Teaching Quality Standard and a variety of artefacts including school evaluation reports, survey data and the fundamental framework as a school outlined in our charter. Students and parents along with school staff members were involved in the process of developing descriptors of exemplary teaching and exemplary learning in Connect Charter School (Calgary Science School.)"

Outcomes based assessment: Planning for assessment tasks

-a research project by Kevin Sonico and Louis Cheng (grade 8/9 Math teachers)

Terms such as benchmarks, competencies, standards, and outcomes are used interchangeably (Brindley, 2001) to indicate objectives that students must achieve. Hereafter referred to as outcomes-based assessment, the use of objectives in assessment compares student learning and progress with the intended targets. These outcomes are determined by the Education Ministry and, as such, are universal among all schools in the province. These outcomes are described in the Alberta Program of Studies and this document serves as a guide for teachers. Although there are ensuing conversations around primacy and utility of certain objectives over others, we accept and acknowledge the comprehensive nature of the outcomes.

For the purposes of this action research, we do not intend to contribute to the divisive debate surrounding the learner objectives’ complexity. Rather, we used the outcomes to reinforce our focus in our learning activities - from discussions, assignments, and tests. Although the use of outcomes as a basis for reporting learning may sound clear, their forms of implementation in classrooms by teachers vary. Some may place emphasis on standardized assessments, such as provincial exams. For others, it may look like the use of multiple sources of evidence, such as observations, portfolios, and conversations (Brown & Hudson, 1998, as cited in Brindley, 2001; Davies, 2011). Known as triangulation, assessment of student learning through the use of different assessment practices becomes more reliable (Lincoln & Guba, 1984, as cited in Brindley 2001).

For us, outcomes-based assessment is making the objectives more apparent not only to us, but also to the students. This includes identifying skills that we want students to develop and/or to assess prior to an activity. For this action research, we wanted to find out how outcomes-based assessment impacted three parts of our practice: planning learning activities, recording student achievement, and reporting progress. We collected qualitative feedback from students via survey and used our observations and reflections during the research process.

Grade 4 Folk Song Unit: Making Alberta's History Sing (Part 4: Going Further)

by Rick Fawcett 

In this fourth installment of Grade 4’s Folk Song Unit series, I speak with Heather Fawcett and Jessica Kelly about the real “meat and potatoes” of their inquiry unit. They address the challenges a multi-dimensional project can present along with the manner in which student success is being measured.

In my role as Curriculum Portfolio Leader, I have been involved in each stage of this unit’s planning and I have been impressed with the amount of careful thought given by our Grade 4 team to each phase of this dynamic project.

Students are quickly entering the stage of the project that will see their songs being published. I believe you will be as impressed as I have been with the depth of learning that is happening in our Grade 4 Humanities program.

University of Calgary Human Performance Lab

By IanV., Trevor B., and Parker S.
In April, the grade 8’s had the pleasure of visiting the University of Calgary for a human body
performance lab . During this time, we had the opportunity to visit 6 different stations, all with a general focus on human body performance.

The reason for this trip, aside from the learning experience, was to judge a university level kinesiology contest. The grade 8 students were provided with a sheet of paper, containing subsections for each station. We were required to provide feedback for each and every station, as well as a mark out of 10. The kinesiology contest had 6 different entries that included:

Student Learning Profiles (SLP’s) Part 4

By Tanya Stogre and Abby Saadeh

Continuing the Journey with Pathbrite, we took up the challenge of finding See our second blog the most meaningful platform. After exploring a variety of platforms, Pathbrite emerged as one that could work best for all individuals and groups at our school. With this information, we launched into a pilot study with all 100 Grade 7 students, their parents, and teachers to track their experiences with this new platform. Initial survey results from all groups indicated a frustration with different platforms being used across and within grades and a lack of cohesion with requirements of the Student Learning Plans (SLP’s). There was also a disconnect between parents and their child concerning the awareness and understanding of SLP’s.
With this information we recognized the overall need for a common digital platform for Student Learning Plans that would meet our criteria as teachers, students, and parents.