Grading for Differentiated Instruction
As educators, we are used to hearing about the latest fads and theories in education and dismissing them as a concept that will be harped on for a year until the next term is revealed down from the educational gods. I have to admit, when I was in college in 2006 I was really interested in Differentiated Instruction and found the theory behind it very substantial. When I started teaching in a public school I realized the difference between theory and practice, and faced some difficulty in assessing differentiated work. With large class sizes, and a wide variety of student academic ability Differentiated Instruction is complicated, but certainly not impossible. Despite the parent issues arising with using Differentiation Grading I pressed on proudly displaying my practical implication of theoretical knowledge in a difficult environment.
It wasn’t until coming to THINK Global School, that I realized the potential of tailoring individual learning plans for students with varied abilities. My class sizes are much smaller now with 6 students in grade 9, and 10 students in grade 10. Having smaller classes allows me, the teacher, more flexibility to monitor student progress which leads to a better understanding and identification of learning needs and aims.
The goal is always have students work at raising the bar of their own potential. For the Unit 3: Cross Curricular Project, students created an unexpected wonder of different visuals, videos and performances to connect with their academic essays. The unique traits of each assignment forced me to evaluate them to their own potential as academics and communicators in our world.
Each student was evaluated for this project on a 7 point scale, which they have worked with the entire school year. They had turned in an assessed Annotated Bibliography & Outline of their plan weeks prior to the due date. On Friday of last week, they presented or posted a visual to accompany/advertise their formal academic work.
The philosophy of this way of grading is to create a sense of academic drive in students to continuously be growing throughout their lives. It should not stop at the end of high school or university. Lifelong learners constantly re-evaluate and re-configure what they can take on next. This grading system assesses students based on their own capabilities and effort. It ensures that they are working at the top echelons of their potential.
If a student receives a 7 on a large assignment, it signifies that the quality of the work that they turned is the best they can do. It becomes a threshold of what they are capable of doing at that moment, in order to get a 7 in the future that threshold must be met and/or expanded on. The students should continuously be on a quest to better their work from project to project, and improve on the skills it takes to be successful inside and outside of the classroom.
Academically speaking, in order to get 7s the student must have completed and shown:
- Lengthy research and cited sources properly
- Explanations and sound analysis
- Opinion (when needed)
- Identify flaws in the question
- Worked to the top of their individual potential
I thoroughly believe in rewarding students with assessments and setting them up for utmost success and personal growth. To see for yourself check out these project submissions. I am excited to see the students continue to push the boundaries of their own learning.