Feedback to Learn
Greetings Team! Thank you for a good morning of discussion, reflection, and action! The purpose of the session was to look at feedback as one of the most critical of all learning strategies, either in a positive or negative way. Please check out John Hattie's work on the subject of feedback at his "Visible Learning" website, https://visible-learning.org (Oh, by the way, check out the #1 learning strategy.)
For your online work this month, please read the following article and comment before Jan 14th and comment to one other post by Jan. 20.
When Grading Harms Student Learning
Instead of issuing zeros, penalizing late work, and grading formative assessments, teachers should make the classroom a place of hope instead of fear.
By Andrew Miller November 23, 2015
There are so many forces at work that make educators grade, and grade frequently. For sports eligibility, coaches constantly look at grades to see if a student is at an academic level that will allow him or her to play. Colleges review transcripts to examine what type of courses students took and their corresponding grades. Teachers must follow policy that demands them to enter a certain amount of grades every week, month, or marking period. There's no stopping it. However, we need to reflect upon policies and practices like this -- and possibly consider moderating them. Is grading the focus, or is learning the focus? Yes, grades should and can reflect student learning, but often they can get in the way and actually harm student learning.
The Dreaded Zero I used to give out zeros in the hopes that it would force students to do work and learn. This was a terrible idea! I'm so happy that I received the professional development and resources to challenge my thinking on how I was graded as a student. Myron Dueck notes that students need to care about consequences, and many students simply don't care about zeros. In fact, some of them will say, "Fine, I'll take the zero," which totally defeats the intended purpose and in fact destroys any leverage that I have to help students learn. Zeros do not reflect student learning. They reflect compliance. Instead of zeros, we should enter incompletes, and use these moments to correct behavioral errors and mistakes. Often, one zero can mathematically destroy a student's grade and pollute an overall metric that should reflect student learning. Here, grading is getting in the way of truly helping a student, as well as showing what that student really knows.
Points Off for Late Work I'm guilty of this one as well. Similar to using zeros, when students didn't turn in work on time, I threaten them with a deduction in points. Not only didn't this correct the behavior, but it also meant that behavioral issues were clouding the overall grade report. Instead of reflecting that students had learned, the grade served as an inaccurate reflection of the learning goal. Well, I certainly learned from this experience, and instead began using late work as a time to actually address the behavioral issue of turning in late work. It was a teachable moment. I had students reflect on what got in the way, apply their problem-solving skills to these issues, and set new goals. Students should learn the responsibility of turning in work on time, but not at the cost of a grade that doesn't actually represent learning.
Grading "Practice" Many of our assignments are "practice," assigned for students to build fluency and practice a content or skill. Students are often "coming to know" rather than truly knowing. Consequently, these assignments are formative assessments, reflecting a step in the learning process and not a final outcome or goal. Formative assessment should inform instruction. It should not be graded. If we assign a grade to failed practice, the overall grade won't reflect what they learned. It won't be a reflection of success, and it may even deter students from trying again and learning. Practice assignments and homework can be assessed, but they shouldn't be graded.
Grading Instead of Teaching As mentioned earlier, many teachers are required to enter grades on a frequent basis. While this policy may be well intended, in practice it can become a nightmare and run afoul to the intent. Districts and schools often call for frequent grades so that students, parents, and other stakeholders know what a child knows, and what he or she needs to learn next. This is a great intent. In fact, we should formatively assess our students and give everyone access to the "photo album" of learning rather than a single "snapshot." However, if we educators do nothing but grade, we rob ourselves of the time that we need to teach. We've all been in a situation where grading piles up, and so we put the class on a task to make time for grading. This is wrong, and it should be the other way around. Teaching and learning should take precedence over grading and entering grades into grade books. If educators are spending an inordinate amount of time grading rather than teaching and assessing students, then something needs to change.
Hope Our work as educators is providing hope to our students. If I use zeros, points off for late work, and the like as tools for compliance, I don't create hope. Instead, I create fear of failure and anxiety in learning. If we truly want our classrooms to be places for hope, then our grading practices must align with that mission. Luckily, standards-based grading, mastery-based grading, and competency-based learning are making strides in many schools, districts, and states. These methods more accurately align with the premise that "it's never too late to learn." If you want to learn more about equitable grading practices, read work by Ken O'Connor, Myron Dueck, Dylan Wiliam, and Rick Wormeli.
With that, I will leave you with an essential question to ponder: How can we grade and assess in a way that provides hope to all students?
Click and comment below.
Newbies: contact your Veteran partner for a classroom visit of a "feedback" protocol in action. The Itty Bitty Book has some very good feedback protocols for your consideration, but please contact your Veteran by Jan. 14 to set up the visit. All visits should be completed by Jan 31st. Please remember to use your Modern Learning Log for communication.
Veterans: please reach out to your Newbie partner if you do not hear from him/her. The Newbie should schedule a visit before Jan 31. In your observations, consider using these guiding questions to create conditions of meaningful feedback:
What evidences are present that students self-monitor/regulate in class?
How is the teacher using student feedback to adjust on-the-spot teaching?
Are students accepting feedback in a constructive manner?
How often within a period was formative assessment used?
See you in February!
1/4/2019 12:28:01 pm
Wow. Today's reading about grades was quite eye-opening. However, I can honestly say that I'm not surprised that education has come to this. Zeros hurt feelings, counting off for late work gives inaccurate readings on achievement, and too many grades shows that we focus too much on grades. I understand that we are supposed to provide hope, but what about accountability? Teaching and grading go hand in hand. How can one not go with the other?
1/9/2019 09:26:57 am
The educator who uses grades to motivate students is an imbecile. Grades are a reflection of execution, not a token offered for the benefit of a student's psyche.
1/11/2019 01:49:19 pm
I am in no way surprised with what the article had within its confines. I could say that not giving zeros, accepting late work as completely worthwhile. and not giving a lot of grades created an atmosphere of hope rather than fear - but I would be prevaricating. My decades as a high school classroom teacher has repeatedly shown me that these tactics do NOT work. The state and the districts have given so much away that anything the teacher adds will only make the educational process more of a farce.
1/11/2019 01:57:04 pm
u ask me. (I apologize for the length and a few grammatical errors. i worked so hard at eliminating them but always have difficulty when put in a situation where I can not edit my own responses. Mea culpa.)
1/13/2019 07:28:35 pm
Grade is an immediate feedback to the outcome or performance of a student. As an educator I affirm that without numbers or quantity we cannot describe the aptitude of a certain individual. Does grade reflects the total performance of an individual? My answer to that question is NO, Grades are just indicator how well did you perform in a just a particular task usually a written test. Does it harm students learning? Yes and No. No if its just to quantify the students knowledge for a particular task. It is a basis to compare performances, a gauge so a learner know where his strength and weakness in sets of random questions. Yes, if the feedback or score does not matter or the student does not care about it as explained by Myorn Dueck. I will also agree to him that Zero as a grade is a behavioral issue and not academic. Zero should not be a grade at all because the disparity of zero as a value to passing score of 75 for example is so big that it would be hard for a student to cope up as he/she progresses. At least give a 50 so there will be hope and will foster chance to recover. Grades does not reflect the totality of individual anyway. I am also in agreement to the concept of more hours and focus of teaching than stressing yourself as a teacher in putting up the grades immediately as a priority. The only thing that I can comment about the linked videos of the two speaker is that they both have a good argument and points but they fail to give a concrete ideas or examples how to be creative in grading performance, how often are you going to use incomplete instead of numbers? Are there claims are backed by researched and statistical results?
1/14/2019 12:34:44 pm
Though I appreciate the intent behind these ideas, I really cannot get on board. Yes, we want students to master material, but perhaps more importantly we want to prepare them to be productive adults. A very small percentage of my students may directly benefit from knowledge of complex fractions, however a great majority will need to know how to meet deadlines, manage time, recover from setbacks, deal with bosses and coworkers, etc. Sacrificing these skills to increase content knowledge is not a good trade off.
1/15/2019 10:43:04 am
I understand certain aspects of the article, but at the same time we are preparing students to become successful adults. Students must be held accountable for their actions. In adulthood bosses are not going to be concerned about providing hope.
1/16/2019 01:53:26 pm
I will agree with these for the age appropriateness for most of our students. They are matured enough to face the consequences of their actions. They need to be aware of their responsibilities and consequences of their actions. Some of them will be joining the military soon and their failure to act appropriately and in timely manner will cost life and damages. They should face the reality of life that in a corporate world all they see is your performance and actions, they do not have time to consider the emotional or psychological aspect of the worker. If you do not fit and can not perform to their standard you can be fired anytime, and that's reality. In other side of the coin, the article seems fit to elementary school age where most the students are still in their cognitive and psychomotor development.
1/21/2019 03:23:15 pm
I have never disagreed with anyone more than the author of this article. Granted, we do not want the classroom to be a place of unhealthy fear such as that brought on by physical or psychological abuse. All would agree that such fear has no place in the classroom or anywhere else. However, there is such a thing as healthy fear which motivates respect toward authority and recognizes that actions have consequences, both good and bad.
1/16/2019 01:53:36 pm
I must say I cannot get on board to a certain extent. Students should be held accountable for the work that do and do not do. Students often will take advantage of a situation under these circumstances. Sometimes we have to realize just because something seems or sounds good does not mean it is the right thing to do. Sometimes times when we think we are helping we are really hurting or enabling a person. For example, would you give money to a person who is a drug addict? They need help but not money to go buy more drugs. We are not helping students if we don't set a standard. We should always have high expectations.
2/4/2019 09:13:38 am
I agree with your comments. It is very important for students to be held accountable and for teachers to set a standard and have high expectations.
K. R. McGinnis
2/19/2019 07:21:50 am
I, along with most everyone here, have serious concerns over the content of this article.
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