Community Building: Instructional Design for Forward Action

Here we are in February, more than half way through the year (already!).  A few highlights from the past couple of weeks: 

  • Articulation with our incoming Grade 8 students has begun;
  • The completion of mid-year department reviews;
  • A very successful Mid Year Exam and Special Instruction Week;
  • JO Wrestling Team finishing fourth at the Miri-Piri Invitational Tournament (Manpreet Virk winning Boys’ MVP and Rowena Cacapit earning runner up for Girls’ MVP);
  • Basketball Playoffs commencing for our Senior and Junior Boys’ and Girls’ Teams (as well as our Bantam Boys’ team);
  • The UBC Gilbert and Sullivan troupe will be performing “Fiddler on the Roof” in our auditorium from February 3rd to the 6th ;
  • And, of course, a huge ‘congratulations’ to the students of John Oliver who in one week raised $14,475 in our “Hope for Haiti” Relief Campaign. 

This past week has resulted in the setting of yet another outstanding milestone for our community.  On Friday, January 22, the presidents of each of the school’s clubs, including student council, worked together to develop a fundraising campaign for Haiti Relief and set a goal of raising $5,000 within a week. The five day campaign included direct appeals to students and staff, a student-staff soccer game and a raffle where a student would become ‘Principal for a Day’. When the money was counted on Friday, January 29th, we nearly tripled our goal, raising $14,475. 

Now as we head into the second half of the school year, we can build upon this sense of connection, this ideal of shared responsibility by focusing upon the ‘community’ each of us builds within our respective classrooms.  As I shared with you at our mid-year department reviews, our community has acted upon their collective will to ‘make a positive difference’; now it is our time to focus upon that change with regard to our own educational practices and the expectation and appreciation of academic rigour on the part of our students. 

The article I am passing on to you this week, Jay McTighe and Ronald Thomas’ “Backward Design for Forward Action,” touches upon the key points that I brought up at our department meetings.  McTighe and Thomas offer a three-stage, backward design process to assist teachers in centering their curriculum and assessments on big ideas, essential questions and authentic performances: 

  1. determine learning goals;
  2. collect, analyze, and summarize evidence from multiple sources to determine how well students are doing on external accountability tests and the extent to which they really understand what they are learning;
  3. consider the root causes of present achievement and then – and only then – implement and create curriculum.

Backward Design for Forward Action – McTighe & Thomas

I look forward to February 11th when we will have the opportunity to once again engage in discussion around O’Connor’s 15 Fixes for Broken Grades as we continue to ask ourselves essential questions that propel us forward along our path of continuous school improvement.

Have a nice week.