Sunday, June 16, 2013

Yellow Session (8): Narratives (in addition to Grades)

Narratives (in addition to Grades)

When we teachers think about school and our responsibilities as teachers, we often look back at our experiences as studnets.   Teachers told us what they expected to see and they told us that they would grade our work.   In Germany the highest mark is "1" -- in some countries, the highest mark is a percent -- so 95 to 100 is the higher range ... 

In his chapter about assessment, Dennis Littky quotes a student:
"I am more than a letter in the alphabet."  

One way to build a conversation into the grading process is to use narratives.   In Littky's school, the teacher writes a two page letter for each student every 8 weeks.   In the letter, the teacher talks about the goals that the student had established, the progress that the student made and where the student might want to think about work in the next 8 weeks.   

after looking at the reading, please look at the questions and then contact the trainer.

The reading from Big Picture: p. 158
Evaluating students through narratives is very hard to do. And it’s very time-consuming. Narratives are hard because they force the teacher to understand a kid’s life. He or she has to think about how to describe the way the kid gets along with adults, the kid’s attitude toward learning, his work habits, and the gaps in skills and knowledge he needs to fill. Those are really hard things to describe. It’s also true that when you’re writing narratives every quarter, it can be tough to say something new about each kid every time. For example, you don’t want to say for 16 narratives in a row that the kid’s grown and she’s got “a great attitude.”

Narrative format is important here, because if it’s designed right, it forces the teacher to go deeper: for example, to define growth and describe what he or she means by “a great attitude.” Part of our Met narratives describes what the kid has actually done in terms of work, but the rest analyzes this work in terms of the school’s learning goals (see Chapter 5, page 103), the teacher’s individualized goals for the kid, the kid’s goals for himself or herself, and the family’s goals for the kid.

For Discussion
1.  What advantages would there be to you if you could give narratives in addition to a letter grade on student papers and other work by students?
2. How do teachers evaluate growth?
3. Do you remember a particular grade you received on a school assignment? Why do you remember it? What significance did it hold?

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