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  • Writer's pictureDeb Stetson

Partnering with Kids and Caregivers

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

Learning from Kyle Ferreira Van Leer, a middle school teacher, regular Saturday Seminar participant, and frequent contributor to our Supporting Teachers, Families, and Students group. Kyle has graciously shared the way he set up his class this year. Seeing his example and considering his thinking has given me ideas too. Kyle undoubtedly had many reasons for his choices when designing the structure of his class, but I am focusing on how he has built a system to put students' learning progress in their hands, to make it transparent for them and for their caregivers and families. Let's face it--we have both OPPORTUNITY and NEED to partner with caregivers, families and students, like we have never had before.

Kyle's system lays out what kids need to demonstrate what they have learned by:

  1. Identifying essential standards this year and a map of how he'll weave standards together and come back to them for multiple touch points with varying depth (Spiraling Document - 7/8 Math)

  2. Generating student "I can..." statements

  3. Making a Portfolio, a google slides presentation, for each student to be shared between him and the student. Each student will gather evidence of their best work on each standard and provide justification for why it's their best work.

This positions students as the ones in charge of showing off what they know--instead of the teacher, and it makes this all transparent for caregivers and families. They can see what students have selected and submitted. The rubric for how Kyle evaluates submissions for each standard in the portfolios is shared as well--it's all transparent. This creates a shared space and potential for creating greater understanding about expected learning between Kyle, his students, and their caregivers and families.

Kyle is sharing more than his portfolio's, he is also sharing his class website where he links everything together--so there are multiple ways to point to resources. Now if you are like me, you might be on the very beginning of a learning curve on websites--so you'll see an example of what can be done. To me this feels like visiting another teacher's classroom at school; I get ideas. Check it all out!

Watch for this coming soon---I am already made a copy of his portfolio, and amended it for some work I am doing with teachers. I added a way to have folks gather evidence both about their mathematics learning, and also about their pedagogical learning. Seems like that idea could transfer to the classroom too, and folks could include a place for students to show their best work demonstrating SMP's (i.e. making sense, or using repeated reasoning) or Social Emotional Learning (SEL's, i.e. self management: using strategies to help yourself overcome emotions and stick with a project) AND, I am in the process of using his portfolio to make a Student Portfolio Template, clearing out the middle school standards from his portfolio, and making a template that I can share. That will be done soon!

Thank you Kyle for sharing your work, so we can all learn from it, and adjust it to suit the needs of our students.

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