Grading 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.
- 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.
- It must communicate how students will achieve these goals. A rubric is a start to how students can visualize how to achieve their goals.
- Feedback from teachers and peers must be clear, concrete and something the student can control or change.
- 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.