As I’ve always said blogging is my way of discussing my thoughts, ideas and more with myself. It is heartening when it also resonates with others. I am happy to be asked to be part of the group blogging with Path To Proficiency and will be posting with P2P as well as on this blog. This is a cross-post of the same article that appeared on the P2P site on October 12.
After a long time, and an ‘aha’ moment, I’m introducing proficiency this year as a key part of my students’ learning. I’m using it fully with my Yr1&2’s this semester. There’s been much thinking and reworking of ideas with great help from Connie Santos (my ‘newly on the path’ colleague at school), the resources on P2P and the ever-generous #langchat PLN. I know that when making changes sometimes the hardest part is sticking to the new direction..and here’s how I’m keeping my eye on this new path:
Posting An Easy to See Path To Refer To – Nothing helps you talk about proficiency more than having the levels visible in the room. Many like to put their path around the room above whiteboards and bulletin boards. However, I chose to put them down low – on one bulletin board – specifically because they are new to me (and my students). I notice that the descriptors catch my eye when I am talking or giving feedback meaning that I refer to them more often. It allows me to take that opportunity to walk over and point to the levels as I refer to them and really focus the kids on what I am referring to. For me the fact that the levels are down low & in sight means that they are top of mind.
Adding The Path To My Syllabus/Site – I added a Path handout to my students’ syllabus in easy to follow language. I used the classic ‘road’ template from easely.ly but any program should let you put one together. Many have used the ‘taco chat’ or ‘sushi talk’ sheets shared by colleagues on #langchat. For me – with 4 levels – I made my own. I referred to the path on the first day of class, the various levels too and explained to them why I was now using levels. There were no ‘in-class’ time dedicated to proficiency exploration at this point – but I did ask students to reflect upon the difference between Novice/Intermediate – as they saw it – as part of their first day syllabus reflection. I’ve also updated my class site to include the ‘what’ and ‘why’ for parents and other educators/administrators interested in what I am doing.
Adding Proficiency Expectations to My Rubrics – Adding proficiency to my classroom means that I want to add it – as a level of achievement to my class rubrics. So I’ve created a pdf that I can cut/paste and add to rubrics as I use them. It has two blanks to fill in – “Proficiency Expectations For This Task” and “Your Level of Proficiency on this Task” and a copy (just like the bulletin board) of what the basic level descriptors are. I was thrilled to hear a student who received their evaluation on their first interpersonal say “Hey I got a Novice Three!”
Finding/Seeking Out Support – I would be nowhere on this journey without a colleague (or two or an entire PLN) there for support. This is proficiency model is new in my school and it is great to have Connie is on this new journey with me. The ability to have someone in my department to consult with, get feedback from (and confess to) is invaluable. I can’t say enough as well about my ‘virtual’ PLN – especially colleagues like Natalia DeLaat and Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell who answered key questions at critical times. Knowing that I am no alone on this path, and that I can call upon those farther down the road, is so key for me.
The path may be new …but I feel that I have set out on my journey with resources to keep me firmly on route..and fantastic people to travel this road with. Onward.
Note: You will note that my colleague & I went with the AAPL descriptors as our base. The 4 levels in each grouping seemed to provide a bit more opportunity to both show growth & provide a more ‘accurate’ assessment. The number descriptors seemed to us to be more ‘forgiving’ than labels ‘low’ or ‘high’…again our choice.