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Giving a zero for missed work can make it mathematically impossible for students to recover their grade; here’s what one teacher is doing instead.

On finals day, one of my students flew down the hall to tell my assistant principal that he had passed my psychology class with a C. He was a student who really struggled with how to “do school.” Because he had been convinced that he would fail from the beginning, his excitement over passing my class at the end of the school year was palpable. This transformation was due to one simple change to my grading practices: I stopped giving zeros for missing work as part of a larger commitment to adopting equitable grading practices.

What Are Equitable Grading Practices? 

As part of a larger focus on equity, leaders in my district have started the process of evaluating grading practices. Two years ago, as part of serving on my high school’s leadership team, we read Joe Feldman’s book Grading for Equity. Last year, with the support of the administration, I took a hard look at my grading practices. That experience transformed my thinking about how and what I grade. 

Equitable grading practices separate the behavior from the assessment of knowledge. These practices emphasize the belief that all students can learn and meet learning targets. According to experts, traditional grading with the well-known bell curve and 100-point scale is inherently inequitable. In a 100 point scale, the first 40 percentage points are divided equally: A is 90–100 percent, B is 89–80 percent, down to a D at 69–60 percent. When students get a zero, it’s not a similar 10-percent reduction but a 60-percent reduction. Students who receive a zero are often mathematically unable to recover their grade. Students are rewarded or punished for their compliance and behavior, instead of assessed on the acquisition of knowledge. 

Revising My Grading Practices

Understanding the problems of traditional grading practices is one thing; making the changes to more equitable grading is quite another. I had long given up awarding extra credit or docking students for turning in work late, practices that Feldman argues are inequitable. I have always allowed retakes on assessments. But I did give credit for assignments that Feldman would call “practice,” and I did give zeros for missing work. When I saw his mathematical explanation against the traditional grading scale, I knew I needed to make some changes.

As part of this process, I switched to not giving a zero for missing assignments. I was up front with my students and parents from the start. I explained in my syllabus, at Parent Night, and at conferences what it meant mathematically to give a zero and exactly why I would not be doing that. 

Getting the message out was challenging. It was immediately clear that I was fighting against our student information system (SIS), which uses a 100-point scale. This meant changing my lowest grade to 50 percent instead of a zero. But to students, parents, and anyone looking at the SIS, it appeared as though the student had turned in the assignment and scored 50 percent on it. This led to repeated conversations about missing assignments.

As the year progressed, I saw a noticeable change in my lowest-performing students. As other teachers were seeing their students quit trying, mine were seeing the results of their efforts as their grades went from 50 percent to 60 percent and then from 60 percent to 70 percent. Students who had struggled early on thanked me for helping them to pass my class. 

My biggest change this year is to go to 100 percent summative grading and give no credit for practice. I am working hard to get my students to pull their attention away from how many points an assignment is worth and toward what learning is expected and why they need it. Students can retake any summative assessment, and the score earned is the most recent attempt. 

Practice, participation, and formative behavior are still important concepts in my class, but tracking them is outside of the grade. These concepts are assessed as skills using rubrics and tracked at 0 percent in the SIS. Retakes are dependent on students doing the practice first. Students should reflect on their behavior and practice and self-assess to see the connection between the practice and their performance.

A Slow Process: Districts across the country are finding that changing to grading for equity is a process that is not easily done overnight. Teachers feel a strong sense of ownership in their grading practices. They have a lot of autonomy in the process, and that is a difficult thing to give up. This school year, professional development at the high school level is centered on equitable grading. For the first professional development of the year, teachers read articles written by Feldman and others about equitable grading practices. As the year progresses, staff will have choices about which topics to learn more about and are encouraged to make one change in their grading practices over the course of the year. 

Key Takeaways: Encourage staff to make small changes. Choosing one change from this list is a good place to start. Then, track the results, not just in grades but in student behavior, mental health, and absenteeism.

Stop giving a zero for missing work.

Consider using rubrics and a four-point system instead of the 100-point scale.

Stop giving points for practice. 

Allow retakes.

Separate behavior from the assessment of knowledge in the grading system.

Use self-assessment and peer assessment.

I still fight the perception from stakeholders that I am giving students something for nothing when I “award” 50 percent for missing work. But in my experience, this criticism is unfounded. I didn’t see a large increase in students getting As and Bs. I did see a number of students who would have failed instead persevere and pass with Ds and Cs. For me and those students, that one change made all the difference.





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Why Should I Care About Windows Update

Do you get a pop-up every other week from Windows notification from Microsoft Windows Update? A lot of people will ignore these messages and others will even turn Windows Update off when in fact they should have paid a little more of attention.

Today I am going to explain what a Windows Update is and help you how to configure the settings to install them.

Definition: Windows Update is a piece of programming code that is released from time to time from Microsoft to fix problems or prevent them and add & improve functionalities of your overall system as part of their maintenance and support service.

Analogy: Software update is like renting a house (the house will represent Windows) with a broken door (the broken door will represent a feature inside Windows that is not working correctly). What you normally would do it’s to call your landlord (this is an automatic process in Windows that contact Microsoft about the problem) then the person responsible (here is where Microsoft will look and find an update for the problem) will come to your house and fix the broken door (the tools and components to repair the broken door will represent, in this case, a Windows Update) and depending of your settings, even if you don’t have any problems, your computer will contact Microsoft Windows Update service for updates to prevent problems or improve functionalities; etc. As far as I know, most of the times, Windows Updates will be available every second Tuesday of the month A.K.A “Patch Tuesday” or whenever an update is really important for your system.

Type of Windows Updates:

Critical updates: Fixes specific critical problems but not Security related.

Security updates: Fixes specific security vulnerability (security means all computer access related, most of the time is network access)

Service pack: It’s a set of copulatives updates (here also are included all before released Security Updates, Critical Updates and fixes), new updates, plus additional improvements and functionalities.

For more information on software updates descriptions refer to this support article from Microsoft Description of the standard terminology that is used to describe Microsoft software updates

To know what the update is about, follow these steps: To change your Windows Updates settings, follow these steps:

-Should work in Windows Vista & Windows 7

What I would recommend is, if your computer is not ON all the time, to change “Install new updates:” settings to a time that you know your computer is ON  and you are not doing important work (this makes it easier for Windows to install updates), because you may need to restart your computer to finish installing the update(s).


Keeping your computer up to date is good and for Critical & Security updates, even more.

There always are going to be people trying to compromise your system or trying to get information from you for their own gain. Applying software updates not only will secure your computer but it will also fix problems that Windows might have, besides getting  improvements and maybe some additional features that are always welcome. This is why I would not recommend turning Windows Update off on your system.

Microsoft not only offers Windows updates but it also can supply you with other products updates that are non-Microsoft and also hardware drivers, but of course that the software vendor needs to register with Microsoft in other for you to get them through Microsoft Windows Update service. And don’t worry Microsoft Windows updates are Free!

I Hate Android: Why? – By A Hardcore Android Lover!

Like millions of people around the world, I am an Android fanboy. Recently I though about sharing some of my  aspects which I don’t like about Android.  Eventhough being Android has gotten better over the years but there are still many things I dont like about it. To put it bluntly, I hate Android, at least some of its features. I have used Linux for a few years since Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon and fell in love with the open source movement. Ive come to realize that all the hype about being open and portraying Apple and RIM as the evil closed platform was all a deception. . Theres a list(I love lists). Lets go through them. I hate some of the UI. Customization is nice but it allows for more things to break. These include themes and design. At first, the UI was cool and beautiful. I felt like I had a computer in my hands, literally. Icons were nice to touch and scrolling was smooth(at first). After using it for a while, I started to experience the pains of using the touch screen. Mistypes, and mistaps were frequent. The Android experience varied depending on manufacturer. All the different flavors of Android pushed by their respective hardware developers all look different. OneUI, TouchWiz, and MotoBlur are all different. OneUI is probably the best(IMO) out of all these. TouchWiz makes me feel like Im using an iPhone and MotoBlur is a mess with all their social networking widgets. These skins load on top of Android making it slower than its vanilla stock core. When I get my phone, I hate all the bloatware that comes with it. All carriers seem to do it. They push Vcast, SprintTV and other bloatware that I dont want. The Chinese manufacturers Xiaomi,Oppo,Vivo are the notorious ones feeding bloatware just to compnsate for the cheap price they offer in some countries. Not only that, but I hate that I cant delete them. I hate knowing that they are on my phone and the only way for me to get rid of them is by rooting my phone. Why do I have to jump through hoops just to get rid of this crapware? Im not scared of rooting my phone. In fact, Ive done so and install a few custom ROMs but there is always a risk of bricking your phone and leaving it useless. Average users dont want to risk the warranty by rooting their phone. Not only are there crapware on the phone, but there is/was malware on the Market. I hate Andoid memory management, being an old Symbian OS user.Symbian was the most efficient Mobile Os in memory management, followed by iOS. My old Nokia 808 Pureview had just 512MB RAM which was handling the Mammoth Camera, the 41MP beast with Xenon flash. I know that comparing a Symbian Phone with very limited apps and strict developer requirements with Android which has an ocean of apps and simpler developer standards is not fair. But are these crazy RAM of 12GB,16GB etc etc in many high end Android Phones really necessary? Or are they worth the performance they offer compared to iOs? Expanding from the 1st and the 3rd reasons, I hate Androids software fragmentation. I hate that Motorola’s flavor is different from Samsung’s. I hate that the buttons are different in all manufacturer, and even sometimes, within the same manufacturers. And I hate that I cant install certain apps because I my phone doesnt have the latest and greatest version of Android. Notoriously all my Samsung Phones from Galaxy S3 to Galaxy S9 Plus started showing sluggishness after 1 year of usage. The problem being whenever I update an app, the hardware is not able to cope with newest software. Android isВ recognized as the open platform and that unadulterated Android experience does not come standard. It only comes standard on Googles Nexus phones  and Selected flagship phones from other manufacturers. But most people dont own these flagship devices. Most people get their Droids from their carriers. Not only are these phones locked down with carrier bloatware but they are also locked down from performing specific tasks. People have gotten around this issue by a process called rooting. This grants the user superuser status allowing him to do anything he wishes with the phone. The Nexus phones are relatively easy to root but carrier phones are harder. Android phones are great if you want the phone to be your hobby, if you dont mind tinkering with the device, rooting it, or if youre just a techno buff.  

4 Reasons Why I Switched From Nvidia To Amd

I’ve always thought brand loyalty was a silly concept, especially in the technology sector. A product should be evaluated on its own merits, based on criteria relevant to its intended use. A graphics card, for example, is evaluated on factors such as performance, energy efficiency, range of functions, and price.

The company that manufactures the product should at most be included in the decision if it stands out for social commitment or environmentally friendly production, for example.

GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition

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Now, no one can claim that Nvidia makes bad graphics cards. On the contrary, the company has set many trends in recent years: G-Sync, ray tracing, DLSS, and Reflex, to name a few. Especially in the upper class, Team Green’s ferocious RTX 4090 has no rival. And yet, having recently found myself due for a PC upgrade, I opted for an AMD graphics card.

Although my GeForce RTX 2080 Ti has served me well for years, I recently replaced it with an RX 6950 XT from AMD. Here are my very personal reasons for doing so.

The pitfall of new technologies

In the past few years, Nvidia has introduced one new technology after another and ultimately (at least currently) won the duel against AMD. With ray tracing, Nvidia has set a graphics trend that will probably be with us for some time to come and in which Team Green is a pioneer. The DLSS upscaling technology is still ahead of the AMD and Intel alternatives.

However, it is becoming more and more of a trend that these innovations are not really backwards compatible—and that is a disaster from the consumer’s point of view. For example, said Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), whose latest version 3 including frame generation is only compatible with Nvidia’s current 40-series cards.

So if you bought a 20- or 30-series card in the past years, possibly for a lot of money given the graphics card prices of the last few years, you are now already looking down the tube.

There are of course technical reasons why these new technologies do not work on old cards. Nevertheless, as a consumer I don’t like the feeling when an expensive product is consigned to the antique department by the manufacturer after only a few years. Especially since there is another way, as AMD shows.

Even though Nvidia has good arguments on its side from a technical point of view, AMD has not been idle in recent years either—and is pursuing a completely different strategy. AMD makes its in-house technologies available to as many users as possible. One example of this is FreeSync, which, in contrast to G-Sync, works with a significantly larger selection of monitors that are often also cheaper than counterparts with G-Sync certification.

It becomes even clearer when comparing FSR against DLSS. While AMD’s technology is compatible even with competitor graphics cards from Nvidia and Intel, Nvidia not infrequently excludes GPUs from its own house when it comes to new functions. For example, DLSS only works when using an RTX GPU, older GTX models are left out in the cold, and DLSS 3 Frame Generation only works with the current RTX 40-series graphics cards. AMD relies on industry standards and open source solutions, while Nvidia implements proprietary solutions.

It felt like Nvidia was constantly bringing new features to the market without really addressing the needs of existing customers. Team Red may be a little behind in the latest high-tech features, but it relies on open source technologies and doesn’t have to hide at all in fundamental areas like rasterization performance and memory.

And even if ray tracing is now implemented in more and more games, without ray tracing you can play any game, but without rasterization you can’t play any game—apart from a few exceptions with path tracing.

AMD concentrates on the essentials

mentioned in this article

Radeon RX 7900 XTX

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While Nvidia, also as a result of the company’s shift towards AI technologies, is indeed a driver of innovation, AMD has increasingly concentrated on the essentials in recent years. A shining example is the built-in video memory, which is becoming increasingly important at higher resolutions and levels of detail.

Only recently, Nvidia has once again shown with the RTX 4060 that the company does not succeed in the balancing act between the use of new technologies and a solid basic configuration. A strong ray tracing performance and DLSS 3 are of little use if the 8GB video memory is no longer sufficient for modern games in full HD. Especially since both technologies further increase the memory requirements.

AMD is not immune to these errors either, as the Radeon RX 7600 with only 8 GB of RAM also shows, but it often has a better memory configuration, especially in the midrange and upper class. An illustrative example of this is the RX 7900 XTX, which not only has significantly more video memory, but is also cheaper than its Nvidia counterpart, the RTX 4080. And even in terms of pure rasterization performance, AMD cards are often on a par with or even ahead of Nvidia at the same price.

Better price-performance ratio

AMD Radeon RX 7600

If we leave the RTX 4090 aside for a moment (at a starting price of $1,600 it’s irrelevant for my eventual purchase decisions anyway), you will find an AMD equivalent for every Nvidia card that is on par in terms of memory equipment and rasterization performance. And in most cases, the AMD card will be the cheaper alternative.

Of course, if you value ray tracing and prefer DLSS to AMD’s alternative FSR, this question does not arise. Because in these areas Nvidia simply cannot be beaten at the moment, and it is precisely for this reason that the company can also be very creative in its pricing.

AMD, on the other hand, must and wants to convince with classic arguments, namely solid performance, accessible alternative technologies, and ample memory at an attractive price (at least compared to the competition). And if, like me, these points are ultimately decisive for you, then you should at least consider Team Red for your next PC upgrade.

AMD Software Adrenalin Edition vs. Nvidia GeForce Experience

But not only the hardware, but also the software should play a role in the purchase decision.

As a long-time user of an Nvidia graphics card, it is still incomprehensible to me why the manufacturer does not manage to combine all functions in one software program. If I want to change the monitor resolution or refresh rate, activate G-Sync or use Dynamic Super Resolution, I have to do this in the Nvidia control panel, which, by the way, still looks the same as it did 20 years ago.

With AMD, on the other hand, the AMD software Adrenalin Edition can be installed together with the driver. There is no need to log in and all functions can be found clearly in one application.

Editor’s note: This article was translated from German to English, and originally appeared on

Why I Have Such A Good Feeling About E3 2011

Why I Have Such A Good Feeling About E3 2011

Starting on Monday, the biggest gaming event of the year, E3, will kick off in Los Angeles. Each year, the event is home to major announcements, new games, and all kinds of gaming-related news that will have a direct impact on our lives in the coming months and years.[Image credit: Fabio Santana]

This year, as with previous years, rumors continue to crop up about what will and will not be announced at the event. And most gamers that enjoy playing titles on consoles, portables, and PCs, will be watching closely to see if those rumors come true.

Like those folks, I will paying quite a bit of attention to what happens at E3. I’m especially excited to hear more details on Sony’s upcoming portable, the NGP. I also want to hear about Nintendo’s next console. Combine that with more details on Mass Effect 3 and all the games that we don’t even know about yet, and it’s safe to say I’m quite excited about what might come out of the show.

Aside from excitement, I also have a good feeling about this year’s E3. Some years, all the hype surrounding the event is never realized, due to somewhat boring announcements and few titles that actually impress those in attendance. But this year will be different. I simply have no reason to believe that E3 2011 will be anything other than an impressive, exciting event.

And the main reason for that is Nintendo’s upcoming game console. Although details so far are slim, I think the console could catch on in a big way with both casual and hardcore gamers. After all, rumors suggest the device will boast the same motion connectivity casual gamers love, but feature the graphical prowess that hardcore gamers are after. It seems that Nintendo is finally ready to accept that the casual-game market, while profitable for a time, might not be as good for its operation as it originally thought.

But my high hopes for E3 go beyond Nintendo’s upcoming game console.

See, I enjoy playing games from time to time. But I’ve lost all interest in my PSP, and Nintendo’s portables have never really appealed to me. Games on the iPhone, while addicting for a while, tend to fall short over the long-term.

I think the NGP can solve that issue for me. As long as Sony can deliver on its promises and offer the device at a reasonable price, I’ll be happy. It won’t be like carrying the PlayStation 3 around with me, like rumors suggested following the NGP’s announcement, but it will be close. And that alone gets me excited.

So, perhaps I’m hardware-obsessed, but I think the NGP and Nintendo’s next console will steal the show at E3. And with the help of so many compelling games sure to be shown off and announced at the event, I see no possibility of the show being a disappointment.

SlashGear is at E3 2011 this coming week – stand by for all the news from the biggest gaming show on the calendar!

How To Use Tech In Gift Giving

1. Creating a List

During the holidays, one of the most difficult activities to get out of the way is gift giving. The process is a mix of a guessing game with who should get what, along with a search high and low for the gift, only to guess what their reaction may be in the end. However, technology today has made it a lot easier for the gift giving process to go a bit smoother. Today, we will take a look at how it can assist you in creating a gift giving list, finding the best gift, and paying the least amount possible.

The first line of business for most gift givers is creating the shopping list that you will go by from now until you are finished with holiday shopping. For some people, they are able to get their shopping done by Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, while others wait until the day before the holiday to check everything off the list.

One recommended application for creating the holiday shopping list is Evernote. This application is available on iOS, Blackberry, Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux. This means that almost wherever you are, Evernote follows. This is key in allowing you to work on your list even when away from home. Plus, the collaborative features of Evernote make it easy to create group lists. This means that if you have a list for the children, you and your spouse can accomplish tasks together.

A couple of Evernote drawbacks include the pricing. While it’s free, you do have a small free storage allowance, however more storage is as low as $4.99 a month. Alternatives include: Notes app on iOS, Remember the Milk

2. Getting the Best Deals

On your phone, RetailMeNot‘s coupon application allows you to take the popular coupon website’s deals to go with you on iPhone. You can set locations that you want to receive deals from and get alerts when they arrive. The community on RetailMeNot also is allowed to alert users of coupons, however voting allows you to filter the true deals from the tricks. You can also save and share some for later.

Some drawbacks to chúng tôi is that some deals aren’t as drastic as others you can find on other websites, due in part to the website’s focus as a whole. Secondly, RetailMeNot does offer a majority of valid coupons, however it can be a pain having to ensure the deal is truly going to work. Your best alternative would be Passbook for iOS if you have it on your iPhone, though you’ll have to add your own coupons.

3. Finding the Gift and Purchasing

There are a load of shopping options available on iOS. However, what’s important is finding the store that comes with the best benefits for shopping there. Amazon is a popular stop for holiday shoppers, also known as one of the most popular stops for Cyber Monday shopping. The Amazon Mobile application works wonders for accomplishing things on the holiday list while away from a computer.

But, sometimes it isn’t always smart to just go with the store that you always go to. A deal may be hiding in the middle of a store that you may have never been to before. Decide is a great application for situations like this. By scanning the items bar code, you are able to see whether or not you should purchase now or wait on it. You can also see the price of the competing stores. If you want to focus more on price comparisons, RedLaser or ShopSavvy may be great alternatives that are more focused.

Decide for iOS – Buy now or wait? This application helps you decide while also giving you deals and pricing to help.

Image credit: Gift by Big Stock Photo.

Ari Simon

Ari Simon has been a writer with Make Tech Easier since August 2011. Ari loves anything related to technology and social media. When Ari isn’t working, he enjoys traveling and trying out the latest tech gadget.

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