We know from research that, to be successful, students need to have a clear learning target, a picture of quality and clear criteria. These are best developed side by side with our learners. As we co-create these criteria students need to see examples of quality. In a new teaching assignment, or with new material, these samples may not be readily available. In this situation we can ‘be the sample’ and provide students with examples (and non-examples) of quality.
In her recent work in Prairie Spirit, Sandra Herbst identified several ways that we can generate meaningful samples for students. Sandra Herbst, CEO of connect2learning, is a noted system leader, author, coach, and consultant with almost twenty years of experience in education. She has been working closely with Prairie Spirit School Division since 2011. Sandra brings extensive classroom and school experience and a practical approach to leading learning. In February Sandra Herbst spent a week working in Prairie Spirit, primarily in our Assessment Residency schools. The focus of her work was to conduct demonstrations lessons in a variety of classrooms where teachers were able to observe the instructional cycle and then meet with Sandra to reflect on the lesson.
At Blaine Lake School Sandra Herbst and superintendent Lori Jeschke conducted a demonstration lesson in the grade 5 classroom to co-construct criteria around ‘What counts when we read for meaning’. Sharing a story book Herbst and Jeschke modelled what it looks like to read for meaning. Through their participation, the students were able to identify the strategies that the readers were using such as visualizing, making connections, re-reading and making predictions. The lesson was chunked into 10 short pieces, after which students were asked to talk with a partner and then identify the criteria. Each chunk took the students further into describing reading for meaning at a deeper level. Towards the end of the process the other adults in the room were invited to suggest some criteria that the students had missed. Predictably, the students had already identified almost all of the key criteria and described them in their own words. Lastly, Herbst and Jeschke provided a non-example of reading for meaning. They appeared disengaged and confused by the text. They didn’t use any of the strategies they had previously demonstrated. This provided further clarity for the students and was highly engaging. The students were now ready to categorize their responses and create their criteria.
Some of the feedback and learning that came from these demonstration lessons was:
In her recent blog post Sandra Herbst describes a similar process and other ways we can ‘be the sample’