Thursday, August 19, 2010

Defining Quality Work

For the past three years, I have asked my students to participate in my No D Policy. No student can earn a D in my class- this ultimately means anything at a 69% and below is a failing grade. For a large majority of my classes, this is a tremendous motivating factor to achieve. Many comment that "no one should pass with a D; a D is below average work anyway." Because of the No D policy, the students and I have agreed that they need multiple opportunities to redo their work so that they can achieve to the best of their ability. Here is the perfect example to illustrate the need to redo work:

A few years ago I had a student named Molly, who was never a successful writer in her LA classes. After working with her throughout the school year on redoing her writing assignments time and again until they were A quality work, Molly realized how much she had grown as a writer. Before she used to struggle with writing basically avoiding it until last minute. After seeing writing as a continual process through revision and feedback, she grew to like writing- not sure about loving writing. Every year she continues to improve as I have kept track of her in her other LA classes.

To me this says so much about holding kids accountable to be better than they think they can do. Teaching 9th grade, I see many kids who let themselves off the hook with poor quality work because that is all they think they can do. If we take away the possibility of "crap work" kids have to achieve. And, when we give them time to redo work, and feedback in multiple ways, they will achieve.

Along with all of this, I have the kids define what A, B, and C quality work looks like. We did this in my all boys class today. Here is their list so far:
Period 1 Quality Work Defined

A quality:
· Proofread: error free
· Exceeds expectations
· On time
· Organized
· Proper formatting
· Great effort shown
· Originality and creativity
· Neat
· Quality work
· Thinking shown-deep thoughts
· Voice is used throughout
· Flow- consistent stream of information, thoughts flow easily from one to another
B Quality:
· Above expectations
· Above average work
· Few errors
· A little late is ok
· Few organizational errors
· Mostly original ideas
· Few neatness errors
· Thinking shown in work
· Few flow problems
· Few formatting mistakes
C Quality:
· Average
· Just meets expectations
· Some errors but not enough to be distracting
· A little late
· Some organizational errors
· Some formatting errors
· Some originality
· Some neatness errors
· Some thinking shown
· Some flow problems
Unacceptable work:
Not acceptable, crap work
Last minute or extremely late
Doesn’t meet expectations
Multiple errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting, flow, and neatness- so many they are distracting to reader
No originality, creativity, thinking shown

Tomorrow, we are going to go back over their list seeing if there is anything else they thought of. We will use this as a rubric to grade/assess all their class work. They created it, they know the expectations to achieve.


emily said...

I totally agree with this practice! I just don't know how to implement it. I teach at a private college prep school where it has been difficult to change the student culture from one of grade-mongers to one filled with motivated life-long learners, and I am wondering if this the improvement of work is something you let the students do until they are satisfied with their grade or do you let them re-do it once? I'm curious, as it make for a lot of work for the teachers...

annes said...

I can't say for sure that I have changed the kids from grade mongers to intrinsic motivators of learning, but having the ability to continue to redo work until they have demonstrated their learning and understanding has helped. The kids tend to focus less on just turning in an assignment and more on turning in quality work.

This takes awhile. I already have a few students in my all boys class that have redone work from the first week because they wanted better grades on their writing.

I allow them to redo work on any assignment up to the 6 week grading period and then we start over again. Yes, the grading adds up, but if I have to work harder to benefit the learning of my students, than I guess that ismy job!

I do have to say that I only do this with my ninth graders. I don't do this with my Honors classes or Spelling and Vocab class.

Phil said...

This is wonderful to see, and you should never give up your standard of high quality work. We have Ron Berger come and speak with us from time to time and his book An Ethic of Excellence is truly inspiring.

You have created models and standards and then have the students give feedback and refine, this is the cycle that beautiful work comes from.

I have provided a link that summarizes his process for Critique/Feedback towards Beautiful Work.

Keep up the great work, I look forward to following your posts.