Task Design and Assessment ideas from Sharon Friesen and Galileo Centre, Univ of Calgary


This past school year, I had the good fortune of joining in on the Area 2 Learning Leader meetings facilitated by the Galileo Centre from the University of Calgary.  Sharon Friesen along with her colleagues have developed ideas that have been embraced by the Calgary Board of Education as ways to increase personalization of learning, academic success, personal development, citizenship, and lifelong learning.  Friesen, @sfriesen who is the Author of ‘What Did You Do in School Today: Teacher Effectiveness: A Framework and Rubric” http://www.cea-ace.ca/publication/what-did-you-do-school-today-teaching-effectiveness-framework-and-rubric has written extensively about instructional design and assessment in our schools.  I had the good fortune of working alongside Sharon when she and Pat Clifford taught together at Banded Peak School in Bragg Creek, AB in the late 1990s.

This blogpost attempts to capture some of the big ideas that come from the rich conversation from Galileo as led by Amy Park, Chenoa Marcotte, and Candice Saar as part of the 2014-15 CBE Area 2 Learning Leader meetings.  Reflection is an important part of learning, and this post is my own reflection on some of the big ideas that come from the conversations with colleagues.

Here are some of the big ideas:

Teaching is an iterative cycle of Teachers as designers of learning; creating worthwhile learning tasks for students; building in assessment for learning; focusing on learning relationships; and improving teaching practice occurs in the company of peers reflecting on evidence of learning.


Teachers as Designers of Learning
– it is important that students are intellectually and academically engaged.
– it is important that intentional design of learning tasks takes place by teachers
– once a learning task has been identified, all the activities, sub tasks students engage in are in service of the larger task
– learning tasks should build off of one another to help students deepen their understandings

Worthwhile Learning Tasks
– Student learning tasks should be worthy of a student’s time and attention
– learning tasks should aim to be personally relevant to students
– learning tasks should be connected to the world in which students live
– design should be focused on building understandings
– design should be informed by disciplinary knowledge
– the work that students undertake should foster deep understandings
– the work that students undertake should be authentic; should identify a discipline or field; identify the steps in the process that someone in their field of work would engage in to come to new understandings/create/invent/problem solve
– learning tasks should identify learning and success criteria
– learning should be scaffolded
– student choice should be embedded in the task but not the task itself

Assessment for Learning
– assessment needs to focus on improving student learning
– assessment should guide a teacher’s decisions and actions about future instruction
– assessment should be ongoing, varied in nature, occur over a period of time, and provide students with multiple opportunities to demonstrate a full range of learning
– assessment should be planned and woven into instruction

Learning Relationships
– teacher student relationships should promote learning
– relationship should create a strong culture of learning

As a process, Friesen’s Teacher Effectiveness Framework aims to create meaningful engaging learning, where each student, each day knows where they are at in their learning, and where they are going, where tasks are authentic and include the rigour of the real work in that field of study, and where teachers create a culture where error is welcomed and a safe space exists where students reside.

Over the coming months, I will be working alongside teachers at a number of schools. We will aim to intentionally employ Friesen’s Framework to advance learning in physical education and environmental/outdoor education. This work will also aim to embed evidence based best practice ideas from John Hattie’s Visible Learning research. I am excited about the work and the potential for a broad impact across our school division.



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