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"To improve your grade you need to..." Post it notes

Discussion in 'Assessment' started by p1j39, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. p1j39

    p1j39 New commenter

    Instead of "to improve your grade" maybe we should just be teaching the students?

    Students don't come to me to improve their grade but to learn Science.
  2. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    Oh sorry. I thought I was just trying to improve their grade. That's obviously where I've been going wrong for twelve years.

    When I get an essay in future I will just accept it as the B grade it is, without suggesting ideas for how they can "improve" their grade.

  3. Sarcasm aside - hasn't Black and Wiliam and AfL put paid to the culture of hoop jumping? I think it may have been 'Inside the Black Box' that talked about showing how to improve the pupils' understanding, rather than increase their score, worked most effectively.
  4. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    That may well be the case and in principal I agree. But at the end of the day, when I give an essay back witha B grade the first question I will be asked is "How could I have got an A?". I like to use these post-its as targets at the end of each piece of work and the students respond very positively to them. In my case (teaching drama), it is often simply a matter of putting something like "...explain your movement or physicality in more detail" or "...explain why you did the task, not just what you did".
    Of course I can then use these targets to plan opportunities in class for deepening understanding.
    I often use the post-it notes for peer assessment too, so I would put up an exemplar and the students come to the board and stick on one of the notes with suggestions for improvement.
    I would love to believe that I don't have to "jump through hoops", but in a situation where students have only certain word counts for controlled assessments at GCSE/A Level, I have to get them thinking about meeting criteria for ther work in Year 7 and that is all about "improving their grade".
  5. p1j39

    p1j39 New commenter

    Sorry but I didn't make myself clear.

    Of course you are interested in their grades and how to improve it. The students also need to know how to improve and given time to do it. I do however question your use of grades with them. Surely they shouldn't care about their grades, just what they have done well and how they can improve.

    I'm sure no student has chosen your subject to find out what a B grade or an A grade is in drama, they have chosen to study the subject and the skills involved.
  6. Maybe it's because I don't teach an option subject and so have every child in the school whether they like it or not, but I feel that some people on here are deliberately obnoxious.
    I think it is incredibly naive and idealistic to think that we can teach these days without discussing and being asked about how a piece of work can get to the next grade. I have a student in my class who is targeted a C but is very ambitious and will achieve above this through hard work (and good teaching??) and she asks me 'Miss, what grade is this?' for almost everything we do.
    We can't pretend that the obsession with grades and attainment doesn't exist and surely the OP doesn't use these post-its every piece of work. AfL needs to be linked to grades or levels sometimes surely...?
  7. I thought AfL showed that the more we judge/label pieces of work the more pupils are extrinsically affected and this is perhaps a Bad Thing. Whereas if we get them to judge their own work by understood criteria then effective learning happens.
    Maybe this obsession with grades is poorly serving pupils when the wonder of Pythagoras has been replaced by the wonder of "what grade is this?". Also, as a teacher, I found I cheered up immensely when I stopped refering to grades myself and just stuck to the maths.

    PS. this is not meant to be obnoxious. I really do think education has gone too far down the bean counting route.
  8. I don't think they are mutually exclusive - I was thinking really of which one 'came first': If you concentrate on 'understanding', rather than the emotionally charged 'score', learning is enhanced. (According to the AfL research evidence)
  9. AfL research shows that when a teacher writes a comment with a grade, only the grade is focussed on, not the comment, so to the OP, your post-it notes will go unread....UNLESS you give a comment only. Grade-givers should also read Carol Dweck's Mindset which shows how giving grades actually inhibits learning. You can leave the grading to the GCSE examiners.
  10. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    Why can't one concentrate on both?
    Citation please. [​IMG]

  11. corblimeyguvnor

    corblimeyguvnor New commenter

    Sulia -
    You have actually hit on exactly what I do. I don't give a 'grade', just the post-it - it gets read - I know this from the improvement from one piece of work to the next. I have learnt with Edexcel drama NEVER to give a grade because the boundaries change so much from year to year!
    I'd be happier ifthe post-it said "To improve your work..." or "To better show your understanding..."
    To be honest I teach and mark eleven different classes over the week so it's just to save me a tiny amount of time when writing comments.
    I think it's ridiculous for anyone to suggest (not you Sulia) that by marking a piece of work, using criteria which the students are fully aware of, and offering constructive criticism on it, that is somehow against the principles of AfL. I also think it depends on the school. I am in a London Independent - highly competetive - and to be honest if I didn't give a "way to improve the grade" I'd get nothing but grief (from SLT, Students and parents).
  12. I don't think it's ridiculous to suggest that the way we mark might be against AfL principles. I think it's OK to discuss what we do differently and what works 'best'. I think it's great that Black and Wiliam's 'Inside the Black Box' (there's your citation Mr B) and Dweck (brilliant stuff- nice one Sulla) get mentioned and maybe we'll learn a little bit more. I got the impression corblimey that you work in a 'grade factory' - my mistake if you don't, sympathies if you do.

    As to your Post-its purchase, how about just getting hold of fluorescent ones and declare to one and all that these are your 'how to improve comments' slips. (And then even the pupils could use them - AfL with knobs on!).

  13. Ofsted inspection recently declared that children should know whether they are Level 3 or Level 4, and how to get to the next level. Of course pupils think about the levels they are on and compare to peers.
    I'm pretty sure if someone said to a teacher that their lesson was satisfactory one of the first things they would ask would be why is this the case and what can I do to make it good!
  14. frymeariver

    frymeariver New commenter

    Another ridiculous TES "argument" about nothing anyone? The original post was basically, "Does anyone know where I can get a new supply of something I find very useful?" The rest of the thread appears to be, "I know more about AfL than you do!" Sometimes I wish I had the electronic equivalent of the stamp a friend bought me that says "I don't have time to read this ****!"
  15. ...an argument / debate that the OP also got involved in.
    But I guess that's the risk you take when you post something on the ASSESSMENT forum.
  16. thistledoo

    thistledoo Senior commenter

    My school is in SM's and I read these posts with interest. We have to inform students of how they can improve their grade as well as the particular piece of work. If they are targeted a 'C' then it is expected we inform students about how to achieve a 'B'. Behind the scenes we are fervently tracking entry progress levels and achievement of different cohorts of students e.g. Boys. The content of what we teach and exactly what students learn plus their progress and AFL in a lesson is seen as a 'package' to raise standards. I can honestly say that improving grades is exactly what Ofsted are looking for, or should I say improving student learning and progress? Ofsted do not seem to separate the two!
    In my experience, (before SM and now), students were very interested in their grades and this was demonstrated by students almost living in my class room to improve their work. Many students are 'savvy' about their points score today and know exactly where they want to go after KS4 and what they have to do to achieve it.
    Anyway, who knows 'what' about those post-it notes...? They sound a good idea to me! I'd like some please?!

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