The Effects of Assessment

The main effects of assessment are on student learning and teaching. This article I found written by Shihab Jimaa, explains how assessment effects both student learning and teaching and gives advice on how to better the assessment process in order to improve in each area.

View this article:


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Why is assessment important?

Assessment is an important step in a student’s learning process. It determines whether or not a student has met the learning intentions. Learning intentions are what the student needs to know/learn by the end of a lesson, unit or year. If the student has not met the learning intentions, it can also help the teacher understand where that student is struggling and make differentiation in their lessons to help meet that student’s needs. Assessment is crucial when it comes to determining student’s grades, abilities, different learning needs, advancement within the curriculum, support and funding.

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Logging in

The Pro-D that I attended taught us first about the art of logging in. At my practicum school, every teacher was recently set up with an account which is managed through their SD68 login, although it still proved difficult for some, so I figure I’ll outline what I learned in case you are just starting out.
Click here to follow along!

Hopefully you’re not lost yet!

So if you’re anything like me, you’re probably wanting to dig deep into this website and figure out what it’s all about – without paying for a trial or full version. You really just want free stuff. Thankfully for you- FreshGrade has a FREE option (yes, you heard me right).

The only thing you need to start is to click “SIGN UP” , as pictured above.


Next, you’ll be sent to a sign up page. You’ll need to enter your e-mail address of choice into the top box, followed by a password in the bottom box.  You’ll get an e-mail to verify your account shortly after. click on the “Create Free Account” to move onto the next step. Ignore the bottom bit that asks if you are looking for parent or student access. This is mainly for people who already have accounts set up by a teacher. 🙂




Ok, now it’s getting real! You’re on your way to being the best FreshGrade Pro out there. (Second to me , of course)

Add in your name, name of your class, and grades in your “class”. No need to overthink, just write in whatever you want. Heck, I named mine “Ms.Holcomb’s Dancing Monkeys”.


Okay. This next part we are going to skip, by pressing “Not Now”. The reason we are skipping is because we are not going to connect to a school. Unfortunately, “Ms.Holcomb’s Dancing Monkeys” is not actually a real thing, and if it were, I’m sure that most school’s wouldn’t want to be connected to something like that.  Moving on..


You did it! Click on “Set up Student List” to move on..


This is where your class list would show up if you were signed up through your school if you were a staff member. At the Pro-D I attended, when teachers first logged on with their SD68 accounts, all of this information was added in for them. You can explore this section yourself, by adding in a First, Last, and Grade for a made up student of your choice. For a multitude of names, you have the option to past a list of student names (to save from typing in each name individually if you were to set up your own class.



One important note about FreshGrade, is that the blue “FreshGrade” button at the top left corner essentially takes you back to your “Home Screen” (called “Dashboard” on the site). Click on this to take you back to the home screen when you’ve been in other tabs.


Great job!

I hope this virtual high-five encourages you to come back for more! Next time, I’ll start to explore the different tabs with you! Feel free to comment and ask questions as you please! See you next time 🙂

FreshGrade as an Inquiry

Hi everyone!
For my inquiry project I struggled to figure out what it was the I truly wanted to learn about and become invested in. On October 6th, My practicum school was hosting a Pro-D with it’s focus on FreshGrade. Suddenly I knew that this was something I would love to continue learning about, so I took down as many notes as I could, and continue to seek out new information. In my blog, I am going to enlighten you on how FreshGrade can be a welcomed tool, even though it seems daunting at first. Learn with me, and hopefully you can take something with you from my project! Click here to see what I’m talking about!

Pictures from 2017 PSA Super Conference

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Katherine and I standing outside Science World waiting to attend our Social in Vancouver, BC.

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Gordon Neufeld’s national selling book which was being sold at the conference.

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Slide Notes from Dr. Neufeld’s conference.

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Slide Notes from Dr. Neufeld’s conference.

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Why I’ve decided to study mindfulness in the classroom.

Mindfulness is the act of focusing one’s attention on the present moment and accepting all thoughts, feelings and sensations. Practicing mindfulness has many benefits such as improved focus and emotional regulation, as well as decreased stress levels. This is something that I have recently incorporated into my own life and I feel that it would be an extremely effective classroom management strategy. Some examples of mindfulness exercises that can be easily integrated into any classroom are breathing exercises or body scans. These can be done in as little as a minute meaning that they can be used effortlessly as part of a routine or when they become necessary.

Mindfulness practices have grown in popularity in recent years and some schools have even used it to replace detention. When students break the rules, rather than being punished, they are asked to go to a designated mindfulness area and take a moment to calm down using strategies that they have learned in the classroom. Schools that have made this change have experienced an increase in attendance and a decrease in suspensions. Through this inquiry I hope to find strategies for integrating mindfulness practices into the classroom and using them in a way that will be most effective as a  classroom management tool.


Tarantino, Hadley. “Mindfulness in the Classroom.” Inpathy Bulletin, Inpathy, 27 Apr. 2017,

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Looking forward to attending this workshop with my colleague Lindsy Friendship! We are ready to learn and grow, and bring back some strategies and ideas to implement and share!

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Grand Conversations Part A – Book Overview, Group Discussion, and Choosing the “Right” Books.


Disclaimer: This post is largely focused on the mechanics of literature circles with tools and activities to generate quality discussion. The theories and the “why are these methods effective” are located in a different posting. There is SO much information that without a clear focus, these posts become larger essays and I know you are itching to skip to the conclusive last paragraph. Spoiler: Dumbledore dies—and you can probably get away with reading the intro and closing.

There are many exciting works that capture the hearts of readers—Harry Potter, online memes, and the greatest work of non-fiction to date, Faye Brownlie’s Grand Conversations – A Unique Approach to Literature Circles. I am still a noobie in the world of literature circles, but my greatest wish, nay, academic craving is to one day facilitate a literature circle program. Shoot for the moon and you will land among the stars, or at the very least  accrued academic debt and the ability to conceptualize literature circles. Okay, let’s get on track—this work is arguably the standard for literature circles and has been utilized by people all over the world. There are too many videos count (I only have my fingers and toes to help me count with) on youtube and online sources that use Fay Brownlie’s methods and or extend them or personalize them.


Literature Circles are broken down into these key components:

  • There are collections of books made available for students.
  • ~ 6 different titles with 5-7 copies made available (for a class of 30–obviously scaled differently for our classroom composition)
  • Titles need to be appropriate reading level and something students want to read.
  • Students meet in discussion groups twice a week to talk about the book chosen. The teacher joins the discussion-student led. Students can tease but do ruin surprises for what they know will happen in story. Students will be at different parts of the books
  • After completing books, students choose another book and join another group for that book.
  • Two or 3 times a week students respond in journal to the book they are reading. Journal entries require additional effort and skill and students become better versed in their journalling.
  •  Every 2 weeks all students complete a comprehension activity based on the novel they have completed reading
  • 75-95 minutes are most effective for group discussions

Here is an example of how to set students up for success as active participants in literature circle discussion.

The Say Something strategy: Building Group Discussion

Why: Literature circles require cooperation, openness/safety, and a foundational set of rules to garner respect amongst the group. The goal is to generate conversation—like an adult book club. I think most people have felt unsure whether they should share their opinion or doubt their understanding and feel embarrassed—whatever the reason, this is one way to address this as a class.

This is paraphrased from the book. A teacher will acquire a poem and share it on the overhead—a student will read the poem outlaid and the class will read silently. Students will share their connections, thoughts and feelings they had—this class whip around is key. The teachers makes the kind of response they are looking for clear for each student such as big ideas, personal connections, or what the student wonders about. This activity is meant to highlight how everyone thinkings and interprets information differently and enriches everyones learning though various perspectives. This activity can be extended and practiced using additional poems. While this approach starts very structured, it acts as a guide before students start to feel more comfortable and feel the desire to share aspects they found interesting, challenging or what have you.

This resource and all other resources I have read agree that an effective discussion includes:

  • All voices are heard
  • All students must feel included
  • All students must have their ideas respected
  • The discussion should move us to new understandings.

Choosing the Right Books

The books are a vehicle that are going generate hours of discussion for your students, but  literature circles are not implemented right away. It is suggested that literature circle do not start until around halfway though the academic year in order to discover student interests and be able to gauge books that will be appropriate for the various levels in the classroom.

When preparation is laid out, deliver the book options with energy, enthusiasm and curiosity! Give brief overviews, read passage that showcase writing style—the goal it to expose students to different options that they can connect with and enjoy when they work on their own.

Additional details to include:

Page count should be stated, and remind students that book groups are fluid—picking books based on friend groups will be ineffective for individual learning, the groups will change as students finish at varying rates. It is also to be mindful of how easier novels are presented—put the ownership like “for students that feel they are busy with soccer, eating dirt,” etc. Create backup plans for students who pick books that are not a good fit and keep some in store and present them to students that shows you understand what topics they are interested in.

This chapter shares so many ideas and I want to share them all, but that will be far more plagiarism than reporting. Once again, these ideas are not my own, my name is not Faye Brownlie and these are her ideas, not Robert Michael McMullen’s.

Chapter 2  finishes by recommending a poster is created with every students name on it and what book they are reading/have finished. It also acts as a visual and cues the teacher who needs more support

Final thoughts:

This is a skill that has so many moving parts—it requires a lot of setup but turns into an activity that students look forward to. I will try to improve my reporting from this book but the thing is, every page has gold on it. My overall recommendation is to stop reading this (you probably did) and pick up Faye Brownlie’s book.

The next post will focus on running a discussion group and the roles of the student and the teacher. It will be shorter.

Sloppy summary: Invest time picking the “right” books for your class. Get to know your learners, create an environment for sharing and be excited about the books your are sharing—this will energize and motivate students.

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Lit Circles: The Beginning Steps of my Inquiry

For my inquiry I am going to look at Literature Circles and how to implement them effectively in the classroom. I was watching some videos on Youtube and these two are good intro videos for getting an idea of how to start approaching lit circles.  Most Literature circle groups have 4-6 members.


The teacher in the first video stresses the importance of setting up the structure for the lit circles. She does this with lots of modelling for the students on how to conduct the roles within the groups. I really think the critical component of this teachers model is that on day 2 and 3 of lit circles, she meets with all the students of a particular role and helps them prepare them for that role. She appeared to give them a sheet with prompts to help keep the discussions going when it was time to meet in groups. Without the students fully understanding their roles and being able to contribute the application of lit circles would not be successful.


The whole class is reading the same book which is easier when introducing Lit Circles to a class for the first time. It allows for the teacher to  make sure that all the students are able to refine their skills so they can contribute the key points of the book. The goal is to work towards having the students capable enough where each group can do a different book.



This video defined 5 roles that people can use for Lit circles. Each person has two mins to talk about their component of the story and engage the other members in the group.

Summarizer: This person summarizes the key points in the chapter and reminds the group of some information that could have been missed.

Visualizer: This person picks the best setting from the chapter and recreates it for the group. The visualizer is encouraged to pick lines from the text that support their visualization.

Inferencer: One of the tougher roles, the inferencer is trying to decipher the characters and determine who they are as people. This role focuses on the relationships and interactions between characters in the text.

Symbolizer: This role looks at the big idea or theme of the chapter and tries to make connections from within the story. Also, the symbolizer can make real-world connections to the book.

Word Detective: This person’s role is to find uncommon/tricky words within the chapter. Then they are to try and create their own definition using clues from within the book as well as outside sources.


The teacher in this video suggests changing the roles between chapters so each student can try and use a different perspective when reading the novel/text. He also acknowledged that it can be a slow initially. If there is a commitment by both the students and the teacher, lit circles can grow into a valuable strategy where the students growth is empowering.


These two videos were a good start for my inquiry project. I now have an idea of what lit circles look like in a classroom. Working this method into the routine is critical as well as modeled and well defined roles. Over time lit circles can help students lead their own learning and they can grow their confidence and enjoyment of reading. I look forward to my next steps in my learning.

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