Skype!

When a student is absent they always return to school with the question, “What did I miss?”  This then requires my memory to kick into gear and actually work!  I have a hard time remembering what we do from one day to the next as the days are so incredibly busy.

Yesterday one of my students was out sick.  He had been out earlier in the week, came back for a day and then was out again.  At one point I had mentioned to him that the next time he was absent, we could Skype him in to class.  So, yesterday I got an email from Caleb asking if we could try it.  So we did!!!  I sent him my screen name and he made contact.

When all the students arrived, I video called Caleb and he was “in class” to hear the chapter of the novel being read, instructions for a project given, and he could collaborate with his partner for the Middle Ages museum exhibit project!  How cool is that????? 🙂

Exciting Grading Policy Changes

So, after two years of mulling it over, I decided to bite the bullet and make a very exciting and positive grading policy change.  With the full backing of my principal and vice-principal, I put together a letter and informed the parents.  A few parents wrote back and said how happy they were with this change! 🙂

Over the last two years, I read some articles on grading scales and how they are so skewed (some other articles on the subject: Hernando County & CMS Schools).  There is a nine/ten percent spread between A, B, C, and D grades, but an F is a fifty-nine percent spread!!!  When a student doesn’t turn in work, a zero is massively detrimental to a grade and a very large hole to dig out of.  How do you solve this problem?

My original grading policy was if you turn in your work late, you can earn a C as the highest grade (assuming it was all done as instructed).  While this is good, the zero is still in the grade book because there are many students who just don’t do the work.  Now, if work is not turned in, it gets a 50% grade and a note in Aeries that the work was not turned in.  This is to alert the parent as the angry red box that ususally alerts them is gone.  The student can still turn in the work to earn a C which is strongly encouraged.

To start the change, I went back in the grade book and changed all the zeros to a 50% grade.  I didn’t change assignments or tests that earned less than that, I will be starting that with the second quarter.  Any test or assignment, turned in but not earning at least a fifty percent, will get half credit.  In Aeries I will also note the earned score so that I have a record and the parents also are informed of actual results.

Now some of you are probably saying…that’s not fair.  They did nothing, they should earn nothing.  But think about it!  If I give them 50%, it is still an F, but they have a fighting chance of digging out of a hole.  The hole has become more equitable with the other letter grade spreads.

This gives the student hope!  This gives the student an opportunity to be successful!  This is a positive grading change to allow all of my students to feel more confident and motivated.  I WANT THEM TO SUCCEED!