Saturday, August 25, 2007

DrPezz's Grading 101

I posted on a blog by Tense Teacher about some of my ideas on grading. When I first started teaching I put 20-30 minutes into each paper I read. I had positive comments, suggestions for stronger arguments, possible examples to consider using, grammatical and syntactical errors noted, sentences restructured, and word usage problems labeled. I did a great job!

My host teacher looked at me and said, "Who are those comments for?"

This stunned me. "They're for the kids, of course" was my reply.

"No, they're not."

I didn't get it. I furrowed my brow and must've looked lost because he continued with "you wrote those comments as if you were rewriting their papers. If they do what you just told them, the papers will be yours and not theirs."

I thought about that for quite a while, not really knowing what to do differently. The education gurus in college don't tell you how to do these things. Maybe a post for another day is what the education departments at universities don't teach, but today grading is my focus.

So...the first question I focused on was: what purpose is served by how I grade student work?

I can't say I formed a perfect answer, but this did lead me to decide how I wish to grade my students, why I grade the work, and what should be graded.

To be continued...


Mrs. Chili said...

I am EAGERLY awaiting the next installment of this. I've managed to rein in my comments on student papers, but I'm no where near grading Nirvana yet. Since I'm one of those few lucky souls who CAN learn from observing others (ooh! She touched that stove and got burnt! I'm not going to try that!), I'm excitedly awaiting a new learning opportunity...

Repairman said...

DrP, You teach, in my opinion, the most difficult to teach subject out there.

First off, it's a skill that undergirds the content curriculum, and second (there's more, without a doubt, but I stop here), it's complex.

Sad facts: few students read the comments, fewer still understand what to do in the future based on the comments, and the fewest, the rarest of the rare, actually succeed in putting your comments to work for them.

I'm not an LA teacher (although my Dad was), and my opinion is therefore just that, an opinion.

That said, I'm thinking that if you have clearly defined goals for each writing assignment and a charted rubric that reflect those goals, individual critical comments become unnecessary. (However, positive and encouraging comments are always a good thing!)

At least you and your students will know where the chips have fallen.

What do you think?

DrPezz said...

I absolutely agree, and my follow up post tomorrow about grading will include what I have found effective (for me--it's no magic bullet).