My Heroes

I have many heroes in my life. I would like to tell you about two of them and why they are my heroes.

My daughter @jwbrackney is one of my heroes. She is a middle school math teacher that has an impressive number of success at a relatively early stage in her career. Since she was a young girl, I always thought she tried to take on too much. Even now as she has twin 6 year old girls, she continues to take on too much, but somehow accomplishes everything she tries to do with great success and finesse. We have had countless hours of conversations about teaching math and I know that I have learned as much from her as she has from me. Our time together reflecting on what works for kids has benefited hundreds of our students. The latest professional concept that I am stealing from her is Objective Based Grading. It all makes so much sense and I would have never made the change if it wasn’t for her trying it first and talking me into trying it. For more on that see my blog post on Objective Based Grading.

My son @stevenriehl is another one of my heroes. What he does with computers is nothing short of amazing and the attitude he has towards manipulating computers to benefit others is beyond amazing. His gift for computers started at a young age. I am the kind of person that people come to when they have computer questions, but my son’s computer ability surpassed me when he was in middle school. While in high school he designed our school district website that was used for about 5 years. After two or three different professional web designers re-designed it, I still hear teachers saying they wish they had the old design back. He is currently our school district’s Information Specialist in charge of many of our student databases. He makes Powerschool, our district’s grades and information system,  dance to the tune of everyone in the district. If you want it to happen, he makes it happen. His positive and “can do” attitude impresses everyone that has contact with him. I am so glad to have him on speed dial for tech assistance.

My daughter and son are my heroes for many other more personal reasons, but I wanted to share how proud I am of them as they became colleagues and professionals. Makes a father proud!



Objective Based Grading

I am not using Standards Based Grading but Objective Based Grading. This is definitely a movement in the right direction. This is the best thing about grading that I have done in 35 years. I got all of the basic ideas and lots of encouragement to change from my daughter (@jwbrackney), who also teaches math. I don’t grade everything the way that she does, but the philosophy is the same.

I identify objectives for each unit that I am teaching. When I grade quizzes and tests I used a different color hi-liter for each objective. After making comments and corrections with the hi-liters I use a rubric to determine a level of understanding for each objective (Grading Rubric). So a quiz will generally have 2-3 grades on it, based on the number of objectives assessed. A test will have 4-6 grades on it based on the number of objectives assessed.

Each objective gets quizzed after they are covered and then tested at the end of the unit. The objective quiz grades get reported on Powerschool (our district online grade program) and counted as part of the student’s grade until the unit test. At the end of a unit objective test grades get recorded. At that time I exempt the quiz grades. It still shows for student and parents to see, but they don’t count as part of the final grade.

So here is what my gradebook looks like at this point in the semester…


I am absolutely convinced this is a movement in the right direction. My grades mean so much more. It is easy to identify what a student does well and what they still need to work on. I also do retakes on objectives after they are tested.

Last semester I tried to not put a grade on homework, but with my freshman in Algebra 1 they are convinced there is no reason to do an assignment if they don’t get a grade for it. This semester I went to grading random homework assignments. I hope to one day have grade just based on assessments. One step at a time.