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Getting Started and Welcome!

Welcome to the #TTOGTLLP blog space where we will be sharing our collective journey through the 2017-2018 school year as we explore feedback-based assessment (i.e. no grades) in our classrooms.

We are a group of 4 secondary teachers in the PDSB exploring how gradeless classrooms can impact learning and how to make it a manageable classroom practice for teachers. We are located in different schools around the board (one of us is an instructional coach, three are classroom teachers - 1 of whom is a department head) and teach different subjects (Math, Geography, English and Business).

We will be sharing our journey via this blog over the course of the year so that others can benefit from our time and efforts and hopefully together we can make a difference in education.

Here are some resources to consider if you are interested in the topic but not sure where to start:

  • A blog entry about using a feedback strategy from Mark Barnes' Assessment 3.0:
  • The above mentioned book
  • Myron Dueck's Grading Smarter Not Harder (does not get into gradeless but can give a good start to changing assessment practices)
  • Cameron and Gregory's Rethinking Letter Grades (can get you thinking about changing your practices, backward design, assigning grades - definitely can be inspiring for a gradeless model)
You will find 3 of us on Twitter an we would love to connect!

Heather - @MsHLye
Susan - @SusanCampo
Christine - @ChrisHillinPeel


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Final evaluations: square peg in a round hole?

One of the best aspects of the TLLP is the ability of our team members to have release time to discuss our classroom experiences, to visit other schools and classrooms and to plan for what we will do in our classrooms. During today’s meeting, we all had a level of frustration around final evaluations. Every secondary school in the board has been helping teachers to revise and update their final evaluations so that they more closely meet our vision for empowering modern learners with “informative and purposeful assessment.” This has been a rewarding but also difficult process where all aspects of our final evaluations have to be examined, compared to a set of success criteria, and then revised to be more equitable, engaging and purposeful.

This revision process is not where I had frustration, however. It is the breakdown of marks between term work (70%) and final evaluations (30%). It’s hard to articulate the reasons why this doesn’t fit a feedback-focused class. It’s like a square pe…

Can you make a 3D map of Canada? Constructionist vs. Instructionist Strategies

I’ve been teaching grade 9 Geography for over 15 years now and when I say 15 years, multiply that by two semesters and multiply that by at least two sections each semester. So many, many times. I’ve never been happy with how my “Landform Regions of Canada” lessons have turned out. I don’t know why, but it’s very difficult for the students to connect their theoretical learning with actual pictures of the Canadian landscape. I have tried graphic organizers with notes from the textbook, slide shows with many pictures, picture books and art from each landscape, videos, webquests, starting from the geological history, starting from issues based in each region, starting from national parks in each region, students presenting different regions/ecozone to the class, to name a few. I wish I could take all the students on a cross-country drive so they can see it for themselves so I’ve been looking for a good VR experience (if you know of one, PLEASE let me know!). 
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Reflecting on "Gradeless" Math - Modelling Life-Long Learning

This entry was originally published on my personal blog here.

As the title of this entry may suggest this entry is serving as a place to express my thoughts around how last semester went and the changes I am hoping to make. My desire is that this "public diary" will help me to be accountable to my goals, will inspire someone else to take a risk, and will model that we (teacher) practice what we preach - we are all learners.

What worked well that I will continue:

Having students engage in deconstructing curriculum (specifically the math processes and instructional language)Making students reflect on their learning (often!)Having a grounding document for evaluation (learning map with overarching learning goals)evaluation is based in criteriaHaving students analyze their evidence of learning to determine their grades (and conferencing about it)Constructing success criteria with studentsWhat I will strive to do better: Engage in curriculum deconstruction more frequently (not just a…