Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Aiming for Higher Achievement

Over the past 5 years, I have written about my passing rate, reluctant learners, and working to increase the number of students successfully passing my Art 1 class to earn their fine art credit. But this year, I have grown tired of pulling teeth for my students to achieve the minimum. I am tired of begging for students to do work when I really want them to learn more than the minimum, try more than the minimum, and achieve more than the minimum. So, I wrote a goal on my whiteboard that hangs in my office this year, "Aim for A's, not just passing."
Until this semester, I believe I have been aiming too low at times for my students. So, this semester I have been working through some new strategies to increased achievement, rather than simply pass rate. And, it is working!
Here is what I have been trying:
Page 1 of the catch-up packet

  • Emailing all students who are missing assignments from the previous week every Monday morning with helpful strategies and scaffolding worksheets when applicable
  • Increasing my phone calls by an average of 20 more reaching out calls per week, encouraging students to complete their work and addressing any questions
  • Freeing myself of the "passing packet" and replacing it with a catch-up packet (click here to download) which includes more weeks of art projects, better directions, and is marketed towards improving a student's grade with no promises of receiving a passing grade.
Surprisingly, students seem to gravitate towards the catch-up packet far more than they ever did the passing packet, and it doubles as an intervention tool for students with an IEP or who simply prefer to work in a worksheet-style method. It works well as a way to help students who were added late to the course get caught up as well. 
We are only halfway through the semester and already I am seeing an overall 10% shift to higher achievement (letter grades) than at this time last semester! 
With 2% more A's and 8% more C's (and 8% less D's) I am over the moon. Go students go!

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