Isobel Stevenson

Thinking about Teaching and Learning

Today’s Learning Walk

January 29, 2009 by Isobel Stevenson · No Comments · Student Achievement

We went to another elementary today.  Me, Kelly, five principals and the superintendent.  This time, we went to a variety of classrooms, using the same protocol as last time to talk about what we saw in classrooms.  We saw some good stuff.

The purpose of doing these learning walks is to provide principals with the opportunity to improve their skills in supporting classroom formative assessment.  So we talk about what teachers are doing to make it clear to students what they are supposed to know and/or do as a result of a lesson, and to have them self-assess how close they are to meeting that target.

So, here are some of the things we saw:

  • A clear effort on the part of all the teachers we saw to make the target clear to students.  This included strategies such as writing the learning objective on the board using I-statements, adding criteria for success, and going over the objectives with students.
  • A teacher asking students to self-assess by asking them to indicate how confident they were that they had just done a task correctly.
  • A teacher holding reading conferences with students focused on providing them with descriptive feedback and their setting their own goals.

I always like it when I visit classrooms and see students in control of their own learning.  We often use the aphorism that the person doing the work is the person getting the benefit, and when the students are doing the work, which includes being meta-cognitive, then they are learning the most.

These learning walks are turning out to be a great way to talk about teaching and learning.  For example, one of the strategies of assessment for learning is to provide examples of strong aned weak work, but it hadn’t occurred to me until today that modeling and guided practice are ways to provide exemplars.  And I continue to be impressed by how focused teachers are on their students and ignore us when we’re in their classrooms.

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