Grades and Grading

31Dec12

ImageI’m getting my gradebook up to date today, attempting to quantify the unquantifiable. 

I teach seventh grade.  Assessing their work is a bit like comparing butterflies.  Or buttons.

Each child is different. Seventh graders come in all shapes and sizes (look at a seventh grade girl and a seventh grade boy – they can appear to be different species), and they are all in radically different stages of cognitive development.

To ask them all to complete a range of tasks – reading for content, word recognition, sentence construction, imagine, craft, analyze, evaluate -  is complicated and fraught with problems.  Some seventh graders can and some can not and it has NO bearing on their intelligence or ability – just how far along their brain is in becoming adult.  And they have as little control over that as they have over how tall they are.  Would we ask a student to be taller?

So I try to evaluate on effort and completeness – do they follow directions?  Can they explain their process?  What does that illuminate for me?  Do they actually do the work and hand it in?

I hate grading.  If we could just enjoy the books together, write the assignments and work to create personal critical responses to the readings, play with words, explore the language, then I would be happier. I am glad (although they can be traumatizing to write) that we have narratives along with letter grades. 

So, back to the gradebook… and assigning numbers to the unquantifiable.

Image by Aah-Yeah

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