Introducing Faculty Badges: Winter Edition 2017

Today was the grand unveiling of the new suite of badges designed for faculty by Amy Wilkes and Katie Cain. Like a kid at Christmas, I still get excited when new badges are designed and introduced. These badges are only available through the end of April, so don’t let them pass by you.

Remember, a badge has six elements to its design. Although the artwork is often the most visible and appealing aspect of a badge, it is only 1/6 of the design. Like a quarterback who gets all the credit when a team wins, the artwork can overshadow the other 5/6 of the badge. 

There are a number of things I really like and wish to highlight about these particular badges. First, I love how we have developed specific ‘families’ of badges. For example, there are now 3 badges related to PBL (project based learning). They look very similar, yet they are distinctive. True learners and die hard badgers will collect them all.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, notice how the badges offered are not only highly relevant to the larger mission and work of the whole school, but also how they combine multiple school initiatives. For example, the Spotlight on the 4 C’s incorporates the wildly important Mount Vernon Mindsets (4 of the 6 21st century core competencies) AND the spotlight feature of Folio Collaborative along with the important practice of learning walks (see more on learning walks).

Finally, the Random Act of Kindness badge breaks new ground by being the first badge you cannot apply for yourself. A colleague must apply on your behalf. I’m interested to see how this one plays out in the weeks ahead.

And on a final, final note…I think my favorite ‘family’ of badges currently are the Challenge Badges. I love the colors and ‘look’ of these badges. And, I love each of the challenges associated with them. To me, they are the most ‘fun’ of all the criteria. The Blogger Challenge was an early success last summer. The Visible Thinking Routine Challenge was equally fun as teachers posted their classes in action to twitter and Ann Plumer featured the work on bulletin boards in middle school spaces on each campus. I hope our teachers will go for it with the Virtual Reality challenge. 


Student Led Conferences – Year Two

Observing
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Faculty Reflection
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Wins
– 94% of families participated
– SLCs are scaling to Lower and Upper School
– I participated in 21 conferences, seeing all but 2 advisors.
– I observed teachers giving feedback on goals, badges, and student behavior.
– I learned a lot more about specific students.
– Teachers contributed to the experience in new and helpful ways.
– I saw evidence of group work, but grading on individual mastery of outcomes.

Areas for Growth
– Despite exhaustive communication, I still observed several students who had not shared “permission to view” in their google doc demonstrations.
– Similar with goals about As and Bs or Honor Roll (achievement goals) instead of Learning Goals (acquire a new skill or explore a new topic of interest)
– I saw evidence of group work and group grades.
– I saw a parent shut down a kid.
– I saw badges earned without the evidence in place.

Questions that Remain
– How will we expand the audience for eportfolios this year?
– Can Digication allow selected sharing instead of “all of nothing”?
– How will we follow up on student goal setting before the end of the semester, especially since the next SLC is not until February?

Practice Guide
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Helping Hands Day 2016

Helping Hands Day is a tradition that started at Mount Vernon in response to the terrorist attacks on the United States and its citizens on September 11, 2001. Approximately 2,977 innocent civilians were killed. Our response as a community every year since that day has been to do something productive; to help others. As we travel beyond the campuses, please keep this spirit in mind and share it with our students. All of them were born afterwards and have no memory of this day. We will remember.

Grade 7 & 8 Helping Hands Day 2016 from Katie Cain on Vimeo.

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I Am Poem from Mr. Terupt – Grade 5

While on a learning walk this morning, I liked the class assignment in 5th Grade Literature so much that I decided to participate. Here is my poem.

I am someone who wants to help others and connect more deeply.
I wonder if I am living out God’s purpose for my life.
I hear music, quotes from movies, and echoes of fond childhood memories.
I see how to improve any situation I see.
I want to be recognized and appreciated and make others feel the same.
I am someone who wants to help others and connect more deeply.

I pretend I am not 40 years old, but still 29.
I feel like I would’ve made a good President of the United States.
I touch deeper parts of others’ souls in my mind, not content with surface level banter.
I worry about the pace of life, as well as evil in the world.
I cry when I read about shootings, terrorism, kidnapping, slavery, and things that still exist in the world that should not exist.
I am someone who wants to help others and connect more deeply.

I understand that there is an absolute truth beyond what each of us perceives as our personal perspective of truth through our limited senses.
I say I’ve never met a person who didn’t need the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, starting with myself.
I dream of being debt free and being able to pursue whatever I want with my time.
I try to do a good job and make things better for others.
I hope other people recognize my passion and efforts.
I am someone who wants to help others and connect more deeply.

MV Mindsets: Start with 34 Questions

Seeking to gain greater clarification on each of the 6 MV Mindsets and the sub-sets that define them, in order to more effectively infuse, assess, and communicate student learning and progress, here are a series of questions…

Critical Thinker/Solution Seeker
– What makes a question ‘meaningful’?
– In a culture that does teaches no tolerance for “judging” others, how can we teach students to ‘evaluate’ ideas, etc.?
– How does one learn and demonstrate ‘discernment’?
– How do educators approach ‘cross-disciplinary’ knowledge?
– How do students approach it?
– What are the best practices of goal setting with students? SMART goals and/vs. DUMB goals?

Communicator
– What does it mean to listen ‘attentively’?
– …to speak effectively?
– …to write clearly?
– What are the various types of audiences a communicator might encounter?
– How does a communicator ‘understand’ an audience?
– Can a group of individuals be understood?
– Within any group, there are a lot of differences.
– What are the various types of media a communicator needs to understand?
– What does ‘formats’ mean?
– What are interpersonal skills and how to best ‘self cultivate’?

Creative Thinker
– What is an assumption?
– How does one identify an assumption?
– How do you then challenge an assumption?
– How, why, and when should you suspend judgement?
– What is the difference between judgement and evaluation?
– How do you build ‘imagination’ muscles?
– How do you build ‘improvisation’ skills?
– How do you adapt to new challenges and opportunities?
– How do you foresee and identify new challenges and opportunities that others might not?
– How do you know when to ‘let this one go’?

Collaborator
– What is a partnership? What makes it strong?
– What defines diversity? How might we expand our definition?
– How do you teach, coach, and lead by example?
– What are the types of feedback?
– How, when, and why might/does one accept or reject different types of feedback?
– How do you implement a decision?

Assess Your Assessments

Assess Your Assessments matrix by Grant Wiggins
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Questions about the matrix
does ‘support your answer’ always fall into ‘far transfer’?
what does near and far transfer mean?
what mode of assessment works best for middle school students?
can a selected response go beyond recall and inference?
what do you fill into the empty boxes? just a check mark or a score?
how does a teacher include a variety of each format? throughout the year?
i wonder if gold standard pbl checks all of the boxes.
i wonder what an ill-structured problem looks like.
can assessments overlap in categories?

Ideas
mini and informal assessments are under-utilized
i see the need for a variety of assessments
making a product leads to ‘far transfer’
we cannot teach apart from context
i think i can combine several types of responses into one test
i think teachers need great intuition, awareness, and training to select appropriate assessments for different tasks