Monday, September 21, 2015

My Marking Hacks & Things to Come

(Sorry my American #flipclass friends, but whenever you see "mark" you will have to think "grade"..It's a Canadian thing)

There are two main things that I do that contribute to (hopefully) speed up marking a bit.

1. Using EduCanon to embed questions and note-taking suggestions into video lessons. This app is connected directly to Edmodo (and also to Google if you use Classrooms, so students only need one login) and I can log in to look at my "monitor" page and can see how my entire class did on one screen. I immediately see which Ss are struggling on an individual topic and/or if a Q gave a whole chunk of the class issues. Students can also go back and write explanations that I can read and give them credit for. Love that added communication piece.

2. More discussion, less grading. Evaluation comes later. During the semester verbal and written feedback is much more valuable than marks themselves. I do everything in my power to get kids to stop thinking about the mark and start thinking about the learning. This is where I want their focus to be, and when I have to do something with an actual mark they will hopefully be better prepared (and, as a result, do better). If I could throw out grades entirely, I would.

Then there are the things that I want to do. I have (what we call in Ontario) my AQ (additional qualification) in assessment & evaluation. I am a bit of an assessment nerd, but my practiced do not yet match my beliefs/values (I am working on it).

Ontario has a policy called Growing Success that was published in 2010. Apparently we were one of the first provinces to have such a document and it is both vague and detailed. There is a lot in there that we should/have to do that we are still working to put into practice.

I am currently working on making better/more accurate use of Overarching Learning Goals (OLGs, this is a board term...they are similar to what some books call Big Ideas or Enduring Understandings) and learning goals in my classes. On my lesson plan (that is posted online for all to read) I give a learning goal (and am working on shifting them to more student friendly "I can" statements) that Ss can use to self-assess. Last week I had release time with some department colleagues and we created OLGs for Gr 9 and 10 science. I am planning to reveal these to my Grade 10s and make a point of referring back to them often.

Here is the ultimate goal - all assessment and evaluation will be developed with the OLGs in mind. In other words, the OLGs will serve as my starting point for backwards design. One of my colleagues has switched her "tests" in one of her courses to be much less traditional. Instead of having a bunch of (potentially insignificant) questions, she only has 4 questions on each test. One for each OLG as it relates to that "unit" of study. I love this idea. It seemed like the biggest issue was training Ss to answer the types of Qs she was using. Basically to UNtrain them of their previous habits of "studying content" to making connections and communicating well.

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