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based and will be based on a set list of core components of the semester including summative assessments, like a final exam, a series of smaller writing assignments, homework, attendance, and participation. The class I will be teaching will be a high school sophomore English class. The main goals for this course are for the students to become critical readers and analytical writers over the course of the year. The year will be divided into two main units, critical reading, and analytical writing, but within each unit there will be subunits which revolve around the various novels that the students will read. Some of the students have mild learning disabilities, and accommodations and modifications to my lessons will reflect that. There should not be a need to modify any of the grading policies for these students, except for maybe extensions on work. I believe that the main golden rules of grading and the main purposes of grading is that it should measure student progress and academic accomplishments. If it does not do this, then I need to change the way I assess and grade my students (Lecture, 10/16/12). In order to ensure this, I will keep a structured manner of how I grade by providing rubrics to the students that they will receive before they complete an assessment (like an essay), so that they know what I am looking for in my grading. This will ensure that my assessments are reliable because they can be repeated to multiple groups of people and my grading will reflect the same concepts. In addition, my assessments must and will be valid because my grading rubrics will be referencing the important concepts of the classroom and they will reflect those concepts in the assignment and in my grading. The part of my grading policy that I will be most flexible with will be due dates. I will give extensions to students who need it and who come to me prior to the due date of an assignment. The purposes of this grading policy that will be criterion based and each assessment will have rubrics is so that students know, from day one, what to expect from the course and what is expected from them in the course. I want them to feel as prepared as possible so that they understand why they got the grade they got and how they can change if need be. The types of assessments that will contribute to my grades will be a series of constant formative assessments including daily observations of the students during class discussions, and how they interact with one another. I will use quick-writes, journals, and probes at the beginning and end of class in order to check the progress of students and to see if they understand the concepts of the day. I will structure my next lesson based on the results of those formative assessments. I will have some summative assessments at the end of every subunit and unit which will consist of essays and projects. There might be some reading quizzes throughout the unit, but they will not be weighted too heavily on the grades, the purpose of them are more formative assessments to see if the students comprehended the reading. The daily homework that the students receive will typically consist of reading. I think participation, especially in an English class where discussion is such a major component of the class, is an important thing to put a grade on in my classroom. Because I am using criterion based grading, participation will be its own component and will be worth a certain percentage of the grade. I will use formative assessments and my own observation to assess participation. Attendance will also be a factor, but if an absence can be explained in some way and is excused, for example, for a death in the family or illness, then I will not penalize the students for that. If students are more than five
minutes late for class, then they will be considered tardy. If a student receives more than 4 tardies in a semester, then their participation grade will drop half a letter grade (so it will go from an A to an A-). I will not explicitly grade attitude and behavior in my grading policy, but it will most likely factor into the students participation grade because if students are misbehaving in any way during class, it will most likely be as a result of the class discussion, since most of my activities and lessons will be structured around discussion. I think that the formative assessments that I will use like quick-writes, journals and probes are important to student learning because they help me as the teacher determine how the students are responding to my lessons and if they are learning the key concepts, and I will adapt my future lessons as a result. Summative assessments like essays and projects will be a good way to see how the students have learned and understood the main concepts of the units and subunits. For my writing lessons and units, I will use essays to see how students can assemble all of the components of my lessons into a cohesive whole. For my reading units, I will use projects that combine all of the separate aspects of learning how to critically read into one piece. There will also be writing in the projects, which will force students to reach into their prior knowledge to complete the assignment. Reading quizzes are important for student learning because it will measure their reading comprehension and will tell me how I need to restructure my lessons to help them improve that comprehension. Daily reading homework will be used for the same purposes. The reading homework and subsequent quizzes are linked. Participation is a crucial assessment component that will help in student learning because in an English class, discussion is the main means to work out different key concepts. Learning how to critically write, and especially critically read cannot be accomplished without being able to articulate one’s thoughts and know how to challenge other people’s thoughts. Lastly, student learning cannot be accomplished unless students attend class. It is important to highlight this fact by making tardies and absences a component of the student’s grade. The following is the grade breakdown for my course: Participation: 10% Homework/reading quizzes: 20% Essays and Projects: 40% (2 essays, 2 projects) Absences and tardies: 10% Quick-writes and journals: 20% The essays and projects are weighted the highest because, as summative assessments, they are meant to encompass all of the major learning objectives that I have set in place and put them all together into one cohesive project or paper. Whereas quick-writes and journals only discuss certain portions of my learning objectives, so they won’t be weighted as heavily. In addition, quick-writes will be graded for completion, not for how correct the content is, so they should be easy points for the students and they will inform me as the teacher on how they comprehend the information. Homework and reading quizzes are weighed the same as the quick-writes and journals because they too will be completed on a daily basis and will mostly inform me of the student’s day-to-day understanding of the information. Absences and tardies are worth 10% in order to ensure that student’s are motivated to come to class. Similarly, participation is worth 10% in order to motivate student’s to participate. But I also understand that some students are very uncomfortable participating in a large-group setting, and they can still prove that they understand the information in other ways, that is why it is not weighted so heavily. I would assign course grades by creating rubrics for every larger summative assignment that I assign to the students. It is the hope that by creating a standardized rubric, it will make it
easier to grade each student using the same criteria. For the most part, I hope to stick to absolute standards. I think this is the fairest form of grading and it the best way to ensure that my grading is reliable and valid. The only time that I will base my grades on relative performance will be when I notice on an assessment that the majority of students did not perform well, or to my expectations. That may tell me that it was not the student’s fault that they performed poorly, it might be a result of other factors, like I did not prepare them enough for the assessment, or the assessment was not valid and did not accurately ask questions that related to the learning objectives I set into place for that unit. It is important to look at the relative performance in this case in order to ensure that the grades given to my students are true representations of their learning progress and accomplishment. Part II: The pay-for-performance program that the school wants to implement has some valuable and useful components to it however, I do not think it will solve the issues of low test-scores at our school. Instilling motivation in students is one of the greatest challenges I face as a teacher. It is important to always try to think of new ways to instill motivation for students. However, I believe that the pay-for-performance program only succeeds in offering students an opportunity to become extrinsically motivated in their own academic success. And extrinsic motivation has its limitations. It creates a motivation that is rooted in a specific purpose, and once that material and tangible object is gone, so is the motivation. On the other hand, intrinsic motivation works through an individual’s desire to do one’s best work for the sake of doing the work. If the teacher’s implement this pay-for-performance program, it is my fear that they will think that is enough of a motivation for students to succeed, and they will not attempt to instill intrinsic motivation, which is much more important, into their students. While the program will succeed in providing extrinsic motivation, there is also the issue of delayed gratification that comes into play in this scenario. Standardized tests only come about once a year, but the preparation for the tests last the entire academic year. I’m not sure if the pay-for-performance program will instill enough motivation for students that would last an entire school year. Delayed gratification is the idea that you complete work without having the instant gratification right away, but rather, the gratification comes later, like a final grade at the end of a long semester. When a student is intrinsically motivated, they are more likely to implement delayed gratification in their everyday lives. Rather than using a pay-for-performance program on the district-wide exams, there should be some sort of program that rewards kids for individual classes. That way, the students will be rewarded earlier for their efforts and they will be more motivated to do work in the moment, rather than cramming right before the standardized test. In addition, I do not think the students need to be rewarded in money. Other rewards that could be offered may be to have an extra school dance or an extra class field trip to an amusement park for those students who have received a good grade. This way, the school will still use extrinsic motivation to get students to do well on the exams, but they will also increase school-spirit and the sense of a school community rather than focusing on individuals. Part III: As Margaret’s English teacher, I have seen great improvement in her work in the recent weeks. Her journals have improved immensely (she has received 8, 9, and 10 on the most recent
journals) and I can see that she is putting in a great effort in the class in general (15/15 in the effort area). Now looking at her ISAT scores, it is clear that she struggles the most in reading (reading strategies: 12/20 and reading comprehension: 7/15). But she received a very high score in her extended response (4/4) which shows that she understands how to clearly and concisely draw information from a text and use textual evidence and prior knowledge to support a claim. She struggles most with reading and understanding literature (9/18). This goes along with my own class where the first few tests were difficult for her (30/50, 36/50) because they focused on reading comprehension and literature. But over time, she has improved immensely. Her last exam scored very high (86/100) compared to the first two. I’ve noticed in my class that she seems to be a little intimidated to participate in class (participation grade: 10/15). Because so much of my instruction revolves around discussion, particularly discussion about literature and themes in literature, this may be why her scores struggle in those areas. Overall, I think her current trend in my class shows that she understands the work more, and she appears to be very motivated, as I have indicated with her high grade in the effort section of her report card (15/15). While she remains below average in areas that the ISAT tests for reading, I am confident that next year she will show improved scores if she stays on the current trend that she is in my class. I would worry more about what you see on the class report card than on the ISAT test because the class report card displays the trend that Margaret has established in the classroom and it displays her performance over time while the ISAT scores are just a snapshot of a single exam and moment in time.
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