Rocket Weekly Update

ACRHS Faculty Weekly Update December 9, 2018

Information for the Week:

  • I hope everyone has enjoyed the snow this weekend and stayed warm and safe!
  • ROCKET POWER - First Full Day we return we will run a Rocket Power schedule
  • ***ALL: CCN Broadcast - please make sure your students are in a TV Viewing Location
  • ***9th: Voting for Freshman Class Officers
  • ***9th-11th: Registration cards - please stress to students to have discussions with all four teachers they have 1st semester and obtain signatures on recommended courses for 2019-2020!
  • ***ALL: Remember to distribute any items in your mailboxes for your Rocket Power students.
  • Writing Wednesday - Research proves that writing in each content area improves academic performance school wide! Writing Wednesday will be the focus of our Learning Walk #2 on Wednesday. Don't forget the value of incorporating the ACRHS Academic Word of the Week in your daily classroom conversation and lessons. Each week, the word is featured on the intercom on Monday, posted in the hallway outside minitorium, and included in this Weekly Update (see below). I saw this past Wednesday Ms. Molinari having a writing assignment on a character analysis of a Dickens' character.
  • Graduation Project Board Night- Thank You to the English IV teachers, Mr. Clare, Ms. Armistead, Mr. Kromer, and many other of our faculty and staff who worked, judged, or mentored a student through their projects.
  • School Safety- Be diligent. We have our new Buzz-In system. We are still doing a bit of tweaking on the logistics of the buzz-in system, but to maximize it's purpose, we need to leave all doors locked, do not open the door for people, and definitely do not prop doors open to return through. Your badges will get you back in, there is no need to prop a door open.
  • Make sure to read the short articles included in each week's Rocket Weekly Update below. These are interesting, informative, and helpful for your teaching and classroom management. They take very little time to read and can be very beneficial to you. It is very difficult for us to find the extra time for professional development and to research articles. The articles are researched and selected for you and will only take minutes of your time but provide you with weekly professional development. This week's article is on the impact of 0's on the grading scale. It presents a debate of not bottoming a student out with a zero. Regardless of your philosophy, take a few minutes to read the article, it might make you reflect on your own grading scale.!
  • Cell phones, tardies, and dress code - be diligent and consistent! COLLECT CELL PHONES INTO THE CADDY! Every week administration is dealing with situations that could have been avoided for you, administration, and students if the policy were being followed by EVERYONE! This week we even had two teachers report that students are telling them no one else in their day is following the policy. Come on, this is to benefit you. This week, we had a teacher filmed in class and an angry parent show up from another class because of the text they received from a student while in class; neither of these would've happen if cell phones were up!
  • Attendance Make Up has begun. We will have attendance make up each day we are in school this week and a special Saturday session.
  • I am not sure what our week will look like with the impact of the weather. In the event we are not in school on Tuesday, the "30 and out" on Questions that Count advertised below will be moved to Tuesday, January 8.
  • Mid Year PDPs will be due in January. When you have a few minutes, go into True North Logic NCEES and make statements of evidence toward your annual PDP goals.
  • In the Fine Arts news: Holiday Concerts coming up this month. Come see our students in concert and brighten your own Holiday Celebration. This week's concert dates are Tuesday, December 11 Band under the direction of Mr. Smith in the FAC, and Thursday, December 13 Choral under the direction of Mr. Haynie at Asheville First Baptist Church Downtown - our gift to the community. Changes in these concerts because of weather will be announced.
  • This is our last weekly update for 2018. The next edition will be prior to our return on January 2.
  • Secret Santa - Start surprising your colleague with a small gift they have put on their list! Reveal to be at the Christmas Faculty Tea!
  • Our Faculty Christmas Tea will be at 3:15pm Monday, December 17 in the Media Center. Come join us for this time of celebration!
  • Have a great week! 7 days til our Holiday Break and we are already out on at least one of those!
  • I wish each of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May your holidays be joyous and filled with family, friends, fun, and relaxation! I truly appreciate each of you!
Big picture

To Zero or Not to Zero?

By Monte Syrie in Edutopia

January 26, 2016

"A zero has an undeserved and devastating influence, so much so that no matter what the student does, the grade distorts the final grade as a true indicator of mastery. Mathematically and ethically this is unacceptable.” -- Rick Wormeli quoted in O’Connor, K., A Repair Kit for Grading, ETS/ATI, Portland, 2007, 92

The topic this week opens a huge can of worms in education. For better or worse, in the end it seems that everything comes down to the final grade, which generally generates a source of anxiety for kids and a source of contention among stakeholders when disagreement or confusion presents itself in regards to how the grade was determined, and perhaps most importantly, what the grade really means and if it truly indicates learning. In short, one little letter has the power to make a huge impact on a kid’s life. Of course, this is nothing new. It has always been the case, and little has changed. Grades have been and remain the center point in education, which are often accepted as the final word on learning, the final indicator of success or failure. But what if the final word is flawed? What if grades are not really true indicators of learning, success, or failure? I wonder. And though my wonders may lure me to wander into a huge realm full of questions never asked and answers oft ignored, I will stick to one worm in the can for now: zeroes.

The great majority of kids who fail do so because of the dreaded zero, which is most generally the result of a missing assignment, not necessarily an indicator of low-or-no proficiency with course content. So, invariably, zeroes kill grades, often creating holes that kids cannot crawl out of, resulting in many giving up and failing a course. So, too, even kids who do not fail courses suffer the unfair penalty of zeroes, which often drastically decrease their grades. So what? If they didn’t want the penalty, they should have completed the assignment. One should not get something for nothing. Kids need to learn. Yes, they do, but some lessons make more sense than others. And zeroes don’t really make sense when we examine traditional grading scales.

Most grading scales roughly reflect a 10-point-increment scale, moving down the scale from A (100 - 90) to B (89 - 80) and so on. Again, this is nothing new. We all were subject to such a scale, and kids still are today. And, as we continue down the scale, it remains uniform until we get to F, and then it abruptly dives from 59 to 0. F's should stop at 50. There are no G through K grades, only F’s. In terms of numbers, scores given in this range may reflect a degree of completion (a kid did 3 of 10 problems, so he gets 30%), but in terms of learning, scores given in this range whether it’s 59, 34, or 17 reflect one thing: failure. When kids or parents see scores below 60, they generally understand that that indicates a performance well-below standard; students have not been successful with the content. When we start assigning numbers within this range, what are we really seeking to communicate? Let’s take a 52%. Are we really meaning to suggest that this is a lesser fail than a 33%, which should then suggest a greater fail? This then continues down the scale, approaching the zero, a sign of complete and utter failure. Kids in this range for various reasons are well-below the grade-level standards that we have established in our classrooms. That’s the message, generally intended and generally received. This is clear.

What I wonder is if we also have to attach a punishment in the form of a sub-50-point score? Somehow, it just doesn’t seem fair. Why can’t we let an F be an F? We let A’s be A’s and B’s be B’s. Why not F’s? Why do we have to let the bottom drop out? A bottom that drops the kids off a cliff they can rarely re-climb, especially in classrooms where they cannot turn in late work or redo assignments. Is this really fair for kids? Is this ethical in an arena where the stakes are so high? I’m not sure.

Four years ago, I quit zeroes. They are no longer allowed in my classroom. I still have F’s which communicate, in number and learning, performances well-below standard. Kids still receive failing scores in my classroom, but I don’t tack on punishment, additional insult to injury in the form of sub-50% scores; 50% is now the lowest score possible in my class. The kids know from the mark that they have failed to meet standard; I don’t need to crush them more with added penalties. It makes sense to me, it makes sense to my kids, and it makes sense to parents. It’s also beginning to make sense to some of my colleagues, who, too, have adopted a no-zero policy. But not all. Some of my colleagues have accused me of malpractice, suggesting I am ruining kids’ lives by not teaching them a lesson. And I guess of that I am guilty. But I sleep at night knowing that I have given kids a fair shake, and while I may not be teaching them the harsh lessons of life, I am giving them opportunity by creating a realm of possibility in room 219.

Originally published on Let's Change Education: "Weekly Wonder: I wonder if our grading system is fair."

Big picture

Academic Word of the Week: Source

Noun: A point of origin: The natural gas company continues to search for the source of the leak.

Word Family: resource, outsource, sourcing