Sunday, September 2, 2012

Levels, Not Grades

Towards the end of last year I began planning/thinking of this school year.  I had a pile of things that went well throughout the course of the year, a pile that went poorly and needed an overhaul, and a bunch of new things I wanted to try.  Levels instead of grades is one of those brand new items on my list.  I love the idea of students moving toward something rather than falling backward.  Traditional grading starts the students at the top (A+) and we watch as they tumble down.  Instituting a levelling system takes that free fall (in some students' cases) away.  My students will all start at Level 1 this year, and they will continue to move up in levels as long as they complete their assignments.  If a student rarely does any work than they don't move down; they simply don't move anywhere.

The levelling system gives the kids more ownership in the assignments they complete, the studying they do, and the classwork they attempt.  Students love to get achievements, badges, or any other kind of recognition, so using a levelling system falls in line with that philosophy.

This semester my students are able to reach a maximum of Level 100, which corresponds to 100%.  They can get there by doing assignments, acing tests, and generally getting as many eXperience Points as possible. I've talked previously about my method for giving out XP and how it corresponds to the levels here.

In order to track their levels, I have created a profile sheet that the students will fill out.  On the bottom are the numbers 1-100.  I will keep the sheets with me, and as the students gain XP I will move them up in levels.  I will conference with the students twice a month, and we can chat about their current level using the profile sheet instead of a spreadsheet.  If you want the level tracking profile sheet you can grab it here, and I have also thrown up the levelling information sheet I've posted in my class here.
An example of the profile sheet that the students will fill out.  As they gain levels I will colour in the level chart below.  I plan on taking student photos and having them printed, so I can include them on these sheets.  It will make everything a little more 'official'.

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