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Showing posts from July, 2018

What I Learned When I Gave Every Student an A

What happens when there are no grades and every student has an A? After years of fielding questions from students about grades instead of content and noticing struggling students demoralized by the numbers, I saw how grades distracted students from learning. So, when I discovered that going gradeless was an option, I decided to throw out grades in the most extreme way possible: giving every student an A from day 1. Why I chose to give every student an A “Going gradeless” is a spectrum. Some teachers reduce the impact of traditional grades through systems like standards-based grading. Other teachers don’t assign any grades, and students negotiate their grade with their teacher at the end of every grading period. After re-reading Benjamin and Rosamund Zander’s The Art of Possibility , in which they have a chapter called “ Giving an A ,” I decided to go gradeless and give each student an outright A for a few reasons: Giving an A communicates that I believe in each student and

Not Just for Students: Using a Feedback Loop to Improve Your Teaching Practice

We give our students a lot of feedback to guide their growth -- but do we do a good job of seeking and using feedback ourselves? Over the winter break of 2015, I was somewhat startled to find myself searching the internet for career alternatives that would take me out of the classroom. I was feeling isolated in a room with students who didn’t want to engage with my class and was discouraged by a perceived lack of support from my administration. After a little rest and outdoor time, and a lot of Netflix, I realized that I didn’t need a different career -- I needed more feedback. Tapping into my knowledge of the Engineering Design Cycle , I envisioned a Teacher Feedback Loop that I could use to grow as a teacher.  Observing a Problem The course that prompted this realization was a physical science course, consisting of three sections of 15-17 eighth grade girls. The previous summer I had started the 3-year   UW Physics By Inquiry Summer Institute . The institute was a transf

How I’m Implementing Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit in My Classroom

What could one author’s quest to avoid his afternoon cookie teach us about habit building in the classroom? Last spring, I read Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit , a narrative-rich and comprehensive look at the brain science behind habit formation. And I started to think about how we use the word “habit” in our classrooms. Most of us have posters on our walls like, “Habits of a Mathematician” and “Habits of a Scientist.” But how well do we teach kids how habits really develop?  Do we guide them in the kinds of reflections that will help them iterate on their strategies in meaningful and thoughtful ways?

Teacher + Peer Feedback = The Feedback Tool of Your Dreams!

All educators know: Feedback is the most impactful driver of students’ learning progress ( Evidence for Learning ), but effective feedback “must be timely, relevant, and action-oriented” ( Hattie and Timperley ). As three different teachers in Seattle, we struggled to give our students the feedback they needed, when they needed it. We decided to take this problem into our own hands. Melanie started Floop , a tool that helps teachers give students meaningful feedback, faster. Elizabeth and Christine started Flash Feedback , a tool that enables rapid, scaffolded peer feedback. When we met, we realized we were solving the same problem. Plus, as teachers, we wanted to use each others’ solutions. So, we decided join forces and build the feedback tool of your dreams! Starting in fall 2018, you’ll be able to sign up for Floop and Flash Feedback. The combined tool has the best of both worlds: fast, spot-annotated teacher feedback and scaffolded, anonymous peer feedback. Want to sh