I first heard Damian Cooper speak several years ago at a four-day assessment summit (one of those Solution Tree productions).

That event came at a good time in my professional development because I was starting to question the evaluation methods I had picked-up along the way. I hadn’t properly considered why I marked the way I did, or assigned the work I did. It was just what I saw teachers doing during my practicum placements and early teaching experiences, and it matched-up with what I remembered from when I was a high school student. I’ve learned a lot about assessment since my pre-service days, and Cooper’s talk yesterday acted as a mental checklist for me in terms of how much my own practice is changing as I work with new students and abilities each year.

Yesterday, Cooper also talked about how to incorporate various approaches and strategies into our mixed ability classes. He prefers the term “responsive” rather than “differentiated” and noted that differentiation shouldn’t undermine the integrity of the assignment. (Using a common rubric for the choices will help ensure that learning goals are being met.) He also talked about scheduling mini-lessons with targeted groups of students, while the rest of the class is working. Levelled checklists are another tool his students have used, to ensure work is ready to submit for final assessment. He progresses students through various levels of checklists, if necessary.

After his talk, the one big thing on my to-do list for this year is to provide time for students to process and use the feedback they receive from myself and peers. I’ll have a chance to do that in the upcoming week, since I just had some of my classes do peer feedback last week.