First, I want to begin with my beliefs on the purpose of grades in my classroom:
- I believe that grades are about what students learn not what they earn ASCD Article by Susan Brookhart
- I believe grades do not motivate or provide incentives for students to do well
- I believe one single grade given on a test with multiple learning standards is not an accurate measure of student knowledge and understanding.
- I believe that students should not be punished for taking longer to learn essential skills or standards
- I believe the students should be asking: "What does advanced look like on this standard?"
- I believe students should get credit for showing thinking and understanding in any way that makes sense to them as long as they can explain their thinking and procedures
- I believe students should get full credit even if they did not learn the standard "on time"
- I believe that Summative Assessments are also Formative because the students know anything they do not score proficient on, they still have to show proof of understanding.
- I believe any work I assign to my students must be tied to a standard
How has my classroom environment changed based on my beliefs?
- My classroom atmosphere encourages thinking and problem solving rather than rule following because students have to understand the process they are using to solve math problems
- Students work and persevere on problems rather than giving up and waiting for a fellow classmate or the teacher to give them the answer (#1 rule in my classroom - no one will give an answer, we agree to ask questions to guide thinking and learning).
- The students know that proof of understanding requires deeper knowledge and the ability to explain their process/thinking. So when they don't understand something, they tell me rather than hiding it
- They do more work to show their understanding
- My students know their strengths and weaknesses and find relief in the fact that I will work with them to improve and show understanding
I feel like I am in my infancy in the standards based grading journey. I am experimenting with grade book formats and a variety of resistance from my colleagues, parents, and the students who have become comfortable taking the F. At this point I feel as though I have made a break through with the kiddos that are used to taking the F. They have learned that failing is not an option and that they have to prove understanding. I also love the conversations that occur around standards based grading:
"how is advanced different from proficient on this standard"
"what do I need to do to prove understanding of this standard"
"I don't understand this concept/standard"
I am struggling in a few areas:
- providing timely feedback often is challenging
- my grade book and how it informs students and parents
- strong resistance from my colleagues (hence this post to share with them)
- training middle school students who are entrenched in the "old way" of grading to work to prove understanding
What I know for sure:
- my classes have changed for the better of all students
- I have so much work and growth in this area
- I will use my Twitter PLN and especially #sbar for resources, support and learning
I can't believe my school year is almost half over... YIKES!!