- Good News for my Students - My realization that students should not be held accountable for what they learn or what proficiency they achieve, but rather their behaviors that lead to learning.
- Trust - Some thoughts on my philosophy of SLA assessment
- Structure of my Class - See this post to get a better idea of the activities we do and how I organize instruction and assessment.
As I reflect on all that I've learned during our first trimester, I find myself compelled, yet again, to change the grading system. I was using an Interpersonal Mode rubric adapted from Ben Slavic which fit the needs of co-creating with the class (One Word Images, Ask A Story, Etc.) very well. However, with my recent transition to primarily Story Listening, the Interpersonal Mode rubric no longer fits the behaviors I expect of my students since they now have new roles for engagement. Moreover, there are things missing from that rubric that I want students to be doing, especially since so much of our class time is now spent reading.
The bottom line is that grades should be meaningful, and what I was doing no longer fits what I wish to communicate to parents and students. So, something has got to change.
What would be meaningful and fair to communicate?
Before I even begin to think about setting up my gradebook, assigning tasks, and grading them, I must be able to answer this question. The meaningful part concerns what I need to communicate to parents. How should they interpret the grades that their students receive? The fair part of this question concerns what students can control - and, as I've explained in the two posts linked at the beginning of this post, I do not view assessing what students can do in the language (i.e. proficiency or tasks) as fair and I have to honor that when assigning their grades (soap box moment: whether or not I agree with it, these grades do influence their quality of life based on how they and their parents feel about them! Not to mention that high school grades will affect college acceptances and scholarships. For those reasons, I take assigning them very, very seriously).
For my class, I've determined that Student Behaviors (Citizenship) and Completion of Assignments (Classwork/Assignments) are fair and meaningful to communicate:. To be honest, completion of assignments can be categorized under student behaviors, but there is some sort of satisfaction when students see a direct connection between the tasks the complete in class and what shows up in the gradebook. However, in honoring what is fair to assess, these daily tasks are formative assessments of my instruction and students receive an automatic 100% just for completing them. It feels great to them to get these regular 100% grades in the grade book, and it ensures that students can communicate openly with me about how well I am reaching them while only being graded on what they can control.
How does this look in the gradebook?
Although it may be somewhat arbitrary, I decided to give each of the categories (Classwork/Assignments and Citizenship) equal weight in the gradebook. The categories are broad enough that I can include everything we do. I've always preferred to use weights as I feel they give me more accurate control over my gradebook, but that is just a personal preference.
- Classwork/Assignments (50%): These are the grades assigned for individual tasks completed. These include the Listening Reflection Sheets that we do after auditory input as well as any summaries or responses to what students have read, which are all graded on completion only and used for my own feedback on instruction and activities to inform future decisions. It's also flexible enough to inlude any other assignments students have, such as projects or the syllabus signature, etc.
- Citizenship (50%): These grades are based on student self-evaluation of their behaviors in class which facilitate (or inhibit) language acquisition. This is the category that students are held accountable for and communicate my expectations for them. I created a new self-reflection sheet that better communicates my expectations and allows students to accurately reflect on how well they met these expectations (The first page is for when students are still doing structured reading as a class; the second page is for when students progress to Free Reading, although it still accounts for students who choose to work with me in a small group). This reflection sheet is more complete and will take more time than my previous reflection sheets, so I plan to use it about once every other week (keeping in mind that I see my kids every other day - If I saw them daily, I'd probably have them complete this every week). However, I plan to display a poster of the rubric so that students can be reminded of my expectations throughout the week. I plan to allow students assign "in between" scores (1 and 3) if they feel that best represents their behavior. I also like having the points out of 50 because it makes it easy for students to know "what they got" by doubling the score. Of course, that's just personal preference.
Because this approach is likely unfamiliar to parents and students, I plan to send a letter explaining how students are graded and how to interpret those grades. I also plan to review their proficiency assessments in their notebooks and touch base with the parents of students who are struggling in their proficiency so that they have a complete picture of their students' performance and how they can support them, while still maintaining fairness in the grade book. Once I write that email, I will link to it here.