I started this post back at the end of October on a real high, right after teaching the lesson to some really receptive students, then just got bummed out frustrated (with the reactions of some other classes and some other things) and never finished it up. Here's part 1, and I'll do my best to finish soon.
Using student feedback, problem solving, and modeling to come to a better understanding of assessment.
I ended my last post noticing how valuable being challenged by my students is turning out to be, especially as I go through this process of changing how I do everything. This is continuing to be the case.
We just finished up our first quarter here. I had a bit of a mad rush to squeeze some assessments in, so I was grading up to the last minute, and was really disappointed with the results, pretty much across the board. Also, every slacker in the class was emailing me to take care of practice work zeros in the gradebook, so I'd go look at the assignments, and half of them still weren't done... OK, my blood pressure is going up, so I'll stop, but you get the picture.
Anyway, got the grades in, then had a little time to reflect about practices so far. There were a couple of things that were bothering me:
Starting the conversation
I started these classes by asking everyone, "what do you think would happen if I stopped grading homework?" Most immediate reactions to this question are, "well, no one would do it." We talked about whether or not that was true, and I gave them my answer: I think the students who do it now understand the purpose of practicing and would keep doing it, and nothing I've ever done has had much of an effect on the others.
Then, I tell them about the new plan and have them do a practice warm-up.
A tale of two attitudes
Now, my first two classes, which I have been known to refer to as my "easy" classes, are very compliant, and just sort of say, "ok," and go on about their business.
My third class (22 juniors and seniors, last period of the day) is my most challenging group. After my first test, they told on me to the principal (who sat through my class on how to read test scores and improve, and totally backed me up). We've had a couple of breakdowns, where I just stop the class and lecture them about how useless they're being (they have a really hard time starting problems and staying focused). They complain about my teaching methods (they want more direct instruction) regularly, and are completely grade (percentage) focused. This class freaked out about #1:
<picking up here in January>
So, It's been awhile, and I don't remember exactly, but I'm sure I went home from that class frustrated and burned out, as usual. But somewhere in the night, it started coming to me (inspired, I'm sure by a recent workshop with Erma Anderson)...
And I made a math problem out of it.
To be continued...