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Tricks of the trade

Educators take in a few tips at conference

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 05/01) - What really goes on during those teacher professional development days anyway?

We know the students dont mind having a day or two off from school when they occur, but what actually happens during these development days is somewhat of a mystery.

NNSL Photo

Performance assessor Robert Hogg shows off the tools of the trade at last weeks teacher professional development days at Sir John Franklin high school. - Mike W. Bryant/NNSL photo

Yellowknifer paid a visit to Sir John Franklin high school on Friday a the site of the two-day conference a just to get a gander at what goes on there.

What was evident is the conferences, which are held every two years, provide a forum for Northern educators to help better understand an ever changing field of expertise.

Its just a chance to learn some new communication techniques, said Sir John computer lab instructor Alan Petten, who was attending his ninth conference since he began teaching at the school.

Theres always new software and new technology. With the computer area alone, its hard to stay current.

Over 30 presenters from all across Canada were invited to conduct informational seminars at Sir John this year. Some were university professors, while others were simply teachers who wanted to share their experiences in the classroom.

Most of the educators who attended the conference Nov. 29-30 were from Yellowknife Education District No. 1 and Yellowknife Catholic Schools, but some had travelled from as far away as Gameti and Gjoa Haven in Nunavut.

My session is about using a variety of assessment strategies to evaluate student learning, said Robert Hogg, with the Alberta Assessment Consortium.

Hogg stood out from the crowd by virtue of the tool belt he wore around his waist.

He wore it because it represented the myriad of tools he used to assess students.

The strategy that best fits the current curriculum is a strategy called performance assessment, because students can demonstrate in real life terms what they understand, know, and can do.

In another classroom, Dr. Arthur J. More, a professor at the University of British Columbia, was conducting a seminar on First Nations students with special needs.

Sometimes the kid honestly doesnt know what is good behaviour, More said during the discussions.

One attendee remarked that, because of their communal existence which made the use of interjections unnecessary, there are no words in the Dene language for please and thank you.

Masi cho, he said, is a word adopted from the French.

Another educator of aboriginal heritage remarked: Aboriginal languages are all black and white, there are no grey areas.

That is one reason why some aboriginal students have trouble adapting to a Western educational curriculum, the educator added.

Stimulating brains, and finding better ways of doing it, were clearly what educators were seeking most out this conference. The workshops gave teachers and other educators an opportunity to take a breather, and maybe a chance to gain different perspective to take into the classroom when the morning buzzer rings on Monday.