A STRATEGY FOR DIFFERENTIATION
To ensure that all students who put forth a sincere effort earned full credit for their work, I implemented the strategies described below.
Since I had students use the forerunner of this book to self-teach most of the course's content, I established a simple grading strategy that enabled students to earn full credit each time they genuinely attempted to complete a lesson's review questions. On the day prior to grading the questions, I posted the correct answers in the room. Students were permitted (and encouraged) to compare their attempts with those that were posted - and to make needed corrections.
As the year began, I provided students and parents with a written, detailed explanation of this teaching / grading strategy. The key aspects of this explanation were as follows:
To: The Parents of Life Science Students
While the fundamental focus of this course's labs, activities, and field trips is to support students in thinking scientifically, they will be exposed to a great deal of biological content - considerably more than they will be expected to memorize for a test. Students will be informed specifically what content they must have "in their heads" for each test.
Young minds naturally absorb a great deal of information, particularly if it is presented in an interesting way. Exposure to content enables good thinkers to expand their thinking!
The bulk of the content will be self-taught - via students' efforts to read the textbook's brief lessons and to thoughtfully complete each lesson's review questions.
All students who make a genuine effort to complete these assignments will earn full credit for this work. Homework will account for a significant portion of the grade in this course - usually about 1/3 (with the other 2/3 equally divided between tests and projects).