Fruits of Labor

Grades are due on Tuesday and so for only the second time this school year, I’m assigning letter grades to my students’ work.  Letter grades are easier this time mostly because of the narrative I have been adding to throughout the quarter. I didn’t use the narrative that effectively in the first quarter, but basically it’s a summary of my comments on the assignment and gives me a good snapshot of strengths and weaknesses over the span of the quarter. During this quarter, I wrote these comments with the idea in mind that the students would see them – so they were a little edited by me.  “Did not get this at all!” in quarter 1 became “Seems not to understand Lesson 8 vocabulary” in quarter 2.

I have shared these with the students twice over the course of this quarter and am thinking of sharing it continually as a google doc.  I wonder how that would work.  As Maria says in The Sound of Music, “I’ll have to think about that one.” (How great it would be if I could insert the video clip of Julie Andrews saying that! I might have to waste some time on that tonight.)

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So for all the major assignments, the high- and low-lights of the student’s work are written in black and white.  And it’s amazing the patterns that emerge – “not enough examples” or “unclear arguments” or “details incorrect.”  These patterns have made adding a comment to the report card (something we typically don’t do at the end of quarters 2 and 4) very easy.

Here is an example of my narrative for one student:

Test 1 – Content mastered, writing of SEE is non-existant. No examples. For both SEE question and for the citizenship questions, he mis-read the directions. Memorization of map perfect, citizenship [information} incomplete because of mis-reading.        

SEE paragraph first draft – Well done, but no examples.                                                                                                

Thematic Map – Two maps. Clear, easy to read, information accessible. One title is a little confusing – should be Military Expenditure as a percentage of GDP, I think. Both missing compass roses and East-West gridlines. Bibliography looks great.

SEE paragraph final draft – Well done. Topic sentence needs to refer to the three topics of the SEEs – it refers to three topics but they don’t match the three SEEs. Also good examples, but they all come from Salva’s story.                                          

Test 2 – Content is accurate and mostly complete. About half the answers are lacking in examples.

For his comment, I wrote:

________has a strong grasp of all the material we have covered, and is always a pleasure to have in class.  In his written work, however, he needs to provide examples to back up his statements.

I think it’ll be good for the students and parents to have something to think about in addition to the letter grade.  By the way, this kid’s grade is an B+.

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