Maybe you caught the last time I was talking about my grading 'walk-about' -- if not - here -> My kid got a what??
I had been studying, researching, reading, contemplating for a couple years prior to Fall of 2013 -- so don't think this was a whim. No one forced it upon me (see below) and I felt it was necessary part of my getting better at my craft.
I thought I would report back some of my findings:
- Doing something because you want to, as opposed to a school mandate, is way more fun. (Crazy, I know) My reflection into my grading practices was something I wanted to do, not something that was pushed down from on high -- I suppose that makes all the difference. I'm probably ahead of the curve. SBG is coming - it's just a matter of time.
- What do you do with Tommy/Sally when they don't learn -- are all students able to learn? Should they? If they don't - what do we do then as educators? Can a student get more than one try at demonstrating their learning?? Can a student demonstrate their learning in a different manor? How does this affect the 'assembly line' approach to education? Paradigms might need to be shifted and re-aligned. How can education be more effective for EVERY student.
- The Game of School -- If you are like me (and let's hope you aren't) I've been playing this game of school for a while. The grading part was just the encore. I wonder to myself now - did I really learn all that much in school or was I just good at parrotting the answer the teacher wanted?
- Who moved the cheese? -- Kids are very willing to go with it - parents, not so much. We have really put a lot of emphasis on GPA. Maybe more than I am willing to be comfortable with.
- Research - Ken O'Conner (@kenoc7) and Rick Wormeli (@rickWormeli2) will certainly give you something to think about. I suppose someone with more letters behind their name than I can give an educated opinion on the research, but the best stuff I have found is from practitioners. It certainly takes some time to ground the theory in your day-to-day practice. I'm still working on it.
- Doing What We Have Always Done -- why do we grade the way we do? Ever wonder to yourself?? Is it because it is what we know from being student?? Changing a thought process on something so ingrained in education could be defined as kicking a sacred cow. But it might be one that needs it. Does our grades accurately reflect what a student has learned? Or are they clouded with a multitude of confusing issues.
- Get rid of -- zero's, late points being docked, extra credit, extra credit for bringing in kleenex, weighting, averages, group grades et al -- the list goes on. I am ashamed to say I used to do some very bad practices.
- Who do you want packing your parachute? The kid with an 83% average, the one who got 100% proficient by the end of training, or the one who got an A because they mopped the floor every Friday after class for extra credit??
- Do you have a grading culture or learning culture? -- are kids more interested in learning for it's own sake or doing whatever it is we deem them to do to get the grade they want. It kinda makes you think a bit about the culture we have created in school. I would much rather teach in a learning culture. Maybe that's why I am so intrigued with the SBG grading systems.
What a long strange trip it's been. After some re-tooling this summer, I hope to be almost fully immersed in a SBG system. There are lots of schools you can look to for examples and help.
Maybe this summer is a good time to engage in professional discussion around grading practices. C'mon in - the water is fine.