Summer Book Study Blog

Summer Book Study Blog

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate - Ch. 4 - Improvement Focus vs. Grade Focus

This chapter has rocked my "pirate ship"! I truly believe in the "improvement focus vs. the grade focus," but grades are part of district, school, and parental expectations. I have highlighted so much in this chapter to think about in the next 6 weeks before a new school year begins. 

"Assessment and feedback, rather than a focus on grades, pushes students toward constant growth." 
This quote validated how I use feedback in my classroom. Just this year, I started using the Google Classroom. I can grade and send feedback that students DID read and then revised and resubmitted. My students are using the "share" feature in google docs, slides, etc. and commenting back and forth with me and each other. Students are actually asking for feedback on their work. 

"Why are we so focused on finality that we have to assign a summative grade to everything?"
This past year there were numerous project/presentations where there was less emphasis on a grade and more on the learning. Class discussions: "What did you learn from your project and each other's projects?" Science and social studies were the areas that I used project-based and group learning the most. Grade level discussions around giving students report card grades that were Satisfactory, Improving, or Needs improvement were vetoed to continue with traditional letter grades in science and social studies. Disappointed.

"My feedback comes with no strings attached. I've earned my students' respect by demonstrating that I genuinely care about them and their progress, so they listen when I share insights and offer instruction."
I noted that there was no iPad or clipboard as he gave feedback. My wonder, does Paul keep notes on students that would help him remember areas of weakness that might need addressed in small groups? Not sure I would always remember anecdotal observations with all 50 students that I see for lang arts. These notes are so helpful when I talk with parents. Perhaps I'm looking at this in a different way than Paul is suggesting. I do so believe in what the quote is suggesting. "Students won't care about what we know until they know how much we care," or something like that is a quote that I remember when working with students. Relationship is key. 


"Speaking in the past tense makes students feel as if there's no way to fix their mistake or failure. (What's done is done.) In contast, speaking in the present or future tense demonstrates that learning is a process." 
I love the examples of Say this: "Next time, I'd like you to do it this way because..." or, "Can you try this way instead?" Or, "Are you displaying good leadership skills right now, or could you do better?" This is constructive feedback that builds a students not negative feedback that breaks down a student. This is perhaps my favorite "walk away" from this chapter. I need to work on this one.

Improving Classroom Behavior
Set the expectation with the "Six Pillars of Character" by the Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

Character Counts!
  1. Respect
  2. Responsibility
  3. Trustworthiness
  4. Fairness
  5. Caring
  6. Citizenship
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw
Identify the Consequences
Behavior Management System:
  1. A warning
  2. A behavior point
  3. A work-it-out
We have a current Positive-Based Behavior system that is similar already in place. What Paul has to say about how he uses this in his classroom gave me some clarification in improving how I manage this with my students. 

Boosters - Peer Feedback
  • Quality Booster
  • Compliments (Love the Quality Booster and Compliment Sandwich for peer feedback!) 
  • Write your suggestion as a question rather than a statement. "You don't seem superior to them if you're just wondering something!"
Student views on feedback were illuminating at the end of the chapter. 

This was a great chapter with lots of pauses to really think about what I believe and what I practice in my classroom. 

Sail on, mateys!
D :)



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