Monday, October 19, 2015

Assessing and Grading Notebooks

Last year, I tried so many ways to grade these *#*$@-ing notebooks and it almost killed me.  My original idea, and what I told the kids I was going to do, was grade each page, worth about 4 - 8 points.  I created a little excel table, graded each page on "accuracy and completion" (oh, what does that even mean?!?), and spent hours adding sticky notes in their notebooks for feedback.

What I didn't realize then was that a) not everything needs to be graded, b) if accuracy is important, I need to focus on that in class and find a way to give immediate feedback, and c) I had WAY better things to do with my time.  Like plan lessons, and give relevant, timely feedback.

After a few more tries (and some serious thinking about what I really wanted them to get out of the notebook), I came up with a very general rubric.  I also re-organized the pages in the notebook itself so that it would be easier for me to find the things I need to check each grading period- like putting the Table of Contents (I call it el indic√© because that's what one of the guides I bought off of TPT suggested) at the very front of the notebook.

I do want the organization and visual appearance to matter, but it is much less important than the accuracy and work itself.

I'm happy to report that this year, I graded my first "batch" of 50+ notebooks in less than 2 hours.

For grading homework, what seems to be working best for me is to give a quick look at the beginning of class (while students are working on their starters, or Para Empezars.  If I am grading for complete/ incomplete, I use a stamp to quickly mark it.  If I want to grade for accuracy or content, I give them a more substantial starter and mark it check plus if it's correct, check if they would benefit from doing it again or from checking their work, and check minus if it's incomplete, missing, or completely off the mark.  Students know that a check minus means they should plan on coming to office hours and going over it with me.  If they choose not to, they will lose points in the "Work is complete and accurate" category when I grade the notebook.  

Thus, when I grade the whole thing, I can easily see what pages are complete and/or accurate, students get timely feedback, and students have the time to go back to their work

It is also important to note that I give very little homework.    Students occasionally are asked to complete a task at home that is either identical or nearly to one we did in class.  If I give homework once a week, it's a big week!  More on my homework philosophy at another time.

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