Note: I've written before repeatedly about things like retakes and RRR on my Latin blog, Pomegranate Beginnings. As PBP is undergoing some changes, I am opting to post this update here as part of this series. I feel it fits both discussion of Latin and working with all kinds of learners however.
Retakes can be a sticky subject for teachers. I've heard many reasons as to why retakes should be given and why they shouldn't. I've even addressed some of these in previous posts (see above). What I want to consider today is how retakes can harm students and particularly neurodivergent and disabled students and, more importantly I think, how we can use this vital tool to support them instead.
I'd like to take a look at a few scenarios. Some are things I've heard about in general classrooms and some are things I've done in the past. I want to be clear that I am, in no way, trying to target any particular teacher and, more importantly, that none of us are perfect (I am far from it). Rather, I'd like to bring a different perspective to these practices that are often considered "standard" or even "best" in certain cases.
General Topic. Scenario. My thoughts.
To put it bluntly...
These kinds of retakes really only serve a specific type of student:
So... what can we do?
There is no one answer. I know that isn't the ideal response, especially as teachers who are responsible for multiple students (I have an average of 150-180). But, hear me out. The simple answer is: flexibility and adaptation... on the teacher's part. I was afraid when I realised this because I wondered how much extra work it would put on me. After a few years of working this way I realise... it doesn't. It isn't something I can put in a single blog post or provide a template for, however. But... let me address each of the students we talked about in our scenarios:
I wish there were a simple answer, but there isn't because we don't teach computers, we teach human beings. Education and testing, in particular, have largely and historically favoured the neurotypical, affluent, and gifted student when they are the students who often succeed without any help or intervention. As educators we should be working to ensure progress for all types of learners.
I must give credit to Education Scotland for the original lesson plan called "Clipboard Quiz". I have used this for years, but I call it Round Table Discussion. It is one of my favourite ways to review and prepare for an assessment, project, discussion, or final exam. Most often I use it to review and discuss a story at a variety of levels of thinking. Some questions may be vocabulary questions, some are comprehension questions, others are culture or deeper thinking questions. The key to each question, however, is that it is open ended and has the potential for a variety of answers. You can also ask for quotes from the story to show students' abilities to work with the story directly.
Today, however, I want to mention a variation one can do with this to target various small groups or help students who need things like:
Essentially this works the exact same as described in the original plan, but you create 1 or more small specific groups. For example, you might create groups like:
As each group looks at their questions, you can focus your time on the main small group of students who need individualised instruction and, as they become more comfortable with the material, give them more and more independence through the period while you check in with others. This worked very well in a class of Latin I students and ~30 kids. I was able to work directly with one group, keep an eye on another, and do quick check ins to make sure everyone else was on the same page.
This page is dedicated to my compilation of ideas and resources. You can find my sources either in these posts or listed under the other pages in this menu.