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Got Grades?

We are nearing the end of the first nine weeks of school and release of report card grades is looming. What can be done to address a failing or near failing grade on a report card?

Every teacher will agree that the job of educating a child is shared by all, teachers, family and community. So, what can you do to support a child who is struggling in school?

If you are a parent, call the school and ask for a meeting with your child’s teacher or teachers of the subject you are concerned about. Remember request the attendance of any interventionist that might be giving your child extra support in a subject area of concern. If you are a teacher, examine the student work carefully and include the parent in any discussions of how to better support the student’s learning.

An excellent guide for looking at student work is found in recent publication book titled, Developing a Way of Looking Together at Student Work. The authors; Tina Blythe, David Allen and Barbara Schieffelin Powell recommend the following framework of questions as a guide for figuring out the instructional support a student may need to be more successful within the grade level curriculum:

  • About the quality of student work:
  • Is the work good enough, that is does it meet our expectations for high-quality work?
  • What is ‘good enough’, and how can we illustrate good work for student?
  • In what ways does this work meet or fail to meet a particular set of criteria or standards?
  • What are the most effective forms of assessment for figuring out whether work is meeting standards and for giving students useful feedback?
  • About teaching practice:
  • What do the students’ responses indicate about the effectiveness of a prompt or assignment? How might the assignment be improved to support high-quality student performance?
  • What kinds of instruction support high=quality student performance?
  • About students’ understanding:
  • What does this work tell us about how well the student understands the topic of the assignment?
  • What initial understandings do we see beginning to emerge in this work?
  • About students’ growth:
  • How does this range of work from a single student demonstrate growth in _____________(subject such as reading or science) over time?
  • How can I support student grown in _________(subject such as reading or science) more effectively.
  • About students’ intent:
  • What issues or questions is this student focused on?
  • What aspects of the assignment intrigued this student?
  • Into which parts of the assignment did the student put the most effort?
  • To what extent is the student challenging him or herself? In what ways? (Blythe, Allen, & Powell, 2008)
  • The poor grade on an assignment or report card should be the beginning of a relentless search for how to better support a student’s learning. The driving question should be, ‘What instructional support does this student need to be successful’? Remember, behavior and emotions are included in any discussion about instructional support.

Works Cited
Blythe, T., Allen, D., & Powell, B. S. (2008). Looking Together at Student Work. New Yorik: Teachers College Press.