Re: Report Cards in Lunch

A school district in rural New York state has taken feedback to another level, in the cafeteria. At the K-12 school district, “27 parents received weekly emails describing what their children selected at the school cafeteria.” Wait, what? Yes, report cards on lunch. Bear with me, because these reports are actually helping students make healthier choices.

After these report cards started going out, students started buying fewer cookies and their parents were encouraged to talk nutrition with their children. This is a simple, effective example of digital portfolios and feedback at work. This district in New York state understands that letting people see their “performance” is the first step in getting them engaged. Just like adults keep track of their money to keep track of where their resources are going, this school is keeping track of their students’ lunch intake to drive healthier eating.

This archiving and tracking of what students are doing is important to Gradeable and our advocacy for feedback. As evident in the cookie purchase decline, there’s a lot to gain by keeping tabs on yourself. We advocated for this via exit tickets and formative assessments. Tracking the everyday stuff paints a black and white, numerical picture of what’s going on.

Now, let’s shift this mentality to the classroom. By keeping track of what students are doing, teachers get a better idea of where to apply the pressure. So let’s say we’re in an English lesson and verbs are milk, subjects are veggies, and adjectives are fruit. From your student “intake” tracking, you see that students are crushing fruit and veggies, but not getting enough milk. So, the next lesson isn’t going to be fruit salad with a side of veggies, right? You’re going to push milk shakes, yogurt, and maybe some cheese.

Imagine if you didn’t keep track of these things and gave students equal servings of everything because you assumed they consumed it equally… well, you’d completely miss the fact that your students were calcium-deficient!

I hope you’ve managed to keep up with my weird analogy here. My point is that there are huge gains from keeping tabs, if you can put in the initial effort. There’s a considerable change in workflow to keep track of what students are eating at lunch, but the payoff is huge. Think about it: isn’t your diet dictated much more by your daily intake than that special occasion dinner? You’d never try to describe your eating habits by what you ate on Thanksgiving, so why would you try to define students by what they get on those high-stakes tests?

Are you interested in doing this for your class but don’t know the best way to start? Doing it already but can’t deal with all the data entry? Well Gradeable may be your answer. Drop me a line (bon@gradeable.com) or check us out (invite code Resolution2014BC). We’re dedicated to making the grading process better for teachers.

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