Saturday, December 10, 2011

ConnectED Canada

ConnectED Canada will be a gathering of teachers, students, and parents designed to share innovative practices that are happening all around Canada. Rather than traditional presentations, this conference is built around conversations on how we can continue to move forward as educators. 

I submitted an application to facilitate a discussion. Here is my proposal:

Alberta Teachers' Association
Title of the Conversation: 
Assessment is not a spreadsheet -- it's a conversation.
Short Description: 
Students should experience their successes and failures not as reward and punishment but as information. Because grading can only ever be experienced as reward or punishment, they have to go, and that’s okay because anecdotal evidence and scientific research have shown us that the best educators never need tests to collect information nor grades to share it.
Extended Description:

Are you tired of students asking you: "What's this question out of?" or "Is this for marks?" Ever been frustrated with students who see every learning experience you provide for them as just another chore? Have you experienced disappointment with students who continually avoid challenges and choose the lazy way out of learning? Have you felt discouraged with grade grabbing students who are unhappy even when they get 99% or students who couldn’t care less about receiving a failing grade? 
Reflecting upon one's beliefs can be a very productive use of time, and I can think of no better time to do so than when we have come to mindlessly accept something as a given truth. When questions are no longer answered because questions are no longer being asked, it's time to pause and reflect. It’s time we stopped simply asking how we can grade better and start asking why we are grading at all. 
Assessment and measurement are not the same thing. By definition, measuring is any attempt to reduce learning to a symbol on a fixed measurement scale, whereas the latin root for assessment is assidere which means ‘to sit beside’. Anecdotal evidence and scientific research is telling us that we waste far too much time ‘perfecting’ measurement while ignoring assessment. 
Ultimately, grading conceals far more than it reveals. It’s time to abandon our mania for reducing everything to numbers and subscribe to something far more authentic and supportive of real learning.

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