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Twenty points for Gryffindor!

Totally Random Quote of the morning: “Mrs. Love, are you aware there’s a banana over there?”–D

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I tried an experiment with grading this year: not sure how it worked. The grades for this year are largely for completion, and some rubric-oriented structure. In the past, I have been a huge believer in rubrics, and even more so exit tickets, but this year –this year has been, um, pretty much not good bad yucky weird messy and kind of unraveled sort of thing. There were a few reasons for the shift to completion grading: Part of it was simple indulgence: I just wanted to see what would happen: would students be more motivated to turn work in, and try? That has been a huge issue with my students. When they go home, school is far, far behind them. (As it has been for me this year, too.) The other piece was I wanted to see if there would be organic, authentic “growth.”

And, there are mixed results.

I had a district meeting the other day; and, although it was very worthwhile work, I was still out. I left an assignment of vocabulary posters and random words. The vocabulary “posters” I use are based on the Frayer model, however, with a few important additions or distinctions. I want students to think more deeply and abstractly about words, so not only do I use synonyms, but add the concept of “compare’ and antonyms with ‘contrast.’ There are students who still say, “Mrs. Love, there isn’t an antonym for this,” and I say “BROCCOLI!” This is in reference to a big talk about examples versus non-examples, but what makes sense, and cupcakes and broccoli. How cake is not a contrast to cupcakes, but broccoli is. Oh why oh why don’t these children watch Sesame Street anymore? Which one of these things is not like the other?

Okay -went to a sad place for a moment.

Anyway: the posters turned out BEAUTIFULLY. They worked in groups, had fun, colored, engaged –all without me even being there. Is that the sign of a good teacher? Or more importantly, the sign of ‘good’ students?!

Words like: Impact, sinister, unique, consequence, and yearning stand out.

When I returned, I had them ‘present’ their posters to me and the class. We haven’t worked on presentations at all this year, and I felt more than a tinge of guilt when there were a lot of mumbling, backs-to-the-audience talks.

The thought occurred to me that, when I am putting in completion grades for their wonderful posters, I wish I could just magically yell out, “Twenty points for Gryffindor” to the magical forces, my grade book would be supernaturally completed, and all students would be smiling and successful (although I am definitely, solidly a Ravenclaw, my students would be soundly Gryffindor for their bravery and stoicism.)

It’s just too bad that most of them, realistically, won’t read the Harry Potter series. But that is a challenge for another day.

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