Another day another dime. I should be happy, sounds like next year a better phrase would be "another day another penny." Anyway, there were a number of conversations involving educational issues today in my world.
Hmmm...let's see, do I write about 1) the importance of staff working together as professionals, 2) how can we go about getting students more involved in using rubrics correctly, 3) cooperative learning, or 4) the role of grades as it relates to students doing work. There were more but you get the idea of my day.
Anyway, let's ramble about #4 ... grades and work. Teachers feel the pressures from parents, students and yes, even people like me (administrators) to get their grades done so a student can GET a grade. Many of our students, especially our better students, want to know what they need to do to get the grade. Notice they don't ask what do I need to learn to get an A. I recall a conversation years ago with a really good student. She told me I drove her nuts. She was never sure what she had to do or say to get an A. I would tell her all the time, she just needed to demonstrate to me that she understood the concepts at the level she was capable. She would reply "Just tell me what I have to do!" She ended up making an A in the class but I know she never got it.
So the question is how do we get our students to focus on what they learn instead of the grade when we have parents and for that matter, a society that wants to know what the grade is? I'm not going to pretend I have the answer ... truthfully - far from it. I know we have a lot of work at the whole game.
1. Do we really know as educators what we want our students to know? Really, do we know?
2. Our methods of instruction ... do they serve our students purpose or ours? This includes the use of homework (do we know why we assign the work and what we want to accomplish), classroom activities, projects, lectures, etc.
3. The assessment we use .. does it assess what we wanted our students to know or just a way to try and determine some form of grade? What about the dip sticking assessment .... are our homework and activities a way to determine what our students know or,again, to create a grade? Better yet, what do we do along the path of teaching our students when our dip sticking tells us the student doesn't know it ... give a grade and move on or actually stop and work with the student?
4. All this leads us to "THE GRADE" ... bottom line, all this work we do with our students leads us to the grade. Yet, we can take the same student, the same set of assignments, the same assessments but different methods, different teachers choose to figure a grade and end up with different results. So if that's the case ... what does the grade really tell us about student learning?
Ok ... as you can tell I had some interesting conversations today which wore me down a bit so it's time to call it a night.