This year I’m enjoying the opportunity to try some things I’ve never tried before.  Well, I’ve tried some of them before, but it was somewhat “under-the-table.”  One policy that has been more formalized this year is that of grading summative assessments only.  Instead of grading all the practice, students are assessed on their knowledge of what they’ve learned over the course of doing all the practice.  This makes sense on many, many levels.  But then, of course, you have the challenge of motivating students to even do the practice, and educating parents so they understand the logic and principles behind the practice.

This, coupled with another formalized policy (allowing relearning of assessed material in order to allow students to retake the assessment), have made grading both relaxing and stressful.  It’s somewhat relaxing to know that students won’t be penalized for not getting practice right.  It’s practice, right?!  It’s a little more stressful, because it can be a lot to keep up with (particularly if things are submitted online).

The biggest challenge so far has been getting students to understand that being allowed a second or third chance on an assessment isn’t a ticket to do nothing.  Retaking or redoing is something in addition to their ongoing, regular classwork.  It’s something that must be done before or after school, on top of everything else.  I don’t think that’s quite sunk in yet.

But, I like this challenge.  I like this way of doing things.  It more closely mirrors the world of games, after which I’ve modeled a lot of my classroom this year (or at least, I’m trying to).  There’s flexibility, allowing the class to become more student-centric.  There’s grace, allowing students to take risks.  And there’s choice, allowing students the ability to choose what to focus on (and to bear the brunt of that choice, if necessary).

I’m in!  Game on!

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