Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The journey begins

Well, the journey has begun. Monday started a new term for my students. I've implemented a new grading system with this group, a standards based approach. Without going into too much detail, I've gone through the standards to create learning targets. I'm grading students on those learning targets.  Each learning target is worth 4 points.

It is important to understand that in the standards approach I'm choosing, daily homework (I call it practice problems) are not graded. I have chosen to put the practice problems into the grade book, but not score them. I only put a check mark in that position to show parents, students, and myself that the student completed the assignment.  I'm giving all of the answers for the practice problems. I've got an extra table in my room that I will put all the answer keys on so students can see if they're doing the problems correctly.

One really awesome part of this whole process I'm embarking on is that I've got a colleague who is doing this with me.  A math teach who teaches Pre-Calculus and Calculus has chosen to come on board with me in implementing the change in grading system.  She is doing things a little differently, but it's great to be able to share both joys and concerns that we have together!

So, enough with background information. I wanted to take some time to talk about the great discussions I had with students about the new system. As I went through the syllabus, the students spent much time just absorbing what I was saying.  I'm teaching 3 sections of Algebra 2.  My first two sections we're pretty "okay" with what they heard. They didn't ask many questions and were just going with the flow.  My 3rd and last class of the day really questioned the grading process. It was new to them and they wanted to make sure what was going on. After we clarified and answered questions, they seemed pretty excited. I did have a couple of students who voiced that they didn't do well on tests, so they felt they weren't going to do well. I reminded them that they will have the ability retake any of the learning targets if they show that they have made attempts to re-learn the material. This eased their mind and they said they looked forward to seeing what they know.

As many of you know, standards grading puts a major emphasis on formative assessment. I explained to all my classes that we'd be having many formal assessments that wouldn't be graded, but they'd receive feedback as to how they were doing.

The next couple of posts will be discussing many of the different types of assessments that we're utilizing in my classroom. I look forward to the conversations that we will have about different practices you use as well!

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