Near East South Asia - Council of Overseas Schools

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November 2-3, 2018
Venue: American Community School, Amman, Jordan

Michelle Kuhns

Director and Education Consultant at Balanced Professional Learning

Full Bio

MICHELLE KUHNS is an independent educational consultant supporting schools with the processes that build capacity, community, and context for joyful learning. She believes that a well-developed and articulated curriculum creates the foundation for personalized learning and agency.

Her work supports schools in their shift to standards-based learning systems, linking curriculum, instruction, assessment, grading, and reporting.

Through workshops, coaching, and collaboration, she helps schools establish instructional coaching programs and develop teams and teacher leaders to promote a community of practice. She coaches school leaders, particularly those new to curriculum leadership or instructional coaching, as they develop job-embedded professional learning systems and lead their schools through impactful change.

Beginning her teaching career in Washington, Ms Kuhns worked internationally for 21 years in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Poland, and the UAE. She led curriculum and professional development for the last ten years, serving most recently as the Director of Learning at the American School of Dubai.

Ms Kuhns teaches graduate courses in assessment literacy and leadership for international educators at Endicott College and is on the AERO faculty with the Office of Overseas Schools. She is a former member of NESA’s Professional Development Advisory Committee (PDAC) and the ECIS Curriculum and Assessment Committee.

Institute Description

Building Student Involvement in a Standards-Based Learning System

When schools move to a criterion-based learning system, professional conversations are typically (and understandably) centered around transforming assessment, grading, and reporting practices. Also vitally important are the shifts that this move requires in instructional practice and the need for teaching strategies that intentionally involve students in each step of their learning journey.

By the end of this two-day workshop, participants will have explored how student involvement throughout the learning and assessment cycle lead to learner agency. Together, we will identify and practice the teacher moves that promote strong student involvement. We will design learning experiences that meet the essential standards while supporting students as they set and reach their personalized learning goals.

Embedded in this workshop is time for participants to reflect, design, create, and question.

Target Audience: Grades K-12.

Continuum Levels: All

NESA's Learning Continuum:

Learn more about how NESA plans Professional Learning


Participants will. . .
  • Define student agency and cite the research that supports the need for student involvement throughout the learning and assessment cycle.
  • Describe the interplay between assessment and instruction, and the importance of descriptive feedback, in a standards-based learning system,.
  • Write student friendly learning targets for current units and plan ways for students to interact with them.
  • Design units that address the standards AND enable students to explore their own learning interests.
  • Design tools and explore strategies to use in their current units that promote student involvement, such as tools for student reflection and self-assessment, as well as for students to track and report their own learning.
  • Relate these instructional strategies to standards-based grading and reporting.
  • Reflect on how these concepts relate to professional learning and how they, as educators, can build their own learner agency.

Advance Prep/Prerequisites

  1. Participants should have access to their school's identified learning criteria (e.g. standards, competencies).
  2. As this is a design workshop, participants should come prepared to incorporate new strategies into their units.
  3. Please bring laptop computers and earphones/buds.


Save paper and effort where possible!

For your convenience, and to support our efforts in being "green", all handouts/files posted here have been notated with an A, B, C or D indicating the following:

(A) hardcopies needed at workshop
(B) electronic version on laptop is sufficient (for viewing during the workshop)
(C) required reading PRIOR to the workshop
(D) file not needed for workshop itself, but simply material of additional interest/reference

(B) Research and Resources: Student Involved Learning in a Standards-based System

(B) Tools and Strategies: Planning for Student Involved Learning in a Standards-based System