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Verbal Assessment in PE – Part 2

 By Tammy Berry, CSS Phys. Ed teacher

 For more information on this project, please read the first blog post here.

I have now completed 100 grade 6 Garage Band (converted into iTunes) audio recordings. These audio recordings were placed on the desktops of students’ personal computers. Students received a mark on their written report card and then had an audio recording to replace the written comment for PE Term Two. These recording were about 3-4 minutes long in length.

Why did I do these recordings?

Action Strategies for Fostering Effective Relationships

-by Garry McKinnon, Superintendent 

In my last blog highlighting the first of the seven school leadership competencies, fostering effective relationships, I presented three scenarios which represented real life experiences I have encountered. It is helpful to consider the school leadership competencies in the context of realities which those in formal school leadership roles (principal, assistant/vice principal) may encounter. In this blog, I will present two more scenarios and will offer what I would describe as action strategies for school leaders to foster effective relationships.

Parent Engagement: Where to from here?

-by Tanya Stogre, Grade 5 Humanities

In the preceding three blogs, I have outlined the research behind why parental and community engagement is important; the differences between ‘involvement’ and ‘engagement’, as well as specific examples of each at the Calgary Science School. In the final blog of the series, I want to look at the question “where do we go from here?”

To answer this question, I look specifically to a document written by Dr. Garry McKinnon & Mr. Lyle Lorenz (2005) from the College of Alberta School Superintendents Module Building Effective Partnerships for School Improvement: A Principal’s Guide for Promoting Meaningful Parent and Community Involvement through the School Council and Beyond

The Cat Food Problem

-by Val Barnes (Grade 5 Math Teacher) and Kevin Sonico (Math Learning Coach)

The Grade 5 students were posed with the task of determining which store, Petland or PetSmart, gave a better deal on the same brand and same size of cat food (Figure 1). Before proceeding with their solutions, students must hypothesize through estimation and rounding which of the two would be the better deal. Students then worked in groups to solve this problem. Each group was also assigned a Grade 8 student who facilitated the discussion. The facilitators’ responsibilities did not include providing hints or strategies, rather to ask questions such as “How do you know this is true?” or “How do we prove this?” and make statements such as “Let’s show proof of this.”

Video Assessment in PE, Part II

-by Dean Schmeichel, Phys. Ed. Teacher

(For more information on this project, read the first blog post here)

I have now completed all of the video recordings for 300 students. There is a clip of the students participating in PE class (approximately one minute) and a conversation between each student and myself that lasts for an average of three minutes. This process was a lot of work and at times I questioned my own intelligence in taking it on.

  1. The four minutes of total video each student receives, is far superior in multiple ways to a traditional written comment in my view: content; authentic assessment; student voice; long term student understanding and growth; students using the “language” of assessment.
  2. As opposed to written comments, these interviews are done in class and actually take up less of your preparation time than a written comment. 
  3. Talking to the students gives each student a chance to explain, defend and advocate for him or herself during the assessment. A surprising number of students will challenge my assessment, opinions or presumptions. 
  4. I feel that I have a better understanding of each of the students who I teach after this process. It is especially valuable with the more introverted students who might not speak up during class. 
  5. The action video combined with the interview gives a fairly complete “picture” of each student’s progress in PE. 

 Lessons Learned:
  1. I should have followed my original plan and videotaped two students each class, each day. Due to my procrastination, I ended up having to take a bunch of video and do a bunch of interviews on multiple days, leading up to the report card deadline. It caused me unnecessary stress and probably resulted in lower quality conversations. 
  2. I also should have named the videos after I uploaded them onto my computer. Such a small oversight meant that I had to spend Sunday night naming all of the files on my computer. 
  3. Make sure, before beginning, that there are various ways to distribute the videos confidentially to each of the students and store the videos for record keeping. 
  4. Keep in mind that although it might be the 245th conversation that I (the teacher) has had this term, it is the first conversation that particular student has had with me. I tried to keep this at the fore-front of my thinking when I was feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of interviews I had left to do. 
  5. Administration and colleague support is not only key, it is crucial to the success of this project. Without buy-in from the school, there is very little chance for success.

Grade 8 Magazine Project

-by Dave Scott, Grade 8 Humanities

Recently grade 8 Humanities students finished an inquiry unit that brought together an independent novel study with the creation of their own magazine. For this project students were asked to select a novel of their choice and work through a series of four writing assignments listed below. Each writing piece was given a two page spread in their magazine. This along with a cover, quote page, table of content and ad page, resulted in a 12 page magazine. An outline of each of the four writing assignments can be found at these links on the class blog:

The Scorpion Project: Novel Inquiry in Progress

By Ivy Waite, grade 9 Humanities

This novel inquiry is housed online at The Scorpion Project. As students are sharing their work through blogger, building the project there as well allows us to model the use of technology that we expect to see. 

Novel studies are supposed to be about connecting with literature. They are intended to give readers an opportunity to look deeper into themselves and their surroundings through another set of experiences, whether real or fictional. The Scorpion Project is more than a novel study however, it is a novel inquiry

Aurasma: Augmented Reality in the Classroom

Dan McWilliam - Grade 7 Humanities

Augmented Reality is the digital layering of information overtop of, or in front of, the real world. This content is viewable through a digital device that places it realtime over the real world through the camera. Imagine a pair of eye glasses that could show the Facebook status or most recent Twitter above a person’s head. Augmented Reality browsers are working to make this possible. Some advances have been made in this with browsers such as Wikitude, Layar, Junaio, Acrossair and others. These make it possible to view YouTube videos in the places they were created, or to see a Wikipedia entry for a location at that location.

Implementing iPads (Part 2)

In the last posting I looked at the technical setup of our iPad initiative, but never really touched on our rational for the project and some of our initial realizations. That will be the focus of this posting.

Our interest in iPads was two-fold. We wanted to find a product that encouraged content creation with the freedom a mobile device permits.

Learning Coaches at CSS: The Very Beginning….

-by Erin Couillard, PD and Collaboration Coordinator

At the end of the year last year, the administration at the Calgary Science School proposed the idea of modifying the existing role of Curriculum Lead to that of a Learning Coach.

Framework for Exemplary Leadership in Alberta Schools

by Dr. Garry McKinnon, Superintendent

I have been encouraged to write a series of blogs on what could be described as exemplary school leadership. I believe that we need to consider our current context in education and the ideas which have been generated through the Inspiring Education and Inspiring Action consultative process which led to the Hon. Dave Hancock as Minister of Education calling for a transformation in education, as well as the consultations initiated by our new Minister of Education the Hon. Thomas Lukaszuk associated with the proposed new Alberta Education Act which highlight the importance of having the right kind of leadership at this very significant time in education in Alberta.