I have been putting off “the talk” with my students for so long. For three weeks now! But the time has come.
We need to talk.
How have I gone three weeks without talking about grades? Well, through a strategic methodology of giving students interesting work to do, vague handwaving about things like “participation” and “homework completion” and, of course, out and out delaying.
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll talk about that later.”
Well, later is finally here. The real reason I’ve been waiting is because I literally haven’t graded anything students have done until this week. They’ve been doing work in class and homework and I’ve been assessing what they know like crazy, but I have. not. graded. And why should I? They’ve been learning new things; they’ve been practicing. You don’t grade practice. You just don’t. I go around with a roster and check off who’s done the homework and make little check-marks when someone puts a warm-up problem on the board. I’ve even given them rubrics for them to self-assess their written work and their collaboration. But I haven’t graded diddly until their first quiz this Thursday/Friday.
Now that they have something graded in their hands [or rather, they will have something, on Monday] it actually makes sense to talk about grades. They can look at this quiz and it’s a concrete discussion: “I need to do this,” versus an abstract discussion: “If I do this, then I need to do that.”
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am using Active Grade, rather than my school’s online gradebook. Since I’m doing things differently, it behooves me to explain clearly to students just what I am doing and why. Oh yeah, and my Academic Dean is making me as part of the conditions of the deal. Not that I wasn’t planning on doing this anyways.
So, I have been working on articulating my grading policy for students (and parents) and the process has been really fruitful. Here’s my handout explaining my version of SBG. I’m pretty pleased with it.
And if some of the language in my handout seems really familiar, that’s because I lifted most of it from a couple of similar documents people sent me in an earlier call for assistance. However, I didn’t copy/paste citations when I stole your text, so I don’t remember whose is whose! Sorry.
If you recognize your work, let me know in the comments and I’ll update.