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EMAC79's Photo EMAC79 SparkPoints: (0)
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7/16/11 12:48 A

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As an English teacher, my grading was long and tedious. All of that writing was bogging me down. Then, I was introduced to AFL ( Assessment for Learning). It involves a little set up work, but in the end it is FANTASTIC!!!!! Basically, I set a target I want them to learn, I teach a skill, the kids practice the skill, I formatively assess if they can do the skill, I reteach those that don't know the skill, I summatively assess the skill. It sounds like a lot more grading, but formative assessments can be as small as thumbs up or thumbs down, 3-2-1 exit cards, take 5 quizzes. The only grade that goes in the grade book is the summative assessments.

This is a great system. When a parent comes to P/T conferences, I can say, "Your child knows 80% of what I have taught" and I know that is a true statement because the grade is not watered down with participation points or random homework grades.

My whole district is moving to this grading system over the course of the next few years. Each year they send 25 or so teachers to a conference to learn the skill. Those teachers teach other teachers and it spreads (like a spark)!

There is a ton of info online about this. It is not for everyone, but it has made my English workload much more manageable. (and my two best teacher buddies teach math and science and they love it too...)

Edited by: EMAC79 at: 7/16/2011 (00:49)
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JAEMOM's Photo JAEMOM Posts: 217
7/13/11 1:42 P

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I teach 4 sections middle school math, 1 section high school math, and one middle school social studies. My easiest class by far is social studies. I do a lot of projects and group work and makes grading much easier. However in my Math classes I grade everything by hand and by myself. I check to make sure that they have the correct procedures in math because if a majority doesn't I go back and reteach. I feel it is my job to make sure they know the process and if they don't then I need to fix it. I try not to grade at home if all possible because it takes away from my family.

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REDHEADMOM2U's Photo REDHEADMOM2U SparkPoints: (169,204)
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7/13/11 1:30 P

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Wow, Groundtre, that is rough!

Have you ever had the kids develop the grading scale with you? I bet fourth graders would like it, and by "owning" it, they might understand it better?

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GROUNDTRE's Photo GROUNDTRE SparkPoints: (0)
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7/12/11 10:39 P

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Grading is definitely a challenge for me. No matter what I do, I don't feel the grade my gradebook shows is the grade I feel the child earned. I teach 2nd - 4th grade self-contained kids that have emotional disabilities. I have a hard time because each kid does different things based on their level, grade and how their day is going.
One of my second graders had a total meltdown because I told him he needed to take his spelling pretest. I tried to explain that he would just get points for the words he spelled correctly, the words he missed wouldn't count until he took the regular test. After some yelling, book throwing and temper tantrums, I finally realized that he thought I meant behavior points! I can't seem to get them to understand the correlation of grades to their classwork. Or, I did have a student who did understand, so he wouldn't put forth any effort on anything because he was afraid he would pass and have to go to fifth grade. He was afraid of transitioning out of my classroom!
I am hoping I will do better this year. Last year it didn't help when I had a child flip over all of the tables and knock everything off of the shelves in the room. It happened in October and even now as I continue to sort through the piles of things I brought home to organize over the summer I am finding papers that got mixed up in the mess!
Not much help, but I do like reading all of your thoughts and ideas!

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REDHEADMOM2U's Photo REDHEADMOM2U SparkPoints: (169,204)
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7/8/11 10:19 A

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Some grades are just checks, others are only looking at certain problems. I hate trade and grade but will do it for short quizzes so all I have to do is record.

I try to alternate between project, essay, and test at unit end as well. Sometimes I will collect several assignments at once in a packet...seems faster.

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TEXASLYNN's Photo TEXASLYNN Posts: 3,841
7/6/11 5:38 P

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Our district requires us to give homework but doesn't let us assign a grade. Brilliant, huh? That's why I came up with the participation grade - obviously if Junior hasn't done his homework, he won't be able to participate effectively. I like rubrics too and use them a lot, especially on student journals.

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RWALTON730's Photo RWALTON730 Posts: 1,078
7/6/11 11:35 A

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I taught kindergarten 19 years, but for the past 5 years I have been teaching 6th grade LA and social studies.

I agree with what someone else said, everything doesn't have to be for a grade in the grade book. Sometimes I would let students grade their own homework/practice assignments so they could discover their own mistakes. Other times for practice I would have them work as partners or in small groups and then share with the class. The class would give feedback.

I also like to use rubrics. I always graded for spelling, grammar, and capitalization, but most assignments targeted one or two skills that I felt students needed to practice. By the year's end, I was grading for all skills that had been covered throughout the year.

Projects are great! I assign individual as well as group projects in social studies and language arts. I like to give students choice in the kind of project they do. I have anywhere from 3 - 9 to choose from, but they all require that students show understanding of the topic. I found that by giving them choice on what they are doing, they do a much better job.

I give them choice when it comes to writing as well. I assign the kind of paper they are to write, but they get to choose their own topic. When it's something that is of interest to them, they do much better.

At the 6th grade level most of my papers were typed which made it a little easier to grade. I did have them hand write a few though, because they have to write the written portion of the state tests and they need much practice when it comes to handwriting for others to read!

For a grading scale, I gave 20% for homework and classwork, 30% for projects and papers, and 50% for assessments.

Next fall I am going back to kindergarten. I have to admit I won't miss grading 3-5 page papers.

Rhonda

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TEACHERWANDA's Photo TEACHERWANDA Posts: 543
7/6/11 10:08 A

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Peer pressure works well on getting kids to change bad habits. Assign the problem writers to be the scribe for the group work, making sure you are clear about your expectations for spelling and handwriting, include that in the points and/or check list the cooperative teams get. After a couple of times you'll have the other kids doing your job for you.

As long as you are trying your very best, there is no question of failure.
Mahatma Gandhi


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TEXASLYNN's Photo TEXASLYNN Posts: 3,841
7/5/11 3:41 P

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Whoops-that's supposed to be 10-10-40-40.

I like your group checklist and it will work for me as I'm seating my kids in groups of three this year.

A big problem I see is kids with no work ethic. I harped on three kids last year, all year for handwriting, a boy would made all letters the same size and used the capital form for half of them, a boy who insisted on using txtng instead of spelling his words, and a girl who refused to indent paragraphs. This may seem funny and/or over-reacting but 4th grade is tested on writing in Texas as part of state assessments. And if they are this messy in elementary school, they won't get better in higher grades.

Grading is only one way to get them on track but I want grades to be meaningful, otherwise why waste the time?

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TEACHERWANDA's Photo TEACHERWANDA Posts: 543
7/5/11 9:35 A

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That's a 110%?

I'm a high school teacher, I split the grade based on half daily activities and half on unit tests and semester exams. I used to teach middle school and I would give participation grades to cooperative learning groups each day. I used a check list and rated the group as a whole. Toward the end of the period I just left the check list on their table to give them immediate feedback on their performance.

What ever you do, it is critical to have a method so students know how well they are doing.

As long as you are trying your very best, there is no question of failure.
Mahatma Gandhi


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TEXASLYNN's Photo TEXASLYNN Posts: 3,841
7/4/11 5:28 P

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This topic went away too soon and I would really like to see some elementary school teachers respond, particularly if you are self-contained. I don't think I spend an inordinate amount of time grading but I don't really like my grades because they aren't reflective enough of what goes on in class. I'm considering the following scale for 2011-12: 10% participation, 10% neatness/handwriting, 40% daily work, 50% tests for six weeks grades. I'd appreciatre your comments.

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GNUATTITUDE's Photo GNUATTITUDE SparkPoints: (0)
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5/21/11 7:27 P

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I've learned a lot about grading over the 30+ years I've spent teaching middle school language arts. Since I have no aid and no student assistant, I have to do it all myself, which can get overwhelming if I let it. Here are my tips.

1. Every assignment does not need to be graded for every skill. I've become much better at using rubrics and letting students know what I'll be looking for in any given assignment.

2. Some assignments are just for practice. Every assignment doesn't need to be recorded in the grade book. I will often have students check their own papers and sometimes give a few points for completing the task on time.

3. Oral presentations and group projects can cut down on the number of written assignments to grade, but one must be careful to spell out what each student must demonstrate in order to earn his/her points.

4. Teach students how to evaluate their own progress. I've discovered most students will be remarkably honest if I ask the right questions. I also have students go to the board to do problems and check one another.

5. My home is my sanctuary. I try very hard not to bring papers home to grade. I use every minute of my planning time, come in early or stay a little late if necessary.

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DIANITAH's Photo DIANITAH SparkPoints: (77,128)
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5/21/11 10:10 A

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Now off to school to grade! Another tip. I try to not grade "heavy" stuff at home. I am less distracted at school, a coffee shop, or a go to a local university and hide in their library or union.

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Diane

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DIANITAH's Photo DIANITAH SparkPoints: (77,128)
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5/21/11 10:08 A

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I'm sure we have varying levels experience here on the board. I think dealing with grading is probably one of the biggest challenges we all face. This directly impacts my stress level and the way I eat and exercise so what have you found works for you?

I am a (sixteen year) Spanish teacher with six sections per day, three different preps. I keep a folder for each hour. Obviously gradingby level is fastest. For example, do all Spanish III papers together.

Also grade by section on tests/quizzes, especially with translations or short answers. Then I am sure I am consistent in awarding/taking away points. When I was a new teacher I'd grade all of one test then do all of another. Took forever! Now I'll do all of section I together. If multiple classes have a quiz/test, I grade the previous hour's while the next group takes it. I've become a master at grading on a clipboard while moving around a room.

Student Monitors (assistants) have changed my life. Our school also encourages this. I find a kid in study hall during my prep hour who comes in every day who helps me with basic grading. Usually a student is in Spanish III or an advanced student who excels is available. They can grade the "easy sections" on tests (fill in the blank, multiple choice, matching), check through homework. They also help me run errands, help with bulletin boards. The kids love it, being part of your confidence, and having responsibility. It's a great addition to their college applications and makes great things for me to talk about on the college recs. FYI, I strictly monitor their work at the beginning then spot check as the year progresses. I talk to them about ethics...grading fairly, not talking to others about kids' grades.

I don't grade when I'm angry or tired (if I can help it). I find that it's better for me to get a good night's sleep, start refreshed early the next morning. I'm usually more efficient too.

I carefully schedule when major projects and essays are due. I always have these things due mid-quarter giving plenty of time to grade in batches over a few weeks. I watch some colleagues grading major papers the few days before exams and they nearly go out of their mind. This isn't always possible but I really try on this one.

I grade the largest classes first. I start with my bigger classes of 34, 36...then I have one blissful class of 23 so when I get to that pile, I know that I'm almost there. With essays/projects that take more brain power, I often grade "in order," the weaker students to the stronger students. I don't like to "stereotype" kids but generally there a few really weak and a few super strong papers and the rest tend to fall in the middle. I like to do the weaker kids first to be freshest, and least picky lol. I save those off the charts good kids for a "treat" at the end.

When I recently talked to my student teacher about these ideas, he said it was a revelation to him. I learned many of these ideas from colleagues. What are your best tips?

Diane

"So shines a good deed in a weary world."

-Willie Wonka


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