Sunday, May 17, 2020

Week of May 18th

UAI Staff News

Volume VII
Issue 37
May 18th,  2020


Happy Birthday!!!
Mr. Damon (Monday, 18MAY20) and Mr. Jake (Wednesday, 20MAY20)!!

Preparing for the End of the Year and Evaluating Student Learning.
    There are still so many unanswered questions about what the fall will look like next year.  However, in this time of uncertainty, there is also an opportunity to reflect and rethink our foundational assumptions.

As we near the end of the year and the time to assign final number grades, this year it is that much more challenging now that we have been operating in a completely new model of instruction for the last three months.  The truth is that we are all new to this kind of teaching, and our students are new to this kind of learning.  It is virtually impossible for us to intentionally plan for and consistently hit high-quality instructional goals during this period of time.  As a function of our own learning curves, it is also impossible for our students to excel.

This year (and I know it seems like ages ago, now), we have been diving into our work around equity and our own personal biases.  The one main takeaway I want all of us to remember from that work is that we all (regardless of race, class, gender identity, experience, etc) - we all enter our classrooms with biases.  We all have foundational beliefs about teaching and learning, and those beliefs our integrally tied to our own cultural and socio-economic experiences with our own personal learning experiences.

We cannot lose sight of that truth. We all have biases.

With that knowledge, it becomes our responsibility to interrogate our assumption and judgments.  As we enter into this final round of grading, it becomes even more essential to do so.  As you enter into final evaluations of student performance, it is completely natural and normal to have a sense (based on student work, your relationship with the student, your experience, and many other valid data points) of what you believe the student "merits" for a final grade.  My challenge to you - take a step back from grading the students, and make the space and time to seek out and investigate your assumptions and your reasons behind your judgments.  

  • You may arrive at the same evaluation.  That will be definitely true for many.  However, if you find yourself encountering reasons like that tie back to your personal experience "that worked for me" or "that's how it's always been" - take caution.   These are the first slippery stones into enacting implicit biases.
  • You may discover something uncomfortable about your assumptions - also natural, because each of you are compassionate, passionate educators who want only the best for our students.   If you find yourself shying away from the possibility, challenge yourself to look again. The same motivation that is making you feel discomfort (your passion and commitment) is the same fuel that propels you to make sure you protect our students from any elements of inequity.
  • Whatever you encounter as you take a beat to shift your perspectives and reflect, please know that it is both your job and your responsibility to make and take this time and mental space to weigh your final judgments of student performance.   In so doing,  you are making sure that you are doing everything within your power to create equity in your classrooms, and to empower students  
If you're looking for some reading to continue to expand your thinking and reflection, here are resources specifically around equity and grading that offer additional perspectives:

To-Do This Week

Plan for Asynchronous Learning.  This week all AP classes will begin ending live (or synchronous) online instruction.  Remember, instruction is continuing.  We are moving to asynchronous (or non-live zoom lessons) for June.  This will give teachers the time and access to work live with those students who need extra help and support.  At the same time, those students who have demonstrated competency with online instruction can now develop their skills with asynchronous learning.
  • Students Who Are At or Above Course Learning Targets (so passing or higher).  For those students who have successfully demonstrated mastery in your course, please provide independent activities and projects for them.  The goal is to select high interest, engaging tasks that students can complete independently.  These should not be assigned to all students.  Rather, they should only be assigned to students who are meeting course learning targets or exceeding those goals.  If needed, you can identify office hours on a particular day for these students.  
    • Should this work be graded?  Teachers choose how to evaluate this work.  However, this work is enrichment and should not be punitively graded if students do not complete. This work can be work that students complete to improve targeted skills and grade point averages for HS Students.  NOTE:  ALL High School Teachers will need to communicate clearly how enrichment work can elevate their final grades and how these final grades will be components into the students' overall GPA, an key metric to college acceptance.
    • How often should students turn in work?  No more than once a week.  So, choose Wednesday or Monday for your class submission date.  Communicate with your grade team so you are all asking on the same day.  
    • What about attendance? You should continue to have students complete daily attendance questions.  For example, if you assigned them to go on a virtual museum trip, for attendance, you might ask "Which museum are you visiting?".  The question should be multiple choice, related to your assigned work, and daily.
    • What should these "asynchronous" projects look like and do you have any resources?  There is a wide array of things you can assign.  From having kids submit a short video of a 7min workout, to doing their own version of the "White House" update on the COVID-19 Pandemice (what they wish they could here) to googling how to make "hexaflexagons."  Creativity is the call, but keep it simple for you and them.  Come to Office Hours with Kiri if you need help brainstorming or building out your ideas.  In addition, here are some resources to use and take inspiration.
  • Students who are in danger of failing (below course learning targets).  After your last live lesson (or synchronous lesson), your regular zoom times will be reserved for working with students who are in danger of not successfully completing your course by June (so, all students who are listed as having an NX as their floor grade - see the Remote Learning Tracker).  This includes doing outreach, tutoring, and anything that needs to be done to support these students.  If needed, you can identify zoom times for students working on the independent, asynchronous projects.  The main goal is to use your time as you need in order to make sure you connect with the students who need you the most.
  • When is Live Zoom Instruction Ending? Here are the dates of the last live zoom lesson
    • 18MAY20 - AP Bio & AP Environmental Science
    • 19MAY20 - AP Lang
    • 21MAY20 - AP World
    • 22MAY20 - AP Spanish
    • 29MAY20 - Last day for all 8th and 12th grade synchronous, live-zoom classes.  These are terminating grades.  So we are giving these teachers an extra week to work with students to help them meet course targets and graduate.
    • 05JUN20 - All other UAI Classes - last day for live zoom

"NX" Floor Grades for Students.  This week, admin, out-of-class support, and grade-team teacher support will be meeting with teachers of students who have a floor grade in your classes.  These meetings will be used to understand how the student is struggling in the class, what we can do as a team to construct a safety net for these strugglers and help them get to a successful end point by the end of June.  Please refer to the Final Grade Floors and Conference lists to review the list of students who are on your docket for review.  Please add any notes in the "Teacher Updates" column.  Those comments will greatly expedite our meetings this week!


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