We just handed out our first progress reports of the year and the grades for the school year. Many students have earned A’s and seem to be understanding what I have been teaching. There are also some students who are struggling or showing no interest in my class. A small number of them are wanting to cause disruptions for the other students which should come as no surprise to anyone experienced in the education profession.
This progress report has been a time for me to reflect on my teaching practices as I work slowly through a new curriculum and use totally digital tools. Here are the things I am reflecting on the last few days.
- The students as a whole have been excited about learning technology and many of the lessons I have taught are catching on like proper linking in a blog post, copying and pasting links from one place to another. It is time to move on to more complex tasks.
- Assigning students a computer and making them responsible for the machine has worked beyond my expectations. I can count on one hand the number of Help Desk tickets I have needed to enter. This is important because without the computers the class could not function. Hopefully, this will continue.
- Using a social network in class has been a tremendous success as well. Once the students learn how to navigate through Edmodo and use all of its features, the better off they are. Many are wishing all of their teachers would use Edmodo because they like the ease of communication with the teacher and the ability to turn-in assignments. The rest of the teachers in our school have a similar application available to them and hopefully they will take advantage of the digital drop box feature.
More thought required
- Grades! This has been debated between me and others in school from the principal on down with everyone scratching their heads on this one. My first thought and what I started with was basically an all or nothing, outcome-based performance. In many ways, technology does not allow for much leeway. Either your link to a resource or it doesn’t. A student copies and pastes the correct link to his or he blog post or they don’t when turning-in an assignment. This allows students to work through problems until they master the task required. Students who play video games should be used to this method because until they master a task they cannot move on to the next level. The other school of thought I am wrestling with is to give partial credit for students who make the attempt even if it does not work. My fear here is the student may just accept the grade without mastering a skill that will be critical later. I have started granting partial credit and I will monitor the effectiveness in student learning over the next few weeks. Which method will be right in the grand scheme of things remains to be seen. In both cases students are allowed to resubmit work for full credit. For students still struggling there are days set aside for afterschool tutoring.
- For those special needs students how do I adjust what I require? Fortunately, I have a great Special Needs teacher to work with as work with these great students.
I have learned so much over the past few weeks and I am sure I there will be much more to learn in the weeks to come. The only thing I can do is offer my best effort everyday.