Andrew Bieronski taught high school English for about 10 years before becoming the technology-enabled learning and teaching consultant for the Waterloo Region District School Board. In this role, Andrew combines his teaching experience and technical expertise to support K–12 educators in leveraging technology for pedagogy and assessment purposes in their classrooms.
D2L: Thanks for joining us at Fusion, Andrew. Can you tell us your favorite Brightspace tip or trick?
AB: The one I love to talk about is a relatively new tool called Mastery View. It’s a new, different way of looking at assessment. So, looking at grading by standards and expectations, and more on levels and looking holistically at evidence of learning across a variety of ways a student is showing their learning in a variety of tools in Brightspace.
D2L: Why did you choose this tip? What were you trying to solve for?
AB: It’s right in the term, that idea of mastery. How do we look at progress from students over time? How do we look at treating things? Basically, for me, and I think for a lot of educators, if the student knows something, that’s our ideal—to capture it. They may not show it on a test well, or they may not be the best oral communicator or they may not be the best writer, but that might be the hindrance to their understanding, to explaining themselves or showing their learning. Mastery just gives them multiple opportunities to show their learning in different ways, and for teachers to aggregate all that data and look at it quickly and intuitively.
D2L: Can you show us what it looks like?
AB: Here I am on my Mastery View page. I can see my students off to the left and here are my standards and expectations across the top. I can import these from the D2L standards achievement network, or just create my own custom ones to use for my class. On this page, I get a really quick overview of how my class is performing and how students are performing on these standards or expectations.
This is really cool. I’m looking at “listening in order to understand and respond” skill for my students. I can see half my class is working in level three here, a quarter’s working at level two but I’ve got another quarter in that level one area. So, there’s my small-group instruction, and I need to go and follow up with those kids and work with them.
I get this holistic view overall, but I can dive down into a specific level too. I click in here, the reading strand for me as an English teacher: “reading to understand a variety of texts.” I’m looking at that skill. And when I go into this view for a specific student, I can look at their progress over time. And this is pulling from the assignments tool, from the portfolio tool, from discussions, from quizzes. It’s pulling all that information I’ve seen for the student into one spot and visualizing it here for me. So, I can look at this colorful bar graph, look at their progress over time, decide on what level I think they’re at, give the student some feedback and track that progress for them, and see where that evidence of learning came from for them.
I think this is really powerful and a great new way for teachers to go with assessment.
D2L: Fantastic. Can you describe the impact of using this in a classroom?
AB: Yeah. I come from an Ontario context. We’re really big on the idea of triangulation of assessments. We’ve got our products, which would be your traditional test, lab, essay, but we focus on observations and conversations. Documenting what learning we’re seeing from students in the moment in different ways. It’s really hard for educators to gather all that data and do something intelligently with it. Mastery View brings that all together and gives you this nice key visualization to look at that student’s progress and next steps.
D2L: Do you have any advice for educators looking to implement this in their own practice?
AB: It’s a philosophical shift. You can still use the traditional grade book and grades tool in Brightspace and have your percentages, numbers … whatever you like there. But this is a nice transitionary tool. Use both alongside each other, and you might find you get to a point where you feel good about ditching the traditional grade book and focusing on this idea of mastery.
Interested in learning more about how Brightspace can benefit your classroom?
Karen Karnis has a BA in sociology from the University of Guelph. She has worked in social services, higher education, communications and journalism. Karen is currently working toward a Master of Education in Sustainability, Creativity and Innovation through Cape Breton University.
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