Making Learning and Thinking Visible - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Making Learning and Thinking Visible

Posted on September 16, 2017

by Dr. Edna Hussey on September 16, 2017

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During all Open Houses at the preschool and elementary, faculty introduced the schoolʻs Learner Profile as the set of expectations we have for all students, preschool through high school. We began with asking parents what they hoped their children would be like as adults then connected parent expectations with the Learner Profile. No surprises here. Parents and teachers share the same expectations for every child -- to be able to enjoy the journey of learning, to care for and respect the environment and community, to be open to learning opportunities, to be independent and happy individuals, to make a difference in the community. High expectations that extend beyond the classroom, but we believe attainable over time. The experiences in a school culture help students develop the skills, dispositions, and attitudes for their adult lives.

We want to ensure that our students understand the Learner Profile that will be used to help them self-assess their learning and reflect on how well they are and act upon these learner traits. Beyond just placing the posters in classrooms, teachers help students understand how these traits are developed in the day-to-day learning. Just take a look at how one classroom of third and fourth graders discussed the Learner Profile and discussed what each expectation means and evidence of it.



To go further, elementary students will be using the Learner Profile as the framework for their progress (learning) portfolios. In previous years, students have selected work that best represents themselves as inquirers, readers, writers, mathematicians, and also in art, physical education, music, and character education. The faculty and I have been thinking that while compartmentalizing learning by content/subject is expedient, the process conveys the message that the learning they experience throughout the day is not connected and has value only within the subject. Not the message about learning we want to convey!

Thereʻs already quite a bit of integration across content. Reading and writing skills are necessary in every content area. For example, the act of reading, taken broadly, requires the reader to make sense of a "text" (e.g., a piece of writing using letters, a photograph, a drawing, video, a performance, an action, a setting) by decoding (breaking about the elements of the text) and encoding (drawing connections between the text and oneʻs own experience). So to ask a student to find examples of himself as a reader would go beyond reading a book, yes? This complexity and sophistication about learning is what we want our students to be aware of.

What we intend then is to have students reflect often about their learning using the Learner Profile, crossing the boundaries of subject/content and taking into account learning skills applied in different content areas. The educational term for this process is "metacognition" or thinking about how one thinks. The faculty and I will be spending more time discussing the new Google format, which you should be able to access more readily. (Studentsʻ previous Evernote portfolios will still exist. However, weʻll take a look at how to archive the Evernote portfolios so this great documentation of your childʻs learning progress is saved.)

Weʻre excited about this development in our assessment system because it makes possible our efforts to make learning and thinking visible.

E Kūlia Kākou! Letʻs strive and aspire together.

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.