Friday, October 4, 2013

"What's my grade in here?!"

Report card time is quickly approaching and teachers are preparing to make comments and tally up points/ scores for demonstrating their students' achievement.  I don't personally care for grading my students; the measuring scale is too rigid and punitive for my teaching taste.  Back during my regular classroom days at the high school level, I created a grading/scoring guide that assigned each A B C D F  letter grade a word (that had the same beginning letter and meaning as the grade itself).  I then personified the word by assigning it human-like characteristics and qualities which clearly and vividly described the holistic performance of an A B C D or F student.   By using colorful figurative language to "show" students the expectations for earning a particular grade, rather than using only cold and calculating numbers, my students knew exactly what to expect.   They could simply measure their own performance by choosing which A B C D or F descriptive category best matched their quarterly performance.

This approach prevented me from having to grade every single work assignment for the purpose of averaging grades, and it afforded me the opportunity to give students credit for making incremental improvements in their learning, while assessing their class attitude, involvement, attendance and citizenship at the same time.  The grading strategy also prevented me from punishing students who neglected to achieve learning objectives before some systematic standardized cut-off time, but who clearly gave it their BEST.  This approach served as a win-win; for, as a Communication Arts teacher, I assigned a plethora of challenging work, but not always for a grade to be averaged.  I preferred to create work for the purpose of motivating, challenging, engaging, and THINKING!

Of course, there are students who loved it and those that hated it...can't expect to please or win them all.  I am, however, grateful for this particular group of 2003 Cleveland High School seniors who appreciated and remembered enough to describe and elect my class as the Best English Class!

So ask yourself:  Am I rewarding my students' book answers or brainy questions?

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