Reflecting (gag!) and AFL…It’s not always sunshine and roses

I’m back at SFU working on my Masters and reflecting on my experience. I read peer-reviewed articles, I struggle to refine my question(s), I summarize (with great difficulty) my week and I try to journal.

The best part of the whole thing is connecting and finding how the members of my cohort all have common experiences and challenges, something that all teachers need to discover. Knowing that I am not alone, in what can often be a very isolated profession, gives me courage to act on my beliefs.

As I was trying to organise my documents I came upon an old reflection about a course I teach called Sustainable Resources 12. It tends to be one of those dumping ground courses where deliberate non-learners are deposited along with students who struggle in traditional settings but who thrive in the hands-on learning environment that the course provides. I was struck by the similarities between my current struggles (student engagement) and what was going on for me then.

Here’s what I wrote:

My experience with mandatory corrections and rewrites, “Oi vey!”

why? student engagement, choice,  intrinsic motivation, intrinsically fair, buy in

some AFL ideas: learning summaries,wait times (Dylan Wiliams),descriptive feedback instead of marks,Opportunities to revise,no zeros,student friendly learning outcomes.

Interestingly enough, I have implemented all of the strategies I listed except for using descriptive feedback instead of marks and this seems to be the focus of my inquiry now after reading Kohn and Wiggins.

Here are some more of what I noticed gleaned from Taylor and Parsons on student engagement

  1.  Learning that is relevant, real, and intentionally interdisciplinary – at times moving learning from the classroom into the community.
  2. Technology-rich learning environments – not just computers, but all types of technology, including scientific equipment, multi-media resources, industrial technology, and diverse forms of portable communication technology (Project Tomorrow, 2010).
  3. Positive, challenging, and open – sometimes called “transparent” learning climates –that encourage risk-taking and guide learners towards co-articulated high expectations. Students are involved in assessment for learning and of learning.Self- assessment and reflection
  4. Collaboration among respectful “peer-to-peer” type relationships between students and teachers (horizontal organization model); Professional Learning Communities working together to plan, research, develop, share, and implement new research,strategies, and materials.
  5. A culture of learning – teachers are learning with students. Language, activities and resources focus on learning and engagement first, and achievement second. This is really what I believe is important.

Are these the solutions to solving student apathy?

Hold them to high standards…believe that they are capable

students come up with the questions/problems to find the answers to


Possible SR 12 Student Project Ideas:

* Catalogue/ scrapbook, collage an inventory of Stoney Creek. QR code, access and present findings to class

*access info suitable for elementary and middle school kids

*rain collecting

*composting)increase decomposition rate and participation. Create worm bins to sell


*crop production


*how it relates to sustainability *presentation of learning at the end of the term


*design/build project

*attracting beneficials to gardens/good bugs etc.


*organic: what is it? pros cons

*blog/journal learning summary weekly to draw on for final presentation

*reduce energy consumption(wall gardens)

*maintain sections, weekly self-asessments, show up and do

*Plant id guide to Stiney Creek

*become responsible caretakers

* agriculture on a small scale

*gain an udnerstanding of the natural world

*living and non-living factors that influence life

*instill an appreciation and respect for nature

*a living lab

*scientific method

*insects, ecosystems


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