Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Second Quarter - Students Grading Themselves

Half-way through the school year??

What I've learned this quarter... 
     - Students need reminders throughout the quarter to look at their evidence to see what they have so far. Many reflections came in later than I requested, because students didn't really know what evidence they had.
     - Students are becoming more aware of what the grade includes. They are also reflecting more truthfully on what they've revised, and they are even coming up with goals they have for next quarter (unsolicited in their video reflections). YES! Students included goals in their reflections this quarter. They are using more of the language I use! (They DO listen!)
     - Take parents' suggestions. This quarter I created a feedback loop for students to know when they need to revise, and when they do not. I also checked in with kids at midterm, and we compared our notes about how they were doing so far.  I hope parents give me more!
     - When reflecting on the "speaking and listening" portion of their grade, they are starting to compare themselves to the rest of the students. I don't know if this is a good thing or not. ??
     - The students in this last class are working HARDER than my other two classes. Truth. I don't have the "proof," but I can tell from their reflections.
     - The kids KNOW what they do. Where they put forth effort. What their grades are. WHY their grades are what they are. I LOVE THESE FACTS. They make this work well worth-while.
     - Here is our end-of-quarter reflection - mostly student-led (the entire reflection is in the video at the end of this post):

Questions I have...
     - Students want to know "what is a reading expert?" On our "reading guidelines" page of our class website, I have this image ----------->
Two students this quarter asked me, "Who is an expert in the field of reading?" GREAT question! I'm still working on this one... Any help from readers?? Please leave your idea in a comment!
     - Should I continue asking students to give themselves comments on the report card? I have the last two quarters, but... it just feels weird. I have no other reasons. I should probably ask the kids.

I need to...
     ...create a system - on PAPER - for students to collect their evidence. The Google doc on Google Classroom is only being utilized by two students. The rest had difficulty coming up with what evidence they could use to prove the grade they thought they earned.
     ...give more writing options. I believe that, if I'm grading, I should give three times practice, and then one time grading for writing. This belief left us with only THREE pieces of evidence (where I gave written or video feedback) for writing and grammar. Students did not have a choice in evidence for proof of their grade this quarter, because I only gave feedback on those three. Therefore, I have created this document. I will post the assignments under "Independent Practice" on the board, and students will have many more options for writing and turning them in for feedback. I'll be adding more each week, with a timeline for students to turn them in (so I'm not flooded with a bunch at the end of the quarter).
     ...remind students of the flow chart we discussed - so they cannot "fib" and say that they revised something and "did better." ;)
     ...give time IN CLASS for students to look at the feedback I've given them. I'm finding that students don't look at Edline (our online grading system) after they turn in their work. They see the feedback on their Google Classroom documents, but they don't look at the same comments I leave for them on Edline. When I left the YouTube link to their video feedback on Edline, they didn't watch it until it was time to collect evidence for their grades. I'm considering creating an easy chart with possible pieces of proof and the categories they can be used for, so students can collect their work and choose more easily. I'm considering adding more reflection and revision time, calling this time DIRT - Dedicated Improvement & Reflection Time - thanks to this recent post by Alex Quigley.
     ...create a plan for students who collect "enough" proof at the start of the quarter. One student wanted to know what happens then... Great question! Perhaps we need to collect proof from various weeks in the quarter?
     ...give more reminders to students to create their 5 minute video reflection. I had more 1:1 conferences this quarter than last, because students "didn't have time" to create their reflection. Suddenly the five minutes for me became fifteen, and I don't think 15 minutes a student is realistic if/when I'm trying this with all of my classes and not just one.
     ...keep keeping parents in the loop! When the grades go home with students this quarter, an email goes home as well. This note will explain once again how their child has reflected on and chosen his or her grade AND his or her comment(s). I will also keep asking parents for suggestions - they are very valuable!
     ...keep talking about the ideas students have generated. For instance - One student decided his grade should be a B+. The next day, he came to me and asked to change it to an A - so he could be on the Senior Honor Roll. He's never NOT been on the Senior Honor Roll. We had a discussion. It meant a lot to him. I told him I would honor his choice, and that we'd have more check points next quarter for him to see what proof he has, and then he can create a plan for what grade he'd LIKE to have. With more checkpoints (as he'd asked for during his original reflection), he'll know what he's earning early, and not have to scramble to earn that almighty "A."

One of my favorite things to do... Listen to reflective students (sometimes using their phones!), jotting down their quotes and reasonings for their grades...

In case you have 13 minutes... Here is our class reflection discussion:

Note that at the end of this video, a student and I figure out how she can turn in any type of writing for feedback. She WANTS to write, just not always what I'm asking her to write. :)

My resources so far: "FaR" tabs of our classroom Weebly
                                    Feedback Instead of Grades LiveBinder for parents to inspect
                                    My own reflections on this journey

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