Back in April, I wrote about using the Landscape of Learning to assess some students, hoping to do two things. 1) assess where my students were on the Landcape and identify some next steps, and 2) assess were I was in my ability to use the Landscape for assessment of and for learning. I feel that I accomplished both. (You can read about it here.) I have continued to work on this, and will probably write some more in a few days about how these students have progressed, as well as how I will use this next year.
In the past few weeks, however, I discovered just how much all of my Landscape learning has effected my report card writing. I think I have always done a pretty good job of reporting. I personalize the comments with anecdotal quotes and events, I use up all or most of the 13 lines of allotted space, and I make them easy for parents to understand. But this time around, I started write things like, “XXX counts forward and backward…” and I realized I could say so much more about the counting than just direction. I found myself feeling that I had to comment on all the nuances of the child’s counting skills. Is he counting forward by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, 10’s, etc. and backward by the same? Is she using this counting to add and subtract double digit numbers on a number line? Does the counting happen mentally, or only with a math tool such as counting chips or a Rekenrek?
Adding and subtraction skills were no easier. Instead of “XXX adds and subtracts double digit numbers”, I had to write, “XXX adds and subtracts double digit numbers using several strategies, such as splitting, counting on, or finding the doubles and near doubles. He demonstrates an understanding of the commutative property when he starts at the largest addend and counts on. He draws his own number line to communicate his strategy. During Number Talks, he clearly explains why he chose to use a certain strategy to find the answer.”
And that’s just for Number Sense, with a little bit of Patterning and Algebra thrown in. If you were counting, you’ve probably realized that I have used up nearly half of the 13 lines without even mentioning measurement, geometry or data management.
It was hard, you guys! I’ve always felt like I had plenty of room to report on math. Now I feel the opposite. In a meeting with colleagues on Friday (you know who you are, Blue Sandals!) I found out that several of my colleagues have felt the same way while writing the second term report.
I also don’t have enough space to report on literacy skills, but that’s another blog post for another day. If anyone at the Ministry wants to know how I think this should be solved, I’m going to tell them that we should take away all that space in the phys ed section, make a few things like phys ed, health and The Arts pass/not pass subjects where I can write, “Hey! Your kid tried his heart out and good for him for doing it!” Because, at the end of the day, I think knowing your child needs assistance counting money because he isn’t able to unitize is way more important than declaring him an A student in throwing and catching.
And I know some people are thinking, “But throwing and catching are so important!!” And they are. But do we really need an equal amount of space to report on their PE skills as we get to report on their math and language skills?