Saturday, October 13, 2018

What goes in the gradebook....

I have seen a lot of questions about setting up a gradebook lately on social media.  So, here's my response.

First, I have some flexibility in how I set up my gradebook.  Most teachers at my middle school use categories like Tests, assignments, projects, and citizenship.  All teachers have a citizenship category, but we have flexibility to define it.

After working with a great administrator for a couple of years, our language department moved to the following: Assessments: reading and listening, Assessments: Speaking and writing, Language Participation, and citizenship.  We all have different weights depending on the level and grade for each category, but we pretty much agree on what the categories mean.  This is as close to proficiency based grades as we can get within the system that we have at our school.  It is not perfect, but it is a good compromise, and student grades now tend to reflect their language abilities at their level.

Language Participation 
First, it's important to know that we define participation as engagement- NOT as speaking. Students can get 100% in this category and never produce an original, spoken sentence.  They are, however, expected to respond to questions, respond chorally, and be engaged.  "Work" also goes in this category, which in Spanish mostly means whatever they do in their Interactive-ish notebook.  Any (rare)  homework assigned and anything that is not an assessment goes here too.  Truth be told, there aren't too many assignments in this category outside of the interactive-ish notebook and our weekly daily engagement grade.  For more information about how I assess their interactive-ish notebooks, check this out. 

What we actually expect from the kids in class is this: listening to understand, one person speaking at a time, signaling when the teacher is not clear, doing their 50%- defined as responding enthusiastically and all the time (chorally, or to individual questions at their level), getting as much comprehensible input as they can, and supporting the flow of class and language.  We modify this based on individual students (i.e. eye contact is tricky for some students, etc.).  We use a slightly modified version of this rubric.   (Click here for my version)  We call it daily engagement.

Adapted from MagisterP 

Depending on the age/grade/level, students self assess daily or weekly, write down their score, and at the end of the week, come up with an average.  (I tell them to eyeball average it.  And that a .5 is fine.)  Then, the teacher goes through those scores, agrees or disagrees as appropriate, and puts them in the gradebook.  Weekly engagement grade complete.    Our version has 8 weeks on one double sided page, so it is easy to keep track of and we don't use a ton of paper.

This is a required category, so we decided that it has to do with two things: being prepared for class with their notebook and something to write with, and getting tests and quizzes signed by parents. (Another school expectation).   To keep it simple, we start by giving kids 100 points per trimester.  As they forget something, they sign a Citizenship log, and we periodically go through the log and deduct points from their 100.

Assessments: Reading and listening
This is what my gradebook looks like- or at least a few things!  
We use the reading and listening assessments included in the unit plans for SOMOS in Spanish 1, 1A, 1B, and 2.  We tend to give some kind of interpretive quiz for each unit, sometimes more than one. For my units that don't have included reading assessments, I have started using a text from the unit (or one that I write) and one of these forms to grade it.  For more info about how I grade these, see this post.  

Assessments: Writing and Speaking
The title of this category is a bit of a misnomer as well as we only assess speaking once, during their 8th grade year.  (They are novices! They need input, not "practice speaking" or presentations. But it looks good.)  

Most of the SOMOS units include writing assessments; for the ones that don't, either we do a timed freewrite or a focused freewrite based on the target structures or content of the unit.
For more information about how I actually grade these, see this post.  In 7th and 8th grade (Spanish 1, 1A, 1B, and 2- we have honors classes) we also do timed freewrites weekly, and grade them about every 4-5 weeks per class.

The weight of each category changes depending on the level of class.
Span 1A (7th grade):   Writing/speaking: 20%, Listening/reading: 40%, Language Participation: 25%, Citizenship, 15%
Span 1B (8th grade):  Writing/speaking: 30%, Listening/reading: 45%, Language Participation: 15%, Citizenship, 10%
Span 1 (7th grade honors): Writing/speaking: 25%,  Listening/reading: 50%, Language Participation: 15%, Citizenship, 10%
Span 2 (8th grade honors): Writing/speaking: 40%,  Listening/reading: 35%, Language Participation: 15%, Citizenship, 10%

Note that the highest class level has more weight on what they can actually do.  This is an experiment for me this year- previously it has been more in line with the other classes, but I feel like I want their grades to reflect what they can actually produce at that level (but only that level!). 

Quick update: I will be teaching a whole TeacherLab Series on assessment and grading in February 2021. Click on our page for more information! 

February  2021


  1. Thank you so much for all the information.

  2. Looking at your rubric, is it missing some decimals? It jumps from 7.5 to 65 for a D...

  3. That looks like a typo- if you are using points, 7.5 and 6.5; if you are using percentages, 75% and 65% are what I would use.

  4. Do you use this for upper levels?

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