We last left off talking about if we really know if your students' are learning. We also discussed that schools all across the country are beginning to create Professional Learning Communities or PLC's in order to address this concern. If we recall Professional Learning Communities begin to ask four main essential questions:
What do we expect our students to learn?
How will we know they are learning?
How will we respond when they don’t learn?
How will we respond if they already know it?
So lets begin to try and answer the question of "How will we know they are learning." Do we measure it based off of a student's grade? Does that mean a student who earns a 95% learned something in that academic course? Or did they bring in a bunch of extra credit to fluff that grade? The answer to these questions all go back to the data a teacher collects. This is why I really like and embrace Standards Based Grading (Evidence Based Grading). I can see where a student starts off in a class and based upon the specific learning standards see if that student has mastered that standard. There is no "fluffing" of grades here, either the student knows and can demonstrate it with proficiency or they cannot. Lets face it, in the business world people do not earn letter grades for their performance. They are assessed based upon the goals or standards set forth upon them. So why can't this apply to our future leaders? Now schools still using traditional based grading can still see if a student is mastering the learning standards as long as they have those specific learning standards attached to that content. These standards could also include the Social-Emotional Learning Standards or SEL. There is a huge push for students to clearly master these standards as we see more and more mental health issues here in the US.
The next question we need to look at is what are we going to do if the students don't learn? Well isn't it the goal of all educators and admin to have their students learn? This includes all students with IEP's and 504 plans, ELL students, and gifted students. So now that we have the data coming out of our ears and we have really dissected that data, we can now put our plan of action in motion. This plan of action can be individualized learning where a teacher can push out specific apps to a student so that they can work on their own pace. Teachers can also differentiate learning for students so that they can work and learn at their own pace. That might mean that teachers might need to have three different lessons for that day. Sure it can be a lot and very overwhelming for teachers, but this is where careful planning and collaboration comes into play.
Finally, what do we do with the students who already know the material? Once again, differentiation can play a critical role here as students can further explore those specific standards or dive deeper into specific topics. Some teachers have used these students to help assist the students who are struggling. What a great idea. Again, all of this cannot be done without the use of data in ONE easy to use program. GradeMaster provides all of this for you in a simple to use platform including the IEP/504 Wizard and a way for teachers to differentiate their learning.