This post is written by Dr. Randall Sampson. Randall is the founder of Liberty Leadership Development. He has been a teacher and public school administrator, as well as a university professor and national education transformation specialist. You can connect with Randall on Twitter @RandallSampson.
The way we teach and the way our students are learning has forever been changed in 2020. The global COVID-19 pandemic initially caused the closing of schools, starting in March 2020. This event has sparked a re-imagination of how we can teach and how students are highly adaptable to the dynamic circumstances of change. My high school daughter reminded me of this drastic shift when she said “dad, this is the 9/11 of our generation.” This statement hit me like a ton of bricks and served as a wake-up call to us educators.
We can’t continue doing things in the 21st Century as they were done in the 20th Century, yet expect a different outcome. So, the educators at Wilson Preparatory Academy decided to take control of the suspended 2020 state report card and redefine how teachers measure success. The goal was to redesign the report card issued to us and create one issued by us. Through the use of Wakelet Spaces, teachers created their own Wakelet Evidence-Based Portfolios. The purpose of this process was to always place the teachers in the driver’s seat of the teaching and learning process.
“States must design a system for collecting data to document and understand students’ access to the resources, tools, and experiences they need to learn.”
The biggest milestone of the March 2020 closure of schools in America was the US Department of Education’s waiver of standardized math, reading, and science test scores. Teachers were hoping that no more standardized testing will be the common sense “new norm” for the 2020-2021 school year and beyond. Sadly, most states have brought back the standardized testing schedule. I can’t blame the various state departments of education, many local districts did not take advantage of the situation by creating an alternative to standardized assessments.
When the US Department of Education made the announcement to cancel testing in the Spring of 2020, we jumped into action and created our own alternative report card system to demonstrate student learning. The report card is anchored by a Wakelet Evidence-Based Portfolio process. This process is highly reflective of standards-based teaching inputs (planning, lessons, and engagement) and the development of authentic student-centered learning outcomes.
How To Ditch The State Report Card
During the quarter/semester of school the teachers will capture the work in action, as prescribed in the rubric items we selected. At the end of each quarter/semester, in their Wakelet collection, the staff will curate the practices that were implemented. Teachers will share their Wakelet Evidence-Based Portfolio with their colleagues, in order to gain feedback about the curated artifacts. The descriptive feedback is shared inside of the Wakelet collection via Flipgrid or traditional text. The feedback is centered on the components of the augmented teacher performance rubric we selected.
Your school or district can Ditch That State Report Card and Design Your Wakelet Evidence-Based Portfolio with a clear and simple reflective practice focused on:
- What schools are setting out to do (Capture the “what” in action)
- How you actually implement (Curate the action)
- Tell a comprehensive story of your progress (Share your passionate “why”)
Leverage Your State’s Process
The goal is to not reinvent the wheel, but to make it more efficient. Each state has its own criteria or rubric for the teacher evaluation/improvement process, simply leverage what already exists (work smarter, not harder). No teacher can accomplish all of the specific items, in one school year, as stated in those state evaluation/improvement rubrics. So, we narrowed the focus of what works best in our local districts. In the state’s improvement rubric, we identified the essential components that we believe are important to the success of our local school/district. This Evidence-Based Portfolio process helps teachers with focusing on the following:
- Aligned Lesson Design
- Formative and Summative balanced assessments
- Engagement of students through self-directed learning
- Family communication and strategic community partnership development
- Empower teachers in their development, growth, and evaluation process
The Bottom Line
Schools can become empowered to control their narrative and fate. The level of self-efficacy at schools will increase as students and teachers own the learning process. The standardized state test score doesn’t always accurately reflect the real-time performance, nor predict the full future potential of individual students. Teachers have the most consistent interaction with their students and should have more say in the process of measuring students’ learning success. Below are the adapted components of a state’s teacher evaluation/improvement requirements and how we personalized the process at the local level.
Click on image for full size.
1). Focus of Learning
- Provide evidence of two sources of high-quality student data and evidence of instructional tools that monitor student progress toward the established goal(s).
- Submit two lessons that intentionally make clear and coherent connections with student prior and future learning and include strategies that communicate the connections to students – among lesson content, other disciplines and/or real-world experiences.
2). Lesson Delivery (Student Centered Learning; Progress Monitoring Tools):
- Provide evidence of two communication strategies and questioning techniques in the learning tasks engage students in higher-level and creative thinking and stimulate student to-student interactions (Depth of Knowledge 3 and Depth of Knowledge 4).
- Provide a combination of two artifacts of evidence demonstrating independent, collaborative, and/or whole-class learning opportunities to maximize student learning.
3). Knowledge of Students/Class Environment (SEL: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, Responsible Decision Making)
- Provide evidence of two artifacts where students demonstration perspectives, experiences, and culture.
- Provide evidence of two artifacts where the teacher models expectations and behaviors that create a positive climate of openness, respect and care.
4). Assessment of Learning (Evidence of performance-based learning; Formative/Summative Assessments)
- Provide evidence of two artifacts of the teacher offering differentiated assessment choices to meet the full range of student needs.
- The teacher provides two artifacts of evidence of multiple effective and appropriate communication and engagement strategies with individual students and families regarding student performance data.
** TEACHERS CAN ADD FLIPGRID SHORTS VIDEOS IN THEIR WAKELET PORTFOLIO COLLECTION TO EXPLAIN EACH CATEGORY**
Capture-Curate-Share: How to get started with portfolio
- Create a Wakelet Spaces Collection and ask staff to click on the Wakelet Spaces link
- The link will direct you to the Evidence-Based Portfolio
- Click the “Create a new Collection,” GREEN circle with the white plus sign, to create your own collection
- In your collection, you will have the 4 topics listed above and you will be able to add the required items that you used during the quarter/semester.
- Click “TEXT” and type in the topic name. Below the topic name add your evidence-based items. Then, type another topic name and add your content. All topics will be in one collection.
- In the top right corner, make your collection Public or Unlisted
- You will share the collection with two-colleagues. Colleagues will provide feedback in your collection.
- How to share your collection with your colleagues? In the top left corner of your collection click the “invite” button and share the invitation link
- Provide descriptive and specific feedback to your colleague by using both the “Flipgrid” integration app and the Evidence-Based Portfolio rubric. Teachers can What did you find interesting and what items are similar to what you are doing. What did you see that could improve your instruction or help your classroom?