Kasper Helping Dad Grade QuizzesGrading is hard.  I think is especially true of the humanities classrooms because there are so many things you can grade.  If a student writes an essay on the rise of River Valley civilizations do I give a B for their understanding of the factors and outcomes of the Neolithic Era, or a C for their ability to write a four paragraph essay?  So much grading, so little time.

Grades, whether their letters or numbers do not contribute to students learning.  Grades only communicate a students’ ranking in the class.  There is no value in ranking students.  Does the boss at the job come out and dole out rankings of the employees on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis? Nobody wants that job. In fact the one large company, Microsoft, that did this went from dominating the P.C. business to becoming the a shadow of its former self. Microsoft eventually dropped the ranking system.

So I am interested in creating a grading system that has a few features.

  1. It must communicate the goals and standards for the student and class up front.  Language must be clear and students must be able to internalize the goal for themselves.
  2. It must communicate how students will achieve these goals.  A rubric is a start to how students can visualize how to achieve their goals.
  3. Feedback from teachers and peers must be clear, concrete and something the student can control or change.
  4. Students must be given time to reflect on their work and goals. This is also a time to celebrate their accomplishments.

As I develop this grading system, I will share aspects processes that I will use in the classroom this Fall. I want to be reflective of they grading system just as I want the students to become reflective of their work.