Practice What You Preach

We just finished our first trimester and many of the students from across all grades and courses were complaining about their grades. I work at an IB school, which means that each course ends up with a grade over 7. In English, the total score is out of 30 (10 per criterion) which is then converted into a grade out of 7. I will admit it is quite confusing and very subjective. A student could be one point away (on the scale out of 30) from achieving a higher grade. The difference between a 19 and a 20 on a scale out of 30 doesn’t sound like as big a deal as a 4 instead of a 5 on a scale of 7.

At our school, I need to provide a minimum of 4 major assessments per trimester for the reports. What sort of options do I have for assessment? Our department has a policy that one of the assessments is creative, another is a response to literature, and another is non-fiction. The last is a classroom mark (participation, use of English, etc.). All being said, it is quite vague and does leave a fair amount of freedom, except that I am to grade using the three IB English criteria for MYP. With this in mind, I have determined that my grades will come from these summative assessments, but I will focus on creating more formative assessments.

Lately, my main focus is writing. My students all have English as a second language, but are doing the IB program using English as their Language A. This puts them at a slight disadvantage when it comes to the IB exams because they will be graded as though they are native speakers. My plan to help them with this is to allow them to write more every day, without the pressure of being graded. I had discovered that in doing their writing assignments kids are always asking me for vocabulary terms or clarification on certain things. Their natural curiosity is allowing them to learn faster than anything I could ever teach them formally. I am also attempting to write the same assignments with my students in class. If I am unable to complete it in class, then how should I expect them to do so? This has allowed me to be more reasonable in my deadlines and the quality of learning is improving. My students have told me how much they appreciate my constant feedback and the input they have on classroom activities.

My method now is to practice what I preach. If I don´t have time to complete the work in class, or can´t finish the same homework I assign my students by the deadline, how can I expect them to succeed? With this current way of thinking, my students are understanding how important the process is to the final product and are starting to see how capable they really are.

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