End of Quarter Frustration

I’ve been teaching 8th grade for 11 years, I also taught 6th and 7th one year each before that.  I love teaching 8th grade, mostly the content, but also the ability to joke around, talk to and get true honesty from my students.

I love SBG. I feel that it has value and I have seen the improvement in my student’s understanding overall.  Since I teach 8th grade, however, I do have to have quarterly cutoffs due to report cards.  So have my SBG system set up with certain skills each quarter and a quarter final at the end to work on long term retention. I allow my students to reassess skills throughout the quarter until around the Monday of the final week of the quarter.  I like to cut it off then so they can focus on the final and so I can grade them and get them in the gradebook in a timely manner.  It NEVER fails that they wait until the VERY last minute to reassess and try to do it without practicing.

However, I DISLIKE the end of the quarter time.  I wish we had semesters like the high school, especially since I teach a high school level course (Algebra 1) to my accelerated 8th grade students.  I use SBG and it would be much easier on myself and the students if they had longer to reassess and build skills together.  This quarter I offered my students the ability to NOT take my 3rd quarter comprehensive final if they mastered all of the 3rd quarter skills.  I was surprised at the number of students who achieved it and annoyed at the students who waited until the last minute to try. I do not offer extra credit due to the nature of my classroom and the ability to reassess as many time as they want.

I guess I am a little disappointed that while using SBG, it still comes down to grades, not the overall learning that I have been stressing all year.  Isn’t it more important that this student learn and understand the skills and concepts from Algebra, rather than have a certain grade for the honor roll award?  I WISH that my district required gradebook allowed for gradeless grades, where feedback was more important and there was no visible overall grade.  I also wish I could use any gradebook of my choice, which I cannot.

Any suggestions?

2 thoughts on “End of Quarter Frustration

  1. Is it in writing somewhere (syllabus) that your students must give adequate notice for lunch re-takes? That would be handy to send back to that parent.

    Regarding the parent’s desire to “get them there”, I had a similar story (and you asked via Twitter, so here it is):

    A student came in the week grades were due, needed a C to graduate, had an F. I handed them pre-designed Mastery pages (one per standard) and said, “Show me what you know.”

    The student (predictably) failed each learning goal, yet insisted that he need a C. I was able to respond, “Clearly, you don’t know the material. Why should you get a passing grade?”

    My bases were covered, I stood my ground, and (most importantly) the student was the one who had to work hardest instead of dragging me through lunch tutoring, walking them through problems, etc.

    …he still asked if he could “do a word search or something” for extra credit. He got an F, and the counselor let him graduate anyway.

    Jess, it sounds like the Quarter deadline–not the Algebra–is the issue. If that’s the case, it’s a matter of how flexible you want to be; totally personal preference, no right answer.

    • Yes, 24 hours notice for retakes. I have a shiny new google form that emails me every time a student complete it.

      Great story, thanks for sharing. I need to better prepare Mastery pages like you, they sound helpful in MANY situations!! I like that you also had a conversation with the student about what they know and what their grade should be, even though you didn’t agree. Next year I am going to incorporate more student reflection on their overall grade and open more discussions about that. It really fits SBG well and will help students to work on the communication and reflection on their work.

      Said student will be retaking the Quarter 3 final on Monday. We will see how it goes! I have been working with him during lunch once a week, but he has been doing most of the work at home.

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