|Photo: Mars Hall Packing Papers|
I have always struggled with giving students valuable feedback in a timely manner. I also want my students to focus on learning not grades and completion grades are quick and easy but do not focus on learning or provide meaningful feedback. With flipped learning the additional burden of the quantity of work students do now that I’m not lecturing for half of every class period. It is possible to walk around and get a sense of how students progressing, what they understand and where they struggle, but the reality of giving a meaningful grade was something I found very difficult. I also found that my due dates were no longer tied to the beginning or end of and class period. They were driven by the students. I needed a new system to acknowledge student effort, give meaningful feedback and handle a large quantity of work.
Inspired by conversations with other teachers using flipped learning, I decided to let students grade their daily work like practice problems, concept checks and then ask them to prove they understand. Students work on their problems alone or in small groups while I walk around and help as needed. Once done they show me the work and then have permission to check the detailed key posted on the front board. It is placed in a spot that is easy to monitor, where students do not usually go and they are not allowed to have cameras while checking. They check their work and then have the opportunity to ask any questions. At this point students have some great questions. They know what they don’t know. We can work extra examples, clear up math problems or move on to the next thing which is the proving point. Students that get to this point have a 70% for the activity and can keep their work for studying and reference. For the remaining 30%, the student is asked to prove they have learned. I give them one of four problems, or problem sets, to solve. Each student at a table will have a different problem to solve. They can still work together, but they cannot copy the work. They turn in the single problem or set and move on.
This simple system has changed my classroom. Students have more responsibility for learning. They know checking is part of the process. They ask questions before checking because they know that they will have to ask eventually. They know I expect them to be able to do the work on their own when ready, but are happy to have the support getting there. Students get feedback without consequences. Mistakes are expected, fixing them is the trick, and understanding is the result. I no longer hold important work hostage until the end of a unit and can grade “the prove” it portion quickly.