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CCE staff and partner reflections on our collaborative work to create schools where learning is engaging and rewarding, and every student is set up for success.

The Building Blocks for New Learning

One way that I like to engage learners in reflection is through lateral thinking. It’s a great way to step away from new learning and look at it in a fresh light. One of the new manipulatives I have been using in my work is a set of wooden baby blocks. They are varied, colorful shapes, and some have graphics painted on them. After a group of educators has done quite a lot of new learning, I push them a little further by asking them to take a block and explain how it represents how they are feeling about their new knowledge. Below are some highlights of the reflections shared by educators from my work this past fall in Quality Performance Assessment.

QPA Blocks
  • “The cycle of planning, growth and reflection is never ending." (cylinder block)
  • “I feel that the ‘heart’ represents what needs to be put in to a QPA by both the student and the teacher.” (block with heart)
  • “My block represents how I am feeling because I feel empowered to create QPA’s for students to show their star power and shine to their highest potential.” (block with stars)
  • “Ideas are stretching my mind to be more creative and think outside the rectangular box.” (block with swirls)
  • “Performance Assessments need both structure and flexibility to be effective. The flat sides of my block represent the structure and stability, and the round part represents flexibility to roll.” (cylinder)
  • “Our QPA work is a continuous cycle.” (cylinder)
  • “A circle never ends...just like learning never ends. It also represents how assessment is continuous...there is no end.” (cylinder)
  • “The stairs on my block show that this is a growth process which takes work to reach the next level.” (block with stairs)
  • “This block reflects how I love learning and sharing ideas with other educators.” (block with heart)
  • “The cube represents the many sides of assessment and the many points of entry there are to the planning process. It also represents my feeling that this planning is pushing me to think outside the box.” (cube)

Don’t have blocks? No problem; there are other ways to engage learners in this kind of thinking. If I’m in a library, I ask learners to find a book title that is their answer to a reflective question. I’ve used old postcards with interesting pictures, art work on the walls, random pages in books and I even use store flyers on their way to the recycle bin. This type of thinking is fun, gets learners to reflect differently, and helps a facilitator guide learners to the next steps on their performance assessment journey.