The Sum of the Parts – Breaking Down Learning

For the past few weeks I have been challenged by the idea of why we do what we do when it comes to assessment and student work.  I finally came to the conclusion that everything we do is for the students, and a way to foster their growth for NOW not just the future.  This got me to thinking, about how much focus we place on the FINAL product of things. How do we share this work and get feedback on the process in order to improve. If you take for example the writing process – there are countless steps that we go through to get to the final copy but those steps are what lead us to grow, and become better. Or even in Math – how often do teachers ask you to show your work so that the different steps can be laid out and pin point exactly where you need to re-evaluate or re-learn a step. It allows us to break things down and really individualize steps for improvement in our students. The parts, in my mind, are greater than the end product.

Through the coding aspect of this year we have seen the process take shape in our classrooms in the intermediate division at Howick.  We have seen student work improve because they are focusing on the process rather than with their eye on the final prize. Really narrowing into what exactly they want to accomplish and following the steps in order to complete the task. There are always multiple ways to get to the final product and now that we are really looking at this students are learning and producing work in unique and creative ways.  Sometimes the road may lead you in different directions but it is the journey that leads you to growth.

Now, the next phase of this is taking place.  Alex Hutchison (@AlexHutchison) and I  are really trying to make our learning visible and be connected to other classes throughout the board (#AMDSBlearns).  We are attempting to have students share the PROCESS of their work (very much like procedural writing but in a New Literacy ay) either through their blogs (Kauffeeology) or on our class twitter accounts (@8HowicK @HowicK_7). We are encouraging documentation and reflection in this process as well as ownership in learning. Where is the learning? Who owns the learning? and Where do we go next?

Sometimes the most simple final product has a million little steps to get to the end but unless we break things down and focus on this it can appear that there isn’t a lot of learning happening when really – problem solving, critical thinking, editing and revising, trial and error, creativity, and collaboration are all taking place.  I encourage you to look at our students blogs. Our students are beginning to share their work from start to finish like a journal (online portfolio) in order to validate and share their journeys.

Just like putting together a puzzle you need all the parts and pieces to make the final picture come to life!

What are your thoughts? How do you validate the process with your students? I would love to hear from you.

– Ms. Kaufman (@Teach_msK)

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