It's the end of the first quarter. I don't want to give up on sbg just yet. I've got to figure out what's going wrong so I can make this thing work.
I've separated grades in the gradebook according to skill.
I've been giving shorter,weekly assessments addressing specific skills.
Students have their own bubble sheets to fill in so that they can self-analyze what they know and don't know.
I've had 6 out of 68 students come in to reassess.
And 4 of those 6 were girls who had B's instead of their normal A's.
Overall, grades are lower than last year. But I have different students. I'd like to say that the grades are a truer picture of their abilities since I am only grading quizzes but with the rubric I was using, I can't necessarily agree with that.
Pitfall #1: I was forcing my instruction to fit in a quiz every Friday whether or not a skill logically ended that way. It didn't matter if we were in the middle of a skill or not, come Friday, we quiz.
Solution #1: By creating my assessment first, I can expect more out my students since I can plan better lessons. Creating the assessment first forces me to focus my instruction on the skills that are imperative to build up to the same level of ability that the assessment addresses. This way my teaching covers all the needed parts and class logically ends with an overall assessment.
Pitfall #2: It's possible that the students do not have enough independent practice to prepare them for taking an independent assessment. I've been trying new strategies to get away from direct instruction but 90% of what the students are doing is with a partner, in a group, or as a whole class. Maybe I am making it too easy for them to tune out and just write things down without holding them accountable for anything. Also, I don't give homework. If we don't finish something in class, I will tell them it's homework. They don't do it. We finish it in class the next day anyway. The whole idea of not grading homework is to give them guidance and correction through constructive feedback. I have morphed into giving no homework at all which translates into no written feedback until the actual assessment. So the only concrete evidence that they know what they are doing is the few minutes I walk around the room while they are working and give minor feedback.
Solution #2: My instructional coach is advising me to create a chart or some kind of system to check the work the students are doing, even if I'm not actually grading it. I started an Excel sheet where I catalog a C for Complete, I for Incomplete, or a 0 if they didn't turn anything in. This at least gives me a point of reference for discussion with a student/parent/administrator. Another idea I had is to hang up charts (like in Kindergarten or Sunday School) and let a student each day collect the assignments and go mark the C, I, or 0 for their class. That would give the students some involvement and maybe hold them a little more accountable since everyone could plainly see who is completing their work and who isn't. From there I could reward those that constantly complete their homework but I don't really want to start bribing them. Another idea she had is if maybe once a week I randomly checked a couple problems so that students would never know when I would be checking or for what. I really don't want to do that. I just hate grading. I don't want to grade all that and completion grades become fluff.
Pitfall #3: Students are not retaining information. I was doing my best to assess every skill twice in class to help those students who will never come in for reassessment as well as the retention issue. I don't know that it helped other than highlighting the fact that students are not retaining information.
Solution #3: Although I have created some thoughtful ideas on how to summarize my lessons, I have yet to do any. When faced with a time crunch, I tend to want to finish the notes or activity we're currently doing rather than stopping to start something new. I guess the truth is I haven't seen the value of summarizing as a tool for retention. Yet. Also, it seems like a waste for students to do the summary for me to glance at it and throw it away. On the other hand, most of the work we do in class gets less than a glance from me. Touche. I wonder if my students would be more likely to do summaries if they had laptops to type them on? What I'd like to do is give two problems (preferably on index cards, which I heart!) of homework each day. Surely everyone could manage that. But, I still don't want to grade it. And is 2 problems really enough to aid in retention?
Pitfall #4: Students don't care about their grades. No one wants to reassess. A good portion don't even fill out the bubble chart (skill tracking form) because it's not for a 'grade'. I suppose as long as they are passing, it doesn't really bother them. Report cards come out next week, so I guess we'll see what happens then. We had progress reports at the halfway point of the quarter, but I guess no one was really upset by their grade.
Solution #4: If I knew how to make students care, I could be rich and famous by now.