Testimonial: Stepping out of the box to evaluate differently

Annie Guay, teacher and educational leader at L'Accueil de Scott school, shares with us the results of an approach that has led to the implementation of new assessment practices in her community.

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ATTENTION! The English translation is automated - Errors (sometimes hilarious!) can creep in! ;)

By Annie Guay, Grade 1 and 2 teacher and educational leader at L'Accueil à Scott school, Beauce-Etchemin School Service Center.

“Don't be afraid to think outside the box! Don't be worried about making a big mistake and dreaming big! Because remember: dreams, if they have no purpose, will always remain dreams. " 
Denzel Washington 

I wish I had heard this quote earlier in my career. The school team in which I work had all the talents, all the opportunities to succeed, but also all the chances of making mistakes. She chose to go ahead… and she won her bet. 

In the fall of 2018, we looked at our students' motivation to write. It was one of our vulnerabilities. We hoped to remedy it and our ambitions had no limits. We were determined to find a way to engage our students on the path to the pleasure of writing. Our educational leader then gave us the time (what a great recognition it was to have the time to work together on our class hours) and the material (we almost have a loyalty card at Chenelière) to allow us to explore and think differently about teaching writing.

For two years, we went around in circles one way, then the other. To get something that we didn't have, we had to try something that we had never tried. But what? With this idea in mind, we continued to move forward. We spent time reading student texts, building reading kits to encourage them to write, and at the end of the day we still couldn't see any progress in their motivation. 

Not seeing the outcome, we turned to the educational advisor attached to our school. Its lighting would change everything! One observation emerged: we had to rely on research and evidence to develop our game plan.

Hours of digging into the Progression of learning, of bringing out the essential knowledge for each cycle (it is because the program is a bit ambitious), to finally lead to learning sequences that give us the means to teach the writing to our students. 

Collaboration and courageous conversations

We had a plan to develop the pleasure of writing in our students, but we nevertheless arrived at another unexpected finding: skills development and numerical assessment could no longer go together. 

We then chose to specify the expected behaviors according to the learning. We were not at the end of our troubles and long hours of meetings and work still awaited us. However, we still had the support of our pedagogical leader and the CP at the school service center. They searched everywhere to bring out the existing literature in connection with criteria criteria and a team of teachers embarked on the development of a new model in line with the values and mission of the school. 

Astonishing fact: only one assembly of teachers was necessary for everyone to agree on this new tool, which was tabled a few months later. Not that surprising when you think about it since the team reflection had been initiated well in advance. Finally, we had a system that reflected the whole process that we had started two years earlier. 

Collaboration and courageous conversations were present throughout the process and this is, I believe, what made all stakeholders feel involved in the process. By dint of working on this educational soil dear to us, we had before us a scale that went in the direction of the development of skills included in the program of the Quebec school version 2.0.

In the fall of 2019, we finally came up with a whole new scale. No more 72 steps and incomprehensible vocabulary, like “often; most of the time; clearly ”. We had a scale that would allow us to discuss more clearly with the parents and, above all, with the students about their progress and the challenges to be met. This new tool was warmly welcomed by all school stakeholders, and even by the parents of our students. 

I'll let you take a look.

Since then…

Our learning targets will be in use for almost two years. The way to do this is clear to the students and their parents. We have discussions related to the child's progress, we create groups of need related to the learning sequences and we offer students opportunities to recover. Most importantly, students know they can make mistakes and tame error. Because making a mistake is proof par excellence that you have tried. The targets to be reached are visible to the student and they help to reassure him, to encourage him to surpass himself and this becomes a magnificent demonstration of his commitment.

At the Accueil school, a small elementary school with 260 students located in Scott, there are no more numerical marks from kindergarten to grade 6. All teachers are now using targets. We have revised our observation grids based on the evaluation criteria. It is so much more helpful for students who hear the same vocabulary throughout their elementary school. We have succeeded in harmonizing our practices for the benefit of learning.

We offer a lot of feedback to the student when he is in a learning sequence, several formative assessments and we end with an assessment that takes into account the criteria of the competency and which allows the student to situate himself in relation to the learning targets. 

We dreamed big and we still dream! Now, we are meeting teams from other schools in our CSS and even elsewhere in Quebec. We try to inspire change, one teacher at a time.

If you want to know more about our methods, do not hesitate to contact us.

Approved by Scott's team of collaborative team coaches: Mélanie Vigneault, Joannie Bélanger and Johanne Morin

In addition

DO NOT MISS! November 11 at 7:30 p.m .: come and talk to members of the staff of the Accueil school about their shift in terms of evaluation! Click here to sign up!

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