Middle School Update

September 4, 2015

How I Won the Grading Game

As we examine what grades mean and how to encourage students to learn for the sake of learning, I think it's valuable to look at a variety of ideas. This is an interesting one, and one that I have used from time to time in the past. However, I never looked at it as "gamefying" grading. This approach really requires the teacher to plan ahead, but I think that it makes much more sense to students (and maybe even teachers) than the current system, when they often have no idea how their score on each assignment is actually reflected in their final grade. Read this article and see if the idea would work for any of your classes.

Important Dates

Sept. 7: MAP Make-Up Tests

Sept. 8: Fire Drill, 9:10 AM

Sept. 8: Combined Staff, 4:00

Sept. 12: Community BBQ, 5:30

Sept. 14: Progress Report Comments Due

Sept. 15: Malaysia Day (No School)

Sept. 22: PD: Fixes 1-3 (Dustin, Chris, Tom)

Active Learning: Holding up the Mirror

I’m wondering if what happens to me has ever happened to you: When I’m getting ready for school in the morning, I look at myself in the mirror and ask some questions: Is my hair is doing what it should be doing, are my clothes looking presentable, and are my make-up and accessories in order? After I’ve walked out the door to leave home, how I look usually goes right out of my mind, and I’m on to the job of teaching. Later in the day I’ll catch a glance of myself in the mirror, and I often wonder what happened to the person I saw that morning. My hair is usually not where it was, sometimes my clothes have rubbed against something and are stained, and sweat usually makes my make-up obsolete.


I share this with you because it’s an analogy for how teaching can go at this stage of the quarter. Usually we start out strong, but sometimes we’re not aware when things need improvement in our classrooms. Unless we get in front of a “mirror”, we’ll never know if something is off. In Hattie’s list of influences, tied for 2nd place with teacher credibility (based on the effects that apply to all teachers) is formative evaluation from students to teachers, or student feedback to teachers about their classroom/ teaching practices.


When I first looked at the whole list by Hattie, I couldn’t believe that this teaching effect was higher than so many other things that I’d deem more important. However, as I’ve put this principle into practice, I’ve been amazed to find that students can truly be a powerful mirror to help us see what’s good and what’s not. Why? Our students are professional students—it’s what they do all day! They know what works and what doesn’t work. If they’re given an opportunity to share with us about what’s going well and what needs to improve, they have excellent insights to offer. Next week I’ll give you some ideas for how to get helpful feedback from your students. If you have any of your own ideas for gathering student feedback that you’d like to share with me to pass on to everyone, I welcome your input!

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