The Mentee Minute

March 2016, Volume Seven

Welcome to the March Edition of The Mentee Minute

For the month of March, the GaVS Mentoring Team shares their best practices, tips, and strategies for facilitating the final weeks of school.

In addition to insights from the amazing GaVS Mentoring Team, The Mentee Minute also includes a great read on social and emotional learning, as well as a series of Ted Talks centered on education.

Please take a moment to review each section closely, pose questions freely, and enjoy the remaining days of March!

Happy Spring, Happy Spring Break Holiday, Happy almost PLS!

Just in Time Recordings

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Tip One from Mallory . . . Offer a Summative Adobe Session

Offering an Adobe Session that reviews content and final exam information can help the students overcome final exam anxiety! If a review session seems overwhelming, simply meeting in Adobe with the students to have a Q&A about the exam works wonders! I also posted a News Item about the Final Exam last semester to soothe any fears!

Some fun final exam review sites:

Tip Two from Alice . . . is a great resource for review and practice problems. The site allows you to create assessments by choosing specific standards and you can pick and choose your questions. You can create one assessment per module or a comprehensive review. The assignments are auto graded and give students immediate feedback and solutions to every problem. Your assessments are saved on your account forever and you have the capabilities of sharing the assessment code with other teachers for collaboration.

Tip Three from Bobby . . . Dropping Grades at the End of the Semester

One of the final tools you have to manipulate the grade book as a GAVS instructor is the ability to drop some grades at the end of the semester. Each GAVS instructor has the sovereignty to decide whether this is an option they want to employ for their particular courses. However, there are some specific policies in which you must operate if you drop grades. Following the below guidelines is imperative so that your grade book is accurate, the rigor of the course is maintained, and so that all GAVS instructors are operating fairly and uniformly across all courses.

  • Do not inform students or stakeholders at all during the semester that you will be dropping grades at the end of the semester. There are a few reasons for this. First, you may decide later to drop none or less that originally planned, which could anger students/parents that were relying on a dropped grade. Second, it might put students in a bind later when they rely on the dropped grade too early in the semester. They need to be working hard the whole semester on all assignments. Lastly, and most importantly, not all teachers will choose to drop grades. Conflict might arise if students/parents taking multiple courses with GAVS expect grades dropped in all courses.
  • Do not drop grades or begin manipulating the grade book until the course is closed to all students. This semester the last day occurs on May 6. Do not drop any grades until after May 6 at midnight.
  • There is a limit to the number of grades that can be dropped. Teachers must operate within these limits when dropping grades. If you have any questions at all, please contact your ILT or mentor.
  1. Teachers are allowed to drop 1 grade for every 5 grades in a grade category. Example #1: The testing category in your grade book has seven grades. You can only drop one test. Example #2: The discussion category in your grade book has fourteen grades. You can drop up to two discussions.
  2. Teachers may drop only up to 3 grades total per segment. A segment is a half Carnegie unit course. That means a half-unit course (A or B) can have up to 3 grades dropped. A full unit (AB) course can have up to 6 grades dropped. You can drop less than these amounts if you choose, but never drop more than the limit.

When utilized correctly, dropping grades in the grade book at the end of the semester can be a great way to help students erase the few anomalies (slow start to the semester, unforeseen illness, senioritis moment, etc.) that might be dragging down their grade. Of course, use this feature at your own discretion, as this is not a requirement, but just an option. Getting your grade book correct is very important, so if you have any questions at all then contact your mentor or ILT as soon as possible.

Written directions and policy on dropping grades

Video for how to drop grades

Tip Four from Shane . . .

Make sure to publish an engaging news announcement about your Final Exam! You would be surprised at how many students will e-mail you asking all kinds of questions about the final (it will totally clog your inbox!) Be specific with your instructions and this will save you all kinds of headaches!
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Tip Five from Yolanda . . .

As Shane has shared above, I also have a Final Week Information announcement. I place it on the Bulletin Board the last week before the Final Exam. Students have found this announcement quite useful over the years.
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Tip Six from Doug . . .

Tip Seven from Jeana . . .

Remind, Remind, Remind! As mentioned above, I also post a reminder in my Classroom Bulletin Board after Spring Break. I post a news announcement reminding students of the last day to submit classwork. Also, I add final exam reminders in my weekly emails starting in April. I will create a Smore about preparing for the final exam. In the Smore, I will give study hints and share helpful review resources.
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A Great Read . . .

A Great View . . .

The Teacher Handbook

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Georgia Virtual School Professional Learning Symposium Spring 2016

PLS, Spring 2016

"Marking Ten Years of Innovative Instruction"

The Classic Center

300 North Thomas Street

Athens, Georgia 30601

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The Tip of the Issue!

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ePortfolio and ePortfolio Week

ePortfolio is an integral part of the GaVS instructional program, and the creative resource is reviewed by the GaVS Mentoring team at the conclusion of each academic year.

The peer review offers faculty collaborative, encouraging feedback on their respective ePortfolios. Please take a moment to review the ePortfolio Protocol and ensure that all ePortfolios have been shared with the GaVS Mentoring team.

Also, check out the ePortfolio week presented by the Mentoring team at the conclusion of Spring Semester!

Jane O'Brien, Teacher Training Specialist

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