Monday, January 6, 2014

Frigid Air leaves me missing my students! (And working on a better way to grade!)

I live in northern Illinois and we are experiencing a blast of frigid air so all of the local schools have decided to close.  I teach at a private school but we follow the public school bus schedule, so since they are closing, so are we!  An extension to our Christmas holiday!

Since I am off, I have been doing more reading on grading and I have come to the conclusion that I really need to change what I am doing.  I don't believe that averaging a bunch of grades together really gives an accurate picture of what a student can do or where they fall in relationship to mastery of a standard.  After reading about Steve Peha and the 3P grading system (this link will take you to the Teaching That Makes Sense website, the 3P grading system can be found on the left side, 4th link from the top), I just think that this type of grading makes the most sense to me and allows me to give an accurate picture of the student's progress and achievement.  I have not worked out all the kinks yet, but if my principal gives me the ok, I will be implementing this system when we return to school on Wednesday. (unless the frigid air keeps us home another day!)

The philosophy of this grading system strengthens my fundamental desire to meet the needs of each child in terms that move me beyond traditional quiz/test/homework percentage calculations. Together with each child, I will critically examine how work was completed and what needs attention. This collaborative process enables students to actively “earn” their grade, which in turn launches them forward in life-long introspective observations of their own effort and accountability.

Students will be evaluated on participation, progress, and performance. Participation has to do with how students conduct themselves in class.  Progress is new learning: a measure of what students know at the end of a grading period that they did not know at the beginning. Performance refers to the quality of the work students submit (notebooks, journals, projects, collections of quizzes, tests and graded papers).

Student self-assessment is key to this process. In calculating the final grade, a student’s evaluation is equal in weight to the teacher’s evaluation. It also increases student ownership, heightens accountability, and improves motivation. This is probably the most powerful aspect of the 3P System because it makes student self-evaluation an ongoing and integral part of the class.
Participation (40% of the grade) is more important than progress (30%) or performance (30%). Participation is the key to maximizing achievement for every student; the harder they try, the higher they fly. Making participation the most heavily weighted trait encourages students to put forth a greater effort.

Grades are calculated based on a portfolio or collection of work during a grading period. Looking at work over time allows me, the teacher, and students to assess growth and to spot important trends and patterns. Parents will be able to view letter grades regularly during the quarter. (I will meet with students and assess at the 3, 6, and 9 week marks.  Of course, the grade could change significantly if a student really starts to improve or slacks off.)  It is helpful to underscore with children that letter grades represent the following descriptions.

  • If you are an “A” worker, you go “Above and Beyond” the minimum requirements; you not only meet the requirements, you do MORE than is asked of you. A grade of A is reserved for excellence “Above and Beyond” the norm. Students who get an A have singled themselves out as one of the very best.

  • Most people are “B” workers who work hard enough to get the job done, but don't really do anything extra to go “Above and Beyond.” “B” workers follow rules and procedures, show up on time, do everything that is asked of them, and don't cause any problems. They're "Generally Good" at what they do.

  • A "C" worker is someone who slacks off every now and then, may show up late every once in a while, and doesn't complete tasks in the time required. This person simply "Could Do Better" by putting more effort into the work he/she does and completing all tasks.

  • A "D" worker is someone who does only the minimum to pass. This person shows up late regularly, does not come prepared with materials or the right attitude, and makes excuses. In the real world, this is someone who has a difficult time keeping a job.

  • An "F" worker is someone who does nothing and does not try when he/she shows up to class

I would really appreciate any insight or opinions you might have on this.  I am really just searching for the best way to accurately assess my students so that it is beneficial to them and not just a letter on a report card.  

1 comment:

  1. I read a lot about this last year and LOVE the concept. You mean... I can focus on TEACHING! What a novel concept! I really like that it would allow me to do reading and writing workshop daily in my classroom because EVERYONE has something they're working on at all time. And I love to teach in small groups versus whole-class, so I think this would be an ideal situation for that!