The Ottawa Carleton District School Board’s “Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement” (BIPSA) includes a key strategy focused on creative, innovative, and critical thinking and problem-solving. During a fall session of our leadership PLCs, we explored the question, “What does effective instruction look like, feel like and sound like for all students in our classrooms?” five strategies surfaced in our answers again and again:
- The TASK engages learners.
- FEEDBACK guides learners.
- CRITERIA informs learners.
- MODERATION supports learners.
- DIFFERENTIATION invites learners.
Underlying these “Big Five” strategies were 3 key elements:
- engagement of students, staff and parents/guardians
- relationships as a community of learners
- happiness/joy of learning
It is through working together to improve learning that we develop our relationships and it is those relationships that bind us together in our commitment to all learners.
Lead Learner Series
The effective change leader actively participates as a learner in helping the organization improve
– Michael Fullan (Change Leader: Learning to do what matters most)
Later this month, administrative teams from all elementary schools across the District will participate in sessions with Garfield Gini-Newman, Senior Lecturer at OISE/UT and Senior National Consultant with The Critical Thinking Consortium. The specific focus for these sessions will be on the “TASK”. We will be exploring how to craft learning tasks that do the following:
- focus on the big ideas and enduring understandings of The Ontario Curriculum
- inspire open-ended inquiry that reflects authentic, relevant and meaningful contexts
- promote creativity, innovation, critical thinking and problem-solving.
The “Lead Learner” series will continue with subsequent learning opportunities for administrators across the District to explore the Big 5 strategies. The series is aimed at developing capacity within our school leaders, while providing opportunities for us to learn together, thus building our District’s “social capital”. Capacity building, teamwork, instruction and systemic strategies are the four drivers identified as most successful in whole system reform efforts, according to Michael Fullan in his paper, “Choosing the Wrong Drivers for Whole System Reform“. Given that the Lead Learner series is based on all of the “right” drivers, it should be an effective process. I will be sharing reflections as I participate in the process and I invite you to join the conversation around the “Big 5″, beginning with the TASK. What does an engaging task look like?