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Evidence of Teaching, Evidence of Learning

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As the school year began, I ordered two books with the intent of learning and implementing practices designed to Enhance Professional Practice.  Charlotte Danielson has written a couple of editions of The Handbook for Enhancing Professional Practice and these were the books I would guide my learning with.

Cover of "Enhancing Professional Practice...


As I started into the the first book, it began with Evidence of Teaching.  Danielson believes three sources of information comprise evidence of teaching: observation, conversation, and artifacts.  She goes on to describe each of these sources and how they contribute to evidence of teaching,

As I read the chapter, I could not help but think about using this framework in a different way;

... as Evidence of Learning

Over the past year, as a school staff we have worked to understand Formative Assessment.  We have looked at the components and values and worked on ways to use Formative Assessment in the classroom.

Using the framework created by Danielson, it was clear that evidence of teaching, could also be used to describe evidence of learning through formative assessment.

That is,

Evidence of Learning is comprised of Observation, Conversation, and Artifacts.

Together with the amazing staff at Erin Woods School and AISI Learning Leader Angie F., we then worked to understand each of these sources.  We sat together as a staff and talked about each of these sources of evidence and what they looked like in the elementary classroom.

OBSERVATION – while observing students engaged in meaningful tasks, look for:

  • Are they staying on topic?
  • Is re-teaching required?
  • Do you often re-direct?
  • Can they extend further? Or in a different way?
  • Should you provide resources?
  • Are they using prev. learned skills? Or personal connections?
  • Do they demonstrate understanding?

CONVERSATION – as you talk to students about there learning, listen for:

  • Do they use specific content vocabulary?
  • Are the students asking relevant questions?
  • Can they explain why?
  • Expressions/language demonstrates understanding.
  • Can they express connections to previous or personal knowledge?
  • Are they expressing additional interests or viewpoints about the topic?

ARTIFACTS – as you collect documents or student work, look for:

  • Compare to rubrics.
  • Did they know and meet criteria?
  • Demonstrate understanding
  • Is re-teaching required? for who? for what?
  • Did they edit/fix up based on feedback?

To support our thinking, a visual was created with the above information.

As we developed our understanding of the three sources of data, it became evident that in order to make a thorough, well-rounded assessment of a students progress all three sources or data are required.  Simply using one or two of the sources is not truly sufficient to fully understand the learner and assess progress.

As we move along in our professional development in this area remains:

What will we do with all of this data we have collected?

What do you do with all the data you collect?

Thanks for sharing this Lori.

Thanks for sharing this Lori. Two thoughts came to mind as I read (and re-read) your post. The first was just how valuable the actual process of working through this lens would have been. You could easiily package it, and distribute it to others, but without the energy, the conversations and likely the squirming that accompanies this type of explicit "working out", the effect is often much less...well...effective!

The second thought, and it's admittedly a little more philosophical, is that it is, in a sense, presumptuous for us to identify anything as a learning opportunity, learning event or learning task. While we would like all that we do in schools to fall under the learning rubric, it isn't until after the fact that we are able to do so. The thinking that you provide here is a way of "assessing" whether an experience actually resulted in the learning for which we were hoping.

Looking forward to other comments!