This year I’ve started a Fellowship program organized by the Western New York (WNY) Education Associates (Angela Stockman) using grounded theory methodology. I’ve been playing around with a number of ideas and have now come up with my study. It’s not articulated well but what I’m doing is broadly outlined below.
We’re big on continuums for everything and this is great, but the challenge is to make these continuums child friendly and all learning visible to teachers, parents and most importantly the students. The problem is (my opinion) that the continuums we have are huge and perhaps contain benchmark statements which have become padding rather than essential. At my school our continuums are built on Fountas and Pinnell which is a great resource.
What I’m looking at through my students’ writing is the ‘WHAT’. What has actually moved their writing forward? I’m thinking of a hurdles race here where each hurdle or challenge is essential while other factors are not. This analogy sounds a bit different but I know from my students’ writing that there are core learning outcomes, but you don’t know what you don’t know!
My challenge is to develop criterion to assess and ask my students what the ‘click’ was and from this create and trial a streamlined continuum which is fully understood by all stakeholders. The answer is embedded in their writing and I think I’ll use how I teach writing genres to scaffold the process. My students write well and I’ve been asked how I teach writing, and given that we plan in teams and I use our team planning documents I must be doing something differently. So, if I am doing something differently, what is it? I need to discover what it is and make this visible to all.
I’ve listened to Steve Jobs’ address many times, so what have I learnt? Reflect to ‘connect the dots’, reflect to learn, leave a footprint you will be proud of, reflect to set goals, except your past, learn from life’s experiences, but most importantly move forward to achieve your dreams.
The principal of Beechboro Primary School Len Christie adapted a letter written to students in the US and UK and gave it to his students with their NAPLAN testing results.
A Letter to all students who sat NAPLAN this year
This week you would have received your NAPLAN test results. We are pleased that you tried your very best in these challenging tests and during the weeks and months leading up to them. I’d like you, your family, friends and teachers to remember that these tests are unable to measure all of what it is that makes you the valued person who you are. The people who have created these tests and those that mark them don’t know you as well as your teachers know you, to the extent to which I know you and certainly not the way your family and friends know you. They don’t know that many children at Beechboro Primary School speak one or more languages other than English. They also don’t know that you may be a great singer and dancer or that you can play a musical instrument really well. They also don’t know how well you can draw beautiful pictures. They don’t know that you have a sense of humour which can bring a smile to your friend’s faces and make them laugh or that they can rely upon you to support them when they need a kind and encouraging word. They wouldn’t know that you can write poetry and stories, play all types of different sports and have interesting and enjoyable hobbies. They also don’t know that you probably accept responsibility for taking care of your brothers or sisters from time to time. They don’t know that you have travelled to or come from fascinating places and had amazing experiences. They don’t know how much you love spending time with your family and your close friends and they won’t know how much you are appreciated and loved by them. You are trustworthy, kind and thoughtful and you try to do your best every day. Do they know that? The NAPLAN test results give you some very specific information about yourself but it can’t say everything about who you are and what you have achieved. I hope you are happy with your results and that they inspire you to do even better in literacy and numeracy. Just remember that there is so much more to describe who you are that can’t be shown in these scores.
Len Christie Principal