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Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Better Choice? On line Grading Programs or ??

Like a growing number of teachers, Erin M. has a classroom blog. Sandra Herbst connected me to Erin and I am so thankful. I love the way her students use Voki to create avatars. Their avatars can now be their safe presence on the blog. Parents and others can listen, read and view their children and the rest of the class. It is a incredibly powerful demonstration of learning. Then, combine this with a student-parent-teacher conference and a written report that communicates the teacher’s professional judgement with regard to the students progress and growth. What do you have? Parents who are incredibly informed regarding how well their students are doing in relation to curriculum expectations.

I have to wonder why systems feel they have to use online grading programs especially since the commercially available options do such a poor job of informing others. Go to Erin’s class’ blog and then look at the information available through any of the commercially available on-line grade books. Ask yourself, which does a better job of communicating the richness of learning? I’m not saying a class blog is sufficient; I’m saying it communicates a whole lot more than an online grade book. In Canada, given our complex learning outcomes, we deserve better than marks and grades that push us towards inappropriate evaluation practices in our classrooms and tell parents so little about what really matters.

On a final note, Erin’s blog contributes to the larger discourse about public education. I was reviewing the stats the other day for one of my blogs I realized that on any given day it has more than 5500 views. Think about that! Not only do educators have an opportunity to engage in this conversation, we are also providing a way for our students to engage and demonstrate the kind of learning they are engaged in classrooms.

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