If we want students to apply their knowledge to a new task that shows their ability to use the skills they've learned, why does that have to take the form of written timed tests over a two week period for every class they are taking?
If we spent time in school preparing students to be good learners, able to think critically and apply skills across content, then they'd be successful when they got to college, at least more successful. Learners need time to tinker with a problem and figure stuff out, there is no time limit on that and every learner does it differently and at a different pace.
As education begins to change and we reconsider how we assess students, we can't continue to do what is easiest for institutions at the expense of what is best for students. Testing and transcripts have never been very helpful to many students. They end up being accurate for only a very small percentage of kids. Using portfolios would be a far more beneficial way to show what kids know.
Perhaps systemically, we can start the shift to standards based grading and then eventually to no grades at all, giving students the opportunity to take joy in what they take in rather than worry about how they perform on tests and their report cards.
What do you do when a student chronically turns work in late, doesn't even try to get it in on time, at least it seems that way and you want to correct the situation without letting the kid "off the hook"?
If we're brave enough to relinquish the control of the questions that dominate and often quell depth of learning among students, they will dive in and take over and even surprise us. They won't be fearful of not getting the right answer because they ultimately aren't looking for one answer when they ask, but rather an open-ended thoughtful experience to share ideas.
Guest post by Eric Saibel As a father and educator, I observe the inexorable role of play in the daily life of children. Play is a child's default setting, interrupted only by some natural cycles (like sleep) and other quotidian obligations. At my school I see students running and playing every spare moment they can.The need for play - as both creative outlet and survival tool - is a tectonic force deep within us. So why does the idea of play seem so contrary to the idea of school? At some point, society began to see play as separate ...
Once the conferences have been completed, there are no surprises come report card time. Students know what is going on and so do parents. These conversations keep learning transparent and progress is always in the open. Making sure that students understand where their mastery level is and what needs improvement ensures continued growth and focus in the upcoming term; it also helps us differentiate better.
Although doing report card grades is my least favorite part of teaching, working with students to determine an appropriate level of learning has greatly improved the experience. I love to list to students talk about what they are most proud of and read their answers to their forms. It's as much an opportunity for them to reflect as it is for me.
Reading is the most effective way to develop vocabulary, voice and enrich brain development. As an English teacher, I can tell my readers in their writing as there is a delicate complexity that exists that is harder to teach. The earlier we can get students excited about words, the better their chance of being successful in life. Not necessarily only reading literature, students have so much to choose from now. Encourage them to read it all or whatever inspires them.