We are on day 2 of final exams, so I am taking the opportunity to reflect on this trimester while my students test.
I use standards-based grading in this course, but both trimesters so far I’ve had very few retakes. When I talk to students, I hear a lot of focus on the percentage their score translates to and many students are very demoralized by that. I think next year I need to spend more time on how the quiz scores fit with the gradebook. I may also switch to giving students a rating with words (mastery, partial mastery, not yet) or colors, rather than a number, to get more focus on what the rating means. I also want to take some time next week for an anonymous poll on what kept students from reassessing.
During the registration period for AP exams, I got word that a lot of students were hesitant to sign up because they didn’t think they’ll be ready for it in May. I’ve got a lot of evidence that students are in decent shape, but I need to make sure I am sharing that information with students. A lot of AP teachers in my building make it much more explicit that I did so far this year when students are working problems from past exams (like the AP chem teacher who does Free-Response Fridays), so I think many came to my class with that expectation. It should be a pretty easy shift to get better about naming it when we do problems off past exams.
My biggest issue this trimester was ignoring culture-setting. I’ve gotten much better at this in my senior classes, but I’ve been spoiled by the last few years when I only had 9th graders at the beginning of the year, which means I get to set their expectations for high school science. Since many of my students started the year with a different teacher, they needed more support to adjust to my expectations. Starting third trimester, I need to keep that in mind and make sure I am taking steps from day 1 to help students understand what I want and how to be successful in my classroom.