Sunday, September 28, 2008

Heart of the Matter - Record-Keeping, the Essentials

Welcome to the Heart of the Matter Online meme. Every Friday we will feature a different topic for our meme. Please share with us your thoughts on Record-Keeping, the Essentials!

Do you keep a grade book? Does your state require attendance sheets or a portfolio? What are some of the best methods of organization that you have found to keep up with all of the school records for the year? Are you an organizational expert or do you find it to be a hassle? What about online forms--can you recommend some good sites to others? Share with us your greatest successes and your greatest flops in this area!

Ok, if you've read any of my previous posts, you'll see that I have struggled with record-keeping this year already. I bought a program for lesson planning and record-keeping, in hopes of getting in the habit of keeping grades for David. Next year he'll be "high school" so I should start getting used to the idea.

I didn't like the program. Back to square one, or just use the program I don't like?

Anyway, no record-keeping is REQUIRED for us in Michigan. I don't have to keep attendance or grades. No reporting to authorities is necessary (or desirable, really).

I've never kept a grade book, because I require 100% accuracy on assignments. If 2 math problems are wrong, they fix them. If I don't like the handwriting, they do it over. That said, I am not overly picky either.

I also don't put much faith in testing. I taught school for five years. I saw over and over that some kids who KNEW the info did poorly on tests. Also some kids did great on tests but promptly forgot the information or weren't able to transfer the knowledge to practical use. I can discuss my son's history reading with him and see if he knows enough about it. I can watch my daughter as she does her math and see where she struggles. Tests are not needed here.

So, why do people test? Only for a grade, right? Tests were designed to measure the knowledge of a large group of students (ie, a classroom) because it's impractical (or impossible) to discuss information with each one singly or to sit and watch each one work to see where the problems come in.

Did you know tests USED to mostly be essay tests? The student would actually have to KNOW something to pass it. With multiple choice tests, there is a strategy to choosing your answers, and you can do well on a test without knowing much about the subject. Fill in the blanks are better, but not by much.

So, I have not done much with testing, except in math and spelling. (Although my spelling tests aren't the traditional kind.) As my children move into their teen years, they will have more testing, mostly because they will do more of their work independently. But I don't see the goal as getting an "A" on a test, but rather to master the material and know how to learn.

OK, that kind of got off the subject, but I do enjoy the fact that we are not dependent on grades in our learning.

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