Today was the start of second semester. I asked my students what they liked about our class and what they would like to see changed. There were quite a few positive comments about retakes and the feedback that I provide on formative assessments. They liked the group work and the cup system I have in place for communicating levels of struggle as I walk around the room. Many students like the flipped videos and taking notes at home, which allow them class time to work on homework with their peers. Others would prefer if I taught in front of the class more often and suggested that I do that twice a week. All of their comments were thoughtful and it was good to see that my intentions were effective and well received.
Another suggestion, that breaks my heart a little, is the lingering desire for a traditional letter grade. The students that asked for this, and there were not many, explained why they felt they needed it. I still read their words and tear up because the reason they gave is athletic eligibility. To me this seems simple – if you’re making progress then you are eligible. Because learning is a process I don’t issue grades until I am required to do so. How do I capture a weekly grade while progress is being made but the last piece of evidence has not been submitted?
In perfect situation, I would mark “Making Progress” or “Progress Stalled” or “No Progress” for eligible or ineligible each week. At the end of a grading period, I would only issue “Evidence of Proficiency Demonstrated” or “Has Not Yet Met Proficiency”. That’s right only two marks: Yes or Not Yet. To justify using this two-pronged approach, because I am on the SBL Island alone in my school, I can issue traditional letter grades at the end of the term. But only at the end. (I also wish there didn’t have to be an “end,” but there is an end in June-every year.) Every day before the last day of school is still an in-progress learning day – there is no grade – we are STILL learning.
So, I can stand on my Island and talk to myself and send messages in bottles hoping to be heard, but I really want my students and their parents to understand and be comfortable with my policies. The current concern seems slightly less focused on the grade for the sake of a grade, which warms me, but rather focused on the need for a grade for athletic eligibility. The thing is I am very committed to communicating with all parties involved so I complete athletic eligibility every week based on my student’s progress and use standards - “Making Progress” or “Progress Stalled” or “No Progress”. Is this enough? How do you determine athletic eligibility?
Please share your thoughts and the way that you address athletic eligibility for your standards based learners on twitter @stemflowerlc or by emailing Aric and Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
STEM and Flower Learning Consultants