Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How Does Grading Work & Why I Accept Late Work

Here's the first thing you need to know about how to grade: do what works for you. Don't conform to another teacher's grading guidelines just because it works for them. Don't feel bad about forsaking advice. Don't feel bad if you have to try different things. Sometimes you are going to have to admit you're wrong, and that's okay. Making a mistake and correcting it is exactly what we want our kids to do - learning.

First things first, outline what assignments will make up the bulk of your class. I have six main parts to my gradebook, which, by rule, I have to keep on a website called Infinite Campus. My class is broken into Participation, Assessments, Homework, Writing, Literacy Notebook (the majority of our class) and Extra Credit. I don't like dealing with percentages, so each section is worth equal amounts. I make up the difference by making things worth a certain amount of points. Participation is a combination of behavior and daily assignments. Assessments is everything from projects to tests used to assess skills. Homework is obvious. Writing is where essay and paper grades go, as well as grades for the drafting process. The Literacy Notebook section is where the majority of my students' points come from. Every day my students complete reading responses and writing invitations that go into their Literacy Notebook, as well as any notes and grammar work. Since we use it every day, it makes sense for most of the points to come from there.

I believe in Extra Credit, so I have a place for it in my gradebook. I get paid extra if I go over and above what I'm supposed to do, at least when it comes to conferences and professional development. If I think of points like money, which I do, it makes sense for students to get bonuses for doing extra work that relates to class. Also, if a student can do extra work to prove that they've made up a skill they previously missed, it makes sense to make sure that their grade reflects that fact.

When it comes to actually grading, I try to get about a 48 hour turn around. I usually turn around much faster than that. Despite my normal speed, I've had kids get annoyed that I'm taking an entire two days to grade one hundred writing pieces. I keep track of grades on the electronic Infinite Campus and, after a scare when our grades all disappeared for a few days, on paper as well.

Even though I like to get things back to students in a timely fashion, sometimes students fail to get assignments to me on time. I'm going to say something that not every teacher in my school can say. I accept late work. I didn't use to. In fact, there was a part in my syllabus that had the sentence "There is no such thing as late work." However, the freshman counselor helped me see the light. See, sometimes teachers have to turn things in. I won't lie, we don't always get it in on time. We aren't fired or written up when we turn one thing in late. Even turning in multiple things late in a habitual manner won't earn you a pink slip. So I accept late work. There are consequences for turning late work in, but I will still always take it.

When making your own gradebook, or asking a teacher about her gradebook, it's important to remember that everyone is different. Every teacher should keep her students' best interests at heart when making her gradebook and realize the changes they may need to make to use grades to help her students the best.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting take on extra credit. I barely offer EC options because I believe that if you do what is asked of you in the first place, you really shouldn't need it. But, I like your thought process. Also a great point about late work and how teachers are often delinquent in turning in forms, grades, etc. Good food for thought!

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