Welcome to the Canadian Assessment for Learning Network
Pre-conference Newsletter April, 2019. 

Editor's Greetings

Katie White

Happy spring everyone! It is so nice to see the weather shifting to warmer gives Canadians hope again! Spring also means we are rapidly approaching our May 2-4 Canadian Assessment for Learning Network Conference and Symposium. We hope to see many of you in Delta, where we can get the chance to network and share what is happening across Canada to advance assessment for learning.

Speaking of networking, I wanted to invite everyone who enjoys this newsletter to contribute to the network that is so essential to CAfLN. The newsletter is just one way we stay connected across this vast country. Sharing what is happening in districts and divisions; schools and classrooms, is really important to understanding the broader context of assessment for learning. If you have something exciting happening in your part of Canada, please let us know. If you are doing research in the area of assessment, consider sharing your work with the network in our "Research Feature." If you have a topic you are passionate about, consider offering to share your thoughts with others through regular features like "One Question, Two Responses" or "Try This." Real stories about real teachers and students using assessment for learning to create powerful learning contexts and opportunities is what the Canadian Assessment for Learning network is all about! 

We hope you enjoy this month's newsletter filled with wonderful contributions from across Canada. We have some "teasers" from this year's conference breakout sessions. These descriptions make up just two of the many amazing sessions you can experience when you attend this professional learning opportunity. We also have some great ideas about the importance of observation in an assessment for learning approach to classroom assessment. Lastly, we have some links to a great blog by one of our members and a great video that can expand student understanding of feedback. Enjoy this month's newsletter!

CAfLN Conference Teaser

With just a few short weeks until the 6th Annual CAfLN Conference and Symposium in Delta, BC, here is a glimpse of just a couple of the many sessions you will be able to enjoy when you attend this year:

Ian Landy's Breakout Session

Personalized learning journeys start here....!

As we further personalize the learning experience, there are some important key points to consider. With a focus on formative descriptive feedback loops (including the learner, the teacher and parent/guardians), we can make use of performance standards to help communicate student learning.

Shifting the focus of learning to what an individual has done and needs to do next, we can then archive the samples of students work along with both a rubric/standard (when necessary - as not everything an individual does needs to be assessed) and appropriate descriptive feedback. The descriptive feedback can be selected from a variety of methodologies to highlight what has been accomplished and what may be next steps for the learner to focus on. The use of eportfolios then helps organize these artifacts to truly communicate what the individual student has been learning.

Gillian Judson's Breakout Session

Imagination doesn't get much airtime in education. When it does, it is often described as a "hook" for learning rather than the heart of engaging and effective practice. This session looks at specific ways to bring imagination to the heart of assessment and evaluation of student learning. The aim of imaginative educators is to take imaginative engagement all the way through the learning process. Come to this session for K-12 and play with different cognitive tools in the context of assessment and evaluation. Collaborate with colleagues in identifying practical ways to make your assessment and evaluation practices more imaginative.

Reception Location

When you combine the awesome keynotes and breakout sessions during the conference on May 3 with the fabulous pre-conference school tours and reception on the evening of May 2 and the symposium on May 4, you have a recipe for an amazing event in Delta this year.

Reception site (image below or view a video here):

For more information, visit the CAfLN website.
Register Today! Space is limited!
6th Annual CAfLN Conference and Symposium
May 2-4, 2019
Delta, BC

Seats are filling fast and we may sell out before the deadline. Once we are at capacity, we will start a wait list. Details will be posted on the website.

How might we use observation as an assessment for learning process?

Lana Steiner (Consultant, Good Spirit SD, Saskatchewan)
In order to value observation as a form of assessment, one must come to recognize that there are limitations to traditional pen and paper tasks.  Many educators would agree but may be less inclined to think that this is true in the mathematics classroom. Much mathematics instruction still remains steeped in abstraction and symbolism rather than grounded in manipulatives, models, multiples strategies and multiple ways of knowing.  However, the shift to outcome based reporting forces educators to reconsider what is to be assessed and how it is to be assessed.

Like many school divisions, the division that I am employed with developed rubrics for all outcomes in all subject areas to guide teachers in making sound professional judgements when assessing outcomes.  An example of a Grade 5 math outcome from the Saskatchewan curriculum is given below along with the Level 3 (Meeting) indicators from the division developed rubric:
N5.2 – Analyze models of, develop strategies for, and carry out multiplication of whole numbers.
• I can describe and apply many mental math strategies for determining multiplication facts to 81.
 • I can apply strategies for multiplying two whole numbers.
• I can explain the use of the distributive property to determine a product of factors that are close to multiples of 10.
 • I can model multiplying 2-digit factors concretely or pictorially AND record the process symbolically.
 •I can illustrate concretely, pictorially, AND symbolically the distributive property using expanded notation AND partial products.
As one peruses the indicators, one must question, “What is the best form of assessment for each particular indicator?”  Once one begins exploring this question, one begins to recognize the limitations of pen and paper tasks.  Pen and paper tasks are appropriate for some indicators but not all.  Indicators that are asking students to verify, justify, explain, reason, show with models or concretely, for example, are not well-suited for pen and paper tasks.  However, observations and conversations are. 
Knowing when to use observations and conversations is important but knowing how to use them to drive learning forward is even more powerful.  Observing and conversing with students allows the educator to respond in the moment!  This is powerful!  As an educator observes or discusses with a student, they have the opportunity to probe deeper if necessary and get more data from a student or see where the students’ understanding breaks down and immediately respond.  Pen and paper tasks do not allow teachers to respond in the moment as educators often review them after the day is done.  Very little meaningful feedback is provided via pen and paper tasks as well. 
Observations and conversations are rich sources of data for assessment.  They are equally as powerful, if not more so, than pen and paper tasks.  Using an analytical rubric to guide one’s assessment of observations and conversations is key in making a sound judgement.  If one uses these rubrics to guide their judgement, then one has created a balanced assessment system where rich sources of data are consistently and diligently being mined for student understanding.

Welcome New Members

Karen Locke, Marcy Boudreau, Kim Darbyshire, Jeff Mikulin, Graham Treloar, Shannon LeBlanc, Jas Uppal, Dean Rowland, Nicole Braid, Kathleen Barter, Shannon Miller, Melissa Jensen, Tim Raposo, Karen Rivest, Sheryl McMath, Dave Shortreed, Kelli Lundie, Ursula Neuscheler, Kevin Cumming, Ian Thomas, Liz Woods, Sofie Maurice, Tammy Stoneman

Please visit the Members' Directory to see all current members of CAfLN

Food for Thought

One of our network members, Josh Ogilvie, has blogged about the importance of skilled feedback. Read his thoughts here.

Here is a link to a wonderful video about feedback. Imagine how you might use this approach with your learners! View the video here.
Visit our Website to find out more about CAfLN!
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