Reconsidering Report Cards

It’s report card writing time in Ontario, and if you check out the Twitter feeds each night, you’ll see lots of tweets about report cards. I’ll admit it: I struggle with writing report cards. I really want the report card to capture the unique strengths and needs of each student. I’m not a fan of comment banks, but I am a HUGE fan of personalization.

When I sit down to write report cards, I have all of my assessment and evaluation data in Evernote. Despite not being a paper person, I also have the paper self-evaluations that the students wrote sitting beside me. These I always look at, but I look at the information in Evernote less often. Truthfully, I don’t really need to see it. I know my students. I sit down and work with them every day, and I’ve seen what they can do and where they need to go next. (I may double check a mark or two, but that’s about it.) I see a report card as a celebration of success and documentation of future goals (both what I think and what the students feel), but how do I capture all of these thoughts in anywhere from 4-15 lines?

As I tweeted on the weekend, report card writing is the ultimate activity in word choice. Phil Hart and Jon Fines both equated it to Twitter, but at least when tweeting, I can always add a second message. With a report card, I don’t get another box. And this is where I struggle! Thank goodness for a PLN that never stops thinking. It was after I shared my report card woes on Twitter, that Mary-Kay Goindi and Jo-Ann Corbin-Harper both chimed in with their suggestions.

2014-01-21_07-52-56 2014-01-21_07-53-19Imagine these options. Then think about the idea of adding the students into the conversation. I can almost imagine a Livescribe Pencast, with written and audio comments from students and teachers about classroom performance and future goals. If these pencasts were shared over Google Drive, then we could also share photographs and videos that further capture this learning. With the addition of parent comments and contributions, this would become the ultimate report card.

This seems like an impossibility right now, but what if it’s not? I’m a big believer in dreaming big, pushing hard when necessary, and knowing that in time, greatness is always possible! So what would your ideal report card look like? Why would you make these changes? Maybe with enough input from enough varied voices, a change can happen! For today, I will wish lots and keep on writing those 4-15 lines! 🙂



7 thoughts on “Reconsidering Report Cards

  1. I like your new way of sharing achievement with students and parents instead of a written report. It would be like a window into the classroom. However, I believe most teachers will shy away from such a report because of the work involved including the long learning curve. If it takes longer than the present report card and involves a bit of a learning curve, don’t expect teahchers will want to do it. Teacher’s plates are genuinefully pretty full.
    Keep up the excellent work on your blog. It always gives me interesting food for thought to chew on with my peers and it helps me to self-regulate my own teaching practices. Good luck with your report cards.


    • Thanks for your comment, Herman! If this new approach wouldn’t work for everyone, I wonder if there’s a different method that would. I hear discussions of space concerns coming from so many teachers, so I think that a solution to at least this problem would be appreciated by all. Maybe there could be options based on various factors: from parental access to technology to teacher comfort with the various programs.

      So much to think about …

  2. Hmm! Interesting tweets from @6Chotline I must say. If only world class inventors for tech inventions were as willfull as you. Then your dreams would come true! I think that teachers should just take their notes that collect student’s myriad voices, and their marking book, and your stars and wishes, wrap it up, you get a report card. Nowadays, I feel that we need to stop dreaming about tech when we won’t get it in a split second. What can we do in a month? First the stress of all parents getting an account, then privacy issses, then the issue that some parent can’t find it… so much stress! Wen we can’t do it, just stick with the normal computer print out template. The comment area is on paper; you’ll know that the student didn’t type it out!
    So maybe when we do get the Google Doc thing-a-majingy, you can work with that. For now, paper is our lifelong aid! Have a good time writing your report cards (and don’t be too harsh on Katerina 🙂 🙂 )

    • Thanks for the student perspective, Yusra! This is definitely not a “for now” solution, but it’s a big wish for the future. I’d love to see a report card where I really could capture the myriad of voices (and not worry about the 4-15 line limit). I think it’s the line limit that concerns me the most, and the difficulty with meeting this limit while also making the report card reflective of the student and his/her strengths and needs. I can make it work, but is it really the best system? I’m not sure that it is, and if there’s a way to make the system better, I’d love to see this improvement (for the future of course). Maybe the technology option isn’t best for everyone. This is good to remember. It makes me wonder if just a Word document, printed, with less space restrictions would do the trick. Definitely something to consider.

      Thanks for getting me thinking some more!
      Miss Dunsiger

      P.S. And I promise not to be too harsh on any of my students! 🙂

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