Fix 9: Compare students achievement to pre-set standards, not to each other.
Haha, this one makes me laugh. This makes me think of one of my Science 10’s, whose assignments could be the answer keys. In fact they are better than the answer key because her printing is neater than mind. In the spectrum of meeting-achieving-exceeding standards, this particular student is exceeding, head and shoulders above my standards and the standards suggested in the BC Curriculum for that matter. No teacher could ever fairly compare other students to her, because of the fact that she has such exceptional efforts and abilities. It wouldn’t be fair to either of the parties. Even just considering the “meeting expectations” students; all of my students are so unique, with their skill sets, abilities, interests and work habits, it’s like comparing apples to oranges, even if they are categorically both “meeting expectations”.
An interesting and related side note: I am having one last crack at the old Science 10 curriculum. Guilty, sorry, as charged, but I had my reasons. The thing about this curriculum is the learning standards are like this:
Explain half life with reference to rates of radioactive decay
Ok, let’s tweak that a little bit…
“I can explain half life with reference to rates of radioactive decay”
“Ok kids, here are 100 pennies; your job is to model parent isotope with heads, daughter isotopes with tails, graph it… and answer the conclusion question at the end”. The standards for this particular learning goal, or this particular classroom activity are completely transparent and very unambiguous; the standard is also a manageable enough chunk to approach in one or two classroom activities.
More interesting for me, the new learning standard “chemical processes require energy change as atoms are rearranged”. This is still a preset standard, and I’m still not going to compare my students to each other, but this obviously requires some unpacking to make it helpful for both the students to learn from and teacher to assess. For this daunting task, lately, I am trying to develop Learning Maps for each of my units. It takes some front loading (what else did I want to work on in July?!) but once the scaffold is there, periodical check ins with students and yourself for assessment is seamless and constructive. Learning Maps are amazing because they remove scores and they put language to the learning goals; they are discrete, because all students have to have a conversation with you and it looks the same, and lastly it factors in the multiple entry points into a topic and just emphasises forward growth.
Sorry folks, I kind of drifted away from my central thesis there. My specific instructions for blogging were “short and to the point <winky face>”. I guess I am “approaching expectations” in the blogging department today.