Retakes in the Classroom: How to Make Them Work (video)

Rae HughartBlog, Grade Better, Innovate Better, Manage Better, Mastery Done Better, Video(s)

Retakes In The Classroom - How to Make Them Work (video)

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Hey guys! It’s Rae and we’re talking retakes. Now I have already done a video blog about why retakes are valuable for you to try, however, the most common question I get is, “How do you make them manageable?” I’ve been lucky enough, I’ve implemented retakes in my classroom probably about five or six different ways, and I changed it because i had to find a way that worked for me, worked for my students, worked for my parents, it’s a learning curve, right, we’re all learning this process. So don’t worry. You can change your system once you try it once. However, I’ve not only done it with my own classroom, but I’ve been able to work with teachers on developing their retake process, and usually they all look different, because the goal is to make it manageable for you, and great for your students.

So throughout this time, I’ve given you access to all of my retake information, you’ll be able to see that in our blog, and you feel free to look through it after you watch this video, and email me directly, let me know what questions you still have, because this is a system where I’m going to give you tons and tons of tools, and then you’re going to pick whatever you need to get ready for your kids. Because the goal is not to do my goal, or the goal is to not to do my system, but to do what works for you.

Let’s move forward, now the first thing I suggest for your retake is you need a request system. There are a lot of different ways that a retake can get started, you need to have a way that works for you. For me, I was really overwhelmed talking about retakes in between class hours, or at times when I was supposed to be doing something else, but a student wanted to talk about their retake. So what I started is a request system that’s electronic, it’s through a Google Form on my website, and they just submit a request to me. Now that allows me to then get an email that a request has been submitted, and on my time, I’m able to look at it and respond. So for how my day is set up, that’s worked best, I know a lot of teachers that have had a request system where they hand in a ticket, or they send in a piece of paper to their inbox, something it can be paper, pencil, or it can be electronic. For me, electronic really was the best system for what I was doing and the technology that I have access to and the technology my students have access to. So a request is really important.

The second thing I want to suggest is there has to be an enormous amount of reflection on your students’ part. So when my students submit a request, they not only have to fill in the information on the assessment they’re trying to retake, but also there’s a number of questions, it takes a pretty good amount of time, a number of questions they have to reflect on. How did you do on this assessment? Why did you do that way? What things went really well? What things didn’t go well?  Did you study for this assessment? And this is not to weave out my students so that I can demand a lot from then if they don’t include five sentences, and I’ve asked for five sentences and I can get them. The whole goal of this is to really see what’s going on in your student’s mind, and really understand the investment of learning they’re going to give you, because if they’re not willing to reflect, they’re probably not willing to do the work to retake.

The next thing I want to suggest, is that you need to have a way to communicate a retake to stakeholders. For me, like I said, I really like my request system because I get an email, and then I can read through the reflection. I then just download that as a PDF and I email it straight back to the kids, and I CC the parents. That way now the student and I have communicated, we both are able to see the reflection, and now the parent not only knows about the retake, but sees the effort the student has put in so far towards that retake.

So it seems to be a really good system. After that step for me, I then have a retake contract, and I would absolutely encourage you to have a retake contract. This again can be done however you need it to be done. For me personally, the first thing on my contract is that the student and I set up a meeting and the student goes through their test corrections, and when they do the test corrections, they have to redo any problem they get wrong, and actually answer three questions about each problem. One of the questions is: What did you do wrong? The second one is: How did you fix it?

And the third one is: How do you know it’s right?  And it needs to be an explanation that has to do with my subject, which is math. So give me a mathematical reason that this answer is more correct than the other. So it really requires, again, reflection from my student. We then read through this in the meeting, I take some notes, you can actually see my contract, so you’ll be able to see all that stuff, and then I have an extra practice. So what do my students need to do, to get towards mastery, before they retake. So this can be anything from a new activity they have to complete, to a worksheet, whatever fits your classroom best. But something where your student can practice this skill over and over until they meet mastery.

The last thing, your student sets a day to retake. This can be a date that’s set by you, I like having the student set it because I like that ownership piece. I want all the work to be on the student, make your student work harder than you, you are not taking the retake, your student is. So I have them set a day that they’re going to retake, and then they retake on that day, and actually their contract is their ticket to get their test. So they have to bring that to me, again another responsibility.

When I give them an assessment, it is a different assessment, they need to complete a different assessment so you can really evaluate the mastery. I understand that sometimes this is a little tedious, so a good habit that i’ve gotten in is when I create an assessment, and I make a copy and I figure out what my retake looks like right then and there. If no student uses it, that’s awesome. If two students need it, it’s already created.  I hope this was a good taste of the process you can start considering when you’re designing your retake process, again retakes can completely change the culture of your classroom, and really benefit your student understanding, but it is only effective if it’s manageable for you, so you have to find that balance. Please take a look at the resources that I’ve shared with you, and please reach out if you have questions. There is no stupid question when it comes to retakes and I’m always so eager to hear how you’re doing it with your kiddos. Good luck,