The next challenge: how to get the students (and myself) to keep up with all this XP business?
Thoughts: our students get nice big A4 exercise books for Classics, and we normally give them a markscheme to stick in the front, and maybe a list of topics on the course. Normally, it’s only me that keeps track of a student’s marks in my own markbook, but I’d like to get them doing that themselves to be really aware of their own progress, and make it clear, as soon as anyone opens their books, how and what they’re doing.
Solution: a bookplate with the details of the course, places for stickers, and space to record the XP gained through the Unit Tasks and through tokens in class for interaction:
There will be two stickers to collect: the course sticker (as per previous post), and another mystery bonus sticker, depending on how many XP they manage to gain – see the bar across the top with totals such as ‘2500+ = cum laude’ . (I’m not sure I really expect anyone to get higher than this most of the time, but time and practice will tell how it goes). The stickers will go on the circles, kind of like a ‘Unit Complete’ stamp. (I’ll have had the total XP recorded in my markbook before I stick over it – if they get ‘cum laude’ or above and earn a bonus sticker!)
How this links in with the school marking policy: in our department, as I’ve described before, the students get 1-4 for effort, and A-D for attainment for their marked work. I’ve been trying to work out a numerical system to accompany this that will reward them similarly in xp.
My previous attempt, from this earlier post, was a grid that looked like this:
A. B. C. D
1. 500| 475| 450| 400
2. 400| 375| 350| 300
3. 300| 275| 250| 200
4. 200| 175| 150| 100
So, a 1A = 500XP, exhibiting best perceived Effort and Attainment, while a 1C, demonstrating a great Effort but little understanding and room for improvement, still earns a decent 450. However, a rush-job that’s messy as well as well as showing little understanding will gain a 3C, only 250 XP: far more to improve.
However, when I started to write out example grades and fill in an example record sheet accordingly, these numerical values didn’t seem to work out: the numbers were often far too low, or comparatively unfair. I felt that I’d made rather arbitrary decisions about allocating the numbers, and tried to come up with something that seemed to fit more.
I played with numbers for some time…
…but as I have very little head for numbers I realised I was still basically making arbitrary, ‘it looks right’ decisions instead of anything based on real values.
Then I had a sudden realisation, while looking at our old ‘What does my grade mean?’ bookplate that we normally give out: each separate Effort and Attainment grade should have its own numerical value! DOH. This made the process of working out how to reward with a numerical value much easier:
This set of values allows for a student to easily get the minimum 1500XP to pass even though they are struggling, as long as they put in the effort as the minimum marks needed are 300 per Unit Task.
This also allowed for me to update the ‘What does my mark mean?’ bookplate accordingly:
(This is stuck in opposite the XP counter sheet, in the very front, so students can make links between the two.)
POINT: The only real problem with this is that it appears to favour Achievement over Effort, which is the other way round from my original idea of weighting Effort more. In truth, when I was reading through the mark specifications (as above), I realised that, as I’d made the course extremely skills-based, the Attainment descriptors were really the most important, and should be recorded thus. The Effort XP values are still very important to the overall grade however, and the additional XP gained in class from tokens also rewards Effort more than Attainment, as these are primarily to reward the effort of joining in.
The Tokens: Needing something to hold these in class and between classes, that was easy to use and preferably clear enough for me to see how many tokens were left, and whether they were all back, they are now housed in a delightfully mysterious clear plastic skull that I just happened to have on my desk, full of erasers (a present from my better half that’s so pretty I didn’t have the heart to actually use up the erasers.)
I’m looking forward to the class’ reaction…
So now all that’s left is to…write the course! I’ve managed to write the first few lessons – it’s taken me far longer than expected as I’m having to think from a completely different perspective about how to get students to achieve the skills whilst also enjoying themselves and learning about Ancient Greece and Mythology! Also, we had a great INSET (staff training morning) on the first day pre-term on ‘Talk-Less Teaching’ with expert practitioner Wendy Brown, and her ideas were very refreshing and exactly the kind of mindset I need to complete the lesson plans: I’ve got to teach them to ask questions before we get into the nitty gritty.
To be continued…