Parātus sum

Preparing for the new school year is kind of crazy. I just read how someone feels like they have to “learn how to teach all over again.” This resonates with me. It’s the 5th time asking myself “OK, but what do I DO?!” just before everything starts. I’m preparing to plan a little more than I normally would, at least in the beginning, but really just to sleep well at night. This is exactly like what Jason Fritze mentioned about writing a quick story script ahead of time, even if you plan to roll with compelling diversions and give students most of the control over story details (noted in my NTPRS 2017 Takeaways). I know that once things get rolling I’ll be able to relax, and the daily stress will dissipate. I’m prepared for stress, and in doing so will avoid anxiety. In my first year, another teacher shared with me how he began his 9th year filled with anxiety, and later vowed to prepare enough so that he could replace it with stress. He knew how to deal with stress, but anxiety was too much, even for an experienced teacher. Here’s how I’ve prepared myself for the upcoming year:

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2017-18 Classroom Setup: Syllabus, Rules, & Grading

I’ve been writing about Assessment & Grading for a while. That writing has earned me slots presenting at the local, regional, and national level, which means this is a hot topic not to be overlooked. I’m not surprised. Grading systems influence assessment, which drive content, and even the slightest adjustments can have profound effects on one’s teaching. For example, the simple decision to grade homework comes with considerable baggage…

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2016-17 DEA

**See this post for all other grading schemes*

In its current form, there are only 3 agreements as part of the Daily Engagement Agreements (DEA), which are to Look, Listen, and Ask. Older versions of DEA had many more, but the 0% Portfolio grading category I now include Powerschool takes care of assignments previously covered under “Be Prepared,” and anything else I need to keep track of.  There’s no need for “No English” because “Listen” covers that. There’s no need for posture agreements because “Look” covers that. Last week a student was lying down between two chairs yet could read the board and was responding with the entire class. This kid understood Latin and was participating…he was just tired. An older system would have made that an issue when there wasn’t an issue. For me, DEA is super streamlined at this point, which means super clear for DAPS (department heads, admin, parents, students).

In terms of weighting, I ended up using last year’s sliding scale idea. Previously, I’ve written how my DEA weight had been anywhere from 0% to 50% of the grade. Colleagues at my new school liked the new sliding scale, but were a little uncomfortable with the 100/0 and 0/100 percentages at the start and end of the year. No problem. After a simple edit, the scale does slide, but at a 90/10, and 10/90 split to include at least a little bit of both DEA and Proficiency. I like this one because DEA now holds most of the weight for half the year, and is equal to Proficiency in 3rd quarter. After all, if students are Looking, Listening, and Asking when they don’t understand, they’ll acquire enough language to “understand most of what they hear and read,” which is honestly the most realistic expectation we could have, and is reflected in that 90% Proficiency weight in June.

N.B. if, somehow, students don’t Look, Listen, or Ask and STILL understand, just don’t take off DEA points!

Quarter 1
DEA = 90%
Proficiency = 10%

Quarter 2
DEA = 75%
Proficiency = 25%

Quarter 3
DEA = 50%
Proficiency = 50%

Quarter 4
DEA = 10%
Proficiency = 90%

 

Grading vs. Reporting Scores: Clarification

In the recent sliding scale scheme, Proficiency is given 0% weight at the start of the year. This doesn’t mean that students see “0” in the gradebook. What this means is that their 95, for example (which they see in the gradebook), holds 0% weight because in the sliding scale scheme we’ve placed all 100% weight on DEA for first quarter in order to set expectations and establish routines. By the fourth quarter, 100% of the weight is on Proficiency, and whenever possible, we manually change the entire course grade to that final Proficiency number/letter so nothing else averages throughout the year.

Grading Scheme: DEA & Proficiency

**See this post for all other grading schemes*

Here’s a new idea inspired by advice I was giving on various DEA and Proficiency grading weights. In other posts, I’ve written how my DEA weight has been anywhere from 0% to 50% of the grade. You could also try this sliding scale throughout the year…

Quarter 1
DEA = 100%
Proficiency = 0%

Quarter 2
DEA = 50%
Proficiency = 50%

Quarter 3
DEA = 10%
Proficiency = 90%

Quarter 4
DEA = 0%
Proficiency = 100%

A grading scheme like this would establish very clear expectations of how important it is to exhibit behaviors and routines that lead to language acquisition in class (e.g. Look, Listen, Ask). This would work best if you have the admin support to manually override the final grade with just one Proficiency grade from Quarter 4, as suggested in other iterations of my grading systems. Why? We don’t reaaaaally want the 4 quarters to be averaged, but if they are it’s not the end of the world. This kind of grade is far more forgiving so the focus can be on input and not assessments.
N.B. Proficiency is given 0% weight at the start of the year. This doesn’t mean that students see “0” in the gradebook. What this means is that their 95, which they see in the gradebook, holds 0% weight because in the sliding scale scheme we’ve placed all 100% weight on DEA for first quarter in order to set expectations and establish routines.

Grading & Reporting Schemes

Over the years, I’ve heard from many teachers in different situations looking to move towards Proficiency-Based Grading (PBG), or possibly beyond. Elsewhere on this blog, I’ve written very long explanations about grading practices. Here are various grading scheme options presented in a straight-forward manner. If you’re in a situation that seems very different from those listed below, comment and we’ll think of something!

Latest Expectations-Based Grading Scheme

Expectations-Based Grading (EBG) **NEW, added 3.4.18**
100% – Input Expectations Rubric, includes Proficiency Levels
0% – Quick Quizzes, or anything else you want to report a score for
Use this scheme if you have complete control, want maximum freedom, and want to focus on students receiving input.

Zero-Autonomy Quick Fix **NEW, added 8.2.18**
Percentages vary based on wacky school requirements, and don’t matter read about it, here
In each grading category:
1) Create assignments that do NOT count towards the final grade (usually a check box)
2) Create ONLY ONE assignment that DOES count towards the final grade
3) Use a—ANY—holistic rubric to arrive at that grading category grade
Use this scheme if you have absolutely no control, and people are telling you what kinds f things to assign, and how much value to give them.

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