Finals was last week! Well, we call them midterms, but it's the end of the first semester so I will be forced to give a transcript grade for my classes. Yup, already! We just finished our 8th week of instruction, so on our 4x4 that means midterms!
Last spring I had started Standards Based Grading for my Integrated Math 2 class. I liked the idea of it, but I wasn't happy in the end with how my system translated to a semester letter grade. I refined a little this summer and stared this school year with a modified system. So far, I am so much happier! It was a little difficult at the start since it was something new for the students, so they had some trouble comprehending and understanding. But with constant communication, I feel students are getting it. Some are working hard to improve. They are coming in to ask questions and clarify misunderstandings, though I always wish there were more doing this. Several students have commented that they feel less stressed about math and they are "happy your teaching style stresses learning rather than memorization." Students take an assessment and are provided feedback over points or a grade. The hope is that students are looking at their mistakes and learning from them.
I've tried really hard to focus on the concept and skill, and students learning it- both conceptually and procedurally, and having the ability to explain it. The "explain it" part is where some students really struggle. But, I think it is a vital part of understanding and I will continue to push students into doing it.
I have not perfected this! Heck, I've been teaching 13 years and will never perfect that. But it feels good to be constantly improving and working toward improving. I just wish more appreciated the learning over the grade.