Going Crazy

This week, I felt like I was playing catch-up from the moment I woke up on Monday morning.  I honestly don’t think I sat down until after putting the little guy to bed each night…{sigh}.  Now it’s Saturday morning, and it’s finally great to sit down, actually ENJOY a cup of coffee…


Yes, I’m a Bill O’Reilly fan. So shoot me.

The original thought I came here to share was regarding feedback.  I need to back up a little before I discuss that though…

I’m a reader.  If I don’t understand something, I immediately start looking for a book I can read on the subject, or in a pinch, I Google it.  (When my littlest was born, it was my first time being a biological mama and everything was new.  I spent too much time reading…I think I ended up freaking myself out more than anything…but I digress).  So, when the clientele at my school site started changing (from mostly affluent neighborhood families, to low-income, bused-in families), I noticed that my teaching style wasn’t cutting the mustard.  So I read.  And I read some more.  Specifically, I read Dylan Wiliam’s “Embedded Formative Assessment” and Rick Wormeli’s “Fair Isn’t Always Equal”.  I also participated in a MOOC with Jo Boaler.  Wow!  I learned A LOT!  So, I made some radical changes to my teaching and grading this year.  I want to specifically talk about feedback today.

I changed how I assign and collect work for grading specifically so I could spend more time giving quality feedback.  In the past, I would either grade homework together as a class (epic FAIL now that I look back at that–kids by nature are lazy.  They aren’t going to grade the way I want them to–what was I thinking??), or I would collect it and mark what was wrong and give a score out of the total possible.  (Another epic FAIL in my opinion–what the heck kind of feedback is that??? The kids weren’t learning anything about their mistakes or what they could improve on). Therefore, I stopped assigning so much homework (I will talk about that philosophy in a future post) and I have my students keep everything in a composition book so that it feels more like a journal of collected writings.  Doesn’t hurt that it helps them (and me!) stay more organized with their work.

These days, I assign mostly in-class work with the occasional homework assignment (except in my Integrated math class–they have homework every night, but it’s project based and gives them rich tasks that lead into the following day’s discussion, and I’m ok with that kind of nightly homework).  EVERYTHING is done in their composition books.  If I give handouts, they paste them into their composition books later on.  I collect their composition books a couple of times during the unit, especially after I assign a meta cognitive topic to write about, and then again at the end.  I spend quality time with each student’s book and write back to them.  Here are a couple of examples…

IMG_2607 IMG_2608

My idea is to help them grow.  Even if I feel they have a good grasp on something, I still give them specific feedback about what I thought was really good about their writing/work. It’s a little more work for me, but it’s definitely more quality work, and I feel much more successful as a teacher.

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