Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Think I'm Missing the Point

We took a test on Friday over Chemical Reactions. It was okay. Better than I thought it would be actually.

Mary (one of my brilliants) made a small, inadvertent mistake on one of the questions. She did not put a coefficient in front of one of her reactants. I know this was simply an oversight on her part, she just forgot to go back and write it in. I know this because I know that Mary knows how to balance equations. I have seen her do it. I have watched her work with unparalleled focus to balance the most difficult equation I could throw at her.

Yet, on the test, she missed it.

I started using SBG with all my classes this year, so it is kind of my test run. My rough draft with my standards and how it is I want to really have everything set up. Ideally, I would have all my targets perfectly written with a rubric to go with each one*. I would also have each target set up so a "3" means they can do the skill and a "4" means they can apply it.

I'm not there yet.

Right now, my "4" means you get it and "3" means you kinda get it. I have been assigning a "3.5" when you make small mistakes or miscalculations, just like Mary did on her test.

After I recorded all the grades, I sat down with my hot chocolate and while thinking about something totally unrelated, suddenly felt bad about the grade I had given Mary. I tried to ignore it, but it just kept coming back to me.

Yes, she made a careless mistake. Does that mean she can't do the problem? No, like I said, she has mastered the skill. Does that mean her grade should be lower because of that? At the same time, a perfect score suggests she was able to do the skill perfectly. Her reaction upon seeing the test was simply to roll her eyes and say "that was stupid."

I don't know. It seems like such a gray area. I could leave it up to teacher judgement and just give her the "4," but what happens when Taylor makes the same mistake? There seems to be a lot of subjectiveness that I wouldn't be able to defend one way or the other. Although if a student complained, I could just ask him to show me the skill. This is definitely an area I need to work on (probably over the summer).

Ugh, I have such a long way to go.

You know what's good in hot chocolate? Peppermint schnapps.

*This is per request from my principal, but also a pretty good idea.


Knaus said...

Okay, relax.

So, you know that Mary "gets" it. She could do it in her sleep.

So, you know that Taylor will make the exact same mistake but for a completely different reason.

Mary forgot to bring down a number. Taylor didn't know it was supposed to be there.

You know this about both students.

I think a big thing with SBG is that you know the students. You know both students well enough to know why they made a mistake. You've know if they get the standard or not. That's the point. You didn't need the test. The student's might have needed something tangible but you didn't.

I'll bet you could have graded the test before it was even given. That is amazing teaching and, I think, SBG.

Keep up the good work.

Julie Cunningham said...

I just wanted to say I appreciate your transparency, and look forward to hearing how you are working through the SBG issue.

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