Sharing best practices

I’ve never been great at what I call the “humble brag” where you share all the cool things you do and find to everyone or anyone who will listen. One thing I do love is sharing feedback and best practices when someone is looking for ideas.
I don’t like grades on papers. I don’t even really like rubrics with criteria circled. I love handwritten feedback. It was my goal this year to do so. Your first year of teaching is meant to take risks so I was extremely fortunate that I have a co-teacher who had a similar view that feedback should be given.
Every assignment is given feedback during and after. Exemplars and criteria are shared at the beginning. I then remind of the criteria of during and again at the end for last minute fixes.
Students were in for a large shock when a Math quiz was returned with notes all over it and no grade. This happened because I had a hard time figuring out how to mark it and really get my point of across of my expectations for future quizzes. On assignments, I had always given feedback so I figured, lets try quizzes. When the unit test came around, my co-teacher created a feedback form with the process skills from the report card and a space for comments next to the skills.  We wrote in areas of strength, areas of growth  and suggestions for improvement as we comment on those on the report card.
Students then were asked to reflect upon what they read, what they thought they needed to improve and strategies (which could include a re-write) on the bottom. We copied it, sent the test home to be signed and now my report card comments were partially finished for Math.
When recording grades I figured I should add in some of my ideas. My spreadsheet included the level of achievement and the areas of growth and areas of strength. It was messy and hard to read so I thinking of ways that I could rework it when this conversation happened on twitter.
Here is the progression of how my spreadsheet has changed. These screen shots are simply samples and not actual student grades
Term 1 –  I used this template given to me by my co-teacher because my practicums were paper and pen followed by entering into the mentor teacher’s online reporting system. I modified it to add in strengths and growths and so it would auto colour coordinate.  The top has the process skills from the report card.  You’ll notice I only put level of achievement and never the number grade or percentage – It is irrelevant to me. I was mostly putting areas of strength and growth for summative assessments.
Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 12.16.35 AM
Edit 1 –  Each student would have a sheet and it still has the process skills on the top. I really wanted to focus on each task getting an area of strength and growth for each process skill. I realized there was not level of achievement and because the report card still expects me to have one, I figured I should probably include that. Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 12.18.54 AM
Edit 2 – Addition of a level of achievement for each process skill being assessed.  At first I was happy but as the conversation continued, I realized that each student would require their own sheet and I was trying to make my book more efficient.
Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.01.50 PM
Edit 3 – I finally combined the two ideas made 1 sheet for all students for 1 subject. Each book contains several sheets, one for each subject I teach with the exception of my french 7 as they have their own file. My apologies, I was starting to get lazy with my samples and not put in real feedback I would give. The biggest change is that now there will be an area of growth and area of strength for every task, not just summative or knowledge tasks. Also there is an area of strength and growth in every relevant process skill for each task.
Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 12.27.35 AM
My students really appreciate the comments and feedback on their work. It does take me longer to mark but I have seen a lot of grown in the students who get the feedback. They also understand why they are getting the marks they are getting. I expect the only surprises kids will find on their report cards will be in Social but that conversation will be had prior to them receiving their report cards and there is lots of room for improvement this year.  I only have a few kids who count their checkmarks on quizzes and only one parent who was a little unsure about the comment grid until I explained that the process skills were from the report card. This shift has also strengthened the student/teacher relationship because my students had a clear understanding of my expectations.
Today I reviewed the report card with each of my students – more on that later. I noticed that most surprises were positive ones or the students were able to understand when we pulled out specific examples of work because of the feedback they have been given all term.
If anyone would like a copy I can try to export a copy from the program I use to Excel for you.
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