Category: Reflection

A Classroom Teacher’s Approach to Competency-Based Education

June 4, 2012 by

Around this time of year, I am always reminded of one of the great things I did in life, which was graduate from college! And any of you that know or have experienced a college graduation before can attest… can be an extremely rewarding experience for those friends and family that have hit that milestone.

As I graduated 7 years ago, I can still remember my graduation experience. Minus the fact of my friends and I clustered together on the momentus occasion, (and one of them actually leaving their namecard on the seat when they went up to get their diploma…) the most memorable portion of that days events was the commencement speaker. He was funny, articulate, and had the ability to read the crowd to keep them in full engagement. Basically, it made for a rewarding experience as well as a fond memory….one that will carry on with me the rest of my life.

The question that I had at the time, and still remains; How did he do it? As an individual (more…)

Are Colleges Dictating How We Record Student Learning?

May 30, 2012 by

Why do we continue to use grades to record student understanding?  What does a letter tell us about a student’s understanding?  Or does the letter represent understanding at all?  Many of us are guilty of recording things in a grade book just because the student did the work.  It had nothing to do with how much the student understood or was able to do.  There are also students who refused to do the work, but could demonstrate that they understood the material and scrape by with a D or a C.  Are we recording behaviors or learnings?  Should we be recording the two together as one letter grade. (more…)

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

May 11, 2012 by

Are we all talking about the same thing when we say competency-based education?  This question first occurred to me this past December when I had the opportunity, as West Wind Education Policy’s program associate, to work with REL Midwest and the Iowa Department of Education to organize the Research to Action Forum on Competency-based Education in Des Moines.  The conference included national experts, teachers, administrators, students, higher education representatives, policy-makers, and Iowa Workforce Development.  You can watch videos of the event and learn more about what is happening in Iowa as districts explore CBE at the online professional collaboration site we created. (more…)

Blowing Up K-12?

May 10, 2012 by

It seems sacrilegious, really, but I am advocating that we do away with the K-12 grade level structure in education.  Perhaps because it has been how we have organized our schools since we evolved from the one room schoolhouse back in the nineteenth century, the grade level structure is taken for granted. You notice that reform agendas do not include doing away with grade levels. We have vouchers, charters, extended day, extended school year, evaluating teachers and principals if we are not firing them, privatizing schools or closing them and reopening them under new management, but no talk of doing away with grade levels. If anything, there is renewed interest in having students repeat grades as a backlash against social promotion.

We talk about thinking out of the box but no one talks about thinking out of grade levels. (more…)

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