October 17, 2011

The impact of self-evaluation

This is a guest post by Joey Till, who teaches math to 7th graders in Indiana. With a large amount of students on free and reduced lunch, Till is dealing with reluctant learners on a daily basis. Till has made the conversion to a Results Only Learning Environment this year. 

Giving Grades. . . Without Really Giving Grades

Each student and I have a quick 2 - 4 minute conversation about what they learned from the project and how they contributed to their group (if it was a group project).  The student and I talk about their grade and what they deserve. We together come to an agreement on what they deserve, (and) with the exceptions of a few cases the kids are usually dead on.

It has been amazing to see the positive things from these conversations, as opposed to handing back a piece of paper with a grade on it.

When kids have to look you in the face and say they did poorly because they didn’t do their best, you can really see the disappointment in their face. Almost every kid has shown improvement. In some cases, major improvements.

On the other hand, it is so nice to see the grin when you tell a student how great they did, especially kids that have struggled with Math in the past. I have really seen the confidence growing in many of my students, which in a Math class is always an issue.

These short conversations have been invaluable with my students. I really feel like I have a better handle on what they know and don't know through these conversations. I also feel like I know the students much better than I ever have at this point in the year.