My current system has evolved over 5 years, but its DNA traces back to Bergmann & Sams' first book's chapter on accountability. You need to know what students know before they get to the high-order stuff. In a chemistry class, that means they need proficiency on lab safety before they can appropriately perform a science lab experiment; in a history class, they need proficient knowledge before they have the historical context/skill to successfully research, engage in simulation activities, read primary sources, etc.
Anyway, here is what I do:
First, I assign the video lesson
- It's due 2 or 3 school days from now.
- Students get a handout [below] that is basically identical to what I post in our LMS (Schoology) where the video link can be found. All the learning objectives are listed there along with note-taking advice, because that is our year-long academic skill.
- They are called "Need2Know" tasks because these are the essential bits of historical information I want students to retain for future objectives, activities, and learning.
- I expect them to take notes before the quiz, but I will not formally grade the notes because those could just be copied from a friend....
2-3 days later: They take the quiz
- If students brought notes (95% of them do!), they immediately put them inside their desk and clear off the desktop.
- When everyone has arrived, I let them retrieve the notes and 'get in the zone' for 30-45 seconds. Yes they are kind of cramming, but this rewards everybody for producing and bringing notes. (If I had let them do this immediately after arriving, then students would get a different amount of time with their notes, and I don't think that is fair.) Meanwhile, I insert the quiz folders into each student's desk -- they are always turned around 'backwards' so the desk opening faces the front of the classroom. :)
- Within less than a minute, everybody has swapped their notes into the desk, removed the quiz sheet from the folder, and stood the folder upright as a Fortress of Solitude to hide their work from their neighbors. They are filling the boxes as well as they are able with 1 or 2-sentence responses. I believe the process of writing this information helps to cement the facts into their memory for future retrieval and understanding.
- They already know the quiz questions because I listed them next to the video link and on the printed assignment sheet. The quiz sheet might be formatted with boxes and lines to organize their output, but there are no tricks & no mysteries in Mr. Swan's class.
- I guess-timate the amount of time needed, and peek over the shoulders of the last 3 or 4 kids. You can tell who legitimately needs a bit more time to finish writing, and who just plain forgot. Within about 15 minutes we are done.
Same day: I check everybody's quiz while the students....
- This is a new development in the 2017-18 school year. I used to be proud of myself for taking the quizzes home, scoring them, and returning those grades the next day. That's still too late!! Immediate feedback has huge benefits. If any students need to review & retake, they need to know before leaving my classroom today.
- I do not pass back the quiz response sheets, for several reasons. 1) I don't feel the need to write comments on each student's quiz, so I can read through them more quickly! 2) It's one less sheet of paper to get lost, improperly filed, etc. [I keep them for my own records until the end of the grading term.] 3) Students might notice the multiple versions, which can lead to uncomfortable & unfair conversations / disclosures. 4) On a similar theme, I can differentiate for the length/depth of responses, without students seeing two different sheets and asking "Why didn't I get credit for the same answer this kid wrote?" The fact is that his 3-sentence answer might be the best he ever wrote, but for her it would be an underachievement. I teach a wide range of students, so the bar for proficiency must be adjusted sometimes. This assessment system lets me do so!
- So, I'm at my desk for about 20 minutes*, skimming through all the quiz sheets and occasionally calling up a student to decipher their own handwriting....
- MEANWHILE, students spend class time to engage in the new material in some independent way: make a short comic strip to summarize a sub-topic, or produce a propaganda poster that might have appeared at the time, etc. These are low-stakes assignments that will not grade. If there were 1 or 2 students who weren't ready for today's quiz, then instead they will work on the video lesson during class time -- in the library, with one of the two wifi-enabled tablets in my room, or perhaps on their own cell phone.
How I handle retakes:
- They only need to re-try the objective(s) they missed on the first attempt.
- On this example quiz, let's say that a student wrote only two items for question #1, wrote rock-solid answers about Bunker Hill and the Olive Branch Petition, but had an unclear response about Common Sense: "It was published by Thomas Paine in 1776" is accurate but does not show the understanding I'm looking for....
- After I read his quiz sheet, I turned to his assignment sheet and notes (which he'd placed into the folder after the quiz) and I circled those learning objectives: #1 and #5.
- He leaves my classroom with a clear assignment: review the video and/or your notes about Loyalists and Common Sense.
- At the next possible opportunity (a student-centered activity tomorrow, a study hall period, a few minutes before homeroom....), he will retry those answers without access to notes. Usually I give a new copy of the quiz sheet, for him to write in a corner of the room; sometimes for convenience I will quiz the student orally.
- RARELY, a student is still unprepared with incomplete or inaccurate responses. Now it's time for a one-to-one conversation about study skills and/or the academic topic.
- USUALLY the retake ends with a successful result, and verbal encouragement from me.
How does the grading work for these assessments?
- You can see the headlines below. I am not playing a numbers game. This is a mastery assessment so I expect 100% proficiency. I'm not going to count some questions more than others, or calculate partial credit for getting 1 out of 2 results of Bunker Hill.
- Also, I need a super-quick scoring system to return everyone's quiz within 20 minutes!
- These Need2Know quizzes are the smallest element of the term grade: 3% or 4% per quiz (a total of ~25-30%).
- A few students complain about the 50% score for just 1 question wrong .... I respond "Yes, you only have 1 item to fix and then it's a B grade"
- Any student who bombed the quiz at first can also get an 85%, but he must work a lot harder to get there than the child with only 1 misunderstanding. That seems fair to me.
- On the "Rising Tensions Part 4" quiz example I used earlier:
14 students had to fix at least 1 question [85%]
3 students needed a second retake attempt [85%]
2 (out of 84) never did that retake, so their 50% score was stuck in the gradebook.
- I don't feel good about those 50% scores, but since that quiz (November 6th) I have worked more closely with both students and they are significantly improving.
Sooooooo whaddya think? You made it this far in the blog post, so you must still be interested. Like I said at the start, this system has evolved over time and probably will again... maybe with your input!