Spring semester grades are due tomorrow. Along with a grade (A,B,C,D,F) we must provide a "comment" for each student. Comments provide students and parents with some qualitative information regarding student behavior, performance, etc. Although a fabulous idea, given the 100+ students I must provide a grade and comment for, I always find myself doing one of two things: Either 1) writing WAY too much for each student, and thus frustrating our admin with the need to produce an extra long report card for that student or 2) fizzling out at student ~ 24 and providing a stock comment for the strong student and a stock comment for students that need improvement. Below is one such example:
Frustrated with the cognitive dissonance that exists in spending the entire year committed to motivating students to ask questions, negotiate complexity and develop a love for the inquiry process, while simultaneously being required to judge my students with one letter and a one paragraph comment, I decided to "hack" the system a bit. In lieu of providing one comment for each student, I wrote one letter to all of my students, and then provided a link to the letter in the comment box. See screenshot below:
Although each student will receive the same letter, I was able to take the time necessary to clearly write a reflection that used chemistry as a window to impart a few words of advice as their journey continues. In an ideal world, and hopefully in years to come, I will be able to write a tailored letter for each student, in the context of our current system, I feel this letter is a good start. The letter is embedded below for you to read. In addition to the below letter, I had direct conversations with students and parents that needed a more personal touch, both positive and negative. I am hopeful that this combination of a grade, thoughtful letter, and individual conversations, will add more meaning to a process that often inhibits meaningful learning in my classroom practice.