Monday, May 15, 2017

Counting down or running out of time?

I think about this often as we near the end of another school year. As we get closer to the final day the excitement seems to boil over for both students and teachers. I don't know if the excitement is good or bad.  I do realize that the break is nice for families to reconnect and teachers to get rejuvenated after a year full of learning. I would like us all to think about how we communicate this excitement. Are we counting down the days? Are students aware that we cannot wait to start summer break through our words and body language? Or are we communicating that every day counts?

I like to think of it as we are running out of time and how do we make every day count? Summer break will be here before we know it and our students will be on break for three months. Some students will lose their only safe place, some may lose their access to a trusted adult, and others may lose the only nutritious meal that they receive in a day. I challenge all of us to think about about how we communicate the end of the year to each other, and to our students. Are you counting down the days or are you running out of time?

What message are you sending as we near the end of another school year?

Grading Reform: Part 3

I have written previously on our work to develop common beliefs about grading and reporting in our school district. I believe we are making some nice progress in designing a more consistent grading process. Our latest meeting focused on developing beliefs about creating second chances for learning and grade reduction/enhancement practices. As mentioned in previous blogs, we've read several journal articles about best practices in grading and reporting. You can find the articles here and here. We used these research articles to help inform our decision making.

Here is what we came up with:

Second Chance for Learning
  • Re-dos and re-takes are available to students
  • Students are responsible for asking for a second chance
  • Corrective instruction, additional practice, etc. must occur prior to the re-assessment
  • Full credit should be given for any re-assessment
  • The most recent/accurate score will be used for grading purposes
Grade Reduction and Enhancement
  • Zeroes should not be permanent (students should be given the opportunity to turn in missing work for full credit)
  • Deadlines prior to the end of each grading term are at the discretion of the teacher
  • Teachers may make use of incompletes at the end of grading terms under special circumstances (i.e. student illness or hardship)
  • Teachers are strongly encouraged to enter zeroes in a timely manner
  • Late work should be accepted in most circumstances and penalties shouldn’t significantly decrease the grade
  • Students who demonstrate habitual behavior in work habits may be given a “U” by the teacher
  • Grades will not be based on a curve
  • Bonus points or extra credit falsely inflate the grade and should not be used

The full document can be found here: RPSD Standards-based Learning Practices

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Rugby North Dakota Downtown Project

Mr. Leier organized a community forum tonight and showcased a student created documentary. The community forum also included a visit from Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford. This culminating event is Project Based Learning at its finest. Mr. Leier's class researched our downtown business area and Governor Burgum's Main Street Initiative. 

Rugby North Dakota Downtown Project