(continued from yesterday)
I really started to question what grading means and how grading should be conducted in my classroom. Here is where I am now:
1. Not everything turned in must be graded. Sometimes I just check to see where the trouble spots are by taking quick notes on a pad after reading through student work. Student work is not done for points, but for learning. This is something I pound into the kids’ heads from day one.
2. Standards-based rubrics are used with every writing assignment. Each rubric I use is based on the Six Traits of Writing, and the categories are consistent with every writing I assign. The students should be familiar with the rubric before beginning an assignment and should know their grades when they turn in the assignment. All they have to do is to check the rubric to know their score before I even see it.
3. I use categories in every class I teach. For example in one class, I have 20% of the overall grade as tests and quizzes, 20% for literary analyses, 20% for assorted classwork and homework, 15% for vocabulary, 10% for mastery tests, and 15% for the final. This means no one assignment or skill set in a class dooms a student. However, students must be well-rounded to receive the top scores.
4. Students must, orally or in writing, explain why they receive the grades they get. This way they have to understand what they did, how they can improve, and how they got to the grade they received (metacognition–don’t you love Marzano?).
5. Students can and will redo assignments in which they receive low scores. Just because it takes one student longer than another does not mean his/her grade should suffer.
6. Writings may be graded for very specific items (say, only organizational structure or just content or simply voice, etc.) without grading the rest. This way a focus is created instead of grading what has not been taught in my classroom.
7. Students will grade as much as possible–yes, their own writing as well. I hand out colored pencils, and we make corrections and suggestions as we go. I grade (sometimes check off) these based on how well they participate and go through the processes.
8. The processes are as important as the final product. Since these are fledgling learners just beginning the complexities of writing, they must first learn processes before being held completely accountable for final products. Eventually the final product is the vast majority of a score, but only after I have fully prepared them.
9. I write down at least one positive comment for every critical suggestion. Praise must be given. No product is unworthy of any affirmation.
10. Accommodations are no problem.
11. Eventually, students must be able to show a skill independently. Without independence, the skill is not learned (ingrained?).
12. Not completing an assignment is a zero until completed. However, students must complete the assignment within a week of the due date to receive credit. There are some exceptions to this, but I determine these on a student by student basis. I don’t like the zero grades, but I don’t have an adequate solution as of yet. I may give partial credit if a student can explain the desired learning, proving he/she knows the skill or information–haven’t decided this one yet.
I have considered an academic citizenship or work ethic grade instead of zero scores for missing work, but I have not figured out what I would want this to look like.
This is how I go about things in my classes. There are more pieces of grading minutiae, but these are the basics.
How badly am I doing?