Friday, November 15, 2013

Fluid Grading: Week 10 reflections

In our middle school, teachers can write Academic Notifications for students who struggle. These are notices that are sent home outlining specific issues ranging from academic to behavioral. This week I wrote my third Academic Notification this year. This is easily a tenfold reduction in notifications than in past years by this time of the year. I have typically sent notifications whenever a student failed a quiz, missed at least three assignments in a quarter and/or dipped significantly from earlier in the year. Don't get me wrong: I could have sent multiple notifications this year because students have failed quizzes and skipped assignments. The difference with this model is that a student can retake a quiz and jump from a 0 to a perfect score in less than 24 hours; this is no exaggeration, that jump actually occurred for one student. So by the time a notification would even be processed in the office, it would be obsolete. Even a student who skipped an assignment could make it up within a class period or at home that very night. The point is that the grades are so much more fluid in this model. I've seen a student in deep water on Monday but actually end up ahead of peers by Friday. I appreciate the hectic nature of the course because it seems more authentic. Just as microclimates can experience temperature fluctuations, a student's understanding of a concept can swiftly change from total confusion to sudden understanding. Ever witnessed an "ah ha" moment? This flipped model with traces of mastery and standards-based grading is responsive to these changes.