Monday, November 24, 2008


Nutana Collegiate in Saskatoon has made a decision to replace a failing grade on a high school student’s transcript with “incomplete” in an attempt to aid students in their educational endeavors. Prairie South School Division has also implemented new strategies for grading practices. Some of these include:
Do not punish academic dishonesty with reduced grades. Include only achievement. Use other methods of consequences.
Don’t include student behaviors in grades (effort, participation – unless included in the curriculum, attendance, adherence to class rules, etc.). Use only individual achievement evidence; don’t include group scores in grades. Compare each student’s performance to preset student learning outcomes; don’t assign grades based on student’s achievement compared to other students.
Don’t include zeros in grade determination when evidence is missing or as punishment. Zeros do not show evidence of learning. Use alternatives, such as reassessing to determine real achievement or use “I” for incomplete or insufficient evidence.
Don’t reduce marks on work submitted late, provide support for the learner.
There are several other “big ideas” for grading practices and the entire document can be found on the PSSD website under Documents, Curriculum & Instruction, Assessment and Grading Practices.

These are some of the suggestions based on educational research to allow opportunities for all students, students who are academically gifted, students who have learning difficulties, students with low self-esteem, students with health problems, students who come from dysfunctional families (according the Leader Post when discussing the Nutana initiative), students who belong to gangs or who are drug and/or alcohol abusers. One other new initiative of our school division is the encouragement for students to become involved, with his/her parents, in the student-parent-teacher conferences (formerly known as parent teacher interviews). This initiative seems like the one which may have immediate benefits because it is imperative that the students and his/her parents become engaged in learning. Each student from K-8 has identified educational goals on his/her report card and one of the most common suggestions to reach these goals is this: My parents can support me by helping: questioning me for my tests, reminding me to do my homework right away, and just helping.
These are all just a few attempts to try to enable all students to have an opportunity to be successful in the educational system. Positive communication between parents, teachers and students could be the most effective way for all students to gain the opportunity for educational success. Some functional and/or parents may not align their personal beliefs with these attempts, but perhaps there may be some benefits for those who are truly in need of support.

Friday, September 19, 2008


The conference was inspiring and I have so many ideas out learning and assessment. (There were a couple of guys passing notes during the session which I found distracting, and someone stole my pen as I was laboriously trying to take notes - haha). Most things I think I knew, but until you actually hear them, think about them and then speak them, I don't think that the connections were complete. I am going to work on a presentation for my staff tomorrow and so I will spend some time sharing some thoughts with you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I am heading to a conference tonight on Improving Learning Results. Hopefully I will gain some insights and varying opinions on using assessment to improve school results. We are currently working on school goals which if worked on should translate to better scores, and I am completely convinced that focusing on student learning and strategies aimed at certain aspects of curriculum will improve learning and scores.

If we, as educators, focus on problem solving or writing traits with every grade across the curriculum we will or we certainly should produce better problem solvers and writers. Will this necessarily equate to better, well-rounded young adults? Perhaps. I think that working towards these goals along with positive attitudes, hard work, and differentiated instruction will produce better students, and different types of assessments should prove this.

I will reflect on the conference when I am back.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Thanks to mrsuff! This voki application is fantastic! Social learning and connectivism at its best!
Apparently now I need a voki... Ok, after volleyball tomorrow I will work on it. Do I need to switch to Wordpress or can I get this somewhere else?

My daughter is in grade 8 and she won first in bantam golf yesterday in Assiniboia. She shot a 48, and she was completely annoyed that she could not play another nine holes. According to her, she has never played a tournament with only nine holes. (I haven't counted how many touranments she has played, but I doubt she has played in an overabundance of them yet.) I am really not over ecstatic that she is golfing, because my son's passion is golfing which has taken him to New Mexico to the University of the Southwest. He just started August 15th and I don't want another child leaving the country. I am somewhat selfish and I want my children within driving distance. He loves it down there and I can barely get him to talk for a minute on the phone.

I am presently teaching some math to grade 8 and I have presented them with the seventeen outcomes. Tomorrow we are going to create math portfolios and they each have to create one item to represent their learning for each outcome. They can redo an assignment, create something new, ask for a performance assessment... We discussed it on Friday, so hopefully it will work. I haven't taught math (which is my favorite) for a couple of years, so it is taking me a bit to get used to it. I am attending Ahead of the Curve this week, so this should guide me in my assessment journey.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Back at It

Hi Everyone,

I have decided that I have taken a long enough break from blogging and social networking. I just couldn't continue for awhile, but it is time. I need to re-connect and continue my journey of learning. I was re-reading a comment from Kelly Christopherson from quite some time ago. I has written about some busy and crazy things and he just said to let it go. I lost my brother to suicide a year, and this was the second suicide in my immediate family. I will describe some of the issues involving these tragedies in the months to come, which I hope will continue my journey of healing.

I am Prinicpal for my second year, and my immediate plan is to begin a doctoral degree. For the few people who have followed my blog, I completed my Master's Degree just over a year ago.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


We have had an extremely difficult week with the sudden passing of one of our grade twelve students. It is so shocking and it is with such sadness with which I write this. I have been hoping and praying that our staff and students find comfort with each other. Thank you to the many people who have sent their words and gifts of comfort.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I have been enjoying my Easter holidays, and I am presently in Minot with my daughter and my mother. My mom decided that we should take a little holiday and since my husband has to work and my son is golfing it up in Utah, I thought why not? We are going to do some shopping and some swimming today, so how does it get any better?

The school year has been going by so quickly and I am feeling mixed emotions. I am a little sad that my boy is graduating will be moving away to school, but yet I am so very excited for him. He did very well on his SAT's and he has opportunities to head to the states on academic and athletic scholarships which is his dream. I am also quite excited that my first year as principal is almost over because I have learned tremendously and just like the first time you try anything, you just know that you will be much better the next time. In addition, I was feeling such grief 0ver the loss of my brother through most of the year, I know that I completed many tasks with only a small percentage of my being.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


On Friday, I was sharing blogging techniques with some of my staff. We discussed different methods of blogging/web pages. Some of the staff thought that maybe we should use our school web page to build their classroom blogs/pages, but they didn't want to put pressure on the rest of the teachers to have to have one. Some teachers would have no problem keeping up a blog/web page, but others would. I think that we are going to use links; I plan on helping some of them create their first few posts on their blog.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Social Software

My grade nine students finished their presentations of the advantages and disadvantages of using social software, specifically Facebook, before Christmas. Some of them uploaded their finished presentations onto Slide Share. Basically most of them really didn't care whether it was allowed at school or not. There were two or three that felt strongly that they should be able to access it at school, mainly because they didn't have high speed internet at home. There were a few more that felt that it should not be allowed at school, and most of these reasons included the inappropriate language and alcohol pictures. Some felt that it has become a huge popularity contest, where some kids were just not allowed to be a part of the Network. This I found interesting; it was something that I had not thought alot about until we started the project. The rest of the class really didn't care one way or another; they could understand why it might be blocked and since then the issue has resolved itself. I had asked our School Division to block it and since then it has been blocked off and on. Most of them don't try to use it, and I have told them very cleary that they have signed an acceptable use agreement.

Over the past month or so, I have heard of a few businesses, some very large, who have blocked Facebook from their employees. Some students have said that there are places at work who are not allowing the use of cell phones at work or there will be suspensions.