Learning to Drive

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 05 2012

Reflection

I greatly dislike grades. While they are often a motivator for my students, I don’t think they are an accurate representation of what my kids know. Their grades more accurately show what they’ve turned in instead of what they’ve learned. I want students to be able to show off what they’ve learned, not just complete an assignment to bring their C to a B. Standards-based grading seems like the solution to this problem, but I don’t work in a system that uses standards-based grading.

I spent a good amount of time yesterday reading Teach Like a Champion, and came across a particularly profound paragraph:

So let us assume that students need to have both kinds of skills. They need to be able to read and discuss Shakespeare, but they also need to be able to read a passage they’ve never seen before and effectively make sense of its meaning, structure, and craft. They need to be able to write a short paragraph giving evidence to support a conclusion. They need to be able to sove for x. Most state tests do an effective job of measuring these skills, and while students who can demonstrate them are not yet fully prepared for college, there are no students who are prepared for college who cannot demonstrate them.

My kids don’t just need to pass my class. They NEED to pass the EOC. I somehow need to communicate to them that the most important thing they can do is to learn, not try to make a grade. But how do I emphasize that in a culture of grade-focused students and parents?

Differentiation

More Practice & BETTER Practice

Jigsaw

Peer Tutoring

Structured Labs

Re-teach Days

Is this going to be enough? Are my students going to leave for Winter Break with solid understanding of chemical reactions or DNA transcription, or Punnett Squares? I don’t know, but I have to try. And maybe come January I’ll have some idea of how to work the grading system into standards-based grading.

It’s not just grading. I need to work smarter, not harder. I need to be better prepared for lessons and have back up plans. I need a better personal Action Plan to know what needs to get done instead of getting overwhelmed. I need to contact all parents before Christmas. I need to give my kids jobs to keep them busy and help me get things done faster. I need to keep up with grading and tracking. I need to jigsaw review days. I think it’s also time to wean off guided notes.

Lots of changes to be made…and hopefully this will all work.

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