Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reassessment Fridays (SBG): A Love Story

“Every student did their own thing in class today.”
How often is that the summary of a mathematics class?  How about an art class? 

Today was the standard reassessment day for my AP Stat classes.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to let students reassess when I started Standards Based Grading.  I’ve come up with using every Friday as a reassessment day.

I let students pick 2 skills to reassess on.  They pick them Wednesday, I create reassessments Thursday, they take them on Friday.  The reassessors are given a mail merged document that is their assignment for that day’s reassessment.  Should they choose not to formally reassess in class, they always have the option to do a project on their own to show their mastery of any of the skills they have learned.  This has been a system that works for the students that want to reassess, but it works even better for those not reassessing.

Today about a third of each class was reassessing.  So what do the other students in class do?  They play.  They learn.  They collaborate:
  1. One student began conducting simulations to simulate random clicks in Minesweeper.  Two others quickly became interested and a Minesweeper collaborative was born.
  2. About 10 different students were editing 10 different pages of the class wiki to make it an online textbook.  
  3. They were gathering data for different projects they hope to complete later in the year
    1. a project where they wish to determine the proportion of teachers at school that have tattoos
    2. simulating hands for various different card games
    3. the true proportion of dives by a diver that are “ripped”

    I look forward to my “Reassessment Fridays” because of the classroom vibe.  I’ll provide a few ideas for what can be worked on, then they get started doing things that they want to do.  Today’s ideas: Conduct a simulation, finish an old project, start a new project, edit the class wiki, create models of data collected this week.  I’m immediately working on making this the classroom activity for every day, not just Friday.  

    My favorite part about it is that I am providing them time to be as smart as they want to be in class.  I’m not tricking them into learning with some gimmick.  I’m not having them finish a worksheet for points.  I’m not asking 26 of them to answer the same question.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Dares for the 21st Century Teacher

    I dare ya to...
    ...teach math without using "x" and "y"
    ...throw out all of your worksheets
    ...let students decide what's important to learn in history class
    ...teach English without assignments of "write a paper"
    ...(for high school teachers) do activities that you get from Elementary school teachers
    ...make your students say more than you do during a class period
    ...let your students design the science experiment
    ...never give a student the correct answer an activity where every student generates a unique product
    ...let your kids use their cell phones to learn
    ...teach Geometry(high school) using Euclid's "The Elements"
    ...let your students pick what they want to read
    ...not assign homework
    ...have students research a topic strictly through Twitter
    ...involve creative writing in every topic of your course
    ...let kids decide if they need a desk or not
    ...never teach the same lesson twice
    ...teach phys ed. using nothing but multimedia

    Other suggestions?