The 3P’s stand for Progress, Participation and Performance
First of all this challenges the traditional grading system we have had in our education system, ummm forever, and throws it out the window. The kids are no longer doing every assignment for a grade but the emphasis is on the learning and making progress as an individual. I liked this for a few reasons. Kids will do about anything to get a good grade and that can interfere with intended learning outcomes. Some kids aren’t motivated by grades, they flat out don’t care. They can do the work and are bright but the grades don’t matter. The students are still adjusting but I find that they are more comfortable in their own skin when we are doing work. They share more, dig deeper, find they are capable of more than they ever thought and blow their own minds at least once a week. Our bi-weekly meetings are getting better and going smoother. They still think in the mindset of what does the teacher expect but more of them reflect deeper on what they expect from themselves and how to get it. The realization is hitting home for some kids that they are under performing as far as their talents and abilities go and this is motivating them to do better work. An example of this is an assignment that was due on a Tuesday wasn’t turned in by at least 75% of my students. Not because they didn’t have time but because they would take a discounted grade(school policy) in order to better work by their standards. I think this teaches some valuable lessons to them about the quality of the work they will attach their name too. I have enjoyed this as well because it frees me from some grading minutiae and allows me to interact with the students more as they work on their daily work/assignment/projects. This is when the teaching/learning moments occur and they happen because the kids feel free to stretch themselves because they won’t be graded on if it’s right or wrong. Now this takes some serious planning on my part to make sure the learning outcomes are reached and they are measured on their performances when I do assess them. I hesitate to use the word grades, but I have to call it that because I have a grade book I have to put numbers into.
Every two weeks we sit down and look at a portfolio of the students work over that time. How do you define progress? What does it look like from one assignment/student to the next? This part of the 3P is the most fun for me because I get to see if the students are learning the material and improving as writers, thinkers, problem solvers. The best part of this aspect of the system is that so far for me is that the students are brutally honest with themselves. They know they are doing less than standard work and will readily admit it. The issue I take here comes back to the teacher, why are they giving less than their best? Do they like the material? Is it engaging? Do they feel like they are accomplishing something? I think this last question could open a lot kids minds in their other classes. Do they feel like they are accomplishing something in your class besides earning a grade on a report card? Is this the key to stimulating student engagement, I don’t know, it worked for me. My students work harder and push themselves more each day because they know the work they are doing will benefit and enhance them as an individual which is something they can take with them beyond the classroom.
Then there is the participation aspect of this system. I like this part the most but will admit it’s the toughest sell in my school with attendance policies and excused v. unexcused absences. I guess it all boils down to when you miss work as an adult the show goes on your presence is missed. Meetings aren’t rescheduled, deadlines don’t get moved. To the point of where excess absences result in removal or termination. I know if a student is chronically absent he will have these same issues in school but how do you curb absences to go to the mall, the park, golfing, etc? (i have signed admit slips for every one of these reasons!) This is again where I struggle with giving a grade for this but it works in two ways: 1 if they aren’t here did they participate, no, of course not so how can they learn. 2. They say showing up is 90% of the battle, think of how much more the student can benefit if they are here. There is the 3rd hidden value here students with good attendance get a little bump in their grades from positive numbers in this category. They should be rewarded more than just a certificate at the end of the year.
Performance is my favorite category because I am now in love with PBL, project based learning. I think it is grand, (sound like i am about 50 right there 🙂 The students really get to see what learning is like when you set a project/problem in front of them give them the tools to solve it and watch the learning happen. Using the skills and tools practiced over the weeks and have them come to fruition in this way brings the learning alive. The students know their skills are useful and will benefit them in the future.
This is only my 1st year using this and it’s a work in progress as I learn and grow as a teacher and mentor. I think it’s a great system; it points out flaws in our current system, but more importantly it reflects the students need for growth, self evaluation, and being released from the fear of the grade to take chances.