ECS 350 Reader Response #2

For today’s reader response, I read chapter four of the Differentiated Instructional Strategies” by Gregory and Chapman.  This chapter was all about assessment and evaluation and the different types of assessment and evaluation.  Many ideas were introduced for different ways to assess and evaluate students.  A few of the ideas that I liked were the graffiti wall, mostly because I thought it was an interesting and more student engaging version of doing a KWL chart, and also the portfolios.

One of my “AHA” moments while reading this chapter was at the section discussing portfolios.  The main reason why I had an “AHA” moment at this part was because it reminded me of one of my teachers who had used this.  It was one of my high school math teachers and she mostly kept our tests, exams and homework in these portfolios.  One reason that I really liked this idea, both now and at the time, is because it displayed some of my work of what I was doing in the class and because it made for a really detailed review that covered all of the content.  Also, now with my new teaching experience and knowledge, I also like this idea because it’s something to show parents at conferences (so basically make it quite a bit easier for parent-teacher interviews) and because it’s a good way to see how a student has progressed and what they need to work on (or even what I need to work on if it’s a common error between quite a few students).

Another sort of “AHA” moment that I had while reading this chapter was the section discussing the type of feedback that we should give students.  I have never really thought of which type of feedback I should be giving my students but when I think of it, I probably would have just thought to just give a mixture of both the grade and the descriptive feedback.  However, I began to think that I shouldn’t when the textbook stated that students are still more focused on the grade if we give both so they don’t really improve.  Also if we only give the descriptive feedback, it’s been proven that students will improve up to 60% better.  I didn’t just cave in that easily to what the text was saying.  I thought about this and how I’ve received feedback in previous classes, and now I completely agree with what the text was saying.  For assignments (especially essays!), I always went straight to the mark first (and I still do this, sadly).  If I am satisfied with the mark that I received, I wouldn’t look at the descriptive feedback; if I was unsatisfied with it, then I would actually go back and read through the comments and take them seriously.  So, I do strongly agree with this statement and it definitely made me more aware of the type of feedback I should be giving to my students.

After reading this, I still am left with a few questions.  The first question I have is about grading:  Should we grade on the individual quality of work and how much a student has grown or should we mark based off of certain standards already set out by the teacher/school?  I just have this question because I do believe that students who put in quite a bit of effort and have grown should deserve a good grade, even if they aren’t quite getting the content versus a student who doesn’t try very hard and hasn’t grown much.  My second question is: If students improve more when we only give descriptive feedback, should we be doing more descriptive feedback type of assessment or should be grading them?  One thing that I have talked about in this class and others is that we need a variety of assessment for students because not all students excel at certain tasks, so it wouldn’t be fair to only grade exams and tests or just homework because not all students can properly show their understandings and knowledge that they have gained through certain tasks.  So, what type of feedback should we be mostly giving them?  Could it be the combination of the grading and the descriptive feedback but only give them the descriptive feedback?  Or could we do both as well but give the grade some time after we have given the descriptive feedback and they’ve had a chance to look over the comments?  I’m thinking that it should be the last, but that one itself does pose problems, such as students could catch on to the fact that they will just receive their grade later so then they won’t even bother to look at the feedback.  So I am curious… what are your thoughts?

Statement of commitment: I really wish that I could create a statement of commitment for finding the answers to either of my questions but I feel that they are almost dependent on what the teacher believes and so then there really is no right or wrong answer.  So, I will not commit to finding an absolute answer to either of these questions, but what I can commit to is trying to find what I feel is the answer that reflects both who I am and what I believe as a teacher.

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One thought on “ECS 350 Reader Response #2

  1. Hmm…grading on effort versus product. That’s a really difficult question to answer, and it’s one that depends a lot on your individual philosophy. I can actually remember sitting in my assistant principal’s office one day after school discussing it at length with her. So it’s something that you need to think about and decide for yourself!
    I think that when it comes to feedback vs. grades, there needs to be a balance. Giving the feedback first and the grade later might work well if you meet with the student to discuss the feedback – that way you know it’s been taken in. However, this requires a big time commitment. Given feedback throughout the process is always good, too, and perhaps you could sit down with the student after the final product has been created to discuss what grade they should receive based on the feedback and their response to the feedback (i.e. how they improved).

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