Communicating Student Learning
First and foremost, it is important to understand that your child is part of a learning community (also referred to as a pod). Each pod is made up of 3-4 advisory (homeroom) teachers, one learning support teacher and often a couple of education assistants. Teachers share the space, plan together and work together in support of differentiated instruction (providing students with different ways of learning), collaboration (engaging students in collaborative work) and inquiry learning (having students pose questions and problems and then explore, investigate and research to learn).
Learning isn’t about age, race or gender. Rather, it’s about the individual. We exist to meet learner needs. To assume that we can do the same with everyone in a grade level assumes that everyone has had the exact same experiences and is at the same level. This is obviously not so.
In recent years, employers have stated the importance of schools emphasizing skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication, and personal and social development which students need to develop to thrive as individuals in today’s world. Also referred to as the core competencies, these skills, along with literacy and numeracy foundations and essential content and concepts are at the centre of BC’s curriculum and assessment.
All BC schools are focussing on the core competencies, on instilling a growth mindset in our learners (the belief that intellect and talent can be developed through effort, hard work and a love of learning) and using a strengths based reporting language. Rather than using the traditional five-point rating scale (not yet meeting, minimally meeting, meeting, fully meeting and exceeding), we use language that highlights the level of effort and independence displayed by the learner (beginning, developing, applying and extending) and more importantly, provide ongoing descriptive feedback. Descriptive feedback guides learners to improving outcomes by developing next steps in their learning journey.
Also, we do not issue letter grades and numerical marks on report cards. The work of researchers Paul Black and Dylan Willam in their widely-cited work, proposes that the use of descriptive feedback raises student academic achievement, not letter grades. The work of James Heckman, a Nobel Prize winning economist, shows how grades and test scores do not predict success later in life. The work of Alfie Kohn suggests three conclusions:
1. grades tend to diminish students’ interest in whatever they are learning
2. grades create a preference for the easiest possible task
3. grades tend to reduce the quality of student’s thinking
As a way of providing feedback and as a way to highlight student learning on an on-going basis, teachers help students showcase their learning in portfolios to highlight the progression of each child's learning. My Blueprint is a digital portfolio used by some classes. A portfolio is a collection of a child’s work that showcases their learning.