Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bit by the SBG bug

Much time passed between my previous post and the one before it. I didn't have a lot of time to post about teaching, because I was too busy learning how to teach all over again. At the beginning of the semester, standards-based grading rolled me over like a double-wide semi: It seemed then (and has since proven to be) powerful both philosophically and pedagogically.

powerful philosophically because, among other things, I can now avoid that squirming-roll-my-eyes-why-don't-you-just-learn-the-stuff-"Is there extra credit?" conversation

powerful pedagogically because, among other things, my students don't think to ask for "extra credit" anymore; they are too busy digesting helpful feedback

In this post I will try to recreate for you, dear reader, that pleasant lightning-bolt which brought standards-based grading to my mind on the back of a sleepless night. Read this story as historical fiction; I cannot now remember the exact order of events.

I had somehow found myself (how much more common is that realization now, with the Internet?) looking through a presentation for new teachers. Then, with a click, came some videos by Rick Wormeli:

Something of a temporal paradox happened around these videos. On the one hand, they total almost an hour in length, but on the other, even though I watched at least some of them more than once, when I was finished it felt like I had been watching for only mere moments.

Next came a Google search for "standards bases grading" and a trip to a compilation-style post on Think Thank Thunk. Pure gold. There I was introduced to MeTA musings and I was eventually pointed by some blessed link to dy/dan.

I was hooked. I decided to make the switch at the beginning of this semester; a somewhat risky move if the students wouldn't go along, but really the only way I could look myself in the mirror. If that sounds dramatic then watch those videos and read over those bogs again. The effect of all that material was so powerful that I cannot see how someone couldn't be thus transformed themselves.

What do you think? If you're a hater, why? If you're a lover, have I presented the best sources?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lectures as Videos (and maybe vice versa)

I have started this year making the occasional video for my classes. The material for the videos has not been anything new for my students up to this point; instead, I use videos as a way of refining and recording lectures so that my students can refer back to them for review or if they were absent and missed the original. I could see myself in the future, after more time creating videos, implementing something of a flipped classroom model, but for now the opportunity for review or makeup seems to be appreciated by my students.

I use already-made PowerPoints combined with iMovie to make my videos. It is also possible, and quicker/simpler, to use some kind of screen capture program, such as QuickTime. I have it in mind to do a series on this blog, geared specifically to teachers, about both techniques.