Monday, November 29, 2010

A’s for Good Behavior - NYTimes.com

A’s for Good Behavior - NYTimes.com

Interesting yet brief article detailing how one school is making the transition to standards based grading.

Several quotes from the article really stood out for me and made me ask some interesting questions that all teachers in our school should reflect upon.

Do we suffer from "grade fog"? -- ie do our grades communicate student learning or mastery of content or more than that. If it is more than that can our students and parents really know how well they are doing?

Do we grade for compliance?

What percentage of our grades reflect a student doing, saying, or acting a way we have asked or told them to do. Do we grade for completion of work or mastery demonstrated by the execution of that work?

Are grades flexible enough for a student to improve upon them as they are able to do so? If a student fails a test or doesn't score well do we allow them to retake the test. Yes, making a new test is a pain, but isn't the goal of the test for teachers to also help determine what and how much a student has learned. If the test does reveal that a student isn't learning as much as expected do we give the student a chance to continue learning and show their mastery at a later date?

If we allow the students do retake a test which grade do we use? The first one, the most current one, or an average of the two. I'm guessing most teachers would say an average of the two. Mathematically it makes sense....using a second test to raise the first. However, if we are using grades to show what a student has learning/mastered/achieved shouldn't we just use the second measure since it is closer to real time.

When a sprinter runs a race we don't average the various heats together. What matters is what they do in the final run. Shouldn't we extend the same courtesy to our students?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What I learned this week 11/29/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Technology to Engage, not Distract | Connected Principals

Technology to Engage, not Distract | Connected Principals

There is plenty of discussion about student engagement these days or more accurately the lack of student engagement in the classroom.

Teachers are always commenting in the lunchroom or wherever they congregate that this year's kids don't listen as well as last year's students. I've even heard teachers say they fear for our nation's future as our students just aren't very good listeners.

Is it that they aren't good listeners or is it that they just aren't "buying what we're selling"?

I would urge all teachers (even those reporting good engagement in their classroom) to view their classroom from the perspective of their students.

Answer these questions:
Could you really handle being a student in your own classroom?
How engaging would the experience be?
Would you be tempted to tune out?
How much do you spend "lecturing" or reciting facts to your students?
What percentage of the time are you in charge of the information?
What percentage of the time are you the students in charge of the information?

Before you tell me it is easy for me to judge you, I need to tell you that I judge myself fairly harshly in answering those questions.

I don't think of my classroom as lecture, but I do spend plenty of time presenting what Marzano would call "procedural" knowledge. I want the students to know what buttons to press when in the software we use. In fact I spend so much time talking procedures that they don't nearly enough application time. How can they learn the "procedures" if we don't spent nearly enough time with the independent practice? It is a battle that I struggle with each week. At what point have I given the students enough knowledge/information that they can move to independent practice? Sadly, I don't know the answer to that question and mainly it is because the answer is different for different learners and I need a formative assessment to get a better sense of when they are ready to move forward.

So what say you, would you be able to survive your own class?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What I learned this week 11/08/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Douglas Reeves' articles

I've long been a fan of Doug Reeves and his ideas for improving education.

The Leadership and Learning Center makes many of his articles available for us to read.  Among the more recent (and always interesting) articles are:

The Write Way
http://www.makingstandardswork.com/sites/default/files/articles/article-1011-asbj-wrtie-way.pdf
Writing improves achievement....we need more!

Fixed or Multiplier


The qualities that make someone a great superintendent (leader)

Focus: The Forgotten 21st Century Skill
http://www.makingstandardswork.com/sites/default/files/articles/09-fall-the-trillium-focus-the-forgotten-21st-century-skill.pdf
Now what was I doing before I found this article?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The secret of self-control : The New Yorker

The secret of self-control : The New Yorker

Fascinating article about the research done at Stanford University related to "self control" and delaying gratification. The research finding is so relevant to teachers and especially parents.

As I read the article I wondered how my own kids at that age would have treated the marshmallow situation.

Now older but still children they are slowly learning to wait. Learning to work hard and save money for the things they want. I often have problems with the things they want (why are those American Dolls so expensive!) but I do try to instill in them the importance of only buying what they can afford.

Re: The American Girl Doll my wife disagree. For the cost of one Amer. Girl I can buy 1 really nice "generic" doll and have $80 left to put in savings or something else. My wife sides with the "specialness" of the American Girl doll. Perhaps my gender renders me unable to understand a $100 doll. And yes I would feel the same way about a $100 set of Legos.