Simplifying My Gradebook

I have long struggled getting enough meaningful grades in my gradebook. I think, if it’s worth me spending my time grading, it’s worth being in the gradebook. However, that’s not always the case with things we do in our classes. No, that doesn’t mean that we do busywork, but if I give a student an activity for the purpose of providing more comprehensible input, and they ask me to clarify a word or phrase for them, THAT is what I need to know to inform instruction.

Anyway. Grades. We are on an 18 week semester schedule which is divided into Three, six week grading periods. We are supposed to put at least one grade in the grade book every week. Well, I have found something that works for me.

Every week I have a 5 point participation grade. There are a few different ways that this could go in the gradebook. It might be that the class is working on a reading activity and I go around the class with my clipboard and mark off who is actively on task. It could be that I decide to collect a paper students are working on. It could be an eLearning assignment (though this threw a wrench in my plans last year because we had more than 1 eLearning in a week). Or it could be that I check off bell ringers. I do mark bell-ringers every day with a stamp, or a signature, but I don’t always put them in for points, really bell ringers are a back up if it’s friday and I didn’t get a participation grade in.

So, 18 weeks, 5 points = 90 pts.

Reading and listening quizzes. Every week, students have either a reading or a listening quiz. 18 weeks, so they have 9 reading and 9 listening quizzes. I’m STILL working on the format for these because I want them to be performance/proficiency based. THIS is a great post by Señora Chase about listening and reading quizzes. AND great news, Indiana’s new standards are ALL “I Can” statements and they look pretty darn close to ACTFL’s Can-Dos. Sometimes it is hard, though, having a reading or listening that is “meaty” (Or “impossible burgery” for vegetarians and vegans) enough that makes the quiz meaningful. I’ve been looking for #authres to maybe use Sra. Chase’s quiz on.

9 Reading quizzes, 9 listening quizzes, 25 points each= 450

Writing “tests” are every 3 weeks. That’s not to say that we don’t write more, but these are the ones that I give CONTENT and STRUCTURE feedback on. Structure as in, “Let’s try to use transition words”, or “Do you think you could combine any of these sentences”? NOT grammar, unless the student asks. So, yea… ALL students get personal feedback from me on writing EVERY time they do these writing ‘tests’. How do I have time?! Because the day following the writings, all students are working on Señor Wooly, or Textivate, or something else individual so that I can give students feedback to their face.

Why am I calling it a Test? Because that is the word that my students know and respect. There was an instant change this past semester when I started calling timed writes “writing tests”. There was a sense of “Oh this class does matter because we have quizzes and tests”. Such is grade driven school culture.

6 Writing tests, 35 points each= 210

Speaking. I DO assess speaking and you can read more about that in my previous blog posts.  Essentially, every time we do PQA we get in a circle, and I try to see how much students can do when I ask them follow up questions. We do PQA at least once a week, and I try to hear each student speak at least once every six weeks.

3 Speaking “quizzes” 25 points each=75 points

So in total I have 825 points possible in my class. I chose to do points instead of weights because I had a hard time explaining to students why a 5 point quiz took their grade down so much.

What this amounts to though:

In-Class work ≈ 11%
Reading/Listening≈ 55%
Writing ≈ 26%
Speaking ≈ 9%

And of course there are decimals, but the points to add up! I’m not THAT bad at math!

2 thoughts on “Simplifying My Gradebook

  1. I’m a total points gal, too. The number of parent emails about grades went down dramatically when I decided to say Auf Wiedersehen to categories. No more explaining those percentages! Great post. I love the idea of gradebook simplification!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: