Teachers and educational staff returned to School on January 23 for a week of planning and professional development. We chose our annual values theme for the 2017-18 academic year, which will be ‘The Power of Words,’ and we planned this year’s Book Fair. Teachers worked with educational consultant, Bambi Betts, on high impact assessment strategies and the use of rubrics in evaluating student performance. They also took part in a workshop on dyslexia, presented by Sandra Fleming.
Brief summaries of the workshops follow.
Effective Assessment Practices: Use of Rubrics for Student Feedback and Grading
International educational consultant, Bambi Betts, also Director of the Principals’ Training Center and Teacher Training Center, worked with teachers in all sections on assessment practices for three days from January 25–27. The workshop focused on how to use rubrics to provide students timely feedback. Ms. Betts tailored each presentation to meet the specific needs and teaching and learning approaches that are common to each section. For example, we use student observation tools much more often in Nursery and more formal evaluations in High School.
In a sound assessment system, students receive clear criteria regarding their performance and what they are expected to learn. A common way to provide these criteria is through a rubric. Rubrics are scoring guides that allow one to make judgments about student performance levels. They can be used to coach students to do a task with excellence and to evaluate their performance. They should be given to students before a coaching and evaluation process is started because they help them visualize what is expected of them at the outset of a learning process.
Rubrics should be written using real work as samples as a guide and:
describe the most essential features of the task
define genuine excellence
use educational language that is accessible to students
align with specific learning goals stated in the curriculum
be used as a self-assessment tool before the student is assessed
describe procedures for producing the product
Teachers learned the differences and benefits of narrative and exemplar-based rubrics. They practiced creating their own rubric and aligning it with the four-level assessment system we use to evaluate student performance on benchmarks.
At the request of our staff in Secondary, Ms. Bambi Betts also addressed differentiated instruction. She reviewed the foundations of differentiation based on Carol Ann Tomlinson´s framework, which establishes that differentiation can be done through content, process and product. She shared and discussed strategies to differentiate instruction and assessment in the classroom.
We will continue to work on these topics over the coming months during section planning time.
Dyslexia Workshop with Sandra Fleming
Sandra Fleming, a specialist in dyslexia, presented methods and approaches to support student learning for those who have dyslexia. Ms. Fleming holds Postgraduate Certificates in both Specific Learning Difficulties and Special Educational Needs: Learning for All. In addition, she has a Postgraduate Diploma in Dyslexia and Literacy with Dyslexia Action and is accredited as an Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association. She holds a current Assessment Practicing Certificate.
Ms. Fleming reviewed the characteristics of dyslexia and placed emphasis on general strategies to use in the classroom with students. Specific topics she addressed include how to support students with dyslexia in increasing their phonological awareness, developing needed kinesthetic skills, and improving their verbal processing speed.