Guest Post: A Student (Freshman)

In response to a comment on the last guest post (written by one of my seniors), I asked my freshmen and sophomores to write something. Again, I have not edited, altered, or otherwise solicited the specific content of this post. I simply asked if anyone would like to volunteer a guest post about what it’s like to take my class. In my defense against accusations of narcissism or compliment fishing: I ask all of my students to write to me anonymously about what class is like, usually later than this, though.

From one of my freshmen:

Hello everyone, I am a freshman in high school, and I would like to share my feelings about Mr. Cornally’s grading system for those of you who may need some further explanations from a student’s perspective.

I am in Mr. Cornally’s computer programming class. I think it is an immensely fun (and frustrating!) class, and Mr. Cornally creates a fun and optimistic environment. To move on to the point, Mr. Cornally uses a special form of grading that I’m sure you all know about by now. When I first walked into the door for computer programming, I had no idea how Mr. Cornally’s grading would change my views on curriculum.  I turned in one of our more difficult projects, “Orc Battle”, a game based program that put your character against a computer AI.

After turning this in, I went online to check my grades. Instead of seeing the usual, [x] amount of points out of 100 points possible, I had three different grades. Each represented a different logic that went into the program. For example my grades were:

For Loops – 8.5/10.  Grade – B.

_SESSION – 10/10. Grade – A.

Arrays – 7/10. Grade – C- (ouch).

So instead of having a “final grade” for the whole project, there were a variety of different grades, each representing a different concept in the project. I have always been used to the grading system where, for example, I have a 94 in Algebra. That’s good; I must understand the concepts, right? I take the test, and get a C-, or a 71.         What happened? I turned in my homework, how could I almost flunk the test? I never understood the concepts, plain and simple. But I still passed the class with an 86.

What I love about Mr. Cornally’s system is that not only can I see where I lacked in my programming knowledge, but also where I would have room for improvement. This tells me that: I understand sessions, I could work on my for-loops a bit more, and I’m going to need some help with arrays. I can then go into class and ask Mr. Cornally if there is anyway I can get my grade up in arrays. He will either let me prove that I understand arrays through another project, or a sit-down session where I show him that I understand the concept, but just need some tune-ups here and there.

Standards Based Grading has help become a better student in ways that I can understand where I went wrong, and where I need to improve to understand the ideas that are being taught.

These have been my two cents on what I think about Mr. Cornally’s system of grading, and I thank everyone who decided to read this post, written by some little high school freshman, telling teachers about how I enjoy being in Mr. Cornally’s class.

Here’s my take away as the teacher:

  1. This is a very well-spoken freshman, to be sure.
  2. He must have read some blog posts before writing this, because I rarely use edu-jargon like “SBG” in class.
  3. He gets it. Hallelujah! He gets it!! I got to a freshman. They can be turned from the dark side this early. A Jedi he may still become, yes.