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Isobel Williams

"I" questions

Posted by Isobel Williams Nov 12, 2019

I was working with a teacher recently in a 7-10 school. He said he had changed the way he wrote in Canvas for the students and he felt this had had a big impact on the way the students interacted with the content.  He had framed the content around "I" questions.

  • What am I leaning?
  • What am I doing?
  • How will I show my understanding?
  • What will I do next?
  • What can I link my learning to?
  • What do I need to know?

I think this way of presenting content to students has the potential to increase engagement through enabling them to understand what they are meant to be doing on a particular page (Learning intentions)  and letting them know what is needed for success. 

I have put together a unit of work and I found writing the content in "I" statements changed the focus of my writing from a general whole class style to a much more personal style - where I was using the voice of the individual student.  It made me think much more about what I was writing! 

"What am I doing?

I am watching this video and I am writing 5 main points about biodiversity"


instead of


Students will watch this video

Students will write 5 main points and answer the questions here

(This is what I see teachers new to Canvas writing)


What do others think about this approach?  Is it a good idea?  Will students be more engaged? Does it talk down to students?  



Data Driven Decision Making


Some days I’m for it, some days I’m not. What I do know is that I am not for banking the decision of labeling a teacher good vs bad based on one assessment platform. High stakes testing leads to high level stress for everyone.


But we live in a world where data collection is becoming more and more sophisticated. As an educator intrigued by artificial intelligence, I geeked out this week when asked if I would be willing to take part in a project my doctor was doing to have AI look for cancer when doing a colonoscopy. Yes, I want to be a part. No, I never want a machine being the only one deciding if my polyps are actually cancer but I love the ideas of a second set of “eyes.”


Today, due to technologies, we have the opportunity to assess and get immediate feedback in a faster way than ever before. We also have a better understanding of how individuals learn. This allows us to create new assessments to meet the needs of more students. This supports community vision by creating measurable goals. It allows the right players to be on the field to support student success. Today’s ability to access more quickly and formatively helps teachers become better teachers and students to understand what they don’t know- relevant information for everyone.


How are you using today’s technologies to:

  • Give more feedback
  • Allow students to have clear goals
  • Pay attention to individual needs
  • Review data to make decisions

While studying for the CoSN CETL exam, I’ve really found myself digging deeper into what we do with the data we collect, as well as asking myself if we are truly collecting the right data. I find myself questioning everything I’ve always thought. This statement that I found in my CoSN study course keeps haunting me and begging me to be dealt with: “[the] path to learning doesn’t have to be static or linear. One of the critical success factors identified for effectively using data at the classroom level was the importance of having teachers collaborate to review data and make decisions.”


What do I do with that thought? What platforms are we using that allow good data to be mined and are we using them to our students’ advantage? Teachers have spent hours and hours grading but what if we flipped that to be spent on short assessments that allowed teachers to focus on the data to adjust instruction that leads to mastery? What if teachers looked deeper at their assessments inside Canvas LMS (quiz analytics) and really poured wisdom and discernment over the “Student Analysis” and “Item Analysis” sections. What might that mean for our sense of purpose and for our students sense of success?


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