Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Grading Practices Revisited

I just read an article "The Culture Builder" by Roland S. Barth (Educational Leadership May 2002, Vol. 59, Number 8) with a group of highly motivated, inspired (inspirational) school leaders who are establishing new school programs where new culture is being built around what is best for students. More on that later.

A topic that rose was grading practices. Roland Barth states a message by schools is "Learn or we will hurt you." He states, "Educators have taken learning--a wonderful, spontaneous capacity of all human beings--and coupled it with punitive measures. We have developed an arsenal of sanctions and punishments that we inextricably link with learning experiences."

Ken O'Conner, Rick Wormelli and others look at grading practices and how it  can be done to emphasize learning over gradebook keeping. I've made comments on this before, and was asked to share a powerpoint where I took these educator thinkers work and explored the ramifications. Below is a powerpoint that I've used to support teachers and administrators in reflecting on efficient ways to assess and grade. Comments welcome.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Results-Only Learning Environment

Much of the focus of the Education world for achievement is on what the adult stakeholders can or should do to improve the system. There are some innovative ideas generated, tested, and implemented. How can we help students be successful. How do we hold accountability to standards based on practice that is evidenced-based. What will schools of the future look like?

These are only some of the challenges that educators grapple with in seeking what is best for students. Through all of the work that's done, few include a missing element. One that may, in its simplicity, be the most difficult and critical element for success...

Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships are touted as critical to education. Yet few school cultures incorporate students as an equal member, much less the driving member of the learning team. Students can best determine the what and how of learning. For proof, look at adults regarding our learning. Give me the deadline and learning targets, and I will take the pathways that works for me. Reading, talking to others, watching videos...varying location from walks, cafes, desk, floor...with music or silence depending on "my" mood. It doesn't matter how or what I do, so long as the deadlines are met and the outcome produce is of high quality.

Shouldn't that be what's best for students?

Coach students on how to work in this format. Believe that they are capable if given the opportunity and guidance. Trust that they can succeed. When they fail, it's the best opportunity for them to learn and grow. It's our responsibility to teach them how to learn from mistakes.

Shouldn't that be what's best for students?