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Showing posts from August, 2017

"Giving an A" - Shift Teacher and Student Attitudes in the Classroom

My favorite way to ease into back-to-school is revisiting my favorite education books. After considering my feedback system , I realized that the first time I ever heard of going gradeless was when I read The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander. Back in high school, my band director made band leadership students read the book in preparation for a leadership retreat. The entire book exudes passion and positivity - check out my favorite TED talk ever by Benjamin Zander for proof - but in particular, I re-read one chapter of the book called "Giving an A." Grades were initially created out of necessity in the 1800s when the only other accepted way to rank students was social standing. The grade itself cannot describe the student’s work or understanding like meaningful feedback can. Even as teaching practices move forward, grades are still used primarily as a way to measure and compare people. In the Zanders' point of view, "giving an A" me

Feedback System for HS Engineering / Entrepreneurship - Melanie Kong

This post is part of a series challenging teachers to consider their feedback system for the new school year. I wanted to share my own feedback system as an example if it helps you think about your own. I’ve taught a variety of STEM courses - Coordinated Science, Geometry, Algebra 1, Engineering - but I’m writing this particular feedback system for a new course I’m starting next year called STEM Startups. In this course, high school students will work in teams to create their own startups. Since it’s a new course, I have a whole lot of latitude in my systems and processes. So, with that context in mind, here is my feedback system! Why do I value feedback in my classroom? I believe that feedback is critical in any aspect of life. It’s how we learn from our mistakes and continue developing our strengths. In the classroom context, feedback is what allows me to meet and help every student where they are at. Feedback is also a crucial part of developing strong relationships; if I giv

School Leader Chat, Part 2: Feedback PD

I chatted with Martin Moran about shifting mindsets around grades and what this means for teacher PD. Martin is a Lead Designer and Director of the Upper School at the Bennett Day School in Chicago, IL and will be opening their new high school. Previously, he taught high school for over 10 years. This is Part 2 of our conversation where we talk about how to train teachers in effective feedback. Part 1 is where we talked about grades. As a school leader, how do you help teachers shift their mindsets around grades? With our new school, we’re coming up with a way to use narratives and portfolios instead of grades. There is an assumption with teachers on the summative nature of assessments. We are working to change mindsets around formative work and assessing for growth instead of just for evaluation. As we write out our syllabus for PD, we are embedding conversations around mindsets. What I’m struggling with now is how do we live at a level between philosophy and day-to-day prac