Monday, January 23, 2006

Myths about Grades

As I posted all my categories and began to grade, I got so scared that I had created mess! However, what I am finding is that because I have divided up their homework into skills, I have to have a very focused purpose to 1)why they are assigned what they are 2)what they need to learn, and 3)how I will assess if they know if or not. I see that instead of a compliance grade where if they did the homework, it looks nice, and have the necessary components, students received an A. Instead, I can look at each assignment assessing their learning---where are they with the essential learning?

For example, I want my freshmen to not only get a sense of the poetic devices used with Shakespeare, attempt to apply it in their own writing, I want them to demonstrate the knowledge of a particular term. I can give them critical feedback on such a skill. They can earn points for Responsibility (getting it in on time, having it typed, titled, etc.), but then can keep learning, as our district grading guru informed us. Students are really excited to show me that they know how to fix their mistakes. I then, am having them keep a writing/reading portfolio to not only store drafts and final drafts, but to transcribe my notes and suggestions into notes to themselves regarding the essential skills.

Hopefully, my grades will remain manageable and will push student to truly..."learn more" in order to get an "A" or a "B." It's not about making the hoop impossibly high, but allowing students to have springboards to reach the high bar. I know they will rise to the occasion. I am hoping that this grading approach will give all kinds of learners a taste of success and what it feels to be a student.


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