Rethinking Assessment

I had a conversation with a math teacher at my school. I asked her if she allowed her learners to use notes or tools on her tests. She said, “Absolutely not.” I asked why. She said if they learned the material they shouldn’t need notes. I asked if memorization or application demonstrated learning. She said […]

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If I could change grades

Should teachers use a traditional A B C D F system or a standards based 1 2 3 4 to report learning and growth to stakeholders? I say both are inadequate systems.  Traditional Grades Traditional grading provides letters to the accumulation of points students earn throughout a term. It takes into account all work, including … Continue reading If I could change grades

Thank you, Mr. Stroud

Recently, I had a disheartening conversation with a colleague. The topic was: To what degree do you enjoy working with at-risk/challenging students? His answer really shook me up. He said, "I don't." Then he changed it to, "I do when I can see that I am making an impact but not when my efforts are … Continue reading Thank you, Mr. Stroud

Stop lying to students

There are way too many lies educators tell students and they simply need to end. If you don't go to college... Try this experiment. Ask a class to complete the following statement: "If you don't go to college you'll end up working at..." In unison, learners will say "McDonalds." Now, this is a twofold lie. … Continue reading Stop lying to students

A grade is still a grade

I remember when I was in college. I dreamed of being a teacher. I was going to inspire students like Mr Keating of Dead Poets Society, make a difference in at-risk kids like Gabe Kotter in Welcome Back Kotter, and hold kids accountable to learning like Mr Hand in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. They were … Continue reading A grade is still a grade

How my class went from dictatorship to democratic 

Alfie Kohn tells about a group of Russian teachers who, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, wanted to meet with American teachers to discuss education. More specifically, they wanted to know how American teachers promoted democracy in the classrooms. However, the American teachers at the conference could not answer this question (Kohn, 1993). America … Continue reading How my class went from dictatorship to democratic 

How I facilitate student-led class discussions

Research shows that people remember only 5% of what they are told, 50% of what they discuss, and 90% of what they teach. When my principal shared this in a recent staff meeting I heard a few teachers scoff and say things like, "Well sure! How are students going to teach if I don't teach … Continue reading How I facilitate student-led class discussions

What do students NEED to know?

A colleague friend of mine says, "If a student can Google it faster than I can teach it, then why am I teaching it?" This is a fantastic question that cuts deep into my teacher soul. And because I cannot argue with this logic, I am forced to consider what it is that I tell … Continue reading What do students NEED to know?

Do students really need to take a final exam?

I used to work really hard revising, refining, and developing a comprehensive final exam to give my students at the end of each semester. I was quite proud of each iteration of the exam as they became more challenging every year. However, I came to realize something that made me reconsider the value of a … Continue reading Do students really need to take a final exam?