I love reading! Well…not ALL reading. I have been up to my eyeballs in report card reading and I have to be honest – it’s not my favourite reading. It is; however, one of the ways that I stay connected to some of the student learning at Greystone Centennial Middle School – although it is a very tiny snapshot of so much more that is going on inside of each classroom. I also find it helpful in learning more about individual students. I really do love seeing their growth over the year. I was particularly motivated to read report cards this year as the dream of creating our school division’s new curriculum based report card became a reality. The new and improved report card format provides students and parents with important feedback that is more focused on thinking skills and processes from the curriculum and less on knowledge outcomes.
Teachers have provided excellent, descriptive feedback on their students’ strengths, areas for growth and have identified strategies for improvement. The thorough detail that teachers are sharing does take a long time to read; however, it is so worth it when I learn about all of the ways our teachers are meeting the diverse learning needs of their students.
As positive as I am feeling about our new report cards, I was happy to have a much needed diversion today from all the reading I have been doing. I took a time out to meet with the Book Study Group in order to continue our discussion of the book Making Thinking Visible. We are now on Chapter 5 – Routines for Synthesizing and Organizing Ideas.
I listened to teachers share their classroom experiences in putting the thinking routines from the book into practice with their students. There are so many simple yet effective strategies provided in this book that will engage learners, help them to develop their thinking skills and provide teachers with excellent insight into how students are processing and connecting their learning. As I read the chapter over prior to our study group chat, I was overcome with this wave of envy for the teachers in the study group who had the opportunity to put what they were reading about into action in the classroom. I really wanted to be back in the classroom working alongside these awesome teachers in developing our students’ critical thinking and inquiry skills.
In fact, when one of the teachers requested that I provide them with classroom coverage so that they could visit each others’ classrooms in order to observe one another develop these thinking routines with their students – I jumped at the opportunity! I have asked them to mention this to our staff at our upcoming PD Day so that any of our teachers who want to get in on learning from each other can do so. Imagine…teachers wanting to watch each other in action in order to learn and grow together – how awesome is that?! But it gets better (for me!) because their plan means I can take over their classes and practice some of these thinking strategies. Back to the classroom for me – I love it!
Now…back to report card reading – I don’t love this quite as much.
~ Carolyn Cameron