Philosophy of Learning, Assessment & Grades
An old-fashioned history class had a teacher working in isolation talking to students listening in isolation. That is not what we do here. My classes are both highly-structured to provide clear objectives to students, but also adaptable to meet the diverse needs of learners using a “no walls, no ceilings” approach. In the absence of differentiation, there is an implied philosophy that all students’ needs are the same, that the class works as a whole on most materials and activities, that the group sets the pace, and that group grading standards prevail.
That is not how this class operates. All students experience the same curriculum. In my classes, the default instruction and assessment is at a high standard. Appropriate levels of support are continually provided to help students meet those expectations.
At the core of my classes are "inquiry" activities -- a lesson where students analyze historical evidence in order to form and test hypotheses about past events.
Inquiry lessons introduce students to the "doing" of history. Through using evidence to investigate historical questions, students are given the opportunity to see that history is not just a collection of facts, but rather a rigorously constructed set of arguments.
As students encounter new and in some cases contradictory evidence, they are asked to reconsider their initial views, learning that interpretations of the past can change based on the available historical evidence. (more)
Practice & Feedback
Practice assignments (often called formative assessment) are usually not graded. This includes notes, homework and in-class assignments.
However, completion of some practice assignments is recorded on the online gradebook with a zero weight towards the overall grade. This is done to provide feedback to parents and students about work habits.
A student’s self-assessment of their work is a critical part of this classroom. It provides invaluable feedback and helps students and the teacher set goals.
Behavior and Participation
Each student must acquire certain skills to be a successful citizen, however a grade must reflect what a student knows and can demonstrate when it comes to specific learning standards. Therefore, non-academic indicators, such as participation, behavior, work completion, attendance & other non-academic indicators, are not included in a student’s grade.
Competency and Mastery
The primary purpose of grades is to communicate student learning. The gradebook documents student performance over a period of time and provides feedback regarding concerns and strengths. Learning is measured against Michigan Social Studies Standards common to all students. Progress is determined through multiple measures (assessments, student projects, informal observations, etc.) It is not the intent of the gradebook to report on every aspect of learning that occurs in the classroom, but the additional information provided through detailed standards-based reports will be beneficial to provide the best educational experience for our students.
Students will be given multiple opportunities in various ways to demonstrate their understanding of learning standards. Therefore, reassessment will be encouraged and will be allowed after the re-learn process for full credit up until the last week of the quarter.
Deadlines & Late Work
All assignments are given a due date. However, grades are only related directly to stated content standards. Individual achievement of stated standards are the only basis for grades. Therefor:
- "Fair Isn't Always Equal," by Rick Wormeli
- "Classroom instruction that works," by Robert Marzano
- "How to Grade for Learning," by Ken O’Connor
- "Redos and Retakes" by Reed Gillespie
- "Can We Get Beyond Letter Grades?" by Jon Dean
- "The Case For Retakes and How to Manage Them" by Brad Weinstein
- "What does the research say about standards-based grading" by Matt Townsley
- "Still not sure about redos/retakes... then read this" by Justin Tarte
- "How Michigan's Teacher of the Year Transitioned to Standards-Based Grading" by Gary Abud
- "Homework in the Standards-Based Grading Classroom" by Gary Abud
- "Research & Rationale" by DesMoises Public Schools