Defending Learning: First Semester Portfolios- Kickoff (or Best Laid Plans...)

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As teachers we always have the best of intentions.  I know I do.  When I began the #ttog grading pilot in September I had lots of big lofty goals about what it would do for student learning and thinking about work in my class (AP Lang).  I don't know that I have had the buy-in that I had hoped for.  My 11th graders have rolled with it, indulging me and my big ideas as I try and wrap my mind and teaching around mastery based learning and going grade-less in high school.

There are a few things that are clear to me as I approach mid year:

  1. I need better mechanisms for giving students feedback on their writing.
  2. While my year long standards are great- and the rubrics I have designed actually are sound language they don't work in the day to day work for offering feedback and I need to work with students to create more "actionable" language that identifies the skills that go with standards and how to indicate where they are on a spectrum of mastery.
  3.  I need to let go of the larger reading and writing goals I may have had (reading a book a month and writing a rhetorical analysis of it) and modify- selecting shorter pieces that are read and analyzed through similar process. 
  4. Blogs ARE the way to go.  The work and transparency and access it provides for students has been exciting and inspiring.  When students go back and look at the work they have done this semester, hopefully (!) they will see growth from September.
All said, I have to work within the constraints of the public school system and this means awarding numeric grades at the end of the semester that will go on their semester report card and official transcripts. I created what I call a Defense of Learning (Check it out and let me know what you think!).  It is what AP Lang is all about: demonstrating how to use language to make a rhetorical appeal to a specific audience and persuade them to see things the way you do.  

I may have been overly ambitious- but we will see.

Today will be my first day back since students began the work last week for medical reasons, however I have high hopes and I am excited to see the work they are doing and thinking that is driving their DoL.

To be continued...

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