Tag Archives: grading

Portfolios & Music Cues – Geometry

Day 3, Fri Aug 14, 2015

Cover Portfolio GeomMusic Cues: I heard this great idea from Matt Vaudry at Twitter Math Camp ’15, on using music cues for certain transitions and activities. Matt uses MANY different songs, but I choose to use only three:

1) The Mission Impossible theme song for preparing for class: My students each have a Portfolio (3-Ring Binders), a workbook, and a whiteboard. Each pair of students has a “Tool Kit.” All of these must be at their desks, plus their cell phones must be placed face down on the outside corner of the desk. Matt gives them one minute of the song; since my students have to retrieve materials from the portcase, I give them two minutes.

2) The Benny Hill theme song for cleaning up: They must get everything put away and sit back in their desks, so we can debrief the lesson (The Brain Surgeon’s Wrinkle Sprinkle)

3) The Dun-Dun-DUN sound for announcing the instructional target. (Which we will start next week.)

We practiced these back to back a few times until we got it down. It works amazingly well! Thank you Matt.

Portfolios: I require students to keep a portfolio in class. The portfolio has a cover sheet that intentionally refers to them as “Genetically-Coded Math Experts.” I used today to reinforce the 6 C’s as our ultimate goal of the course, which I introduced yesterday. The portfolio is structured around these six values as is my grade book. My students from last year, received their portfolios back from Algebra 1; the new students received a free binder from an anonymous donor. We built the portfolios section by section.

I saved the students the grief of going through the syllabus. I gave them the Course Overview to read on their own (which they won’t) and have their parent’s sign (they won’t read it either) and return to their portfolios by the end of next week. Rather than bore them with the grading policies all at once, I discuss them briefly when they arise in class. (e.g. Discuss homework when the first homework assignment is assigned.)

Wrinkle Sprinkle

  • The 6 C’s
  • We are going to learn how to think

Beavis and Barbie Revisited

“I thought your article was brilliant. My teachers hated it.” Those bb_heads closewere the words of my friend who is the Instructional Coach at his high school. He was referring to an article that I wrote several years ago titled Barbie and Beavis: Holding Students Accountable … to What? In essense, the article questioned whether teachers were basing grades on competency or compliance. The point I made was aligned with Robert Marzano’s question “What’s in a grade?” By having his colleagues read my piece, the coach was obviously challenging the traditional practice of grading students on effort rather than performance. Interestingly, the teachers pushed back, insisting that a grade absolutely should be all about the effort.

I am not surprised that these old school habits are still pervasive in the age of accountability. I just found it curious that the teachers were so vocal in publicly defending a practice that has been repeatedly debunked by both research and antecdotal experience. Afterall, where is the evidence that any school has shown drastic improvement by flunking a bunch of kids for not doing homework?

I wonder if the arrival of the common core and it’s significantly different assessment strategy will force teachers to rethink and retool their own grading practices or will they simply continue with the same-old same-old and just tolerate another annoying state test once a year.

(To read the original Beavis & Barbie article click the title below)

Beavis & Barbie: Holding Students Accountable … to What?