Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Day 37: iPlan, iGrade

I made a plan for this week!

Tomorrow, we will be finishing the notes for the chapter, reviewing on Thursday and testing on Friday.

That means today was reserved for practice with the terminology and concepts of eclipses, lunar and solar.

It worked out VERY well.  The students who needed help were able to get it and I was able to put in grades while they were working.  Over the various class periods, we also had some interesting discussions about students responsibility, the role of school and the purpose of grades.

As I sadly suspected, students are under the impression that grades are what determine what they can do with their lives.  They see the grades as more important than the skills that those grades are supposed to be assessing.

Student: "All you grade are the tests and I don't do well on the tests because I don't know the stuff."
Me: "Then you should take this opportunity to do the practice sheets. They will help you to identify the material that you know and the material you need help on."
Student: "Why would I do this if you aren't grading it?"
Me: "We're going to go over it so you'll know what you know and what you don't.  This will help you to identify topics that you'll need to study to get a higher grade on the test."
Student: "But you're not grading this paper."
Me: "No.  It's for your information."
Student: "Then I'm not doing it."

I had this conversation multiple times today.

I think we need to be having a deep conversation about the purpose and meaning of grades.  That conversation need to include teachers, administrators, parents, students and colleges.  If grades are supposed to be evaluating skills, then "participation grades" don't make any sense.  If grades are indicators of the amount of work completed, then we need to be failing kids who don't do work, regardless of their proficiency level.

I still am not sure where I stand, except to know that I don't like our current system.

Also, you can only use the phrase "ring of fire" so many times (once) before you start singing Johnny Cash.  My soundtrack today started with that and moved quickly to Frank Sinatra.

The physics kids are really starting to pick it up as a group.  As we quickly move through one-dimensional motion, I want to make sure they are comfortable with the algebraic manipulation.  When we do two-dimensional motion, we will be launching projectiles and I would prefer no one get hurt.

They had an array of practice problems to interpret and work with.  I circulated through the room, answering questions, supporting their learning and generally trying to stay out of the way.

2D motion isn't much more complicated than 1D motion, but if you aren't familiar with algebraic manipulation, it's VERY easy to get bogged down and lost.

We need to have that stuff down pat or it'll make the William Tell Final Exam VERY messy.

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