Monday, March 30, 2015

Week 28 - Grades in #flipclass

In recent weeks the weekly twitter chat for #flipclass has become a #flashblog where the topic that is being discussed at the beginning becomes the topic of a blog that we go off to write (and then return to share). This weeks topic is grades/assessment (and since I am Canadian I must add to that list, marks).

I have been trying to work toward a classroom culture that limits the emphasis on marks. Both of the classes that I run using a flipped classroom model (and wish I could do a mastery model) I have been trying to create this type of culture in. About two semesters ago I stopped including a marking scheme on my in-class quizzes. I now only give descriptive feedback on them and return them to students. This has allowed me to create more discussion around them and to try some new things.

The first semester the focus was on getting students to make corrections without me simply posting an answer key. This made sure that students actually had a good reason to read through the feedback I had given and put some thought into going back to that material that was unclear to them. Students bought into this idea fairly easily and it seemed to work well overall.

This semester I had a quiz for my physics class that lead me to find some common mistakes. I used this idea to create homogeneous groups based on their results and then throughout that class visited each of the groups to discuss what their next steps should be. The feedback from students was that they enjoyed being put into different groups like this and that I should do it again. It is kind of funny how often they appreciate new groups but they never switch it up on their own (even though this class choose their own groups).

I am always seeking new ideas to try to work on this culture some more. I am also doing a lot of work around my assessment practices in general and hope to work more with learning goals in the future (and then make info available to students showing them their learning level of each of the goals so that they can see what I think they need to work on whenever they need).

If you have ideas, please share!

Happy Spring!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Week 13 - Assessment & Evaluation

Starting last spring I started to go to after school sessions lead by our Secondary Assessment Resource Coordinator of our board around assessment in secondary schools. I have been (what many of us lovingly call ourselves) an assessment nerd for awhile now. In the spring of 2013 I did an online AQ through Queen's to develop a better understanding of student Assessment & Evaluation and have enjoyed discussing, learning, and developing student assessment practices ever since. It is a complex beast, worth a lot of our time and effort - it is the backbone of our everyday decisions and long term planning (or at least it should be).

Around the time I had planned to write this blog we had a positive climate day at our school that included a speaker for our students. In his presentation the speaker showed the students part of a children's book he had written that refers to education as a hegemony. It was a light bulb moment for me to have one word that can describe my feelings around the changes that education needs to make all of a sudden - I have always found it ironic that we reference education as preparing students for what comes next (this phrase is used at all grade and levels of education) and yet, we are not really equipped to do this in our changing world.

These early experiences with out A&E coordinator had a lot of discussion around triangulation of evidence and the fact that appearances in secondary education are that we are further behind in implementing growing success than our elementary counter parts (though perhaps this is just an appearance?). As it turned out a bunch of the teachers who had chosen to attend one of these sessions were math educators and we all had the same feeling - we all WANT to learn to triangulate evidence in our math class rooms but do not feel like we know HOW. From this session we requested a chance to create a working team to come up with some things to work from that we can hopefully spread and share with other colleagues. [At the time I planned to write this we had not gotten to a point where we had anything planned, but we now have meeting dates in place for a group of us to do just that with support from our A&E coordinator. These are planned for April and plan to blog about these experiences later.]

It is going to take some time and effort up front to make all of this work, but I am looking forward to continuing to explore these ideas with my peers and to trying new things. I have started to explore e-portfolios as a way to track student learning (and find this way more meaningful for report writing than just looking at a list of marks I have recorded as I can speak to specifics a lot more easily). I have started doing this on my own (which is time consuming) and plan to explore ways of getting students to do this for themselves and sharing it with me instead (next year).

More A&E blogs to come.