Thursday, October 1, 2015

Everyone needs a little R, R, and R

I am very excited to write this post. This is something that I've been working on since we decided to switch to Standards Based Grading: R, R, and R, or, Review, Reach, and Relax.

My original idea was that every once in a while, we'd give kids a chance to get some review, do some extra work that they needed or wanted, and connect with each other in a way they may otherwise not. Since then, we've all been working on ways to make this work well inside a classroom.

What is it?

What it isn't:

  • a free day
  • a day to work on other classes' work
  • a day to check out
  • a sleeping day

What it is:

  • an opportunity to get extra work and prove proficiency
  • an opportunity to make up missing work
  • an opportunity to get tutoring
  • an opportunity to go beyond requirements and prove proficiency
  • a brain break

Set Up:

We began by creating a document with each standard at the top of a page. Then, as we go through activities and content, we add possible review, and reach activities to help students demonstrate proficiency. Here's the Latin I list of activities.



For relaxing activities, we all offer whatever we have. Rachel has more games than I, but what I offer is: card games (regular cards and Crazy 8s), various puzzles, the lego Minotaur game, or books in Latin, on history, and on culture to read. I am trying to expand this whenever I stop by the dollar store or Target and look at the simple game and puzzles they have. I also bring in books, and am looking at games made for Latin as well.

How it works in real time:

We've so far done this two ways. Rachel gave an entire day to Latin II to work and I gave half a day to Latin I. I'm breaking these down a few ways: procedure, observations, changes.

Latin II - Full Day

Procedure

Rachel and I posted all the standards we had activities for on the board and asked students to check their grades. If they had less than an 85% proficiency rating overall, they were required to work to bring up this grade. If they had better than an 85% proficiency rating overall, they could choose to better their grade or relax with some activities. 

Observations

These are observations of my own:
  • Most, if not all students met the requirements.
  • Because of their grades, few students chose to better their grade.
  • Students chose a brain break and really got into it, making for a great bonding experience
  • Because of the variety of activities, everyone had an opportunity to do something.
  • Students seemed to appreciate the opportunity, and were very open to this new way of doing this.

Changes

Rachel and I discussed a few things and I am making these changes for next time.
  • More activity options for each standard
  • More relax activities to make smaller groupings
  • More time between R, R, and R days instead of the planned once every two weeks.
  • Take students to a computer lab and go over how Active Grade specifically works so that they can use it properly and not just as a "viewing" of their grades.

Latin I - Half a period

Procedure

We began our day with a review of a story we'd read. I was out the previous day and so this was a great way for me to see if students understood. Then, I explained R, R, and R day and my requirements. The main difference here is that I did not offer all standards or activities and I added a requirement. Students must have a proficiency grade of 85% overall and if they had a 0 or 1 in any standard (50-60%), they had to work on that standard, or a similar one. If they met both requirements, they could better their grade, or choose a relaxing activity. The other difference is that, in these classes, I did review grades and pulled students who were missing grades and asked them to complete an assignment.

Observations

  • Most students met at least one requirement, if not both.
  • Students were very open to completing or re-doing assignments, more than I've seen in the past where make up work or tutoring is extra and outside of class.
  • Students found assignments easy to complete quickly.
  • Students chose a brain break and really got into it, making for a great bonding experience.
  • Because of the variety of opportunities, everyone had an opportunity to do something.
  • Students seemed to appreciate the opportunity, and were very open to this new way of doing this.
  • Half a period seemed like an appropriate amount of time to do this in for Latin I.

Changes

These are changes that I either wanted to do this time, but couldn't, or things that I noticed as the day went on. Between the Latin II day and the Latin I day, I did have time to bring in a few more books, Crazy 8s, and a new puzzle, so I even could implement the smaller group change.
  • Take students to a computer lab to go over Active Grade so they feel more comfortable using it.
  • Schedule another R, R, and R day in 2 weeks or so. 

Final Thoughts

I am really happy with this activity. I think, after doing it twice, and typing up this post, that it serves a lot of great purposes. My hope is that the more we do this, the more benefit the kids get. 
  1. Allows me to check in with students
  2. Allows students to really understand grades and proficiency levels
  3. Allows students to have a brain break.