Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Deadlines and Drive Bys

So this whole thing with deadlines and failures has been bouncing around in my brain for a while now and I believe I'm finally ready to do something about it.  I am going to make two significant changes for trimester 2.

#1) I am going to dispense with homework scores and replace my formative portion with “snapshot scores.” Here’s what I mean. If a trimester is 13 weeks long I want to set arbitrary deadlines after the 4th, 7th, and 10th weeks. Basically, I’ll record their current score in the gradebook as a week 4 snapshot score. That score would be worth 5% of their grade. Then I’ll do it again after the 7th and 10th weeks for 15% total formative. 80% would then be learning target grades and 5% for the final. The rationale is that I want kids to be motivated in keeping up with the work and I feel more kids will reach B and A levels if they are scaffolded up there faster through these artificial deadlines. And frankly the formative scores would be more meaningful than a homework completion score.

#2) I am going to create a “Learning Target Checklist” worksheet that every student must turn in prior to taking any test. I’ll still use the homework to support the process, but I’m not going to check it any more. Here’s how it will go:

So what if a student doesn’t have their Checklist done by test day? First of all, I’m hoping to collect it ahead of time and offer feedback prior to the test. If a student doesn’t have it I’ll refer them to our homework center. If they don’t have it on test day I’ll make them do it instead of taking the test.

Finally, how does this fit in with having students take a bet and lose, as Shawn Cornally so masterfully put it the other day.  Allowing kids to fail so they adjust their learning habits?  Probably doesn't.  I am a bit tired of teaching that lesson.  I'm the one who has been betting and losing and I'm sick of it.  At least for now I want to set up a structure where they can't lose.  Or if they do they'll have to try really hard.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

And Then There's This

Second to last day, student still missing 4 learning targets today (out of 9 - she was sick a couple of weeks ago so I'm cutting her a little slack).  Gave her a retake ticket for one of them.

As I do with all of the students, I looked it over with her.  Not correct.  Fundamental errors.  Reteaching.  "Do you understand why you made the errors?" "Yes." "Can you correct them?" "Yes." "OK here are three more problems. Show me."

After she's finished, we check her answers again.  Same errors.  More wrong than right.  Reteaching.  Give her three more practice problems.

But she flat-out refused to do them, insisting that I give her the retest straightaway.  I of course said no way, there's no point to that if you don't know what you're doing.  It's a waste of time.  Do the practice problems first.  She maintains that she'll pass.  I told her to prove it first.

And she refused.

So here's a kid who I would have bet on passing two weeks ago.  Refusing to put in the time to learn it properly.  Her idea of learning and what learning actually is are vastly different.  She thinks she's learned it while I know she hasn't. 

How pervasive is this problem?  How do we fix it?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Failures & Deadlines: Unavoidable Contradictions

End of the trimester.  Two days left.  Last chance to show me you can meet the basic learning targets.  And guess what?  The pressure of a deadline is causing kids to learn in the masses.  Full classroom after school.  Practicing problems.  Proving it.  Are we really doing kids a favor by letting them "learn at their own pace"?

End of the trimester.  Learn now or fail.  And guess what?  The prospect of failure is motivating students to learn in the masses.  Full classroom after school.  Practicing problems.  Proving it.  Are we really doing kids a favor by removing the heavy stick that is failure?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Things Could Get Pretty Cold

Can someone help me out here?

Do I need to stock up on wool socks?