I gave my first quiz today in Math 7 and Pre-Algebra. The event itself and the results have brought me to two conclusions, one on a small scale and one on a large scale.
On the small scale, I see that I need to spend more time on a few key concepts, specifically addition and subtraction of negative integers. I am very pleased with the lessons that we did using the counters, but I'm not sure that I gave them enough time to actually practice those skills.
The method of integer operations is new to them and a bit different than what they've been taught. It will take them time to acquire these skills and guided practice is something that I glossed over. The average score in one of the classes was 10/19.
Rather than being frustrated about the low scores, I need to recognize how difficult it is for students to adapt to my teaching and for me to adapt to their learning styles. They are trying, but there will be a period of adjustment.
The second conclusion is that the education system in general is horrendously disrespectful to children and the idea of childhood.
Before I handed out the quiz, several of my students (11 and 12 years old) began to panic. They were worried that they were going to fail. They were going to get bad grades and not get into college. One student told me that she set a goal for herself in 1st grade never to get any grade lower than an A.
There are no conditions in which an 11 year old should even be thinking about college, let alone be worried about not getting in.
A 1st grader shouldn't even know what grades ARE!
I will continue to emphasize to my students that I care about knowledge and not about grades. I will continue to emphasize that my grades are related to the level of knowledge that they can demonstrate instead of effort put forth. I will continue to emphasize that we seek improvement, not perfection.
I kept promising myself that I would move to Standards Based Grading and I kept falling down on that promise. Perhaps this will finally get me off my butt to do it.
Grades are supposed to be indicators of learning. If a student is worried about grades, it should only be due to their concern about knowledge that they have yet to master.
Grades are the means to an end with that end being knowledge acquisition.
Grades should never be the end.
Now, if you'll excuse me, my unicorn is double parked and I don't want it towed before I head home to Fantasia!