Friday, September 9, 2016

Thursday, September 8, 2016

FAQ- Grading, Retakes, and Procedures

It's that time...the eve of our first progress report. There may be several questions on your mind regarding the scores that you will see on your learner's progress reports. Here are some questions that you may have when your student brings home his/her report Friday afternoon.

What exactly does mastery of standards mean? All scores identify the level of mastery that an individual student reaches for each of the 6th grade standards. That means that as we practice with standards throughout the year, students work towards one-hundred percent mastery for each standard. Grades are not compensation for effort put forth but a communication of where he/she currently is on the learning continuum for each standard.

Where are the assignments listed for each grade? Because students are graded on standards, you will see the standard identified for each "assignment." There will also be an indicator as to the specific task, activity, or project for which a score was taken.

My student scored low on a practice assignment or assessment. Can they earn some extra credit? Learners are being graded according to their level of mastery of the 6th grade standards. Extra credit gives inaccurate data on where a child stands in their learning. However, students can continue to work towards mastery of the standards. If a student would like to take the time to reflect on their progress, complete a retake contract and make arrangements to retake an assignment during Lunch and Learn, they are welcome to do this up until 10 days before the end of a grading period. 

I have at least one Lunch and Learn session a week where I conduct mini lessons for students who feel they need additional assistance in a standard. These are in addition to the small group lessons that I conduct during class three to four days a week. Students are also given access to additional study materials that they can use at home. In case you are wondering, yes, all of these instructional supports have been available and provided for your students since the beginning of the school year. All of these avenues have been thoroughly and explicitly explained to all of my students on multiple occasions.

For our students, part of being in middle school is learning how to take responsibility for their actions. Although, I will work with all students diligently in class and encourage each one to take advantage of all the additional learning opportunities, it is ultimately each individual student's responsibility to fill out a retake contract, meet with me one-on-one, take time to relearn through the plethora of opportunities, and make arrangements to complete a retake.

(You can fin the Sixth Grade Reflect, Relearn, Retry contract here: Please be aware that each individual teacher may make slight alterations to this contract and its procedure.)

How are scores determined on retakes? Students will keep the score that demonstrates the highest level of mastery. In iNow at Home, when you sign-in, you will see the scores noted for each of the attempts. However, only the highest score will be the one that counts towards a final average.

How does my learner know how to improve? For every assignment, I provided detailed feedback on how he/she can improve. In their blog posts, I will leave private comments that are only viewable to that student with specific information regarding their level of mastery and areas they may need to grow. In their Google Drive, I will leave feedback through comments. In all cases, students are also given resources and tips on how they can continue to grow in that area.

Hopefully, these have addressed any questions you may have had in regards to your learner's grades including what they can do to continue to grow. Using these procedures, my students always have an extremely successful school year filled with exponential growth...and a lot of fun along the way.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Could you break out? Our first BreakoutEdu

Our class was so happy that we got to do a BreakoutEdu. You might be wondering what BreakoutEdu is? It is a series of different puzzles where you have clues, some easy, some not. With challenges around every corner. Do you think you could breakout?

 When we came into class on Tuesday, there were boxes on our tables with 3 different locks and 1 zip tie. Also, there was a letter on our desk that explained that Monday night the school was struck by lightning when our principal clicked on one of those scam links. So, it cursed the school to where every day was Monday. Our task was to save the other days of the week.

On the box, one lock was a letter lock, one needed a key, and one had numbers. There were clues hidden all around the room. As we read the letter, a few words were green. The words spelled out practice (practice is our homework; it's written on the front board). Our practice is to read every night. In our haste to solve the first puzzle, we almost missed the blacklight flashlights on the board's marker holder. So we grabbed the flash lights and went to Mrs. Ramsay's classroom library. On the checkout sheet, there was a number in the bottom left corner, but we could only see it with the special flash light. The number was 2016, and it unlocked the number lock. Yay! One lock down, two more (and a zip tie) to go.

On the closet door there was a picture of a text message. Some of the letters were larger than others. The letters spelled out LEARN. That unlocked the letter lock, and on the other paper on that door there was a failed test. It told us where to find the keys (it was in the the retake folder). The key was taped to a sheet of paper that had mixed up letters on it. It spelled out a website link. If you went to the link, the website it said lets make something. Which told us to look in our Makery.

In the Makery, there were four pencil pouches with combination locks on them. Next to the pencil pouches there were cards with four combinations on them. Only one of the combinations unlocked the pouch. We had to try all four to find the right one. When we finally got it opened, there was a pair of scissors. That took care of the zip tie.

YES! We  we broke out! We freed the other days of the week and received a small token of appreciation for each of the days of the week. It was so much fun!!!

We didn't all do it step by step in this order. It was a little chaotic!Only three of the four teams in our class broke out.We broke out but the steps were willy nilly. Over all the experience was incredible. We had tons of fun and by the end of it all we all learned Mrs.Ramsay will trick us any opportunity she gets. We can't wait for our next BreakoutEdu!

~GH &