Skip to main content


Final evaluations: square peg in a round hole?

One of the best aspects of the TLLP is the ability of our team members to have release time to discuss our classroom experiences, to visit other schools and classrooms and to plan for what we will do in our classrooms. During today’s meeting, we all had a level of frustration around final evaluations. Every secondary school in the board has been helping teachers to revise and update their final evaluations so that they more closely meet our vision for empowering modern learners with “informative and purposeful assessment.” This has been a rewarding but also difficult process where all aspects of our final evaluations have to be examined, compared to a set of success criteria, and then revised to be more equitable, engaging and purposeful.

This revision process is not where I had frustration, however. It is the breakdown of marks between term work (70%) and final evaluations (30%). It’s hard to articulate the reasons why this doesn’t fit a feedback-focused class. It’s like a square pe…
Recent posts

Kids emailing their parents - who needs marks with that kind of feedback?

My role in our TLLP is different. I am an Instructional Coach, so I no longer have a class of my own. I will tell you about an experience I had, and a practice that worked well when I had my own classes. In my final years as a classroom teacher, I maintained a drastically reduced focus on grades, and had some great results with both students and parents.

I found that key to working with the parents was to give them some other type of feedback that they could understand and relate to. I did this by having the students email their parents every two weeks. This was usually a two paragraph email with the first paragraph outlining what was going on in the school. We usually brainstormed a few things that were going on in the building and the students could choose a few that were relevant to them -- or pick other ones. The second paragraph outlined what they were learning in my class. The learning goals were posted, so they could use these s a starting point. Students who wished to elaborat…

When giving feedback, relationships matter, but so does what you say and how you say it

"However, the thing that really matters in feedback is the relationship between the student and the teacher. Every teacher knows that the same feedback given to two similar students can make one try harder and the second give up. When teachers know their students well, they know when to push and when to back off. Moreover, if students don’t believe their teachers know what they’re talking about or don’t have the students’ best interests at heart, they won’t invest the time to process and put to work the feedback teachers give them. Ultimately, when you know your students and your students trust you, you can ignore all the “rules” of feedback. Without that relationship, all the research in the world won’t matter."
~from “Is the Feedback You’re Giving Students Helping or Hindering?” by Dylan Wiliam

This quote from Dylan Wiliam is resonating strongly with me today. As a team we spent today mostly looking at student self-assessment. We visited Jonathan So’s grade 6 classroom in t…

Reflections on Midterm Conferences in 9-10 Math

This post was originally posted on my personal blog here.

It has been an observation of mine that students are struggling to transfer the meta-cognition skills gained in other places into the math classroom. The ideas and structures I am putting onto their math learning seem to be very different than anything they have done in math before that they do not realize they have done it elsewhere. It has made for some interesting reflection on my part.

In continuing with my journey to explore student reflection I wanted to have students self-evaluate at midterm and conference with me to determine their report grade and report card comments. I set this up using an assignment on Google Classroom and had the sign up for a conference time-slot.

My grade 10s were given a reflection document that included a few things (outlined via images below).

Part 1: Identify pieces of evidence and start to identify criteria from the map that were evident in that evidence

Part 2: Highlight where evidence show…

Questions Coming from "Going Gradeless" in Secondary Math

This post was originally posted on my personal blog here.

Going "gradeless" (using feedback-focused assessment) has brought about some great things with students, but often leads to more question than answers about my assessment practices. If you are reading this and have any ideas or suggestions I would love to hear from you!
Overarching Learning Goals & Learning Maps
I have started my year in grade 10 math with a set of learning goals and an incomplete learning map. I went into this process with an understanding that these documents will always be working documents. Changes will be needed depending on the group of students and changing needs of the course/society/etc. I am only 6 weeks into the semester and already envisioning the need for changes just based on pedagogy and assessment policy. Some of the reasons for this will be become more evidence in the topic below.
My learning map only has descriptors for level 3, which is partly by design.
1) I couldn't fig…

Trials and Tribulations

So, it's been a crazy few weeks since my last post and now it's time to just sit down with a hot chocolate and type...

I'll start with the highlights which include completing some course specific PD, meeting Starr Sackstein, and having some epiphanies about my own practice. Then I'll end with some next steps for myself (got to model what I preach, right?).

Within my department, there were concerns that we were not ready to deal with grade 9 gradeless. I wanted to do it justice - I figured that my two years of dabbling with gradeless was some background compared to my colleagues who may be dealing with gradeless for the first time. I approached my principal (Jim Kardash) and he was extremely generous in giving us three full days of release - two of which were with the Board's Instructional Coordinator (Kristen Clark). As a course group, we first conferred to create common assessment practices and assignments. That one day was a whirlwind of productive collaboration …

Feedback Focussed Assessment Conversations

This post is essentially a conversation that occurred on Twitter yesterday and this morning about formative and summative assessment, mastery, issues around grade 12U students wanting to know their grade because they need to apply to university, teaching students to self assess based on the success criteria and more. It's amazing that teachers from both elementary and secondary and in more than one board are contributing to the conversation.

[View the story "Feedback Focussed Assessment" on Storify]