Imagine you've just read (or reread) Chris Anderson's The Long Tail, a book that is certainly becoming one of the must-read's in every domain of society that considers 'audience' (or customer, market, niche, etc.) to be of value. Now, imagine you're trying to figure out how it fits into education, what goes on in schools and classrooms, and how kids learn/teachers teach. Imagine.
Whether you've figured this out or not, I'd head over to a post titled "Assessment Part Deux Redux". Why? The long tail of learning. Micro-grading. The niches of individualized instruction, evaluation, remediation, celebration. A teaser:
So I disaggregate my assignments and tests. I break up these chunky gradebook entries, stuff labeled "Unit 6 Test," into individual concepts and skills and then I let my students remediate those. I allow re-takes on these tiny concepts and I re-grade them immediately, dropping new scores into my gradebook immediately and reporting the grade increase immediately. My students' gratification needs to be immediate.
Micromanaging my assessments and assignments is hard. It's certainly more work than pulling a test out of the teacher's edition every few weeks. But I get kids coming into my class every day before school, at lunch, kids who know what they need to learn and who are willing to learn it because they know their efforts will make a material difference. I'm doing my best to keep the middle class in the game around here and it only happens because I've made the cycle of risk-reward more appealing than that of failure-failure.
Curious. Are you helping the kids sitting in the long tail side of your room? How are you micro-grading? Or, more importantly, how are you helping to make the "cycle of risk-reward more appealing" in your classroom?