Tag Archives: 2016

#craftreconciliation: The Climbing

In the fall of 2016, Wab Kinew wrote a Facebook post inviting educators to partner “mainstream” classes with First Nation schools/classes to discuss “What does reconciliation look like?”.  Jaclyn Calder and I joined forces (along with Shannon Simpson and Caroline Black) to design a project that offered students an opportunity to think deeply about the relationship between Natives and non-Natives in Canada, generally, and their understanding of reconciliation, specifically. You can view the project at #CraftReconciliation with SCDSB, Wikwemikong, and Rama First Nations.

Here I am summarizing and reflecting on the project. There are five posts in the first part of the series organized around the Ontario Adolescent Literacy Guide‘s five components:

I have also organized the posts in a way that I hope makes visible the teaching – learning process so that other teachers can ‘see’ the learning that emerged from this project. To meet this goal I have attempted to include the tools that were created for this project and to show them in action.

The Trek In

We have described for you a mountain. We have shown you the path to the top. We call upon you to do the climbing.

— Justice Murray Sinclair, TRC.

The climbing metaphor is an apt one. The preparation-physical, mental, emotional-for the task at hand, be it climbing or reconciling, is a process. As one does not simply head out to climb Everest, one does not just reconcile the past.


We didn’t reach the summit of the mountain, nor did we expect to. We managed to get to and set-up base camp. We figured out what tools we might like to use, what supplies we would need, and who would do what. We made short forays out from the base camp to check the terrain and plot out possible routes. We acclimatized. While this foundational work was valuable (and made visible our next steps), our biggest accomplishment was that we became a ‘we’. Students and teachers from all over the province from grades 3 to 12 sat around the virtual campfire and began the conversation on reconciliation.

All of our students … they’re the next generation. They’re the ones who are really going to have to come to terms with reconciliation [and] understand it.

When we have conversations together, when we get together and collaborate, and we learn together, then that personal connection can carry us a whole lifetime.

CBC Interview

The Summit Bid

It’s no small feat to make the summit of a mountain. Beyond the physical, emotional, and mental preparation, climbers need to be knowledgeable about the mountain they are taking on. This is the learning I need to better organize for next year: Ensure more opportunities for students to build robust background knowledge early in the process. We began with some background readings and videos on the TRC calls to action. We had conversations in class and online. We did some writing around which call to action was most important. But many students still struggled to connect personally. Of course, they connected with the overarching narrative: my students certainly know about residential schools and their own family history. Locating themselves personally in the conversation about reconciliation was more difficult, and I didn’t understand the gap until late in the process when we hosted Waubgeshig Rice.

This interview was a game changer for many of the Wikwemikong High School students. Wab summarizes his coverage of the Canadian Government’s apology and the TRC hearings as a journalist, and he answers student questions, ranging from water issues to the Indian Act to the future of the language,  from his own experiences. Post-interview, we saw an increase in student engagement, which carried students all the way to the finish line. It’s obvious, I know. The personal connection made via the hangout plays into what we know about student voice and choice.

The interview also reviewed or consolidated the foundational background knowledge that students needed to have to continue on with their own investigations.  The shallow background knowledge that the students acquired in the first part of the course led to a quality of ‘sameness’ across the project. If I want my students to truly engage in the topic (from a personal perspective), we need to spend more time on the front-end teasing out the issues so that students can see them. Yes, of course, residential schools were wrong and people’s lives were traumatically impacted. Yes, of course, racism is hurtful and harmful. Yes, we do want to build relationships between Native and non-Native people based on trust, honesty, and a greater understanding. But, diving deeply into reconciliation will mean grappling with really tough issues, and that is what we need to do. Consider these issues:

  • How sustainable are the many First Nation remote settlements, regardless of changes to education, infrastructure, and governance?
  • How can the treaties be honoured in the 21st century?
  • How might the land-based resources discussion be part of the reconciliation discussion?
  • How might the education of First Nations students shift to include cultural teachings?
  • How might individuals participate in the MMIW inquiry?
  • How might we debunk common myths about First Nations people?

These are some of the issues that people are talking about via social media. Reconciliation between peoples does not occur in the abstract, but rather in the concrete world the people share- land, water, laws, institutions, and language.

What Next?

Beyond bringing in more experts at the beginning of the course, we need to connect students across the project more intentionally. We need to devise a way for students to build knowledge together and then share their learning with each other. We need to facilitate student conversation via commenting more directly and purposefully. This last item-thinking through commenting-is an important modern skill to have, and in the work that I do in all of my classes that connects us to others, I see students struggling to engage in online discussions.

If we can do these things, we will be more prepared to make a bid for the summit of reconciliation.

Our future, and the well-being of all our children rests with the kind of relationships we build today.

– Chief Dr. Robert Joseph

 

 

 

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The #craftreconciliation rubric.

In a way, this experience did prepare me for the future, as I now have a deeper understanding of the people of Canada.

-Grade 11 student

In the fall of 2016, Wab Kinew wrote a Facebook post inviting educators to partner “mainstream” classes with First Nation schools/classes to discuss “What does reconciliation look like?”.  Jaclyn Calder and I joined forces (along with Shannon Simpson and Caroline Black) to design a project that offered students an opportunity to think deeply about the relationship between Natives and non-Natives in Canada, generally, and their understanding of reconciliation, specifically. You can view the project at #CraftReconciliation with SCDSB, Wikwemikong, and Rama First Nations.

Here I am summarizing and reflecting on the project. There are five posts in the first part of the series organized around the Ontario Adolescent Literacy Guide‘s five components:

I have also organized the posts in a way that I hope makes visible the teaching – learning process so that other teachers can ‘see’ the learning that emerged from this project. To meet this goal I have attempted to include the tools that were created for this project and to show them in action. I am still learning how to display docs in the best way for this platform. If you have ideas for me, please take a minute to leave them in the comment box below.

You will also notice that I am asking the students to “Self-Assess using this rubric” and “Determine a mark and add it to the bottom of the rubric”. Not connected to the #craftreconciliation project, but connected to my own evolving work in assessment and evaluation, I decided to have the students self-assess this semester. While this is not a grade-less class, as I do need to put a mark on a report card, students need to engage in the process of reviewing their work, submit it to me for feedback via a digital Assignment Submission form, revise it accordingly, and then assess it using the established criteria. Sometimes the criteria are organized into a rubric, and sometimes it is a Met Not Yet Met Checklist. They can choose to repeat this process as often as they wish, but once it is “their final answer” they post it somewhere…Sesame, Goodreads, Hightail, D2L, their blog…depending on what the item is.

Assessment and Evaluation

Assessment: Feedback First.

During an inquiry process, it is crucial to have built-in times for checking in with students. Part of the learning we do is together (hangouts, small group discussions, collaborations), and part of it is an individual endeavour. Both arrangements can run into obstacles, and it’s my job to help keep everyone on track.

Most of the check-in times see me sitting with the students and having short, intentional conversations about their work. I have my laptop with me and I track these conversations in a Google sheet. Other times, I will leave text or voice comments on the students’ digital documents, and of course, I will comment in their notebooks and respond to emails.

There are times, however, that I want to give students individual feedback that is specific to their work, and I want them to take stock of where they are. I didn’t include this tool in the Metacognition post but the Success Criteria Met Not Yet Met Feedback tool (if used well) is a metacognitive strategy. I leave digital comments after the student has completed the checklist.

Evaluation: Where is the evidence of your learning? 

The #craftreconciliation inquiry project ran the entire semester divided essentially into three main strands:

  1. The Build
  2. The Research
  3. The Literature: Starting Over

The build and the parts of the research process were assessed together with one rubric that I designed before the project started. Backwards planning is key to the success of any course design, but this course was going to be designed as we went. There were so many factors at play:

  • Group dynamics
  • Group deadlines
  • Combined classwork (Ms. Black and I combined our ENG3E/4E and ENG3C/4C classes for many learning events
  • Combined literature circles across our classes
  • Student choice
  • Minecraft!?!

and on and on. I knew that by having the over-arching rubric done and at the ready, we could keep pulling the course back to where it needed to be.

What I have done below is to provide thumbnails of the rubric and a link to the actual document. Below that are a series of screenshots of a student completed rubric.

See the rubric here. 

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I can’t link you to the actual student rubric since it is full of hyperlinks to documents set in edit mode (at my request). I’ve kept the images large enough so that you can read them. I don’t think you need to see all of the student work. This exercise is not one of moderation, but rather a chance to see the tools in action.

Student completed rubric.

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Finally, this evaluation was part of a whole course Evidence of Learning document that the students completed in order to determine their mark for the 70% portion of their grade (I held onto the 30% this year since we are all new to this process. Everyone -you know who I mean-felt better with this arrangement.)

I do need to write about the self-assessment process (separate from #craft because I did it in all of my classes), but suffice it to say here that I will continue with self-assessment next semester. Students told me repeatedly that for the first time in their academic careers, they understood what they were learning and how that connected to their marks. Comments like this were not uncommon:

After speaking with Ms. Balen about the mark I gave myself on this document, we came to an agreement that in self grading my mark I didn’t give myself enough credit for the work I’ve done.

If you have questions about #craftreconciliation or if there are parts of this post that need clarification, please use the comment box to connect with me.

Up next: The Climbing

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#craftreconciliation: Metacognition

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In the fall of 2016, Wab Kinew wrote a Facebook post inviting educators to partner “mainstream” classes with First Nation schools/classes to discuss “What does reconciliation look like?”.  Jaclyn Calder and I joined forces (along with Shannon Simpson and Caroline Black) to design a project that offered students an opportunity to think deeply about the relationship between Natives and non-Natives in Canada, generally, and their understanding of reconciliation, specifically. You can view the project at #CraftReconciliation with SCDSB, Wikwemikong, and Rama First Nations.

Here I am summarizing and reflecting on the project. There are five posts in this series, and they are organized around the Ontario Adolescent Literacy Guide‘s five components:

I have also organized the posts in a way that I hope makes visible the teaching – learning process so that other teachers can ‘see’ the learning that emerged from this project.

Metacognition

refers to students taking active ownership of their thinking processes so that they understand themselves as learners, they understand a given task, and they understand a variety of strategies and how to use them in a variety of situations.

Metacognition means…

From theory

Learners identify their own understandings in relation to learning goals and success criteria

To practice

It took me a long time to think about how I could best make visible some of the metacognitive thinking that happened in this course. A big part of the difficulty is that student thinking about their thinking happened in conversation and/or their notebooks. Digitizing this process is something that I will definitely change for next year. Another issue though are the types of questions the students were asked. Because this is an English course, many of the questions focused on reading and writing. (We did also read long texts for literature circles and write about our reading.) I decided not to include those reflections here, so that the focus on #craftreconciliation remains consistent. I also decided to include reflections from only one student for this first point both for the sake of economy as well as to give you a sense of what that trajectory might look like.

At the beginning of the semester, I ask students to create learning goals based on what they believed they needed to learn next, including growth mindset, which I always teach to at the outset of the course. You can see that oral communication and media creation don’t make this student’s initial list.

Course goals set in February:

Here are the things I want to learn to get better at in this English course.

  • Writing stronger sentences will help me out a lot I think because it will help me express my writing make it look like it is not even me.
  • I would love to do is being able to read faster, so I can read a lot more in a short period of time. I would still love to be able to understand what I am reading so I have to work on all reading skills like think about what I am reading, re-read if I don’t understand etc. I think reading faster will also help a lot in college and for the program I am going in.
  • My growth mindset area is extending more effort or seeing effort as a path to mastery. I think that fits me best because I like to try my best to extend when researching in topics I enjoy. I like to see myself make progress instead of thinking negative and saying I can’t do it. 

Reflections post-Google Hangouts and initial literature circle:

One of my strengths is oral communication because I am better at listening and talking than I am at reading and writing. For example, during the Google Hangout for the #craftreconciliation project, listening to other students ideas helped me think about what I want to do for the project.

Mid-term Thinking: 

In oral communication … I was able to engage more because I could share my understanding [of reconciliation] with others [on Google Hangouts] which helps me out more by exploring people’s suggestions and what reconciliation means to them. My reading is a whole different ball game I am not as strong as I wish I could be with my reading.

Media: #craftreconciliation interview (not reflection on strategies and learning; just content)

 

Year-End Reflections on learning:

The listening strategies that help me the most is having good posture when listing, making good eye contact with the speaker, and taking notes on something that will help me when I am called upon to speak or write about later. In a group discussion I think it is good for me to talk and try keep it going because most the time I am paired up with people who are too shy to talk or even participate in. To make sure I am using appropriate language I will listen to how others are using their language and how they choose to pick their vocabulary. I will try and follow up and use similar vocabulary or language to match and make myself sound more educational or into the conversation. The strategies I use most when understanding oral communication is writing notes and really finding a connection to what the speaker has to say. I think writing notes will keep me on top of things when I am called to talk or finding a connection will help me because I will be able to really engage in the conversation and be able to share and express my own thinking more.

Media: #craftreconciliation build final reflection and tour

 

From theory

Learners reflect on their learning and engaging in conversations about their thinking

To practice

Here are a variety of students’ responses to their learning in the project:

#Craftreconciliation did connect with the way I like to learn because I got to learn from other students from other places about what reconciliation is and what it means to them.—Tammara

#craftreconciliation definitely did connect a lot with how I like to learn [because] one of the ways I like to learn is creating stuff and getting all my creative juices flowing with something that I know that can really speak to someone or a group of people.—Austin

My favourite learning activity in the #craftreconciliation inquiry has been researching my own topic because I was able to look at how reconciliation has changed and became stronger over the years.–Seneca

However, the bulk of the digital reflections centred on the students explaining their vision of what reconciliation looks like to them, not on their learning, the way they accessed strategies or how they overcame learning challenges. I need to do more work here.

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If you have questions about #craftreconciliation or if there are parts of this post that need clarification, please use the comment box to connect with me.

Up next: Assessment and Evaluation

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Micro-Progressions

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Rick Wormeli via Tweet by Andrew Kozlowsky @MrKoz31 July 14, 2016

This is a second post for #cyberPD, which is exploring DIY Literacy: Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence by Kate Robers and Maggie Beattie Roberts. In the first post, I focused on how we need to establish the student learning need before we can turn to the tools that might support student achievement and how we can better determine that student learning via teacher collaboration. This conversation is where I live; it’s what I want to focus on all the time.

Why am I doing this learning?

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In my classroom, this question has a permanent home, and periodically, I ask students to write down what they are doing and why they are doing it and post their thinking. It’s hard for them to think about why they are doing what they’re doing. Sure we have learning goals and success criteria. Yes, we often co-construct both. Nonetheless, seeing the learning and connecting this discrete skill with the next one and the next one, so that eventually they can

  • engage in the research process;
  • write a blog post;
  • synthesize their reading into an infographic;
  • participate in an online literary discussion;
  • read increasingly complex text and make meaning with those texts;

is hard to hang on to.

Kate and Maggie offer us a series of four tools that can make the learning visible, and thus make it stick:

  1. Teaching charts
  2. Demonstration Notebooks
  3. Bookmarks
  4. Micro-progressions of skills

I already use both teaching charts and bookmarks regularly, and many students do access them when they need to recall earlier learning or to remind them about what questions they need to consider. For example, together we will construct a teaching chart of what the research process entails and then we will unpack each step thereby creating a series of explicit teaching charts. Here is one showing how an information paragraph with integrated evidence is constructed:

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However, not all students turn to these tools for support despite not yet being independent in that skill. Maybe the model of how one paragraph (in this case) is not enough. Micro-progressions may be the right tool for some of these students.

Micro-progressions show the way toward higher levels of work. by providing actual examples of work that’s improving, as well as listing the qualities that make up each “level” of work, micro-progressions allow for both self-assessment and self-assignment (17).

The first challenge I faced in tackling the creation of a micro-progression was that for every skill (including the one above) there were sub-skills that needed their own micro-progression. To write a good information paragraph with different types of evidence integrated with the writer’s own thinking, students need to be able to know how to integrate evidence using a variety of signal phrases. They need to know how to paraphrase. They need to know how to locate, read, and cull information from those sources that may be relevant to their topic. And this is what Kate and Maggie mean when they note “we encounter trouble when we teach too much to hold onto, too much to remember” (46).

Where to start?

I decided to start with an essential skill that students should be using throughout their academic career: the research note. The student note-making samples used in this strategy are all submissions from my students.

 

 

But notice how the note with the most breadth and depth is the one that includes the student’s own thinking. Well, that got me thinking about another essential skill: making connections. The models used in this strategy all come from student work.

 

 

I am keen to integrate the use of micro-progressions into the teaching – learning process and to get feedback from the students. I am hoping this strategy can provide clarity of purpose because they can see where they need to go next and independence in the self-assessment process that we began this past year (which I haven’t yet blogged about).

And as we co-create more micro-progressions, we may even innovate on the model, and add in an answer to the question: Why should we learn this?

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