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Let It Go Part 2

Don't get me wrong, Yoda is my favorite character in the Star Wars universe.  But I think he's got it wrong on one account when it comes to personalized instruction.

I think as teachers we need to understand that there is a lot to be learned from having our students try something.  By trying, we learn if we need to do it or not.  For instance, I currently assign mandatory practice problems for my students.  I would like to get to a comfort level where I can let the mandatory part go.  By that I mean, I would love to build a routine in which students see the inherent value of practice problems and will choose to try them on their own.  This may sound like a pie in the sky idea, but I don't think it is unreasonable for the majority of students who want to succeed. In an anonymous survey, my 70% of my students said they would complete the practice problems even if they were not assigned.

So, the real question I have for any practice work is "Due or due not?"

If I make this practice work not due, I would hope that most of my students would try them.  I think this desire for extra practice is present in my classroom.  I don't necessarily assign long sets of practice problems.  I usually assign a short set of them and check for completion.  But I have not reached the point where I am comfortable making them not due.  Students in my class, though, do participate in formative problems that are not part of their grade on quizzes and Kahoots! and give lots of positive feedback on the effectiveness of these in the learning process. If basic practice problems are preventing students who have mastered the concept from progressing to more challenging enrichment opportunities, aren't we doing those students a disservice?

Currently I count formative assessments as an extremely small part of a student's grade and the score is based on completion.  So clearly I'm not where I really want to be.  I hope I can get there soon.

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