Where has this year gone? It’s hard to believe that we are down to our final few weeks of school! This has been such an incredible year for our school in terms of growth, learning and development within the PYP. I am so proud of everybody’s hard work and dedication to ensuring that the learning environment and experiences that are presented to our students are valuable, meaningful, engaging and exciting.
We received some wonderful news last week from IBO: our Application for Authorization was approved, with no matters to be addressed! This means that all of the documentation that we provided, as well as the application that we filled out were so thorough, that the IBO does not require further evidence to ensure that the PYP standards and practices are in place at our school. Again, this is a testament to the dedication and devotion that our staff has shown to applying all of the elements of PYP into their grade teams and classrooms. This is a HUGE accomplishment! We are one step closer to becoming an authorized IB, PYP school! We now await contact from IB to confirm our verification visit dates in the fall of the 2013-2014 school year.
During our final Professional Learning day as a staff on Friday, we focused our attention on one of the tools for reflective assessment – digital portfolios. Through the standards and practices of IB, our school Assessment Policy, Rocky View Schools’ Assessment Policy HK, and Alberta Education’s Inspiring Education initiative, there is a common thread that permeates all of these policies – students, parents and teachers should be engaged in authentic, reflective assessment practices. Student portfolios allow for a glimpse into each student and their journey through their educational years. They are a highly valuable tool for all stakeholders to access. While most grades have a “scrapbook” for the year, these scrapbooks miss the mark on what true potential a portfolio holds for student learning. The scrapbook has historically been a ‘catch all’ place for every piece of work that the student has produced in any given year. A portfolio is more selective and allows for more reflection on those key pieces that moved the student forward in their learning.
After watching a portion of Kathy Cassidy’s webinar – Connected from the Start – through the Discovery Education Network’s Spring Virtual Conference, we had some time for a Q and A session. What came out of that session was a desire from staff to be involved in more Professional Learning around using, understanding and becoming comfortable with the chosen platform for our student portfolios before the summer. This would allow teachers to have a lot of ‘play time’ with the platform, so when we returned for a new school year, they would feel confident in introducing the digital portfolios to students right from the very start.
Several of our staff have been experimenting with different platforms for student portfolios throughout the year and we will come together next week to discuss the pro’s and con’s of each before deciding on one common platform to use as an entire school. This will allow the portfolio to carry on with the student as they move up through the grades. There are many staff members who are very excited at the inherent possibilities of a digital portfolio! Overall, it was a very positive and productive PL Day for our staff.
This is such an exciting time to be in education, and at Prairie Waters! I can’t wait to see where our journey takes us in the coming school year!