Friday, August 12, 2016

Testify - Grading in Math

This morning I read Dan Meyer's blog entry titled "Testify". I have been inspired by all the blogging Dan does, and many others that I follow. I also can't tell you the number of times I have told myself I was going to start blogging also. I'm not much for writing like this, but today Dan's entry ignited me to sit down and write a bit about what I'd like to testify about.


From Seneca, IL High School website. 

When I started my teaching career as a high school math teacher, I was great at collecting "grades". You know, those numbers that you put into the squares in the gradebook (or now into the computer program). Being a math teacher, I must admit, I was really good at it! I had no trouble computing averages, tweaking what things were worth and looking at how that changed grades, adding points for things like the "I like you" factor.

In the last few years, I've been really thinking and wondering about this notion of grading. Why do we grade? What are they for? Do we need them? Why do we need them? Why do they drive almost everything we do in classrooms? And.....

Are grades to culturally ingrained in what we do in education that we can't live without them?

I have spent the last 10 years of my career working with teachers to improve math teaching and learning through professional development of pre-service and in-service teachers. I must be honest it is always fun and rewarding. Teachers begin to see that math can be taught in a way that is exciting and fun for both them and their students. That transformation almost always happens.

However, I often hear, "Well those changes are all good and fine, but how do I grade that?" In other words, how do I put that number into that cell and tell it to compute at the end of the semester? If I do one of Dan Meyer's 3-Act math activities, how do I grade that? If I do some tasks like Jo Boaler suggests, how do I grade that? Are those activities formative or summative? How much should they be worth?

I think we can propose all the great teaching that we want, but unless we really address the GRADING elephant in the room, changes will limited by this beast.

Hopefully more to come...... and that the spark that has been ignited will continue to burn for a few more posts on this idea!

1 comment:

  1. The grading elephant. Love it. Do keep us posted on your progress.