Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


by AJ

Ive now got a rough prototype for the game rules (grade system) Ill use next semester. I think a menu or ala carte system might be a good start. It contains some comfortable and familiar elements (ie points) but also opens up the learning and decision making process.

Here's how it will work. To get an "A".. students must collect 900 or more points. For a "B" it will be 800-899, etc.

During the semester, students are free to choose from a menu of activities.... with each activity/assignment worth a certain number of potential points. Students will also be free to design their own activities/assignments and then negotiate with me regarding how many points it should be "worth"... sky's the limit on this... "trip to America with parents- 100 points!"

While students will be encouraged to develop their own choices, Ill offer a "standard menu" as follows:

Perfect Attendance & Participation: 200 points
1-2 Absences: 100 points
Team Project: 0-200 points (depending on grade)
2000 Word Vocab Notebook: 200 points
1000 Word Vocab Notebook: 100 points
Song Lyrics with New Vocab: 1 pt each
Article with New Vocab: 1 pt each
Midterm Exam: 0-100 pts
Essay Exam: 0-100 pts
Final Exam: 0-100 pts
Blog & Comments: 0-150 pts
Book/Film Presentation: 0-15 pts each (about 0-210 total for semester)
Teacher recommended books (Read, short paper, vocab): 0-100 pts each
Personal Interview with me: 0-100 pts
Interview with foreigners (recorded): 1/2 pt per minute (ie. 30 min=15 pts)

So, students can piece together any combination of activities they like.... to go for as many points as they like. And they can add more activities if one goes badly. For example, if they bomb the midterm they could start keeping a vocab notebook or doing extra articles every week. Or, if they hate exams, they could avoid them completely.

Im curious to give this a try.

One thing I love about teaching is that its a great venue for experimentation. I think of each of my classes as a lab. I launch new ideas, prototypes, etc... and then see how they do. Some bomb (ie. most of my Russian Studies class), some do moderately well (most of my Freshman classes) and some explode and are fantastic (BAS class). The great thing is that after 16 weeks I get to start over. I review the experiments.... take the stuff that did great, jettison the stuff that bombed, then add new experiments to the mix. And so the process continues.....