So…where to begin. I have so many questions rattling around inside my brain, that I used a few methods to organize my thoughts. Interestingly, both rely on technology. The first method requires a simple, fine-tipped roller pen with black ink to write down all of my ideas – both good and bad (see picture above on the left). Though I love my digital devices, the writer in me still loves a great pen, and writing on paper before I start typing helps me categorize my thinking. The second method used a website called Wordle to create a random (and colourful) word cloud using keywords I feel are connected to topics relevant to my professional learning goals (see picture above on the right).
THE KEY WORDS
After completing this process, the three key words I have chosen are inquiry, assessment, and digital portfolios. At this time, I have so many questions about these key words, but the purpose of this assignment is ‘to explore key words and phrases’.
INQUIRY – I am a member of the Professional Learning Committee at my school and we are in the process of creating new learning goals for our staff. Our goals will be framed in the form of an inquiry question, which we will explore during our grade-group collaboration sessions once a week. I’ve only been teaching for 5 years and though I understand the inquiry process, there is still so much to learn. We use the Spiral of Inquiry in our district and I want to gain a better understanding of inquiry so that I can better guide my students through the process.
ASSESSMENT – As learning becomes more student-centered and personalized, how do we (educators) assess learning? The new curriculum is concept-based and competency-driven. As we move away from assessing simple knowledge that any student can Google, to assessing competencies, we must unlearn old ways (meaning grade books full of numbers) and learn new assessment methods (anecdotal comments, effective feedback, rubrics). As we learn new methods, how do we help students assess their own understanding of competencies? Ultimately, my students should be the ones who can explain their learning and their report card should not be a surprise.
DIGITAL PORTFOLIOS – These, in my opinion, are connected to assessment. Last February, our district piloted Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education (GAFE) with a small group of teachers, including me. I love these tools and the opportunities for learning, collaborating and sharing are exponential. I want to explore ways for students to use GAFE to not only catalog their learning, but create a system that will show their learning over time. A system that showcases learning, but is also transparent and includes the participation of parents and peers. Twitter has been an amazing platform to learn more about GAFE and learning how to create digital portfolios in my classroom will be a goal for this school year.
These are my initial keywords and questions. I’ve chosen these topics as they are very relevant to my teaching, my role as a member of the school-based Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment (CIA) team, and my learning in my Master’s program. It will be an interesting and worthwhile learning journey.