Monday, October 8, 2012

A School full of Learning Goals

Happy Thanksgiving Canadian readers! I am thankful for many things and today's post will mention several of the people and things I am so grateful to have in my life.

I attend the CSAC (Catholic School Advisory Council) meetings held by my children's school and at the last one, I was elected the Parent Council Chair. "Elected" is a misnomer - it's a very small school and since the other three parents had already had a turn at the helm, I agreed to do it this year. I really like the principal my children have - she's caring and honest, two very good traits. She said that her teachers were beginning to use learning goals and success criteria, and I offered to share any resources I could obtain that might help.

I am lucky to work at a school filled with very hard-working professionals. We've had Professional Learning Communities long before they were mandatory. We are fortunate to have great access to technology (everyone has a SMART Board in their room) and we've been employing learning goals and success criteria anchor charts for several years. I decided that the easiest way to provide some real-life examples of learning goals and success criteria was to wander my school, digital camera in hand, and take photographs of the different examples I could find. To the best of my knowledge, all of these learning goals and success criteria lists were co-created with the students. With each picture, I'll briefly describe the grade, the location of this chart/display, and any other relevant details.

 The first two learning goals you'll see here are for lining up.
The first one was co-made with Grade 5 students who are now in Grade 6. I was the teacher that made this anchor chart with them, after a particularly long time spent waiting for a decent line. The classroom teacher has this chart on her easel and still refers to it.
I'm not going to criticize any of the learning goals / success criteria except for the ones I made; I did not think it would be fair to ask for work samples and then dissect them for imperfections - would you volunteer your things if that was the result? If I were to do this chart again, I'd be tempted to ask illustrations, because even though it's a Grade 5 (now 6) class, there are ELL students that could use the visual clues, like the ones in the line up example #2 below.
I pixelated the display to protect the identities of the students shown. This kindergarten teacher likes to use photographs of her students demonstrating the trait or criteria she is discussing. Just in case you can't read the text alongside the photos ... well, a little technical "oopsie" on my part meant I didn't save the original photo, so I can't read it myself. I'll post the proper text as a comment to this entry.

This sample focused on art in a Grade 1-2 class. The Long Term Occasional teacher in this room told me that in her previous school, nothing was allowed up on a bulletin board unless it had a learning goal and success criteria attached! I think that might be a bit extreme but I can understand the motivation behind the edict. 

I've read, both in my Tribes TLC (R) book and in the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens that listening is a skill we often presume people have but rarely teach. This is a sample chart from a Grade 2-3 class.

The Teaching Learning Critical Pathway that the junior-intermediate division is undertaking as part of our Professional Learning Community has to do with communicating effectively in math class, especially during math congress. We just completed our pre-assessment piece and I think the group used a very creative and helpful method to examine the level of clear communication from the students. They used their Flip video cameras to video tape their students (especially our focus students) as they explained how they came up with their solution. It was very insightful to hear the actual words students said and the actions they used (such as pointing to certain parts of their written work) to clarify. This is a learning goal / success criteria found in a Grade 6 class.

I realized that with all the photos and explanations I have, this needs to be a multi-day post, broken into chunks so each example can be highlighted. Watch for Part 2 of a "A School Full of Learning Goals" on Tuesday.

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