#FormativeSummit Challenge: Day 4, Paul Solarz!

Greetings #FormativeSummit attendees,

Following up on Paul Solarz’s awesome session, we invite you to share an idea for helping students to focus on improvement rather than grades! Hit the reply button below to share your thoughts!

Thank you to @mgarcia & @jillian.kostuchrzepk for continuing to help facilitate the discussion!

Notes:

If you haven’t signed up for #FormativeSummit yet, you may still do so here! We’ll make sure to send you any webinars you’ve missed (ex: Matt’s session). Just don’t wait too long! Registration is only open for the remainder of the event period (Oct. 19th-27th) and just like a real conference, the webinars will disappear after that point as well!

If you haven’t joined our community yet, you can click on the Login with Formative Account option in the top right of the screen. If you don’t have a Formative account, it’ll prompt you to create one.

1 Like

This session was very thought provoking, and I was amazed that he was doing this with 4th and 5th grade students. I teach 5th grade and I’m trying to wrap my head around how you would even begin to do away with percentage based A-F grades and move towards a more performance based grading system. I’m not sure my district would be ready for such a change, but I love that he refers to his classroom as an improvement centered classroom. It’s all about the improvement of the students from the beginning of the year to the end, and that’s what we’re all looking for.

4 Likes

I am really glad to hear that you enjoyed Paul’s session. Have you tried some of the less intensive ideas he mentioned like focusing on just returning feedback for assignments and keeping a separate record of performance elsewhere to help you calculate the grade later? As a full disclaimer, I’ve never tried this before!

2 Likes

It’s very interesting to hear about this topic. I was interested to learn more about it before I finalized my thoughts. My building has been doing SBR grading for the 3 years I have been in the district and now we are being required to log grades for assignments into our grading system, before report cards go home at the end of the quarter. I love the idea of providing feedback for improvement rather than grades, but not sure how to go about talking with my administrators about it and provide enough reasoning to back this up so that district does not stop the process. I find that it would be more beneficial to do this action in my district, since we are in a low-income area, and the focus of students creating their own goals, providing feedback would be better than just the 4-3-2-1 SBR. If I were to be able to do this, I would start in one area, like Paul stated , writing would be easiest to start with. I like the idea and am going to bring it up to the building and see what happens. Thank you for all the insight.

2 Likes

In some of my networking I still see instructors asking about how to grade homework and other in-class work. I think that Paul brought up a good point that these opportunities should be something in which you can give feedback on, and that not everything has to have a grade tied to it immediately. Although my district has moved to a version of SBG, there are certain things, especially writing tasks, that I give back to the students without a grade. That way it is something that they can look at as we can talk through the writing together. I think that it gives them a better idea of what I’m really looking for. My students have shown much more improvement in their writing than they did before when I just said “here is your 3”. When you put the grade on, they don’t even bother to look at the feedback.

2 Likes

My son’s school already does a performance based grading system in elementary. The way that his rubrics look is that they can get a 1-4 as their score, but they can also get 1/2 points as well.

In the district that I teach, we still have a system that takes the mean of all the scores and then it is pushed out into a letter grade. As much as I love the idea of having the gradeless system, at the secondary level I don’t see that being something that can be fully implemented as long as universities are still wanting to see the letter grade. I think the focus on learning and improving on the skills is great and that going “gradeless” in the elementary grades is really a great idea.

2 Likes

This session was great! I have been thinking about moving to a grading system like this for a while, but it also makes me nervous because I know it will be a lot of work and there will be push back. Maybe if I can get a colleague to join me, it won’t be as bad.

2 Likes

I stress to my students during data analysis that their growth, even if by one point is essential and should be recognized as an accomplishment.

2 Likes

Thanks for sharing how the session relates to the current challenges within your district @senger . Is there a requirement for how many assignments you need to log into the grading system? Is there room in the grading system for assessments that don’t count towards the final grade? What a similar approach to the one that @jillian.kostuchrzepk shared?

1 Like

This is a great way to help students focus on improvement and growth. I’d love to hear more about how you go about data analysis!

2 Likes

Since this is something new this year, I wondering what the requirements are for the year and each quarter. That is a question that I need to ask. But I will be sharing my findings from all of the formativesummit days to my building in particular after this is completed. My principal wanted me to share the information, so hopefully it is something we can discuss when that happens. I love the idea of the feedback, rather than the grades, but I still have to abide by the district regulations. So many questions to ask as I am learning these new techniques.

3 Likes

I did this in my math class when I had Accelerated Math as a tool to use. Grades were based mostly on progress. Each student had a specific number of objectives to master by the end of the term. Students could have different objective goals, but everyone was moving forward with a growth mindset. It was my favorite way to teach math. :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Students review questions missed and what struggled with within self paced learning apps such as Nearpod, Quizalize and Canvas created modules. Students have to remediate with a lab or a graphical organizer class assignment before being assessed again and compare scores, new/fewer topics struggling with. Growth in class is praised praised with stickers, free choice of exit ticket or music access in independent learning time.

2 Likes

As a special education teacher we are constantly focused on improvement rather than the grade. Their IEP goals look at progress from one year to the next, as well as the state assessment. We look at the progress that they’ve made from one year to the Next, whether or not they pass the test, so this is something that we do on a regular basis.

2 Likes

I use progress rather than grades with my students on a regular basis. As a special education teacher it is the way I am expected to evaluate their gains.

2 Likes

@algonzales @lisastroud I was a special education teacher as well and it’s great to hear that you are consistently monitoring your student progress and helping them focus on improving! Have you started to use the Formative Tracker yet? It allows you see how your students are progressing on individual standards and provides you with a portfolio of each student’s work for each standard:

1 Like

I think this is a great questions to run by Paul Solarz! You could tweet to him and I am sure he would be happy to help :slight_smile: