As some of you might have seen on Twitter last week, I was checking essays on Huck Finn. They were not the best essays in the world, but they were not the worst. The students need to work on their analysis and I decided to spend the next few days helping them in that area. Today I had them review their essays online and see the comments I made. I discussed what the analysis should look like and gave them an opportunity to fix their essays with more analysis. They had class time today and they will resubmit Tuesday. A girl raised her hand and asked how many points it was worth. I told her not to worry about it and focus on improving her writing. She was adamant about knowing the “value” of the redo. I asked her if she would try harder if it was worth more points. Her response was bothersome. “I don’t know. Work is worth points, that is what school is about.” I felt terrible when I heard this. I told her not to worry about points and focus on the writing. She was clearly disgusted at my response and I got the teenage eye roll in response. I want to me annoyed with her attitude, but is it her fault for feeling that way? Isn’t it our (Schools in general) fault for creating this culture? #Barf
I've got a freshman geography class that is like that, everything has to have a "value" and they decide if it's worth the effort based on the reward/grade.ReplyDelete
Try throwing the value judgment back at them with, "How many points do YOU think it should be? Should it be 25% of the total assignment grade or perhaps 50%?"
That brings them into the evaluation process, creating more of a bartering system than a simple cost structure analysis of their grade.
Three words....Standards - Based Grading... focus on learning and not on points. Isn't learning our goal? I think kids have been jaded by teachers taking off half a point for this and half a point for that. Let's focus on the learning! Did the student meet the standard?ReplyDelete
Also, kudos for reteaching/reassessing! Wanted to end on a + note! That's what great teachers do. Don't move on until the kids have learned it.ReplyDelete
Well now while the little dickens was surely trying to get out of painful rewrites she did hit on an area of importance from the creative side. Perhaps our student will do well in a deadline oriented pressure packed career where decisions about "how much is this worth" revolve around time,money and completing a project. For example in the design world time=$$$ and you can't spend hours redoing to ultra perfection on every single task. So maybe our ambition challenged student can give you a decision on the order of importance of all the tasks involved in essay writing and then she can negotiate points. Prioritizing is a good task management skill!ReplyDelete
@thenerdyteacher, I agree it is unfortunate that so many of our students have been trained to do things in an effort to gain marks. I think it is sad that the focus has shifted away from learning and so much towards marks. When I hear students ask questions such as 'What can I do to gain bonus marks?', I realize where their attention is focussed.ReplyDelete
I am a big supporter of the fact that we should be doing far less grading and assigning far fewer marks than most educators currently do. However, I think it is important to focus on what we should be doing rather than dwelling on what we shouldn't be doing. I believe an increased focus on improving student engagement is the direction to go in. I admit student engagement is a large umbrella, but the beauty is that it allows educators some flexibility in how they wish to pursue the goal. Through differentiated instruction, providing student choice and re-thinking assessment practices we can re-engage our kids in their learning.
In addition to my comments, you may wish to check out a blog I wrote earlier... http://aakune.blogspot.com/2010/11/is-this-for-marks-need-for-engagement.htmlReplyDelete
I agree. #barf. Fortunately in elementary I don't run into that too much. I am able to redo certain things several times and a lot (not all) of the kids understand why they are redoing the practice, analysis, response, etc. I do agree though that it is our fault (Schools in general). When I was in college I weighed each assignment, based on the syllabus, and decided what I "had" to do and what was optional. I did fairly well, grades-wise, in college. But I don't use a whole lot of what I "learned" in the classes that I was able to weigh assignments. At the time, work was points. What would provide me the best possibility for an "A" with the least amount of work. I even had professors suggest doing that in their course because their workloads were so demanding. That says a lot, as I look back, about the course, the professor, and the learning environment.ReplyDelete
I think this post is a great reflection and wake-up call for many of us. I am doing my best to help my students see the true value of their classwork and that a grade is far less important than the learning process and experience.
I could not agree with your #barf more. However, we are to blame for this culture of student grades. They have been trained from an early age to chase the "A" and figure out what they need to do for their desired grade.
Better yet, they ask "will this be on the test?" Students have been trained to only retain what they need for the test rather than learn for the sake of learning.
As a previous comment stated, standards based grading is a step in the right direction. Your post is a sad reality that at the end of the day, for some kids it is all about the grade...it is a cultural thing that we need to change.
OK Seriously reading this post bc I am sitting at my desk ticked off right now. Thought clicking a twitter link and reading something would help calm me. I gave my students a small assignment. Read an article from last week about a concept we are discussing, analyze, etc, etc. Walked around, they all "got it." No one needed help. The last sentence on the assignment "BE READY TO DISCUSS YOUR FINDINGS" in big bold words. So I start discussion, NOTHING. I hint, I almost give answer, NOTHING. Finally one response "There was nothing for you to take up, so didn't think it mattered." Seriously, I want to #barf.ReplyDelete
I hate this. I do not assign homework for this reason. In elementary grades, their homework only could account for 5% of grade, so they refuse to do it because not worth a lot of points. They learned at early age, if they never did it, they still could make an A.
This whole idea needs to go away. By the way, I refuse to ever tell the students how many points anything is.