If you have been following my Storytelling blogs, you probably noticed that I did not post an interview on Friday. That’s because Kori and I picked up the newest member of our family: Tasha.
We drove out to Ohio (from Chicago) on Friday to pick this little Mastiff up, and we’ve been dealing with a beautiful, biting puppy since. It’s still rough for us that Winnie is gone, but the house was too quiet without a pup sniffing around. And since it’s #NationalDogDay, I thought I’d share this news before I get to the business of the education blog for today. I’m sure I’ll post plenty of pics of this little trouble maker as the days pass.
For today’s educational reflection, I’d like to discuss Higher Expectations: a concept I’m sure we’ll come back to a few times this year.
As educators, we often discuss creating higher expectations in our classrooms. It’s a great goal. But many of us have a hard time grasping the almost endless meaning of the term.
I decided to take the concept of higher expectations and bring it to my senior electives this year in a way that we all experienced in college: limiting the amount of assignments and assessments. The idea being, less is more. We raise the stakes and expect more from each assignment.
In our district, we have three common unit assessments (CUAs) in English per semester. Those are the only assignments that we are required to offer a form of re-take or re-do. These three assignments are also 65% of the students’ semester grade, along with 20% quizzes, and 15% other assignments.
With the three 65% assessments, I’ve decided to only offer five 20% assignments and seven 15% assignments. There are no re-takes or re-dos on the 20% or 15% assignments, so if a students fails to complete a non 65% assessment/assignment or if they choose to give that assignment no effort, their grade will suffer.
In my classroom I have been stressing the importance of the fifteen assignments, and I have a countdown from fifteen on my board to have a visual representation of the amount of assignments left. I’m hoping, like in college, the reality of only a handful of assignments creates an environment of higher expectations for each one.
The signed syllabus was the first grade. I know it was just a completion grade, but I’ve received more than I have in the past. This could be a good sign of things to come. I have quizzes coming up this week in Film & Lit and Graphic Novels, covering the class’ specific vocabulary terms, and I’m expecting those to be higher than usual as well, considering there are only going to be five grades in the 20% this semester, and there is no re-take for these quizzes. Here’s to hoping!
I’m interested to see how this works out, and I’m interested to see what you think about the idea as well. I know many teachers that put a grade in the grade book almost daily, and this works directly against that. Not that either is better, just different, and both can speak to high expectations.
The story as we develop as educators is never ending, and if after each year, you do not change your pedagogy…change your story, you are creating a story that is not evolving with the changing students. I guess, what I’m saying is, don’t write your story in pen. This fifteen assignment thing might bite me in the butt, and if it does, you know for sure I’ll amend it for next semester.
Have high expectations for yourself, and look at failure as a way to improve. Almost all of the successful things I do in my classroom come from an unsuccessful attempt at something else.
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