A couple of nights ago, my previous principal, Gerry Smith, sent me this tweet.
— Gerry Smith (@GSmith_) August 11, 2017
I replied with,
After I'm done with some deep breathing :), I may need to blog. There's definitely a post in here. 🙂
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) August 11, 2017
Here’s my post.
This article left me with many conflicted feelings. On one hand, I love the fact that “learning” is about more than just reading, writing, and math. There are many developmentally appropriate skills included in the 1950’s report card, and in various subject areas. I know that this article is an American one, and the amount of standardized testing that happens in the States — in all subject areas — far outweighs what happens in Canadian provinces. But all of that being said, I don’t know that we want our 2017 report card to closely resemble this 1950’s one.
Here are my concerns that resulted in a need for some deep breathing.
- By listing such a specific set of skills, do we avoid going deeper and encouraging richer thinking by our students?
- Does this report card take into consideration the range of students that may be in a Kindergarten classroom?
- If students are ready to do more, should they be encouraged to do so, and with this kind of report card, does that happen?
- Are all of the skills listed in this report card ones that students have control over (e.g., coming to school clean)? Who are we really evaluating here?
- By creating a checklist of skills, how do we really personalize the feedback and provide specific next steps for growth?
- Does this checklist only highlight/support/encourage low-level learning?
- What about the students that “can’t” do what’s on this “can” list? How are we supporting them?
I think that Ontario’s Kindergarten Program Document addresses these concerns by truly creating a document and a Communication of Learning, which put students at the centre of learning. Each child is seen differently and viewed through an asset lens. It’s our Program Document that really supports play-based learning.
While I may agree with the conclusion in this report card article, I worry about this conclusion being made based on this 1950’s report card example. If we look to this as closer to our new ideal, what does this mean about the type of environment that we’re creating for our students? Is this the best kind of environment that we could give them? I definitely stand behind developmentally appropriate practices and the value of learning through play, but I think that there’s still a ways to go from this 1950’s example. What about you?