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Teaching institute hones evaluation skills


The tables were turned this week when teachers became the “taught,” tackling a new consistent way to evaluate student progress at a special three-day teaching institute at Robert Moore School here.

Although attendance was voluntary, the four different sessions drew up to 50 teachers from both the Rainy River District School Board and the Northwest Catholic District School Board.

While workshops Monday and part of Tuesday revolved around adapting a Ministry of Education-driven standard assessment format, other sessions instructed teachers on how to use software to track student progress.

“What we’re trying to do is have all the kids assessed the same--accurately, concisely, equitably, consistently,” said Nancy Fretter, principal of Donald Young School in Emo.

Yesterday afternoon, Diane DeBenedet and Maureen Ricard introduced the key to reaching that consistency--a writing exemplar booklet.

“The province has put out samples of writing for each grade, one through six,” noted Fretter. “By looking at the samples, teachers can compare to what the expectations are and grade accordingly.”

Expectations hinge on four categories--reasoning, communication, organization, and convention.

Meanwhile, at the school’s computer lab yesterday, Ray Maynard and Walter Rogoza instructed on how to use a curriculum planner program, which teachers will use to organize their course outlines.

The software also is useful to check how closely the teachers themselves are following that set curriculum.

And today, Tom Fry was outlining “tracking” software, where teachers would enter their individual student standards, then through progressive entries into the program see if that child lived up to the expectations.

The instructors at the sessions had received training directly from the ministry earlier this summer.

Warren Hoshizaki, director of education for the local public board, was pleased to see teachers keeping up with the new standards--even if it meant using up a few last days of summer vacation time.

“This the first time we’ve had professional development days during the summer,” he noted. “That’s great.”

Fretter said everything she’s heard has been positive. “We’ve had wonderful feedback, and the teachers have been very enthusiastic about picking this up,” she noted.

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