Friday, 3 June 2016

Everything in Moderation

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Post PD Reflection by Markeeta Roe is licensed under a
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Based on a work found here.
Our professional development day just ended. 17 minute ago. In fact, I'm actually still at the venue. It has been such a big day that I'm torn between the exhaustion of this morning and the natural high of meaningful learning.

Today we were moderating maths tasks with teachers of the same grade level from other schools. Theoretically we were meant to provide three portfolios of 6-8 work samples; one portfolio at standard, one below and one above. (I say theoretically because... Life. You know? I pulled together 6 samples, but they were all from the same unit of learning because I've only been with this class for 9 teaching days!) We swapped portfolios around our table and used the Australian Curriculum achievement standards as our moderation guide.

These kind of events secretly excite me because I love the opportunity to see the learning experiences other teachers plan/use so that I can borrow their ideas.
Upon sharing our thinking, it was re-affirming to learn that as a group (of year 7 teachers and some guest teachers from our feeder high school) we were invariably consistent in our assessments. I have been 'accused', in the past, by another year 7 teacher, of being an overly hard marker so to have my positioned echoed by a large group of others was quite a relief. 

The process we used was, at the same time, incredibly simple and mind bogglingly challenging.  Simple in the sense that the initial question is: does this student meet this standard? Challenging in the sense that assessing the individual work samples as a holistic body of evidence against the achievement standard requires a fair degree of mental gymnastics. 

After/while looking at a portfolio we were encouraged to answer particular questions:
  1. Initial thoughts on the evidence provided in the work sample/s.
  2. What evidence in the work sample/s aligns with the standard? How? (Be specific.)
  3. What are the gaps in the evidence? What further evidence might be required to demonstrate achievement at the standard? (Be specific.)
  4. How might the assessment be modified to better reflect the standard? (This might apply to some, non or all of the tasks.)
These responses then formed part of the feedback each teacher received about their portfolios. My portfolio was deemed as not being a broad representation of the whole curriculum - which wasn't surprising. I received positive feedback about the tasks and some suggestions about ways to improve. It was fantastic! I also learnt about a bunch of resources and a new app from Justine Nelson, one of the awesome teachers on my table. Justine and I are also planning to share some other resources and ideas. That, in and of itself, makes today worthwhile. Thanks Justine!

The other part of today that our year level group found particularly useful was spending time with the team from our feeder high school. We worked with them to moderate some year 8 tasks, and then collaborated on extending the example tasks. The discussions around the differences between teaching and learning in primary and secondary schools were powerful if not a little frustrating. Each question lead to another three questions. We all wanted to keep going; talking to the other side (so to speak) isn't an opportunity we get very often.

The final (cute) little tip I'm taking from today are two little sticky note exit slip acronyms: WWW (what worked well) and EBI (even better if). Simple but I think they'd work well with my current kiddos.

I also need to give a shout out to Cheryl Josephs, who was also at the session today. She has known me since my second or third day as a teacher and has become a wonderful friend and trusted colleague. We don't often cross paths professionally anymore so it was a real pleasure to see her. She is one of my most committed blog readers so... Thanks Cheryl! It was wonderful to see you.

This relates to the following Australian Professional Standards for Teachers:
Standard 5 Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
Standard 6 Engage in professional learing 
Standard 7 Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community

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