School Name: Nakusp Elementary School
School District: SD#10 Arrow Lakes
Inquiry Team Members:Karen Marsden: email@example.com
Brenda McQuair: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: Karen.Marsden@sd10.bc.ca
Type of Inquiry: NOII (focus on core competencies, OECD learning principles, etc.)
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Arts Education, Career Education, Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing, Matahematics / Numeracy, Science, Social Studies, Other: Core Competencies
Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Differentiated instruction, Growth mindset, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning, Universal design for learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? We both used Fresh Grade and hoped for more parental involvement and more awareness of work quality by the students when reporting to parents.
Scanning: Karen did 4 surveys intermittently throughout the year with the students to find out how they felt about their performance in each curricular area. Karen also tracked their comments to their parents when reporting on Fresh Grade. Karen added a “Communication To Parents on Fresh Grade” selection to the “Language Arts Menu.” Karen’s class met several times in a talking circle to discuss how learning occurs when people of all ages recognize that there are consequences for their actions. If students chose to take pride in their work and complete projects they were more likely to share with parents. If students chose not to hand something in, they could not share their learning with their parents. Students chose examples of their learning across all curricular content including movement breaks. This choice of work selection to share was student directed. Karen noticed that there was a correlation between a student’s willingness to share all work with his or her parents and how often the student’s parents commented on the work the student shared. This correlation was not significant as some students continued to report out to parents even when their parents did not respond on Fresh Grade. Once possibility is that parents discussed their child’s learning at home with the child and did not make comments on Fresh Grade. With regards to the Aboriginal Learning Progression, Karen viewed her students as currently being in the “Acquiring” phase where students were willing demonstrating their knowledge through Fresh Grade. Students who needed reminders to share their work with parents, were in the “Developing” phase.
Brenda Surveyed parents and asked what they thought about Fresh Grade. Brenda noted which parents responded back and how often they responded back. Brenda noticed some parents were very involved in freshgrade while others did not comment on a regular basis.
Focus: Karen chose “Will students take more ownership of their learning and school work if we use Fresh Grade as one of the tools to communicate with parents on a regular basis?” because each year there seemed to be a disconnect between students’ abilities to turn in their best work and their feeling that only the teachers graded student work. Karen wanted students to be proud of their work and select their best work to send to parents, which required a student self evaluation process.
Brenda chose to ask, “Will my parents be more engaged in their child’s learning when she used freshgrade, and would this in turn motivate her students’ engagement in their own learning?” Brenda chose this area because she was curious about using freshgrade and wanted to see how reporting continually on line worked for parents, students and herself.
Hunch: Karen noted that students entering grade 3 usually thought that if a teacher liked a student, that student would get good grades. Students were encouraged to use drawings of thermometers that measured their abilities, in each curricular area, in the surveys used in this NOII project. The surveys indicated that some students were very accurate in gauging their understanding of certain topics/curricular areas but others had difficulties evaluating their work or their understanding of certain topics/curricular areas. It is possible that children in younger grades were not developmentally ready to evaluate their own work and looked to the adults as the bestowers of marks.
Brenda noted that some times parents hard a hard time envisioning what their child was actually working on during a school day. She felt that sending home pictures of work as well as rubrics could maybe give parents a better idea of the grade expectations for grade 4 students.
New Professional Learning: Karen attended all Learning Team meetings to discuss the challenges and the successes of our learning projects. The final Learning Team meeting was a specific set up to show our peers what our encompassing question was, what happened along the way, how we changed our own learning and practices, and what we might do in the future if we were to continue our project. Our peers were then able to ask questions about our projects, data, and conclusions. Karen noted that she changed the format of her surveys to larger font and asked more specific questions on the second student survey, and that some questions the class worked through during class discussion time rather than as individuals.
Brenda noted in the final Learning Team meeting that several teachers from different grade levels were quite curious about freshgrade and asked in depth questions about its use. This sharing time benefited the teachers by opening up a interchange of ideas on the use of freshgrade. The resources Brenda noted that were most useful were her colleagues! The teachers and administration that have used freshgrade were very willing to help out. Lorna Newman, our district principal of learning, was also very helpful by having the learning team meetings which further supported our project. Through various discussions, Brenda felt she was on the right track when using freshfrade.
Taking Action: Karen: I learned a great deal about individual students from my student surveys and would definitely use this type of an activity to work with my students again. Most students in grade three enjoyed sending samples of their work on Fresh Grade to share with their parents. The students who did not want to send their work home were often the students whose parents did not comment on their child’s previous shared work. Students also seemed to understand that when they shared their work with parents, they were sending home a good example and telling the parent why they had chosen that particular sample to share.
Brenda: I learned from chats with my students’ parents on how effective freshgrade was for them. I really liked Karen’s idea of using freshgrade as a communication tool between the student and parents. This makes me want to try to add on to the parents response part of freshgrade. I would like to see parents having a chance to respond to their child’s work and having the child give feedback. I think this interchange would involve the parents to a higher degree.
Checking: Karen: I feel that some students pushed themselves to do their best work so that they could share that work with their parents on Fresh Grade. These students usually were able to accurately gauge their performance in curricular areas. Some students shared anything and everything with their parents without reflecting if the work was the best example they had done. Other students did not want to share anything with parents for several reasons, “they don’t care” being the most frequent comment.
Brenda: As I said in the above comment I feel like using fresh grade this year got me off to a good start. But will tweak my inquiry when thinking of its use. I also feel having Karen’s support gave me an added point of view to help make this way of reporting more effective. I think my learners’ need to have more involvement with an inquiry of their own about how they can use freshgrade to further communication to their parents about their learning.
Reflections/Advice: Karen: I really enjoyed the time I had to discuss classroom and student concerns with a partner who was working on a similar project. I enjoyed other teachers’ comments and questions about my NOII project as it make me have a clearer picture of what I was trying to understand about my students. If I were to continue this project, I would definitely make every attempt to explain to my parents just how important their acknowledgement of their child’s learning is. I would also move away from the core curriculum and incorporate more of Core Competency language using “I can” statements. I would definitely recommend partaking in a NOII project as being able to collaborate with your peers is a great opportunity for learning on many levels.
Brenda: I hope to do a little more professional development on freshgrade and be able to share this knowledge as I have discussions with others. I think I could learn more about how this works for other teachers. I plan to involve my students in using one line reporting more for themselves next year. I have enjoyed this time spent with Karen and feel that our conversations aided my development in on line reporting. I would like to continue on in this NOII project.