Summer Learnings

In addition to playing as hard as I can, I  use summer to catch up on educational reading, connect with colleagues on Twitter, learn from and share ideas with other professionals.  This summer I have had great opportunities to attend multiple “workshops”. I really want to share some of what am learning!

Three Take-Aways: 

When teaching goal setting have students write their goals on strips of paper, no name. Students post their goal on a “word wall” or bulletin board. Idea Author: Phyllis Reed. This could serve to motivate students all year-long. This would be great for younger grades to view! I was thinking students could even draw a little favicon to keep goals identifiable to them but anonymous to public.

When creating assessments we need to have a clear picture in mind. Is this a formative or summative assessment? What will I do with this information? Is this the best way to assess? Most important: What will I do with this information? Answers to these questions will help us determine what assessment we need.

I am lucky to work in a profession where I can determine for myself that this will be a “working summer.”  I get to choose what I will learn more about, write about, and ultimately use in my day-to-day instruction.

My first workshop was hosted by our school district, we wrote assessments to reflect our district pacing guides. Reflecting always clarifies my thinking process and that is true with writing assessments. Nearing the end of the summer I have a different view on what our assessments need to look like. I’ve come to believe that our assessments need to be more process, project based, less multiple choice.

Next I attended a multi-district workshop where we wrote grade level outcome rubrics and began writing assessments K-5, again to measure student grade level outcomes. This is an ongoing summer writing project in which we are writing assessments for each grade level, and each instructional unit. I’m now questioning if grade level outcome rubrics are will be a useful tool. “Why?” you might ask. I just can’t imagine having time or need to use a summative assessment on every grade level outcome, and some of them running, skipping, hopping… more than one rubric for each grade level outcome! Poudre School district has done a great job articulating  grade level outcome rubrics in addition to other well written assessments based on the Colorado State Standards.

My new thinking runs along these lines. Throughout each instructional unit, i.e creative movement, fitness… There will be multiple formative assessments. These serve the purpose of telling me, are students “getting it?” These formative assessments also let students know how they are doing. These assessments will drive my instruction. Students getting it? Move on! Students not getting it? Re-evaluate delivery method. These formative assessments look like exit slips, entrance tasks, think-pair-shares, fist of five, thumbs up, self evaluations, journal entries, Google Form questions, sticky note walls, etc.

However, when it comes time for summative assessment, I want to know are students getting the bigger concepts and can they apply these concepts. This assessment might look like multiple grade level outcomes all lumped into one project. I’m still contemplating this, and since it is summer break, it will be later this fall when I can better determine how this actually works.

Colorado Department of Education hosted a fantastic “Trainer of Trainers Brain Based Learning Workshop.” Yes, total gear switch, but fantastic information! We were given the instructional tools and resources to become trainers on brain based learning. Another teacher in my district and myself planned out our own brain based learning workshop to present throughout NWBOCES. In addition I learned about this great free website GoNOODLE. My colleagues are going to love this resource for quick easy brain breaks.

Next I attended a two-day instructional unit writing session. I had the honor to work with three power house women! Phyllis Reed, the Comprehensive Health Content Specialist at CDE, led our group writing an instructional unit for the fourth grade fitness unit. The instructional unit content came from the Colorado Sample Curriculum Project. These developed units will include learning strategies, resource suggestions, differentiation options, and assessment ideas linked to helping all students master the Colorado Academic Standards. I worked with Jennifer Smith from Denver Public Schools and Aprille Vasu who teaches in Adams 12. Both of these women impressed me with their knowledge of physical education content, pedagogy, and enthusiasm. Much of my recent thoughts and reflection on assessment comes from the authoring work on which we collaborated.

I am looking forward to an upcoming three-day writing session with the same group, plus additional highly qualified teachers. We will be authoring 2nd grade, and 6th grade fitness instructional units!

Jennifer Smith, Aprille Vasu Adams and Lynn Burrows

Jennifer Smith, Aprille Vasu Adams and Lynn Burrows


2 responses to “Summer Learnings

  1. There is nothing more inspiring than working with a group of Physical Education & Health teachers collaborating on curriculum! This project has been amazing and I look forward to the work ahead. Your zest for teaching is admirable Lynn and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to co-author with you! Experiencing this project work with my college buddy, Jennifer, makes it even more rewarding. Phyllis challenges us as usual and I am encouraged by her passion to make a difference through this project!

  2. You have definitely had a “working” summer! It’s all rewarding and you will continue to grow and become an even more amazing teacher! It was great collaborating and can’t wait to do it again!

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