Sunday, August 19, 2018

#Teaching Tip #8. Semester or Final grades Part 1

This is the eighth of a series of 10 posts.
I'm running all 10 posts on consecutive Mondays starting today. 
As of Labor Day, 2018, all ten of these #Teaching Tip posts are searchable on my blog.

If you're not a teacher and you're reading this,
let a teacher know they are available.

I've been in enough in-service/professional-development sessions to guarantee that the information in this series is better than most of the information you’ll get while sitting through all your teacher workshops this coming school year.


You might be asking yourself,
What gives this guy the nerve to offer ideas about teaching AND commentary on professional development to anyone?

That's a legitimate question.
I invite you to follow this link and check my credentials.
I invite you to follow this link and check my credentials.



When I started teaching in 1973, there were no computers on high school campuses. There were few computers anywhere.

Grades were kept in a notebook. I hand wrote the title of every assignment and the score received by every student. At the end of a grading period, I took a mechanical adding machine and added up each student’s scores.

Handwritten Grades. I did not record these grades. They are part of the gradebook for my high school biology class. I'm #6. Since my first teaching job was teaching with John Burak, whose grades these are, my gradebook was very similar.


A student’s score divided by the total possible points for that session yielded a percentage. The percentage determined the grade for that session.
A
100-88
C
77-63
F
less than 50
B
87-78
D
62-50


Those were the outer limits of each grade category. There were subdivisions like B+/B/B-. Actually, the percentages were applied to the total points for the grading period. The whole numbers derived were used to assign grades. 

As Keeper of All the Points in the Universe, it made no difference how many assignments or what kind of assignments I had in the session. An assignment’s “weight” in the student grade was based on the number of points. More points, higher value. The last blog will discuss grading using categories.

It was not uncommon for my students to have access to 3,500 points or more in a semester.

Once grades were determined, students hand-carried grade cards with carbon paper between the two copies. During class on “Grade Day,” I sat at my desk. Students came up one at a time with their grade cards. I hand wrote an academic grade, and effort grade, and a conduct grade on the card. There was room for a short comment and my signature.

The teacher of whatever was a student’s last class of the day had all students remove the carbon from between the grade cards. The teacher saved the carbon paper sheets since carbon paper was reusable at least one time. Students pulled the original grade card and the “carbon copy” of the grade card apart.

Teachers collected the original grade cards. The carbon copies went home with the students. Teachers turned the originals into the office at the end of the day.

It took a LOT of time to do grades by hand. And, carbon copies were not had to alter. All a student needed was a piece of carbon paper—another reason to collect the carbons from student grade cards, place the carbon paper over the desired grade, and write on the top side of the carbon. I learned how to reduce alteration of grades on the carbon copies from my Master Teacher while student teaching.

The two most common grade changes were “+ to “ and “D to B.”
To prevent à - (one small vertical line with carbon paper), all a teacher had to do was write m instead of -. So Dbecame Dm.
Preventing D à B was more difficult. I know we had a strategy, but I cannot remember it for the life of me.

The actual grade scale was determined to the first decimal point. So an A was 100-88.0. The range for a B grade was 87.9-78, etc.
I seldom rounded grades up and never grades that weren’t the semester grades. My most common "rounded up" grade was 62.9% to 63%. By the fourth year I taught, we’d changed the lowest “C-“ to 65%. I felt better about rounding 64.9% to 65%.

I never “gave/gifted” a student an A. Ever.

Few students complained. Of those who did complain, all but one student accepted the explanation of not rounding up because of the number of points possible. The single student who stormed out of my room after receiving his grade of B+ never came by my room again. It was the final second-semester grade and did not take second-year biology.

I’m tempted to write about the difference in attitude about getting what you earned between “then” and “now.” I’ll limit my comment about that to this:

At some point in the 1990s, the number of students who were willing to work hard and earn a B grade diminished. If the workload was more than they wanted to do without getting an A, they stopped working so hard. “After all, a C is a passing grade.”

You can ask any of my students about the rigor of my courses. The word “easy” will seldom be heard. “Hard,” “tough,” and “demanding” are three that will predominate.

You have taught me that hard work truly pays off. Also, you have given me the tools to be successful. O.M. – Great Oak High School

There are those select people one encounters in life that make you want to look, act and think as though you are far beyond your actual years... [The methods used in class] made me want to try hard not only in your class (which is the furthest thing from my actual life career goal) but try hard at all I did in high school. You instilled a drive and a passion for me to pursue thoughts and ideas I would have never dreamt possible, and I almost always accomplished them… Students were accountable and responsible for doing our work... J.E. – University of Southern California

There are reasons for the overall lack of complaining about grades. 
Students did the work because it was engagingSee the previous blogs in the series for examples.

I held to my expectations. 

Below is one page of grades from my last year of full-time teaching.

The handwritten 11-12 indicates the school year. Grey shaded headings have to do with categories, a topic for the next blog.

The students were a group that had failed a science class and needed the science credit. It was not a highly motivated group. By this time, I’d lost all control over my grading scale. Grade ranges were district-wide. It shouldn’t shock you that the percentages were 90/80/70 for A/B/C. There was no "D" grade. More on that next time.

What might at least surprise you is the grade distribution for this “class of past failures.”
A – 2; B – 11; C – 7
No failures. Two students hovered at 70%, but none were below that. I think that speaks to what students can/will do if they are engaged in the coursework.

Lest you think that this group was ultra-motivated because of their past failure, here's a shot of a 9th grade class. Same course, but this is from 2009.
Out of a possible 660 scores on this page, 36 were zero without explanation. 17 were excused for some reason. 5% if the assigned work was not turned in without excuse. 95% of all work assigned in this class of 9th graders was completed and turned in. With very few exceptions, my classes had turn in rates of 90% or higher.

#Teaching Tip #9. Semester or Final Grades Part 2 is next.

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Study Questions on Acts Ch 3 and Ch 4 from 8/19



My Sunday school class/Life Group is studying the book of Acts. Every Monday, I’ll post the questions we discussed the day before. I encourage you to jot your thoughts down.

On Wednesdays, I’ll post some of the comments from the class discussion.

If you’d like a PDF file of the questions, email me at crd.author@gmail.com

Chapter 3

V11-26

What is the OT context of the quote from Moses?

What "big three" OT characters does Peter refer to in his sermon? Why is each chosen?

How does Peter end this sermon?

Can you think of an example of God's power at work today/in your lifetime like it was in this chapter?

Chapter 4

V1-4

What were Peter and John doing?

The people were amazed by Peter and John's activities. Who was not amazed but rather upset? Why?

Why are the Saducees specifically mentioned here? Think theology and escape.

Why did they put Peter and John in jail immediately?

How effective has Peter (and the others) been?

We got this far this week. 

Chapter 4

V5-12
Where have we heard of Annas and Caiaphas before?

What question is asked of Peter and John?

What is significant about v8?

How does Peter begin his reply to be sure that all understand the significance of his answer?

Who “gets the credit” for the healing?

Why does Peter use the OT quote that he does in v11? What is its original context?

What is made perfectly clear in v12?

V13-22
What character trait of Peter and John strikes the members of the Sanhedrin? Contrast this to them on the night Jesus was arrested—what made the difference?

"Unschooled, ordinary men" is translated as "untrained laymen" in the New English Bible. What about that translation is significant to the church?

What is "the plan" of the Sanhedrin to stop this “heretical” teaching?

The disciples' response to the Sanhedrin is given in verses 19-20. What are issues today to which we should have a similar response?

Why was the Sanhedrin’s solution ineffective?

Why do you think Luke emphasizes the age of the crippled man?

V23-31
What is the immediate response of the believers to the return of Peter and John?

What might our reaction be today if something similar happened?

Vv24-30 is a corporate prayer. What is the structure of the prayer? Compare it to the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6.
Lord’s Prayer
This prayer
What features strike you as you read through the prayer? What is evident about God's faithfulness, character, and power?

What was asked for by the group in this prayer?

What happens immediately after the "Amen?"

Vv32-37
Details on what practice are given here?

Why were there no needy persons?

What is the general organization of this "group of believers"?

Who do we meet for the first time in this passage?

For the rest of this month, Friday Expressions of Faith posts will be the 2nd part of the Timeless Truth post the day before. This Friday,  Baccalaureate Address #3. Does God Give Make-up Tests? Conclusion

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Thoughts on Study Questions from Acts Ch 3 on 8/12



My Sunday school class/Life Group is studying the book of Acts. I posted these questions this Monday and encouraged you to jot your thoughts down.

It's Wednesday. This post consists of some comments from the class discussion.

If you’d like a PDF file of the questions, email me at crd.author@gmail.com

Chapter 3

V1-10

What does the former cripple do?
Stands with help. 
Leg muscles and bones are heald.
Walks, leaps,  praises God.
One commentary said, "No physical therapy needed!"


V11-26

Who was "amazed" and "astonished" by the healing of the cripple?
The crowd
Everyone

How does the reaction of those in the previous question to the “cripple” differ from that of the people in the crowd?
This was a rambling discussion.
There were crowds on both sides of the Beautiful Gate.
The crowd (from inside the gate?) rushed toward the former cripple. 

  • Some must have wanted to expel the man they all knew as a cripple--unclean in the eyes of the Jewish priests--from the courtyard.
  • Some must have been excited by seeing the former cripple walking, leaping, and praising God.


Peter's 2nd recorded sermon. What is similar to the first?
Not much at first. Later in the sermon, Peter quotes more Scripture.
The first sermon was defensive.
The second sermon attacks the establishment. Peter's fear is gone.

According to Peter, how is the authority of Christ demonstrated in this miracle?
The God of Abraham is the same as Jesus Christ.
Christ did God's work.
FAITH in the Name of Jesus is emphasized.

How does Peter's tone change in v17?
He gives his listeners a chance to believe and accept Christ.


            We got this far this week. 

What is the OT context of the quote from Moses?

What "big three" OT characters does Peter refer to in his sermon? Why is each chosen?

How does Peter end this sermon?

Can you think of an example of God's power at work today/in your lifetime like it was in this chapter?

For the rest of this month, Thursday Timeless Truth posts will be the 1st part of a two-part article. This Thursday, Timeless Truths: Who, Me? or A Fish, a Worm, and a Wrong Direction - Baccalaureate 1984

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My website is: www.crdowning.com



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