Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Grading effort instead of... the usual

There is no doubt that education and learning are integral to building community.  Community is integral to a strong, democratic society.  All students do not learn the same and there are various influences that change the formula for best practices or best learning.  There are pieces of education that both parents and schools can agree upon to improve the chances for improvements in education and progress for all children. I am going to list some of my findings in hopes that I can use peoples' reactions and comments for my literacy research.
Here is what I discovered, read it over and then leave your comments. I really need them.
I recently read Daniel T. Willingham's, Why Don't Students Like School?. Although it left out a few ideas that are important to me as a teacher, I was impressed with his view as a cognitive scientist and his research supporting the idea that the brain was designed to fulfill automatized processes, not difficult thinking. While education is designed to challenge students all day long, in reality, it doesn't.  We are caught trying to decide if  education is giving students what they need to succeed or if somehow it is failing them and the media loves to build up this debate in a way that leaves little room for actual conversation.  Willingham writes, "it is naive to think students come to class equally prepared to excel... it is self defeating to give all of your students the same work".

I agree and hope to change my grading practice to reflect this.  I currently score students on a total number of assigned class and home studies.  I would like to score students primarily on effort and task attention given in class.  I would change to make homework an opportunity for choice and self assigned tasks for practice and or editing.  I would give students a second chance on test or quizzes both in and out of the classroom.  Students would be working toward a percentage of completing a total number of assignments and routines.  If 80% of the total number of activities and assignments listed was met, or 80/100 possible points equaled an A grade, students would gain some choice and control of how they got there.

I have used this system in various units.  I assigned monetary value to assignments and set high bar expectations for each assignment completion.  Students "bought" their grade with kaulbucks (a play on my name).

So, what do you think? What are some other ideas that could help us move toward grading practices that acknowledge effort and editing instead of total number of assignments?

occupy Vermont- Suffrage & employment
political cartoon
revolution row/ Wall of protest

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