Recent Authors Discuss Books and Best Publishing Practices

In this edition of the Roundtable, host Tim Cavey connects with three recent authors to discuss their books, best practices on the path to publishing, and their goals for 2021.

Questions That Guided Our Discussion

  • 1:07 – Who are you and what is your current context in education? Please introduce yourself.
  • 3:22 – Tell us about your book: why did you write it, who is it for, and what do you hope readers to take away from it?
  • 14:22 – What is your advice to the educator who feels that they have a story inside them but aren’t sure how or where to get started?
  • 17:46 – Talk about the writing and publishing journey. What are some pieces of advice you could share with would-be writers in education?
  • 33:16How much content do I have to have written before a publisher will agree to work with me?
  • 39:29 – Look back to the beginning of your writing and publishing journeys. What choices or moves do you regret now that you might do differently if given the chance?
  • 43:17 – What’s next for you? What are your content creation goals for 2021?
  • 49:21 – Are you a OneWord kind of person? If so, tell us about your #OneWord2021.
  • 51:50 – How can we connect with you and your work?

Follow These Authors on Twitter and Check Out Their Books

Catch the Next Teachers on Fire Roundtable LIVE

As of this post, I’m still appearing weekly on YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time/11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. I’d love to see you join us and would be happy to feature your questions and comments on the show!

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FISA Leaders Discuss Assessment, PLNs, Wins, and Self-Care

In this edition of the Roundtable, I joined Darren Spyskma, Brenda Ball, and Tom Williams to discuss changing assessment practices, the power of professional learning networks, recent wins for our learning communities, and self-care strategies. This is our conversation.

Questions That Guided Our Discussion

  • 1:30 – Who are you, and what is your current context in education?
  • 3:30 – What are your thoughts on assessment practices in K-12 education today? What, in your view, needs to change?
  • 13:06 – Despite the challenges of education in a pandemic, what is one win for learning that you are seeing right now?
  • 21:13 – Why is it more important than ever to be a connected educator?
  • 32:08 – How are you finding self-care during times of stress and uncertainty?

Thanks to the Guests Featured in This Roundtable

Catch the Next Teachers on Fire Roundtable LIVE

As of this post, I’m still appearing weekly on YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time/11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. I’d love to see you join us and would be happy to feature your questions and comments on the show!

Connect with the Teachers on Fire Podcast on Social Media

Subscribe to the Teachers on Fire Podcast on Your Mobile Device

How Can We Improve Assessment Practices?

Highlights from my learning at the 2019 CAFLN Conference

Something that my friend and incredible educator Rose Pillay has reminded me of more than once is that professional learning has a better chance of penetrating our consciousness and altering our practice if we actually take the time to intentionally reflect and write about that learning.

That was the motivation for this piece. My aim? To preserve some of the highlights of my learning from the 2019 Canadian Assessment for Learning Network (CAFLN) Conference. Welcome to my journal.

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Rose is pictured second from right. She’s incredible!

CAFLN exists to share and mobilize knowledge about Assessment for Learning (AfL). On May 2–3 of 2019, CAFLN held their sixth annual national conference and symposium in Delta, BC. The event was hosted by Delta School District’s Principal of Innovation and Inquiry, Brooke Moore, and the Director of Learning Services, Neil Stephenson.

I was thrilled to attend this event with a few of my middle school colleagues and administrators. What follows is a curation of Twitter highlights, photos, and short reflections from this event.

Day 1: School Tour

The conference started off with a tour of local elementary schools that have completely embraced standards-based assessment. Notice the learning targets for educators on the right side of our itineraries.

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Gray Elementary had a lot of signage that consistently articulated principles of formative assessment and learning targets. Student agency and ownership of learning is clearly a priority here.

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Over at Holly Elementary, we noticed a bulletin board display of educator learning. Each staff member answered these three questions:

  • What are you learning?
  • How’s it going?
  • Where to next?
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This is such a brilliant way to model a culture of learning and growth mindset in your school community. I was very impressed, and I hope our school does something similar in the fall.

Here are a few zoomed-in examples:

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I also liked the way another teacher added kid-friendly descriptors to each of the proficiency levels (emerging, developing, accomplishing, and extending). Notice how the students have placed post-it notes to assess their own progress.

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The Big Three Questions (below) came up often in our tour as well. These questions really capture it all, don’t they? This isn’t just a powerful metacognitive practice for students — it could also be used by us as educators as we think about further growth in our own professional practice.

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Delta Farm Roots

At the end of Day 1, we visited Delta Farm Roots. This is a highly innovative high school facility that is building most of our provincially mandated curriculum around project-based learning. These high school students are applying all the skills and content they are required to master as they run a small farm. It’s a brilliant concept and an impressive undertaking.

Here, Jacob Martens explains a little bit of what goes on in this multipurpose learning area.

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We also explored the gardens that students must hoe, cultivate, plant, and maintain. Lots of STEM skills and activities required!

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The conference hosts then invited visiting educators for a dinner behind the main building. Not pictured here is the ocean — just a short walk away.

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Delta Farm Roots is an exciting example of what is possible in pure project-based learning. Follow them on Twitter to see more of what they’re all about.

Day 2: Conference Sessions & Workshops

Linda Kaser and Judy Halbert opened the conference on day 2 with a powerful reminder of our collective WHY — what is education all about. According to these leaders from the Networks of Inquiry and Indigenous Education, these should be our three goals for every learner in K-12.

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Kaser and Halbert also reminded us of the Spiral of Inquiry, a powerful cycle that can drive continuous growth and improvement for any learning community.

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Damian Cooper and Karen Fadum

Then there were these gems from Damian Cooper and Karen Fadum, who tag-teamed on the philosophy and applications of formative assessment in the classroom.

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Although I didn’t seem to be able to tweet out much from Karen Fadum, she shared some gems as well. Here were a few things I got down in my notes in Google Docs.

First, Karen talked about the business of assessment in education as a collaborative experience. Traditional models of assessment relied exclusively on the teacher, but think of all the ways we can include students today:

  • Uncover the curriculum together
  • Learning intentions — set with students
  • Co-constructed criteria
  • Self-assessment
  • Peer assessment
  • Student-captured evidence of learning

Next, Karen unpacked these points a little further. Instead of “covering the curriculum,” why don’t we flip the paradigm and UNcover curriculum with students? We’re talking about …

  • Provocations
  • Wonder walls
  • Exploration time
  • Connections with student passions and interests
  • Digital portfolio organization

Karen shared a number of practical applications of co-constructed criteria, self-assessment, peer assessment, single-point rubrics, and student documentation of evidence of learning. She shared videos from her practice, too, and these were super helpful.

She ended with this challenge: How do you currently involve students in the process of assessment?

Christine Younghusband

After Damian Cooper and Karen Fadum, I visited a session led by Christine Younghusband — an educator I had long admired on Twitter but never met in person. She was amazing.

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YES. Building more checks for understanding and formative assessment into my Math classes is an important goal for me.

Then, this challenge from an assessment legend.

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And how about this mic drop?

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Jon Orr and Kyle Pearce

In the afternoon, I had the pleasure of meeting two exciting educators who are doing amazing work in Mathematics. I don’t have a selfie or Tweet to share here, but this session summary gives you a feel for their message.

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Jon Orr and Kyle Pearce are two dynamic but down-to-earth practitioners who understand the challenges around engagement and the wide range of proficiencies in the modern Math classroom. They’re worth following!

I was also thrilled to learn that they have a podcast, Make Math Moments that Matterand I got a promise from them that they would come on my own Teachers on Fire podcast. I look forward to more learning with these two in the future.

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Conclusion

This was my first CAFLN conference, but I hope it won’t be my last. To put it simply, I’ve never been part of an assessment event so focused, so progressive, so high value as this one.

If you’re ready to rethink your assessment practices and learn more about your assessment FOR learning, connecting with CAFLN on Twitter would be a good place to start.

Roundtable: Meet the Human Restoration Project

In this edition of the Teachers on Fire Roundtable, I chat with three of the four members of the Human Restoration Project team: Nick Covington, Chris McNutt, and Thomas White.

Questions That Guided Our Discussion

  • 1:12 – Who are you and what is your current context in education?
  • 3:10 – What is the history of Human Restoration Project? Where did it begin, and what is your mission and vision?
  • 4:54 – What are some of the systems and mindsets that need to change in education today?
  • 5:33 – How does your work express itself?
  • 8:03 – Where else does Human Restoration Project show up online?
  • 10:37 – What is your vision for assessment, and what does it have to do with restoring humanity to education?
  • 16:28 – How have traditional assessment models suppressed humanity?
  • 18:28 – If we remove grades from assessment, won’t students lose their motivation to learn?
  • 21:26 – In what kind of education system would students not want to cheat, where they are actually interested in their own learning and growth?
  • 24:58 – From viewer Sybil Priebe: What do you say to those teachers who martyr themselves with all the grading they take on?
  • 35:29 – How can we restore humanity to education in the distance/hybrid learning spaces?
  • 44:01 – How are you finding self-care during these times of stress and uncertainty?
  • 50:10 – What are the best ways to connect with you and your learning?

Guests Featured in This Roundtable

Looking to learn more? Visit the Human Restoration Project.

Thanks to These Audience Members for Adding to Our Discussion

Catch the Next Teachers on Fire Roundtable LIVE

As of this post, I’m still appearing weekly on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time/11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. I’d love to see you join us and would be happy to feature your questions and comments on the show!

Roundtable: Gradeless Assessment

In this edition of the Roundtable, I spoke with five active K-12 educators who are on different assessment journeys. Although we all agree on the fundamental principles of going gradeless, you will a richness of different perspectives and areas of focus throughout our discussion.

Use the timestamps below to jump directly to topics of interest.

  • 0:50 – Guests introduce themselves and describe assessment in their educational contexts.
  • 9:03 – How would you make the case for going gradeless?
  • 24:23 – What are some of your best ideas, strategies, and tips for educators and education leaders seeking to move into a gradeless assessment model?
  • 44:45 – The proficiency scale currently used in most K-7 schools in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
  • 45:59 – What are some books and authors you recommend on the subject of going gradeless and formative assessment?

Guests Featured in the Roundtable: