Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Trying to do what's best for kids...

I recently made some big changes in my German classes. I have been contemplating these changes for a while now, so please don't assume I made these changes without thoughtful consideration. My focus has transitioned to having my students show what they have learned, instead of simply assessing them on what they are willing to do. It bothers me when I see students who have a high level of content mastery, but yet have a low grade. Likewise, I see misrepresentation when students who do all their work and are very good at playing the "school game" have high grades, but yet are lacking when it comes to content mastery. It is my hope that with these new changes students will be more focused on learning, rather than simple compliance and grades. Additionally, I want future grades to be a much more accurate representation of actual German ability.

Old way:

- Traditional paper/pencil homework every night (5 -10 minutes)
- Homework was always graded on completion (worth 10 points)
- Homework made up about 50% of a student's grade
- Homework was used to reinforce the concepts learned in class


1) - Students were completing homework for the sake of completing the homework (grade driven)
2) - Homework was being copied and the focus was taken off of learning
3) - Students had jobs or had a difficult home environment, thus homework was not completed
4) - Semester grades were not always an accurate representation of mastery of German content
5) - Some grades were inflated, while others were low when compared to actual content understanding

New way:

- Traditional homework has been eliminated
- The weekly reflective discussion post on Facebook will remain to get class feedback from students
- Students will spend more time creating, discovering, and exploring while in class
- Grades will be based more on what students are able to do, versus their simple compliance
Blogs, presentations, skits, movies, quizzes, and reflective discussions will be new assessments 
- Students will be more intrinsically motivated to learn

New Concerns:

1) - Homework provided additional practice which actually benefited some students
2) - Students who had a higher grade because of homework might not do as well this semester
3) - Parents might not be happy with the new changes in homework policy
4) - Fear of being "that" teacher who does not give homework

I encourage you to leave comments and feedback, as I look forward to reading what people have to say based off of their own individual experiences. Thank you.