Friday, December 5, 2014

MRVED Business

Best Practice Meeting Updates
English Language Arts
The English Language Arts educators gathered at the MRVED on Tuesday December 2nd for their annual best practice meeting.  The room was filled with 34 teachers ranging from Kindergarten to 12th grade teachers.  The morning started with Brandon sharing some of the latest and greatest web tools for the classroom, which transitioned nicely into a session on the SAMR model.  The group had the opportunity to talk about creating a lesson through the SAMR model.  The morning ended with aligning their standards and curriculum K-12.  After lunch they finished their curriculum work and met in networking groups.  The group did an excellent job of networking, sharing many new resources for the classroom.  The day ended with a grading practice activity.  Overall it was another great day with almost every teacher bringing something new back to the classroom.

World Language
The World Language teachers attended their annual best practice meeting on Thursday, December 4th.  The day started with networking and discussing issues related to World Languages.  After that, the group had the opportunity to spend the rest of the day with their Minnesota Department of Education specialist Ursula Lentz.  The teachers had the opportunity to hear and learn from her.  Ms. Lentz has a wealth of knowledge in the realm of World Languages and it was a great day for everyone.

Best Practice Meetings
December 10, 2014  MRVED Board (7 p.m.)
December 12, 2014   Title III Teachers
December 15, 2014  District Assessment Coordinators (DAC)
December 16, 2014  FACS
December 17, 2014  Superintendents' Council
December 18, 2014  Teachers' Advisory Council (TAC)
December 19, 2014  Principals' Council (starting at 11:30 a.m.)

Repair Kit for Grading - Fix 11

The past 10 weeks we have been focusing on Ken O'Connor's 15 Fixes for Broken Grades.  I highly suggest reading through the whole book, it will change the way you approach grading in your classroom.  It's a very quick read, and well worth the time!

Fixes 1-6: Fixes for practices that distort achievement
Fixes 7-10: Fixes for low-quality or poorly organized evidence
  1. Don't include student behaviors in grades; include only achievement.
  2. Don't reduce marks on "work" submitted late; provide support for the learner.
  3. Don't give points for extra credit or use bonus points; seek only evidence that more work has resulted in a higher level of achievement.
  4. Don't punish academic dishonesty with reduced grades; apply other consequences and reassess to determine actual level of achievement.
  5. Don't consider attendance in grade determination; report absences separately.
  6. Don't include group scores in grades; use only individual achievement evidence.
  7. Don't organize information in grading records by assessment methods or simply summarize into a single grade; organize and report evidence by standards/learning goal.
  8. Don't assign grades using inappropriate or unclear performance standards; provide clear descriptions of achievement expectations.
  9. Don't assign grades based on student's achievement compared to other students; compare each student's performance to preset standards.
  10. Don't rely on evidence gathered using assessments that fail to meet standards of quality; rely only on quality assessments.

Fixes 11 & 12 deal with fixes for inappropriate grade calculation

Fix 11: Don't rely only on the mean; consider other measures of central tendency and use professional judgment.

In a truly standards-based reporting environment this fix would be irrelevant.  The student either Exceeds, Meets, Partially Meets, or Does Not Meet the standard.  Unfortunately many teachers are not ready to take the full plunge into the world of standards-based reporting, so we are stuck with giving scores and calculating grades.

Using the mean, or averaging the scores, can be a flawed system.  For example:
A student has the following scores on assignments:
 91, 92, 91, 93, 92, 92, 64, 94, 93, 92
You would probably say this is an "A" student.  They have done "A" work for the majority of the quarter.  However, it averages out to an 89.  Think about if that score of 64 was never turned in and it was a 0.  What would that do to the average?  This is where professional judgement would come into play.  If this student deserves the grade of an "A", then that is what they should get.  You could also drop the lowest and highest score to get a better determinate of the average.

The next time you average out scores, think about how averaging is an inaccurate way to determine grades.

Tech Tip - Twitter for Teachers

Twitter, Twitter, Twitter...we hear this word all over the place.  You see hashtags in the corner of your television when watching your latest show, to hearing the news anchors ask for you to tweet in your responses.  Twitter can be one of the most influential social media tools in your life, if you know who to follow and how it works!  Once you get into Twitter, you will be hooked (as hooked as Pinterest).

Instead of me rambling on as to what Twitter is and how it works, check out Kathy Schrock's guide to Twitter.  The guide is very complete and will answer most of your questions.

How I use Twitter
  • Connect and hear what great minds have to think
  • Become exposed to resources
  • Follow live events
  • Partake in "chats"
  • Follow "important" people
If you are still on the fence about Twitter, talk to someone who is on Twitter and ask them about their experience.  Do not connect Facebook and Twitter into the same thing.  Yes, they are both social media, but each has their own niche in your life.  Give it a try today and give a follow to me :)


Brandon will be tweeting from the TIES conference Monday and Tuesday, so now would be a great time to see the benefits of Twitter.  You can also follow the hashtag #TIES14.