Presentations (content)

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The new book is out!

Myron Dueck Educational Consulting 

Biography, Keynotes & Session Descriptions (2018)


Keynote Descriptions

 Regular Session Descriptors

 Full Day Workshops – Detailed

 Speaking Topics list

Please note that session and keynote presentations can be modified and adapted to meet the needs of any group. Although every presentation is made to conform to each individual event, significant changes do require advance notice.


Over the past 22 years, Myron has gained teaching and administrative experience in both Canada and New Zealand in subjects ranging from grades 4 to 12.  Beginning in 2006, Myron developed a number of grading, assessment and reporting systems with his classes in which students have greater opportunity to show what they understand, adapt to the feedback they receive and play a significant role in the reporting of that learning.  Myron has been a part of administrative teams, district groups, school committees and governmental bodies that have further broadened his access to innovative ideas.  Myron has shared his stories, tools and first-hand experiences with public, charter and international school educators around the world, and recently his presentations have diverged to include global education trends and broader socio-economic realities that impact learning.

Myron has been published in numerous educational magazines, and his best-selling book, Grading Smarter, Not Harder– Assessment Strategies that Motivate Kids and Help Them Learn was released by ASCD in July 2014. In 2015 ASCD released a video project based in his own school district entitled ‘Smarter Assessment in the Secondary Classroom’. In 2019, ASCD released the first of a three-part online streaming series entitled ‘Ask Them’, hosted by Myron, looking at how we include students in assessment. The series includes John Hattie, Lorin Anderson, Celeste Kidd and more. 

In January of 2021, ASCD released Myron’s second book, Giving Students A Say – Smarter Assessment Practices to Empower and Engage.

Myron lives in Summerland, BC, Canada with his family and is Vice-Principal for Assessment and Innovation in his local school district – Okanagan-Skaha 67.


(All keynotes can be adapted to fit into a 60-120 minute delivery time)

What Educators Might Learn from Advertisers

Novelist Norman Douglas wrote in 1917 that, ‘you can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements’.Whether humorous or dramatic, subtle or loud, obvious or mysterious, by some estimates we encounter somewhere between 300 and 6000 ads each day. A staggering 600 billion dollars are spent annually trying to influence what we purchase, what we think and how we act (O’Reilly & Tennant). 

In this keynote Myron Dueck will suggest that we in schools have something to learn from the Master of Advertising. By using actual ads and digging into the design-thinking behind them, some key themes will be investigated. For instance, we may want to…

  • Provide our students with experiences that are meaningful, rather than an annoying interruption.
  • Be clear on the underlying benefit to this thing called education.
  • Ensure that we create a feeling or culture that supports learning.
  • Spend time and energy creating our own ‘elevator pitch’ for what we do, and why we do it.

The best advertising firms understand that success is born through establishing a feeling, or culture, around a brand. More recently, in light of avenues such as YouTube and Instagram, some suggest that it’s the consumer who defines the product, not the producer. Could the same changes be occurring in our schools? Participate in this keynote to explore why education may want to take a page from advertising’s catalogue. 

Ch-ch-ch-Changes & CONSTRAINT – The Upside of Uncertainty and Restrictions

Perhaps David Bowie sang it best, ‘Times may change me, but I can’t change time.’ We’ve been through some pretty big changes in our collective past, and clearly 2020 is a year like no other in that department. There’s no denying that transformational forces are at play in the global education arena – not least on account of COVID. Unlike the pandemic 1919, our readily accessible digital technology (the biggest change agent since the printing press,) has allowed us to reach across the street, into our homes and around the world… to connect, communicate, learn. Education has mutated as of late, and there may be no going back.

We’re also getting weary of constraints, the daily inability to do things the way ‘we’ve always done them’. Here too we might take a page from a rocker – Mick Jagger. Apparently, the small stages of the Rolling Stones’ early days are to thank for his unique dancing style. Perhaps Jagger epitomizes the adage, ‘creativity loves constraint’.

So as the ground moves beneath our feet, let’s be mindful that changes and constraints can be forces for good. In this keynote, Myron will argue that instruction and assessments that include inquiry, differentiation, exploration and problem solving may prove more effective for an uncertain future.

Failing IS an Option! Space travel, music icons and harnessing the power of ‘desirable difficulties’. 

(Humorous, broad-based, challenging, inspirational, global, learning targets)

Legendary NASA Flight Director, Mr. Gene Kranz, famously declared that ‘Failure Is Not an Option’ while engineering the safe return of the Apollo 13 crew. Though this approach is essential when lives hang in the balance, it may not be the mantra to adopt when designing deeper learning experiences for our students. Recent research suggests that creativity and understanding are the silver lining of struggle. Furthermore, bands like the Beatles, who took great artistic risks, ended up fundamentally changing modern music.  Surprisingly, immediate feedback models and instant performance measurements can actually be misinterpreted as true student understanding, while our own life experiences suggest that difficulty, uncertainty and mistakes provide the canvas for long-term memory. This keynote will make the case that if we want to increase student learning and promote competencies such as critical thinking and problem-solving, we need to embrace modes of inquiry, risk and exploration in which initial failure is certainly an option.

Retool: How we must equip our students to succeed in a world where competencies will rule over content.

(Humorous, broad-based, challenging, inspirational, global education, learning targets)

When content was our focus, we delivered ample amounts of it with specific pedagogy. However, at even a casual glance it’s obvious that the cutting edge of global education has shifted away from the delivery of content towards competencies such as problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity. The global forum rewards the competent learner who has a sliver of innovation over one who has a broad but shallow knowledge base. Given that learning is a dynamic endeavor and there are multiple pathways to achieve it, how we design the context for learning becomes paramount.  As we teach students who will live to see the 22nd century, we should not guess what will be required, but rather help our students develop the tools that have always been necessary for both advancement and survival. ‘Retool’ means to ‘adapt or alter something to make it more useful or suitable’; perhaps this is exactly what we need to do in order to remain relevant.

‘Ask Them’ – Why listening to our students matters.

(Humorous, broad-based, challenging, inspirational, reporting, assessment, relationships)

In this humorous, fast-paced and broadly relevant keynote, Myron will make the case that asking people for input makes all the difference. The Facebook structure is largely based on who ‘likes’ what and Trip Advisor is worth over 2 billion dollars because they ask people to share their opinions. In an era where feedback from the user is considered essential information, how often do we ask students for their opinion on grading, assessment, reporting or relationships? In ‘Ask Them’ Myron Dueck will argue that it is high time we ask students about their opinions and experiences as they relate to learning. By sharing the views of real students, and incorporating some of the tools used to gather evidence of learning, Myron will present the case that students have much to share concerning their understanding and it is time we listened very carefully.

Ch-ch-ch-Changes – Turn and face the strange changes.

(Humorous, broad-based, challenging, forward-looking, global education)

 Perhaps David Bowie sang it best, ‘Times may change me, but I can’t change time.’ There is no denying that transformational forces are at play in the global education arena. The Digital Information Revolution is arguably the biggest change agent since the printing press, so as the ground moves beneath our feet, are we preparing our students for an uncertain future or the one that seemed predictable a decade or four ago? Content is free and readily available, so are we changing our focus to competencies such as communication, creativity and critical thinking? Unfortunately we may still be gearing for the 1980s rather than the 2020s when it comes to our instructional, grading, assessment and reporting procedures. Our students will be heading into the digital and competency-based future with or without us, but thankfully there are signposts that education is adapting. Myron will make a strong argument that instruction and assessments that include inquiry, differentiation, exploration and problem solving may certainly prove effective for an uncertain future.

Mixed Messages – The disconnect between what educators say and do, and how grading & assessment changes can help.

(Humorous, school-based, challenging, introspective, grading, assessment)

 Schools have mission statements and an abundance of rules and policies. What are educators and students to do when the messages embedded in these established doctrines collide with the very practices used in the school? This keynote highlights how mixed messages abound everywhere in our society and that the extent to which our actions contradict our words ranges from the humorous to the disturbing.  Unfortunately it is no different in schools.  From school mission statements to classroom rules and norms, students certainly feel the brunt of mixed messages.  This keynote not only addressed the issue of confusing statements, but participants will also get a few suggestions and hands-on strategies to deal with the most obvious mixed messages surrounding homework, lates and attendance.

“What if…”: Wondering if we really could imagine doing things differently in our classrooms.

(Humorous, school-based, challenging, introspective, grading, assessment)

 Tradition is valued and upheld in many school districts. While educational institutions have much to be proud of and should honor the contributions previous educators, what are we to do when new, and possibly contradictory, ideas and research appear on the horizon? Participants in this session will be challenged to identify the difference between upholding tradition and defending something that is arguably obsolete. What if poses a series of questions such as: What if students could monitor their own progress? What if we only measured personal evidence of learning? What if students could strive for mastery learning? This keynote will challenge educators to think outside the box and to consider the value of a paradigm shift. Thankfully replacement routines will be offered for each question.

Poverty, Pressure and Parents: How grading and assessment decisions can make things better…or worse.  

(Thoughtful, community and school-based, challenging, introspective, grading, assessment)

 Poverty is a reality in countless communities and classrooms across North America., and too often the policies and practices in the classroom further exacerbate the challenges faced by economically disadvantaged students. In an era when schools supply food when it is lacking at home, what do we do with homework policies when students do not have support at home? This is one of many questions that arise when we focus on how grading and assessment routines must be changed to improve the educational outlook for students who live in challenging situations. In this keynote, actual accounts of teachers and students will be used to make the point that grading and assessment routines need to be part of the socio-economic disparity conversation. Many students overcome the hurdles imposed by poverty, and along the way a few changes to traditional grading and assessment structures can help.

 The Value of a Target – How one educator embraced learning targets in his classroom.

(Humorous, school-based, challenging, purposeful, grading, assessment)

 Common Core (CCSS), NGSS, C3, AERO and many other structures of learning outcomes have arrived and with them educators are tasked with re-examining the focus of learning. In this keynote Myron Dueck will discuss the importance of targets, while focusing on the vital role that targets play in learning. If applicable to the location, a short history of the origins of CCSS will be provided so that audience members will have a better understanding of ‘how did we get here?’ Myron will layout how he incorporated CCSS/NGSS/C3-style learning outcomes in into the day-to-day routines of his own classroom. Student responses to learning targets will be presented as well as a selection of projects that resulted from them. Accurate data around the extent to which students have understood the targets is achievable and Myron will highlight his experiences in obtaining results that guide instruction. We create opportunities for creativity and autonomy once it is clear of the direction of the learning. Common targets do NOT equal common teaching, but assessments that link to common targets can certainly equate to better instruction.

Grading Smarter Not Harder… In One Hour

(Purpose-oriented, school-based, informative, grading, assessment)

This keynote is an overview of Myron’s best-selling book, ‘Grading Smarter Not Harder – Assessment strategies that motivate kids and help them learn’. The audience will get a distinct flavor for the tone of the book as well as a good idea for what we could do differently in the areas of grading, unit plans (targets), homework, retesting and creativity. Myron tackles why we need to consider changes to traditional grading and assessment routines, and provides a look at the tools that can help pave the way for effective change. Overall, the importance of building strong relationships is emphasized.

Regular Session Descriptions:

Regular Session Descriptions:

Please note that virtually any of these sessions could be delivered as a keynote. Some might be more appropriate than others for larger audiences, and I would be happy to discuss.

NEW:  Ongoing Assessment (Redos): WHY We Might Consider It, and HOW It Can be Done.

Opening session (WHY):

As we encounter terms such as ‘standards-based’, ‘assessment for learning’ and ‘sound grading practices’, we can get lost in the fog of it all.

In this session Myron Dueck will start with some big ideas and real-world accounts to explore the reality of ‘redos’ and the fact that we as a species learn things better over time. Participants will be challenged to explore their own beliefs and purpose for education. We will also delve into some of the contemporary research around memory, spacial effects in learning and some of the non-traditional approaches currently in place at the university level.

Myron will endeavour to establish a few guiding principles (rather than policy) when considering whether to allow students to demonstrate learning on more than one occasion.

Second session (HOW):

In this breakout we will explore three ways that high school educators in Myron’s district are incorporating ongoing assessment. We will explore ways to support student responsibility and ownership in the ongoing assessment realm. If time permits, we will take questions and explore alternative ways that students can demonstrate understanding.


NEW: Embracing Authentic Learning Experiences: Assessing Students in Multiple Ways

Experts suggest that the ability to create, explore, and innovate will be essential tools for success in our changing world. However, educators might feel uncomfortable with the new because they have come to rely on traditional instructional and assessment methods that seem safe, trusted, and familiar. This module will identify the key pieces of engagement and challenge educators to use them to embrace Authentic Learning Experiences (ALE). Educators will see an array of engaging PBL and assessment ideas used in real classrooms by real teachers, and be challenged to incorporate some version of these tools for themselves and their students. 


NEW:  What Exactly is Feedback, and How Can I Make it Meaningful, Effective and Manageable.

Feedback in educational contexts is information provided to a learner to reduce the gap between current performance and a desired goal (Sadler, 1989).  Furthermore, feedback is not only reserved for students. John Hattie suggests that student achievement is a powerful feedback tool for teacher effectiveness. Our grading and assessment decisions will have a massive impact on the quality and nature of feedback. This session first delves into defining feedback and the most important elements of it. Then we will examine assessment strategies (student conferencing, ongoing assessment, homework ideas and more) that reflect these elements and model effective feedback tools.

NEW:  Shared Ownership – Welcoming students as partners in the assessment conversation.

In their NYT bestseller, ‘Extreme Ownership’ (2015), former Navy SEALs Willink and Babin describe the necessity of ‘Decentralized Command’: that ‘every tactical-level team member must understand not just what to do, but why they are doing it’. If this principle is true for SEAL team members, it likely applies to learning environments and our students. Research suggests that how we engineer our assessment strategies impacts the perceptions students have of fairness, equity and accessibility. This session will focus on ways that we can invite students into the assessment realm as co-pilots rather than disinterested passengers. Key topics will include:

  • Sharing and co-creating learning targets based on standards.
  • Helping students understand and use performance assessments (rubrics).
  • Considering the right scale: proficiency scales vs 100 categories
  • Student self-reporting – on academics, behaviors & personal insights.


Assessment Tools and Structures that Honour land, Language and Culture

Land, Language and Culture have been central to First Nations Peoples for as long as oral traditions have existed. By contrast, many of our schools have been characterized by teachers doing the talking, while students sit quietly in rows, enclosed by brick-and-mortar walls. Teachers who grew up in one system may find it hard, and a little scary, to venture outside – literally and figuratively. This session will explore a variety of learning activities, and assessments to match, that fling the door open to exploring the land, listening to each other and valuing diversity. Resources and templates highlighted in this presentation will be provided to all participants and many can ‘be used on Monday’! Our students want to be curious and they have a voice – they just need systems that support authentic learning.


Help me! Structures, Tools and Support for a COVID-19 Return.

In what seemed like an instant, COVID-19 resulted in our students and teachers stepping out of our schools and into a new world – literally. We suddenly needed to adapt to remote learning situations, to define essential outcomes and connect virtually, digitally, distanced.

We will undoubtedly be learning a few things through this experience. Some of our epiphanies have involved innovative instructional, grading and assessment practices. Appropriate digital literacy skills were brought into sharp focus, and we’re again reminded that relationships are central to all that we do. Now we’re looking at a return that also appears a little murky. What we’ve learned will undoubtedly shift our landscape to some extent when we do return to a ‘new normal’. This single or multi-day PD opportunity will involve a positive and hopeful conversation around rethinking a few things before and during a shake-up. 

Key learning outcomes include:

·      Examining the language we use in grading, and how it can support the teaching of contemporary standards in remote learning environments.

·      Exploring the learning tools we use such as rubrics and their importance in sharing success criteria with our students.

·      Questioning the definition of digital literacy and examining ways we can assist our students in developing appropriate and timely skills for digital interaction.

·      Considering shifts to standards-based instruction and assessment that have proven effective in the remote learning realities of the COVID era.

·      Leveraging the importance of home and community relationships in our delivery of curriculum.

·      Sharing asynchronous project-based learning templates and other directions.

·      Sharing ideas of how we can use and manage homework during COVID.

·      Exploring how to support SEL initiatives to address students who’ve been away from school for longer than ever before and the associated pressures.

Resiliency – What it is, Why It Matters, And How We Can Foster It In Our Classrooms.

Resiliency has been described in many ways. To pick one’s self up after falling down, to be like ‘Gumby’ – the green rubber fictional character that literally bounces back from every setback, or to bend like a willow but not break. The American Psychological Association defines ‘resilience’ in part as the ‘process of adapting well in the face of adversity.’ In health, sport and business, some cite resilience as the number one predictor of success or failure. Research suggests we can increase our levels of resilience by the mental and physical habits we adopt and practice. A resilient person does not avoid stress, but rather learns to tame and master it. If this is true, what are some ways that we can foster resilience by the design of our classroom systems and routines? How can our assessment routines be built through an SEL lens? In this session we will explore a variety of ways that we can help students re-frame difficulty, talk more openly about temporary struggles, and learn from setbacks. Join this session to explore topics including sharing circles, strength-based language, desirable difficulties and more.


Standards Based Grading 101 and Tools That Support It.

Standards Based Grading (SBG) is a hot topic and shifting to this approach  is long overdue. To some educators it is either a new concept or one that is conceptually understood, but hard to incorporate into a traditional grading framework. In this session, Myron will question how grades could be based on anything but the standards. Subsequently, if educators are asked to grade and report on the extent to which students have met the outcomes, what are teachers to do if they believe that a student understands the material, but struggles with lates, homework and handing in assignments? In this session participants will dive into the topic of grades and look at alternatives that are being used to address these concerns.

Standards-Based Grading: Misconceptions, Questions and Benefits. 

*This session is ideally set in a 2-3 hour slot, but it can be 75-90 min.

Unless you’ve been residing under a rock, ‘Standards-Based Grading’ is a term that’s been thrown around a lot in educational circles. Despite its proliferation, there is evidence to suggest that not everyone is on the same page as to what ‘Standards-Based Grading’ actually is. In this session, we will start with defining the key terms and move towards practical applications as we address these questions:

  • What is a standard, and why are they changing around the world?
  • How do knowledge and cognitive levels intersect in a standard?
  • Why must we separate academic and behavioral reporting?
  • How do we design grading systems that are standards-based?
  • How are the use of zeros, grading scales, averaging and percentages impacted by a move to SBG?
  • How might we re-think our approaches to homework?

Memory, Knowledge and Cognition: Developing the Language of Learning. 

‘21stCentury Skills’, Global Competencies, whatever you call them… it’s clear that there are enduring abilities that have stood the test of time. Problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication are some of the most prominent skills that have always been important, and ones our students must obtain as they prepare for a changing, global landscape. While we may have compartmentalized these skills in the past, leaving ‘creativity’ up to the Arts, and ‘problem solving’ to the Math Department, research suggests that humans must learn skills in the contexts in which they will use them. Translation: developing student competencies is everyone’s responsibility. In this session we will explore decades of research on memory and explore ways in which we can frame the language of learning – namely the verbs. Participants are encouraged to bring a unit plan, course exam or a device to access their own school documents for a self-audit. How deep is the learning experience for my students, teachers or school community? – Attend this session to find out! 

 What do you want: Performance or Learning? Exploring ‘Desirable Difficulties’, Productive Failure and Memory Retrieval.

The research is in: we learn in more profound ways when we encounter struggle, difficulty and resistance. Can you think of a learning experience that was profound because you faced difficulty? Of course you can – we all have them. Unfortunately educators have come to value students ‘getting it right’ over truly learning from their experiences. We structure our educational environments to make us believe that learning is taking place, when in reality it’s actually performance. Some long-held beliefs such as the value of immediate feedback and the efficiency of direct instruction are being questioned as brain research continues to shed light on how we remember, retrieve and learn. In this interactive session, we will explore research, conduct an activity and look at examples of how we shift our environments to ones that support the messiness of deeper learning over the polish of performance.

From Purpose to Practice – Building An Effective Assessment Plan

 Thanks to research and practice by many in the education field, there are fantastic tools that aid teachers in assessing more accurately, effectively and fairly. How to pick and choose which tools to use might be determined by the purpose of the assessment and the overall plan of which it is a part. In this session Myron will lay out what elements make up an effective assessment plan, start to finish, that includes the following:

  • Purpose of grading and reporting – how having a clear sense of why we would do something will pave the way to figuring out how.
  • Targets and rubrics: how clear learning objectives, and the path to meeting them, can improve the educational experience for everyone.
  • Student-monitored retesting systems: how students can keep track of their grades and have input and increased ownership over a variety of re-assessment models.
  • Self-reporting: how students could make more sense of grades and be able to explain the details of their learning experience to those inside and outside the classroom.
  • Grades: how changing some of the traditional rules around zeros, lates and homework can uphold the assessment data and increase student responsibility.

Standards Based Grading 101

 Standards Based Grading (SBG) is a hot topic and one that is long overdue. To some educators it is either a new concept or one that is conceptually understood, but hard to incorporate into a traditional grading framework. In this session, Myron will question how grades could be based on anything but the standards. Subsequently, if educators are asked to grade and report on the extent to which students have met the outcomes, what are teachers to do if they believe that a student understands the material, but struggles with lates, homework and handing in assignments? In this session participants will dive into the topic of grades and look at alternatives that are being used to address these concerns.

What Are We Supposed to do About Homework?

Homework can be an effective tool to increase student learning, but it can just as easily be detrimental, misleading and unjust if administered poorly. Many teachers grade piles of homework despite not knowing who did it. Further complicating the issue is that some students have immense supports at home and others have no home at all. We need to establish the purpose for homework and then build support structures that address plagiarism, personalized learning needs and socio-economic inequality. Homework can be effective within a standards-based grading model, but a critical look at our systems is long overdue. Thankfully this session will tackle real-life examples of replacement routines that transform the teacher from adversary to advocate in the homework dialogue.

Implementing Innovative and Effective Assessment Strategies at the Secondary Level

How can teachers implement effective assessment strategies that fit into a sequence that makes sense? This session will explore how to: (1) Establish clear learning targets and rubrics based on standards. (2) Build student-monitored retesting systems that allow students to keep track of their learning and exercise increased ownership in the process. (3) Develop Student Self-reporting so that the individual can make sense of his/her grades and be able to understand the building blocks that guide learning.

Developing Cohesion Between Grading, Assessment and Reporting

In this overview-styled session, Myron Dueck will draw the connection between assessment, grading and reporting. Using a combination of theory, stories and classroom tools, Myron will address topics such as ‘misusing zeros’ and how we could make homework more effective, purposeful and equitable. Myron will then show how clear learning targets based on standards can lead to effective and efficient re-assessment systems. Finally the purpose for reporting will be touched on, and tools shared on how we can make this far more meaningful and inclusive.  This session will highlight how changes in grading and assessment can increase the level of accountability and ownership students take regarding their own learning.

Seven Stories of Success: How and why grading and assessment changes altered the lives of seven struggling learners.

Myron has confirmed in his own classroom what research has long suggested: struggling learners often stand the most to gain from grading and assessment changes. In this session Myron will describe students who entered his classroom battered by a lethal combination of life’s challenges and rigid school policies. Myron will provide concrete steps and templates as to how he built a student-monitored retesting system and the impact this had on empowering fragile learners. Obviously homework is a struggle for those who live in poverty, dysfunctional homes, abusive situations and other difficult environments. In these instances grading homework is ineffective and some of the more effective and ethical replacement routines used by Myron will be offered.   The amazing results of mixing student passion and learning outcomes will be highlighted and teachers will see how easy it is to grade unconventional/personal student projects. Participants can expect to hear real-life accounts of change and how positive relationships were fostered with the most unlikely students.

How and Why Grading and Assessment Changes Positively Impact Students at Both Ends of the Spectrum…and Those in Between

Struggling learners benefit the most from grading and assessment changes, but exceptional students may experience an improved experience also. In this session Myron will highlight how the implementation of a number non-traditional assessment methods can benefit all students, and especially those at the extreme ends of the spectrum.   Myron will provide concrete steps and templates as to how he built student-monitored retesting system and the impact this had on empowering learners. Myron will demonstrate how clear project learning targets and alternative assessment routines can help build positive relationships with all students. Lastly, Myron will touch on some of the grading changes that can help educators to obtain and use data that is far more useful and relevant. Topics such as lates, zeros and homework will be addressed.

Innovation and Assessment in the Modern Classroom: Engaging students through emerging technology

Innovation in the classroom is essential to engaging today’s students. Experienced educators often feel uncomfortable with the ‘new’ because they have come to rely on traditional methods that seem safe, trusted and familiar. As the technological landscape changes to include iPads, Twitter, social media and other digital technologies, how can teachers keep pace with assessments that are appropriate and relevant? In this session Myron Dueck will provide examples of how both formative and summative assessments can incorporate technologies such as iPad apps, Twitter, QR codes, Coaches Eye, online grading systems and Google Docs. The use of video and song will also be discussed and the incorporation of the Flipped Class model will be addressed.

Creativity and Innovation are Great, But How do Educators Assess Them?

Creativity and technological innovation will be essential tools for success in our changing world, but educators who wish to embrace change in the classroom face inevitable challenges. Teachers who want to foster creativity in the classroom may worry about losing control and credibility. Teachers often struggle to assess information that is conveyed in ways that fall outside the norm and may ponder, ‘If creative and innovative students displayed knowledge in different ways, how would I assess it?’   Myron will share how he has adapted his assessments to incorporate technological innovation, increased critical thinking and student creativity. By letting students in on the structure and purpose of assessments, and by welcoming their opinions and insight, students have been shown to be far more engaged, empowered and resilient. Furthermore, these results are most powerful when struggling learners feel that the avenues to display their knowledge have been widened. Participants in this session will see first-hand how assessments can be adapted in order to assess knowledge in whatever form it may be displayed, and how student accountability is simultaneously strengthened.

Synergizing AFL: The Organization, Implementation, and Results of a District Assessment Team.

School Districts across Canada and the USA vary in size and structure, but in every case they contain a wide array of talented educators that have new ideas, creative solutions and questions worthy of investigation.   In this session Myron Dueck will share his experiences in helping to plan, organize and chair his District Assessment Team (School District 67 British Columbia).  Myron will share the plans and templates used to initiate the conversations.  As well, he will speak of the debate, challenges and incredible results that occur when educators meet to tackle a shared interest in AFL.   Anyone interested in hearing of this experience, or who may want to run a similar team at the department, school or district level should find this session very valuable.

Collared Shirts and Canned Food Drives are Not in the Standards: How to align grading practices to the learning goals. 

To some people ‘standards’ are manifested in increased rigor, enforcing responsibility and delivering ample amounts of content. In this particular arena, too often the grades students receive are a nebulous blend of many different variables that vary widely in the extent to which they relate to the learning outcomes. Though well intentioned, the quest to enforce and honor diligence and hard work may actually serve to blur the very learning indicators that are most important. To others ‘Standards’ are about establishing learning targets and molding instruction, assessment and grading to best determine if the objectives are being met. In this session Myron Dueck will tackle the conversation around how to best align grading practices to Standards-Based Assessment. Myron will address homework strategies, the misuse of zeros and efforts to curb late assignments that uphold assessment data rather than eroding it. Attendees will see numerous examples of grading strategies from across the curriculum that support good behaviors and also maintain the legitimacy of assessment data.

What is Engagement and How Can we Increase it in Our Classrooms?

Student Engagement: The condition that occurs when learning is the unavoidable by-product of a desired activity or process. (Dueck)

When someone truly desires to challenge, question, participate, overcome or even listen, it is quite likely that learning will occur. In this session Myron Dueck will address some leading theories around engagement and will cover a few of the most important portals to conjuring human interest and its by-product – learning. Engagement can occur when any one of following portals exist: ownership, relevance, relationships, expertise and exploration/inquiry.

The tools that educators have at their fingertips center on assessment and instruction, and it is in these realms that we wield underutilized potential and power. By making decisions that increase the key engagement catalysts, teachers can truly change the face of education.

“Differentiated Assessment” – Has its time come?

Differentiated Instruction has taken hold in many educational circles, but too often we have a ‘one size fits all’ model of assessment. In this session attendees can expect to have their beliefs around grading and assessment challenged and to engage in a conversation about how we can more effectively meet students’ needs through ‘differentiated assessment’. Myron will share a fresh and exciting look at an old tool by introducing, ‘I Know I Am Close Multiple Choice’. He will also share his individualized student retesting system and a model for homework that focuses on need rather than compliance. Attendees will get a sneak preview of a system pioneered in his high school called ‘conversation-based grading’ in which learning is communicated rather than simply graded. Alternatives to late deductions and zeros that look at a student’s individual needs will also be explored. New approaches to assessment will require new tools to do it, and Myron will share templates and ideas that can be ‘used on Monday’.

Leading through Uncharted Waters: Ideas and Tools to Build Leadership Capacity in Assessment, Grading and Reporting Conversations

Part A: Navigating Difficult Grading and Assessment Conversations:

Being a ‘lead-learner’ can be difficult at the best of times, and all the more so when someone who’s ‘not regularly in the classroom’.  In this session, Myron will share his leadership experiences in helping guide administrators and lead teachers through difficult assessment conversations. This segment will include general concepts and ideas that will help leaders in planning and sustaining change. We will also cover potential responses to typical and unique challenges.

Part B: Leading an Assessment Team.  Myron will share plans and templates that help guide important conversations. Participants will be able to edit these documents to be used immediately in their own environment.  

Part C: ‘What I’d like to discuss is …’. Any grading, assessment, or reporting comment is fair game in the last portion of the session. Leadership is complicated at the best of times, and it’s impossible to predict all of the potential situations we may face. This portion of the session is a safe place to ask just about anything!

Full Day Plans:

Challenges and Solutions: Assessing Creativity, Innovation and Learning the Modern Classroom

Today’s educators must assess learning through the promise of creativity and digital innovation while navigating the challenges of student poverty, stress, and anxiety.  Join Myron Dueck, educator and author of ‘Grading Smarter Not Harder: Assessment Strategies that Motivate Kids and Help Them Learn,’ for a one-day institute focused on grading and assessment reforms that are both practical and effective in the modern classroom. This intriguing day will be packed with stories, video and many practical examples of how to better assess learning and creative projects while building stronger relationships.

Myron Dueck will ask attendees to bring their most vexing grading and assessment questions and challenges. Some issues to consider might include:

Are grading and assessment inseparable?

Must the understanding of learning targets be the only driver when we measure and report?

Are relationships central to teaching human beings, and if so, how is grading impacted?

How do the social, psychological and economic barriers our students face factor into the grading conversation?

What are the most effective strategies surrounding homework?

If creativity and inquiry lead to deeper, long-term learning, how can educators better harness these potential drivers?


Building an Assessment Strategy – Full Day Version

 Let’s start with a conversation: ‘What do I believe?’ (1.5 – 2 hrs)

This segment will start with attendees answering a few key questions:

  • What is the critical role of an educator today?
  • What are the core beliefs that drive my practice?
  • What are the classroom experiences that support those beliefs?
  • What are the key research pieces that support those beliefs?
  • How is your grading /assessment routines impacted by your beliefs?
  • What is the PURPOSE of grading and reporting?

After a share-out, Myron Dueck will proceed to answer some of these questions from the point of view of a challenger to grading and assessment norms. The context of the rest of the day around a few key themes:

  • The global economy and technology are changing; what’s ‘The Real World’?
  • We must widen the window by which students demonstrate learning
  • We must develop relationships, confidence and resiliency
  • Our systems must reflect issues of poverty, stress, anxiety & pressure

Targets for Learning, Assessment of Targets – Classroom tools that work. (1.5 hrs)

Myron will provide concrete steps and templates as to how he built student-monitored retesting system based on student-friendly learning outcomes. Myron will demonstrate how clear project learning targets and alternative assessment routines can not only make assessments both effective and efficient, but also help build positive relationships with some of the most unlikely students. This session will underscore the impact these changes had on empowering all learners. With each mini-topic (Unit Plans, Targets Retests, Project Plans & Multiple Choice) attendees will have the opportunity to discuss the merits/challenges and to ask questions that arise.

Next Steps – Do assessment changes cause a re-examination of grades? (1.5 hrs)

If educators are going to set clear targets and strive to measure the extent to which they were met, would this impact the grading rules governing that arena? In this session Myron Dueck will tackle the conversation around how to best align grading practices to standards-based assessment. Myron will address homework strategies and efforts to curb late assignments that uphold assessment data rather than eroding it. Perhaps the typical ‘no-zeros’ conversation is more about the proper usage of zeros than an outright ban of the lowly digit. In this session attendees will see numerous examples of grading strategies from across the curriculum that support good behaviors and also maintain the legitimacy of assessment data.

Next Steps – What is my personal action plan? (1 hr)

In this hour attendees will get the opportunity to ask questions for deeper learning or clarification and to develop a personal approach to making changes based on the material presented. Attendees will begin to document the initial steps of a workable action plan for at least one critical change they will make to their grading and assessment. Elements that attendees should consider for this plan include:

  • Setting an achievable ‘step-by-step’ goals list based on one or more of the topics presented
  • Develop a timeline for when these changes with be developed and implemented
  • Establish a connection with someone in the room to use for support and encouragement (perhaps accountability)  
  • Consider indicators that might provide feedback as to whether or not the change has been successful
  • Predict what challenges may stand in the way of making a change and consider strategies to overcome these barriers to success


Building an Assessment Plan – Full Day Description (shorter version):

This full day event has a focus on improving grading and assessment practices with Myron Dueck, the author of ASCD best selling book, Grading Smarter, Not Harder. This one-day workshop will focus on the following topics:

  • The purpose of grading and how it relates to instruction.
  • The value of clear learning targets and rubrics in the instructional process.
  • The role of re-dos and retakes in schools and how this process fits within secondary school systems.
  • Student self-reporting and the power of student ownership and engagement in assessment.
  • Creating assessments that have meaning to the instructional process.
  • The role of homework and how it fits within grading practices.

Throughout the course of the day, participants will be actively engaged in collaborative discussions around the question, “where are we going” with these critical components in the assessment and grading process.  Through exploration of these critical components, Myron will provide a clear and practical picture for what it means to grade smarter, not harder in our schools. Participants will receive materials that will help guide them in this process and will walk away with several steps on how to practically incorporate these concepts back in their schools or districts. The expressed goal of this session is to equip participants with both the mindset and the tools to help ensure success for ALL learners.


Pre-Conference Plan – General Description

A Ten-Year Journey – One Educator’s Experience with Grading & Assessment Changes

Following a grading conference in 2006, Myron Dueck made a number of sound grading and assessment changes to his high school classes and the results far exceeded his expectations.   At a time when few educators, especially at the high school level, were embracing much of the theory around ‘no zeros’ and retesting, Myron had little choice but to carve his own path.  Guided by a few simple rules aimed at increasing and measuring learning, Myron designed and implemented a number of groundbreaking changes to his assessment methods.  In the six years since these changes were made, Myron has shared his entertaining and engaging stories and experiences with educators across North America and internationally.

In this preconference session, Myron will share his challenges, successes and lessons learned from not only embracing these changes in his own class, but he will share some of the suggestions and models gleaned from others who have embarked on the same paradigm shift. Taking examples and themes from his conference sessions, Myron will endeavor to provide something for all educational professionals in this daylong session. Teachers will obtain hands-on examples and templates from Math, Science and other curricular areas that could be transferred to any class immediately. Team leaders, administrative and district personnel will gain some experiential knowledge on how these changes can be implemented in a class, department, school or district. In addition to a presentation, participants will be invited to share some of their own experiences and dilemmas in tackling some of the more challenging elements of grading and assessment changes.

An overall theme to the day will be to match our PURPOSE to our PRACTICE. Educators will be constantly challenged to critically analyze the extent to which they mirror what they most want to achieve by how they set about to achieve it.

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