Just so you have some context, I currently teach Science 10 and Biology 11; students in these courses will be my test subjects. I have been teaching for around 5 years and have taught both courses before, so I’m not completely wet behind the ears. I am going to try out all 15 Fixes firsthand in a little over a term, 13 or 14 weeks of instruction. I am optimistic that I am already doing at least some of the fixes, but honestly I’m going in cold without having read the book.
Fix #1 Don’t include student behaviour in grade, only include achievement. My understanding is from this is that I can’t include marks effort or participation. Effort I totally agree with; one person’s 110% could very well be another person’s minimal effort. I think about effort marks in PE, and something effortless for one athletic student could be a stressful nightmare for those less gifted in that department. I have never graded effort, nor will I ever. Participation though I question, because if learning is constructed by firsthand experiences, if you never participate you will never fully learn… will you?
My philosophy about student achievement is that all students are all starting a course with me at different points on a continuum, and they will complete the course at different points. My goal is to move all of them forward, maybe not always in knowledge but also in skills and / or their attitude towards the topic. Unfortunately for “fix #1” this will actually require active participation in doing science, not notes or filling in worksheets.
Teaching foods and science for me is a nice complimentary course load; both have a written and practical component. For me, the act of doing a crayfish dissection is much more meaningful that answering the conclusion questions and labeling the blank diagram. In fact, I have 20 or 25% of my students that flourish in the “participation” days because it means no pencil needed, they are out of their seats and using a different part of their brains. Interestingly enough, I have another 20 – 25% that would prefer to only take notes, read a textbook and answer questions. It’s safer. Either way my job is to generate the conditions for them all to learn, and actually measure how much they made sense of at the end, behaviour aside. So is my ongoing formative assessment really a mark in participation?
Darn. And here I would have 15 Fixes to try; each comment 144 characters or less, wrapped up in a neat little package, hit send. At the end of this day my Science 10’s were reviewing physics on Position-Time graphs. I did not mark them on participation, but did go around and speak with them individually about their strengths and weaknesses in graphing and interpreting graphs. I definitely feel comfortable not grading behaviour; at the end of 5 paragraphs I believe grading behaviour is not conducive to learning.