First: All daily/weekly information, and assignments, are housed on Edmodo. Your student MUST give you their login information. The Philosophy Behind It All:
My goal is for students to succeed. It's not about the grade - it's about the learning. I agree with this statement: "I'm the kind of teacher who strongly believes in creating an environment where students can experience success and failure not as reward and punishment, but as information ... We don't spend one minute more than we need to discussing the grades - in turn, this de-emphasis on grading allows my students to be attracted to learning for its own sake." (Bower, 2011, para. 6, 7) Although I am required to give grades, Alfie Kohn makes a great case for not grading at all in this article.
I will be giving a lot of oral and written feedback on what students do in class, and will only be putting assignments and feedback into the grade book; students will use this feedback to revise assignments, and find many ways to show that they are learning class material. Grades do not always provide meaningful feedback about learning. "Feedback is among the most critical influences on student learning. A major aim of the educative process is to assist in identifying these gaps ('How am I going?' relative to 'Where am I going?') and to provide remediation in the form of alternative or other steps ('Where to next?')" (Hattie & Timperly, 102). This connection between where students are headed and how to get them there is where meaningful narrative feedback comes in (Barnes, 73). The most powerful aspect of narrative feedback is the mastery learning it fosters. Grades in this type of environment are typically higher than those in a traditional classroom - because students are redirected to revise and resubmit work to show mastery.
The assessment students receive can be improved upon until the week before grades are due each term. Students will be encouraged to revise and resubmit any work that does not yet show mastery of learning. "The purpose of schools ought to be to create intellectual communities where students are encouraged to be risk takers, to be curious, to be willing to try and fail, and to be more interested in asking questions than providing answers" (Beers & Probst, 24). Please watch this passionate and knowledgeable educator, Rick Wormeli, as he talks about Redos, Retakes, and Do-Overs (as seen below). This may help explain why extra credit does not have a place in my classroom. Ideally, grades are based on what we learn, not what we do.
In our class we don't learn facts just to regurgitate them for a test. We have to learn processes, learn to connect facts with meaning and identity, learn how to read closely, and how to rewrite (and rewrite and rewrite) for meaning, substance, and different audiences. We learn to enjoy various pieces of literature and nonfiction, and write authentic responses to what we read. Our learning is for authentic reasons, and tests based on what students memorize are not emphasized here.
All of this being said, I am required to give grades to measure student progress. You will find our rubrics here, unless students are creating their own.