Students and Families,
In a continuing effort to best serve the needs of our students, our class will approach learning as a collaborative effort between the students and the teacher. A growing body of evidence shows that students connect and process their learning best when it is individualized to their own perspectives and needs, allowing them to articulate and show growth in their own words. In order to facilitate this kind of learning, students will need to take a more active role in the learning process, including the process that we have traditionally associated with grades.
While past classes have relied solely upon teachers to evaluate the quality of student work for its evidence of learning, in order to engage students on a more meaningful level, students in my class will be participating in a conference-based learning model. This model will rely upon each student to understand and articulate their learning based on state and district standards, and to collaborate with the teacher in order to evaluate and agree upon the student’s achievement on those standards. Over the course of the year, students will be expected to use teacher feedback, ideas from formal and informal conferences, and their own self-assessment to evaluate their learning from the class.
At the end of each grading period, students will present a portfolio of evidence to the teacher that demonstrates the learning and growth that they have made on the standards in the class, and together the student and the teacher will agree upon an appropriate mark for the report card. Up to that point, students will have received standards-based feedback on their work via Canvas, but the LMS gradebook will be scarcely populated. I know this is a major shift from the traditional model, and could be a place of concern for many of you. If you are concerned about your students’ progress in my course, I would encourage you to ask them about the work they have done (and reflected on) in the class portfolio, rather than checking LMS as the measure of their success.
To be clear, I will not populate grades in LMS before the end of the grading period. Rather, student participation and completion will be marked in LMS, rather than their scores on particular assignments. This novel approach to student evaluation will free students to individualize the pace and expression of their learning, and leave open a range of opportunities to creatively and individually express their skill.
By taking an active role in their learning rather than being told a score (and promptly moving on to the next task), students have the opportunity to find meaning in content that all too often fails to inspire them. It is true that students may find the shift challenging, but the opportunity to explore and express their growth will have a lasting positive impact on their understanding of themselves, their strengths and areas in need of improvement, and their ability to act upon that understanding.
I am here to guide them along that path, to help them find their way as they get lost or confused, and to help them discover their own place in this changing world.
BA English Writing, MAE Education
AVID 12th Grade, and AP Seminar