I attended round two of PD with Allison Zmuda, but this time I was with the Canadian and World Studies department. I thought that the sessions were supposed to be the same, but I found them to be quite different. Allison's approach today was different in that our discussion seemed to be more concrete and delved more deeply into the various 21st century learning skills.
The skills became clearer as we applied them to authentic tasks that can be used in the history classroom. For example, our department decided that key skills we want our students to have by the end of high school are: critical thinking, communication, information literacy and self-direction/initiative. I believe that we always knew that we wanted our students to have these skills, but we didn't have clear language or a continuum to articulate exactly what we wanted. We also knew that these skills were important because when we went through the variety of authentic tasks, the tasks we chose lined up with these skills.
Our next step is to look at the great tasks we have already developed to ensure that they align with the authentic tasks we selected. For example, one of the authentic tasks that we selected is a performance or product. The law course culminates in a mock trial. It seems obvious that the mock trial is a performance, but we have to ensure that it meets the skills associated with a performance or product task. Another example is the document analyses completed in CHC 2D1 and CHY4U1. We have to ensure that our students are actually analysing the document to develop an explanation or interpretation. It isn't a matter of reading the document and answering questions about it.
At the end of the session, Lisa and I stayed behind to talk with Allison a bit more. The discussion came to effective rubrics. I often struggle with making rubrics student-friendly. In fact, I find that rubrics can also be teacher-unfriendly. It is hard to qualify limited, some, considerable, effectively and many other adjectives used in rubrics. Allison gave some clear examples of friendly language, such as "The mistakes are so annoying it is difficult to focus on the ideas." (I'm paraphrasing.) But the point is this, that is a clear Level 1. It is much clearer than "Spelling and grammar are used with limited effectiveness."
By the end of the day, I was so overwhelmed by all of the information and by all of the tasks I want to complete. I am going to set small goals for myself to improve my assessments and rubrics. For example, I need to develop an assignment for CHC2P1. I am going to focus on designing this one assignment and rubric using my new knowledge and not beat myself up that I want to work on so many more assignments and different rubrics.