Three biggest take-aways from our October 6th session:
1) Establishing or Redefining our Grading Philosophy Statement (GPS)
Have you created yours yet?
Write a 1-2 sentence statement of your philosophy. Then, write 1-5 sentences of rationale as to why this is your policy.
A few of the items to include:
- the purpose of grades and grading
- Grading scales (100 vs 4.0)
- Definitions of individual grades
- Classwork vs homework
- the purpose of homework
- late work policies
- redos and retakes
- gradebook design
2) Grades are simply communication of what students know and can do, not compensation.
Think of the last time you heard yourself or another teacher say to a student, 'I didn't give you this grade, you earned it.' I was guilty of this myself. Thanks Rick for showing us that grades are not compensation; they are a report of where students are in relation to their goals.
TRY THIS IN THE CLASSROOM:
Ask a colleague or administrator to face time the class a few minutes within a classroom activity and ask the students as a classroom, two questions:
- What are you supposed to be learning?
- ...and where are you in relation to that goal?
3) Practice makes Permanent! If students are practicing the wrong work at home, it will be more difficult to correct later on.
Homework should be meaningful and relevant and by the way....
Thinking outside the traditional central measure of tendency, the mean, and considering the mode as a more practical way of measuring academic achievement. Averaging was invented in statistics to get rid of the influence of any one sample error in experimental design, not how a student is doing in relation to their learning goal. On-the-other-hand, mode and in some cases, median, have a higher correlation with outside the classroom testing.
If this is to much of a mind shift, Please at least...
STOP AVERAGING THE ZERO! If students master the content, please don't hold them accountable for things I didn't know in the past. By allowing a student to receive a zero, we may as well as tell them this assignment had no legitimate educational value or that it is just fine if they don't do it or even learn the skill associated with that assignment.
Assessment is not a “gotcha” moment
We're not trying to defeat the student - it's not a contest that we're trying to win. My goal is not to surprise my students with an assessment, have them do poorly on it, and then tell them, “Ha! I told you so, you should’ve listened to me when I told you to study.” But I admit, sometimes that’s how it feels. There have been times when a student has frustrated me to no end, and I thought that the best way to get this student to understand the consequences of their actions was to have them fail an assessment, knowing they were ill-prepared. But that accomplishes nothing. A grade is not the reward, and it shouldn’t be used as a punishment either. Fs don’t teach – help your students dig out of that hole.
Descriptive feedback is the future – We can learn without grades, we cannot learn without descriptive feedback
According to Rick, grades are just short-hand reports of what you know and can do at the end of a learning journey, not the path you took to get there. Through the power of descriptive feedback, it becomes clear to students what the expectations are for what they need to know, and how far along in the process they are in achieving that understanding. Too often, the grade is stressed and not the knowledge and skill obtained in the process. How wonderful would it be to ask a student, at the end of the semester, how they did in a class, and instead of responding with a letter grade, they can tell you what specific knowledge and skill they learned? That’s the takeaway, not some letter in a grade book.
The greatest impact on student success is formative feedback
I am officially a believer in the power of formative feedback. Formative feedback serves as a reflection of student effort and understanding. It serves as a “mirror” showing students where they are in comparison to where they need to be. It should not be used as an evaluative tool, judging the student’s understanding. This feedback serves as a tool to inform them about how they can improve before their next attempt. It may take longer than running a test through a scantron machine, but the feedback is so much more meaningful. And that feedback is an essential part of the learning journey.