Thursday, August 18, 2011

Making Assessment Part of Teaching

I spent the first part of the summer thinking about whether I should give standards-based grading a shot my first year or not. Actually, that's not true. I spent the first month of my summer in Germany and Spain. After that I started thinking about grading.

My wife and I hiking up to Schloss Neuschwanstein

Anyway, all it took was a little nudge from some teachers on Twitter along with support from my chair and administration. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been working on designing my grading system, and discovered a major reason to implement SBG: it actually gets me excited about assessment!

During my student teaching, I felt that assessment was one of the worst parts of teaching. A necessary evil. I loved teaching, but when it came to giving tests and passing out only vaguely meaningful grades, it was just something I had to make it through. And then I had to deal with students negotiating for another point or pleading for extra credit. We were never discussing their learning, we were discussing how many points they had and how many they needed. Ugh.

Now, when I'm working on designing my system and assessments, it feels more like teaching than test giving. The focus is specifically on what I want students to learn and their progress. Hopefully the conversations will mirror this.

I think this alone is a good enough reason to try SBG.

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