CGS Professional Development Blog
The 41st annual International Association for Educational Assessment (IAEA) Conference was held in Lawrence, KS from the 11th to the 15th of October, 2015. Focused on the theme of Validity and Reliability in Educational Assessment, the conference hosted education academics and professionals from more than 45 nations worldwide.
I had the privileged of representing both the Calgary Girls’ School and the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary in the Technology track where I presented a working academic paper I wrote in collaboration with Dr. Kim Koh and principal Judi Hadden entitled “Integrating Technology into Mathematics Teachers’ Design and Use of Authentic Assessment”. Our research, based on an action research project undertaken with the grade 6 teachers and students, aimed to build teacher capacity in designing authentic assessments through an inquiry-based Professional Learning Community (PLC). Additionally, teachers worked to effectively and meaningfully leverage technology using student-directed pedagogical approaches throughout the authentic assessment design in order to create a content-rich learning experience intended to foster 21st Century competencies in our students.
The response to this ongoing practice at Calgary Girls’ school, related to authentic assessment and assessment for learning leveraging meaningful technology integration, was overwhelmingly positive. Many conference participants were incredibly impressed with the caliber of student work; describing it as authentic, innovative and indicative of the power of student-led inquiry-based learning.
The feedback we gained from the conference re-enforced our beliefs and and confirmed the value of the work at Calgary Girls’ School regarding assessment and the impact of eliminating grades on student learning and understanding. The theme of the conference was “Validity, Validity, Validity” and focused heavily on the importance of metrics and measuring student learning via high stakes exams and standardized testing. In my presentation and in subsequent sessions, the CGS philosophy and choice to ‘go gradeless’ to foster a growth mindset culture, cooperative learning and the willingness to embrace failure to promote understanding, inspired rich discussion with academics from around the world.
CGS takes pride in our research-based, best practice approach to education and I would like to thank all of our colleagues who were involved in this research project. These sorts of activities, will help us to both improve teaching and learning in our school and allows to lead and contribute to change in the broader education community.
In May, I went to my second PD by Rosalind Carson through the CRC on Patterns and Relations in Mathematics for grades 7-9. This time we explored creating patterns using blocks/toothpicks/popsicle sticks. We discovered how to create a t-table from our pattern creations and why these tables made sense mathematically. It was a neat way to understand the mathematical concepts from creating patterns with hands-on materials. She also shared a great game called “Guess my Rule” that has students try and guess the expression based on inputs and outputs given. I’m hoping to try that game next week!
I really enjoy attending her PD’s as she is confident students can learn math through play and connects so many concepts to playing with blocks and creating rectangles.
On May 5th and 6th the grade 8 team attended University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education IDEAS Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was Designing for Innovation.
In addition to attending many inspiring sessions about educating for innovation, teaching students how to fail with design thinking, indigenous education and innovative leadership, the grade 8 team presented a session. Our session focused on how we have used design thinking with our students to encourage them to embrace the continuous and connected nature of learning. Our session was split into two parts. To begin, we took some time to share with participations some highlights of our year and to discuss the learning we have experienced. Participants then engaged in a design cycle which encouraged them to consider how they might rethink one aspect of their teaching practice. Our session was well attended and participants dived in with an open mindset.