Yesterday we visited the Neigborhood School, which was awesome. We went back there today, for more depth and insights on dilemmas we have in our daily work.
One of the cases we did was mine, my struggle with grades in our school. I want to give my students more ownership of their own growth, but how can I do that when all you do is prep them for tests.
I take the example of my own class and subject: grammar.
At the start of the instruction, I write down the goal of that particular lesson on the whiteboard. The way we’re going tot on work at that goal? A dictation of Dutch words and sentences. After that we look over our work and correct the words we did wrong.
My youngest students really struggle with the correction of their work. I now wonder if that’s because they have no feeling of ownership at all! And I give them hell because they don’t correct their work like they should. I think they should, the curriculum think they should and the test next week thinks they should.
How important are grades for us? Here in America they work without grades. No rapportcards, only a portfolio, in which children can and must prove their growth. How beautiful is that?
In Holland we’re way too hold back because of the gradingsystem. We want to let children set their own goals and ways to work on them, but we can’t because they have to get ready for the tests.
Also, when you can let go of grades, I think the next step is to let go of tests. Let children grow in the goals they have set for themselves and let them show us, and their parents how they are in charge of their progress.
And then let go the way children have to work on their goals. Set up the goals, let them make a good plan and let them explain the way or ways they want to work on that. I would love to try this with grammar sometime this year. See if the results will improve or not.
I hope to be able to speak to my collegues on this, see how they think about this. I would love to let go of grades even further as we are doing now. I do think we have allready started to do this, but I would love to make bigger steps in that. I wonder how my fellowteachers think about that.
Another great day, that made me wonder again!
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