Thursday, May 21, 2009

Grades - Sigh!

I was asked to explain my grading system for my notebooks and I hate to say that I have not really perfected that one yet.

When I was teaching sixth grade to over 80 students last year the grading was OVERWHELMING. I would stay late on Friday (seriously I couldn't have found a better day?) to grade students work for the week. It would turn into a grading party with some of the the other teachers in my POD doing the same thing. My team leader seemed to have a much better way of handling grading. I've asked her to explain it in her blog (link to the right under blogs I am following - Social Studies).

Here is what I do now. Normally the notebooks are weighted at about 30% of the students grade (here is my plug for a free online grading book that I love. You can access it from home, run off reports, and give parents access to it). I walk around the classroom during the independent part of the lesson and give students grades on a clipboard spread sheet I have going. Now I only have 44 students that I am dealing with so it is much more manageable then last year. If the assignment is heavily guided (meaning they are just copying information off the board) I will give them a done/not done check. Most students get a done check but there are several students who just won't do the work. I collect several done/not dones and give them a cumulative grade (lets say 10 total). If the work is fairly independent I can quickly scan to see if they have met the requirements and give them a check, check minus, or check plus in their book and on my spreadsheet. That gives me some "wiggle" room if needed without putting a hard and fast grade in their book. The students know the basic grade ranges for the checks. The spread sheet allows me to quickly scan down and see who I might need to focus on in class or conference with. It also ensures that I am circulating around the classroom and seeing everyone. If I don't see everyone I have them stack their books open on the desk and at the end of the day I will quickly go through them.

Is this a perfect system? Probably not... but grading is something I struggle with (mostly the time consuming aspect of it). Don't even ask me about grading 44 writing papers. I've gotten better but whew talk about some long weekends. My hats are off to all the high school English teachers out there...don't know how you do it :)


Laura said...

Hi Eve,
Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your notebooking ideas! I'm planning on using them in Science & SS this year. One question.... When you check for teacher guided work being "done" or "not done" do you write that in their notebook or use some sort of code? Also, what's your grade range for check/check minus/check plus on more independent assignments?

4th in Greenville, SC

Eve Heaton said...

Excited to hear that you are using them in social studies. I wish I taught social studies and science (that would be my dream pairing). I have ELA this year (first year teaching it so I am a bit nervous). The social studies teacher on my team is also going to be notebooking and I hope to convince her to take pictures and post lessons. Her teacher version she has been working on this summer looks really good.

In answer to your question, I use a spreadsheet with student names on it that I created in Excel (landscape not portrait) with blank columns going across. At the top I will write assignment/date/notebook page number (or anything that will help me remember what the assignment is) and as I circulate I'll make a notation on the spreadsheet. If I have time I will mark it in their book. If it is a check minus or below I will ALWAYS write a more specific comment on the top of their notebook page, i.e. "Refused to do work as directed", "Spent time period talking to friends," "Excessive teacher intervention to get work done." That way when I have to meet with parents the comment is there and it is more visual for the student. I keep the spreadsheets on file in case anyone needs to see grading documentation. I have the exact check system on my school computer and will post once I can get into the classroom. I received the check list from one of the fifth grade teachers at our school who uses it religiously. Generally a check plus is in the "A" range, a check is in the "B" range, a check minus is in the "C" range and a straight minus is unacceptable.

Hope that helps. If you have any other questions, please let me know.