2015 Conference Highlights

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The Second Annual CAfLN Conference

CAfLN held its second annual conference at the Coast Bastion Hotel in beautiful Nanaimo, British Columbia on April 10-11. The conference began on Friday evening with a series of short plenary sessions, followed by a wine and cheese reception. The CAfLN team would like to say a huge “Thank-you!” to Paige Fisher and the conference committee for creating a unique and engaging format and agenda.
The evening began with a wonderful group of young drummers and shawl dancers from Bayview Elementary School In Nanaimo. Ken O’Connor, Lorna Earl, and Damian Cooper, then welcomed everyone and after providing a brief review of CAfLN’s origins, challenged delegates to consider the question, “What does it mean to communicate for learning?”
Laura Tait, Director of Instruction for The Nanaimo/Ladysmith School District then set the tone for the conference by establishing the BC context with respect to assessment. She was followed by Linda Kaser who spoke about the ways that BC has been moving AFL forward through networked professional learning.
The wine and cheese was well-attended and local delegates were able to chat with CAfLN members from other parts of Canada.
On Saturday morning, the CAfLN Team was thrilled to see the ballroom at The Coast Bastion Hotel full with almost 100 delegates. The format for this years’ conference included three short keynote sessions, followed by opportunities for discussion of the issues raised in smaller groups. In the afternoon students’ voices were heard followed by a “Fishbowl” session with delegates representative of our growing network. After opening remarks from conference MC, Candice Morgan, Bibi Imre-Millei brought many to tears as she performed a spoken word piece she composed on the topic of the residential school system and the impact of colonialism on First Nations peoples.

The morning keynote sessions began with Jan Unwin from the BC Ministry of Education & Advanced Education who spoke with great passion about new curriculum, competencies & graduation requirements in the context of communicating about learning through assessment. She was followed by Shannon Hagen from School District 72, Campbell River, who used an excellent blend of oral and visual elements to describe her district’s innovative reporting and ePortfolio processes. The third keynote featured Jaki Braidwood, from Comox Valley School District, who described her work in valuing student voice as a critical element in the assessment process. Again, kudos to the conference committee for inviting speakers who addressed the provincial, district, and school perspectives on assessment for learning.
After a refreshment break, delegates were invited to participate in two table sessions of their choosing where brief presentations were made about a wide variety of topics related to assessment. These sessions were facilitated by classroom teachers from a variety of districts in BC, school administrators, university professors, an author and publisher of new technology to aid in communicating learning as well as a representative from DASH BC.
After lunch, it was the students’ turn. We first experienced a three-way conference featuring Kindergarten student Elijah Tait, his mother, Laura Tait, and his teacher, Liz McCaw. Then we heard from four articulate and engaging students - Natasha Stefanie (Gr. 12), Kate Thomas (Gr. 12), Ryan Clarke & Emily Duff (Gr. 8) who recounted some of their assessment experiences. Their stories were both amusing and heart-rending.
The “Fishbowl” saw a number of delegates sit in a circle and respond to key issues that had emerged during the conference while everyone else listened in on the conversation. You had to be there to experience the passion and commitment expressed by all who spoke!
Ken, Lorna, and Damian brought this year’s conference to a close by reflecting on the highlights and looking forward to next spring’s event to be hosted by The Faculty of Education, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. We are delighted that Chris DeLuca is chairing the 2016 conference committee.

Featured Highlights


Liz McKaw - School District 68 - Writing Conference in Kindergarten

Liz McKaw - Writing Conference in Kindergarten - PowerPoint Presentation

Jan Unwin - BC Assessment - Aligning What We DO With What We KNOW About Learning

JanUnwinBCAssessment - PowerPoint Presentation

Shannon Hagen - School Division 72 - Innovative Learning Portfolios

Shannon Hagen - School District 72, Campbell River, BC - Innovative Learning Portfolios

Jaki Braidwood - Comox Valley School District

Lynn Brown - Terrill Macdonald interviews two students about their high school experiences with Assessment