jGR Has Fangs

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57 thoughts on “jGR Has Fangs”

  1. Dear Ben:
    I am so grateful that you have given us (ok “ME”) the “OK” to slow down my instruction of content and FOCUS the first few weeks on classroom mgmt! I know that you simply just reiterated Susie Gross’ mantra of “get the mgmt/discipline down FIRST” — so I have been! and I have been doing it “a la” Laurie (and everyone else on here!)….with a HEART! I find that this year I do not yell – unless it is SO egregious, like to harm someone, or to take away from others the opportunity to learn.
    Today (first day of the 3rd FULL week of school – first week was still craziness with add/drop going on) I handed out AGAIN the “Student Reflection Checklist”. They said that they had rec’d it already. I said, “I know, but this is a new one that you can WRITE on. I want you to read it over – REALLY take the time to read it over and check off and/or write notes on it — did you REALLY do all those behaviors, or did you deviate from them slightly or a LOT?” Then I handed out the 10-question Participation Grade form (for the teacher to fill out) and told them that based on the Reflection checklist of the Classroom Rules and the Interpersonal Skills rubric (jGR), that I wanted THEM to grade themselves on how well their “behaviors” aligned with what is expected of them. THEN…..(to take it a step further)…..I made up a boxed seating chart – one box per desk in the classroom, and added Ben’s Abbreviations for the off-task behaviors on the bottom. I then told them that I will be grading them with the Participation Grade form, but since it is so difficult (realistically) to remember how all my students behaved in all classes, all week, I made up these “cheat sheets” for myself. I will use one of them each day, and I will only write in the OFF TASK behaviors, bc there will be fewer of them — they have already shown me that (some of them) can avoid off-task behaviors.
    then I told them to staple all the forms together, and bring them home to discuss with their parents, so their parents understand their “interpersonal communication” grade, and have the parents sign one of the forms to turn back in tomorrow. We’ll see how that pans out!!! 🙂

  2. I have made a slight deviation from JGR in terms of the use of “stop” signal. It comes out in my rubric in the following way:
    A: student indicates every time he/she doesn’t understand
    B: Student indicates when he/she doesn’t understand
    C: Minimal effort to try and understand class discussion
    D: does not indicate when he/she does not understand.

    My reasoning for this is that giving the stop sign is an integral part of, but does not wholly encompass the issue of student engagement. I have already had students ask
    1. “so should we just make sure we are doing the signal a few times per week?”
    2. “What if I understand everything, do I still have to make the signal?”

    Some kids really do get it, I’d say more than half of my classes. I am making real effort to establish meaning and get lots of reps on a minimal number of words. It shows in their eyes, and I don’t want to make them think they have to be doing the “stop” sign just to do it. Also, I don’t want to be checking students off as having done it X amount of times.

    The way I have worded it, and the way I explain it, I grade them down for not doing it if and only if they don’t understand. I am grading them down for NOT RESPONDING. Gesturing “stop” is an important response, and I tell them that if they don’t get it, I will see it in their eyes, and if their head is down, I definitely see that they don’t get it, and they aren’t giving me the signal.

    Then, in class, I heap praise on the students who stop me, and remind the class that it is a good thing.

    I don’t know if people will agree with this, but this is how I’ve chosen to interpret Jen’s awesome rubric for my students, and for my sanity in coming up with, and justifying, my assessment of my students.

    1. John,
      What you say makes sense. I introduced jGR to my Advanced Chinese (mixed 3rd & 4th year) students toward the end of last week and started using it today. I started to notice a difference right away in some students but stopped the class when students started blurting out whole sentences in English. I reminded them about the rubric for grading and that brought them back in line again.
      Tomorrow I will introduce jGR to my wild Chinese 2 kids. My “yellow card” warning system isn’t really working because the same kids keep getting the card every class. Plus, today I asked a girl a question and she said to me in English that she was completely lost. I reminded her that I can’t always see that if she isn’t giving me the signal. I think jGR will help a lot because this kid would actually get rewarded for letting me know she is lost. I would have introduced it sooner but I was worried about trying to grade all 26 of them fairly.
      One more thing about this from something Ben said. We have to reserve the “5” for the kids going the extra mile who are really engaged. That might be a little different from how you have it set up. I had a great example of this today from one of my “starfish” as Ben called them. I have about 5 of these kids now who have really found their wings in this new method and I see a new one emerging every few days. We were doing PQA on the Chinese for “my friend” when someone asked, “how would you say ‘my best friend?’ ” A starfish shouted out “zui” which means something like “the most.” Now we used this word during the 1st week of school 5 weeks ago when we were doing CWB with sentences about what students like to do the most. I was blown away that 1) he remembered the word and 2) he made the connection in a different context! I gave him a bonus point but this is definitely a “5” on the jGR. Tomorrow when I introduce it, I will use this as my example of a “5” and thus set the bar high.

      1. …the same kids keep getting the card every class….

        Dude I’m not up on soccer like Robert and all of them doing Monday PQA on European Premier League football, but I thought that players only got one yellow card before being issued a red card. For me, this is why I think jGR trumps everything I have ever seen in my career in terms of establishing classroom discipline. Between jGR and Three and Done, I have not seen one cell phone in use yet this year, the bathroom trips are way down, and the kids who tested me on tardies and absences in the first two weeks are now my best actors. I think it’s Three and Done for sure but jGR, we mustn’t forget, is a kick ass discipline tool as well.

      2. …I was blown away that 1) he remembered the word and 2) he made the connection in a different context!….

        I have to say on this that it is a special kind of very badass thing that happened there. Badass X 2 or something. Very badass. I don’t know. Just badass.

    2. …what if I understand everything, do I still have to make the signal….

      Great point. However, I know those kids and will protect their grade and don’t want to give my right brained self more to think about than it can handle, but it is really good stuff there, John, and yet another testimony to how we get to pick and choose from the constant influx of new ideas into our discussion. It’s not about doing a method right or in a certain way, and that’s for sure.

      1. I have a student 4%er who has perfected the graduate school stare until I ask her in English “What did I just say?” Her response is always: “Could you repeat that please?” Looks attentive but surely not attentive!

    3. …I am grading them down for NOT RESPONDING…..

      Yes, this is what I take to be at the heart of jen’s vision for the rubric – that robots should not get A’s for getting all the questions right in a language class AS PER THE NATIONAL STANDARD OF COMMUNICATION. That is what is truly revolutionary about this rubric.

  3. My Interpersonal Communication grade has been Robert’s Interpersonal Communication Rubric combined with Blaine’s Pagame system. I felt it had teeth, but I find it hard to enforce and keep track of pagames. I’m considering trying this jGR. Is it 5 points everyday? So 25 points a week?

  4. Not the way I use it. It’s whenever I feel like giving the grade. Usually once a week. Even if I were to post this grade once in a grading term, it would still be 50% of the grade.

    I have never said anything derogatory about Blaine. His contribution is truly important, for he put Krashen’s ideas into real action in the classroom.

    But, honestly, the pagame system is just not something that every worked for me. Grades aren’t something to be treated that way. We need teeth, and jGR has fangs.

    1. So if you do this once a week, how do you make it worth 50% of the grade when everything is point based? Or do I need to talk to the people in charge of our online gradebook?

  5. I can set Infinite Campus to weigh my grades in that way. It doesn’t matter how many tests are in one of the weighted categories. I could have only one jGR grade and ten quizzes and the computer would average the ten quizzes into half the grade and the one single jGR grade together for the grade.

    1. We use Aeries online grading, and I can weight grade categories in that program as well. We have to distinguish between formative and summative assessments (40% formative and 60% summative), so my weights for level 1 look like this:
      Formative Interpersonal (heavy emphasis on Interpersonal rubric): 25%
      Summative Interpersonal: 40%
      Formative Interpretive: 10%
      Summative Interpretive: 15%
      Formative Presentational: 5%
      Summative Presentational: 5%
      That means for level 1 fully 65% of the grade is Interpersonal Communication. I scale that back each successive year so that in AP Interpersonal and Interpretive are each 15% formative and 25% summative; Presentational in AP is 5% formative and 15% summative.

      The good thing here is that I get to decide what falls into which category. On Friday I gave a dictation and decided that it should fall into the Presentational category because students were not interpreting a text, just copying it and presenting it to me. Later when I have them do a little more analysis of the text (i.e. mark where their dictated text differs from the copied text), this may well be an interpretive grade because they are interpreting a text that they have heard and seen.

      Most grading programs will allow weighted grading; you just have to have all of the weights add up to 100. BTW, I have a category called “Homework Tracking” that has a weight of zero. I use it to track things like getting required parental signatures for releases when I show a film like “Das Boot” and those rare occasions when I give an assignment (e.g. teach this story to your parents). The grade shows up on the parent portal but doesn’t affect the grade. (Most students and parents don’t pay attention to that fact, and parents get onto their kids about turning things in.)

      1. …for level 1 fully 65% of the grade is Interpersonal Communication….

        OK twice in one night I use this term, but I have to. That is very badass. That is badass to the bone. 65% of their grade at level 1. Hello, people, what don’t you get about you will show up in this German class? Hello!

      2. Whoa! How did I miss this this badassery?!?!?

        Robert, can you email Ben (so we can have a post) on what typically goes into each of those categories? And what is your new website again? I want to have it bookmarked.

  6. Ahh, it’s time to start the phone calls home and I’m fearful. I hate them. Any pointers (read: script) on how to start the conversation? Yuck. In the past my fear of making the calls have hindered my class mngmnt.

  7. Make the calls. Your script could be simple. You could explain that the national standard of Communication (invite them to go to ACTFL’s web page) requires that you now take into consideration the Interpersonal Skill of the Three Modes of Communication.

    Say that this is new and teachers haven’t done it in the past but now we have to assess Johnny on the degree to which he engages in observable behaviors indicating how much he understands and that you won’t be grading Johnny on tests only and how that is a problem because Johnny isn’t doing the things listed to get a higher grade and is now in danger of failing the class because of that.

    Explain that the F is no reflection on his intelligence, just on how he engages in class. Explain that this in no way is a participation grade, but is rather an assessment that reflects a national standard and that this kind of grade does not occur in Johnny’s other classes but is due to the nature of what a language class really is – practice in communication.

    Then, if the parent gets it, fine. If not, fine, they can go to administration. And if administration doesn’t get it, it’s time for a talk with them to re-educate them. Use some of the articles available here by clicking on that category.

    When you are talking to someone with power over you who doesn’t know the changes we are going through right now it is not only scary but it is also very tedious. But consider your options. No, we have to educate those involved.

    If an administrator wants to stay with ideas from the last century and judge you in those terms, it’s just ridiculous. At that point, you have to tell them then we have a more serious problem and that you would like to pursue the dialogue in a more intense way with others – then bring in those in your district who get it.

    We can’t let the hospital adminstrator tell the doctors how to treat their patients. Administrators who are swayed by strong teachers in departments with their feet in the last century are a pain in the ass, and bad things can happen when they overstep their rights in being critical of you, but don’t we have to stand up for what we believe? Who will stop these prima donnas unless it is us?

    A thought that has been knocking around in my mind all day has been how these students and other teachers and parents and kids have ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT to attack our positions. They hired us, we bring our ideas into our work, and we go to work as best we can applying those ideas. That’s it.

    How can we work for someone who makes us work against what we know is the best for our kids?

    Another really weird thing is how kids think they can come into our rooms and go to sleep or misbehave or whatever. Do you see how screwed up that is? It’s really screwed up! How do they think they can do that? Well, at the end of the day it’s because we let them. Or not. It’s all up to us.

    But now we have our pet German shepherd in the backyard. He with the fangs. The jGR. Sic ’em, Fang. Go get ’em. Besides jGR and ACTFL docs, you can also refer to the Then and Now page Ardythe sent us. I love their use of the word “yesteryear” in that document.

    Others need to chime in with other docs here. We are arming Jennifer for her phone calls. Come’on!

    1. I always have a bit of a problem referring to documents in a phone call home outside of a syllabus that the parent has supposedly already read. I guess my “script” always starts with “Your student’s behavior is getting in the way of other people’s learning” and describe how many times I’ve already addressed it one-on-one with the student to date. My calls then always end with “I’ll call you back a week from now and let you know how things have gone. I hope to have good news for you.” If the behavior improves, the parent needs to know that. If the behavior doesn’t improve, the parents get another week’s worth of check ins for as long as it takes for the problem to improve.

      Now if the calls need to go home because of “attentive robot” syndrome that would have to change the script because it’s less obvious how the student is disrupting others, but I usually don’t call home on such students.

      Good luck!

      1. Gentlemen,

        Thank you so much for your in-depth descriptions which, for me, are very helpful. Nathan, I like that you make a constant connection.

        So, I called home on a kid today the free period I had immediately following his class. I saved it for then on purpose so that I could finally target this boy in class based on something he said on his questionnaire. I wanted to be able to report home how things went and was hoping for exactly what happened: the boy met my expectations and proved to me that he can learn this way. He was awesome.

        One parent was concerned about a lack of in-class support because the boy has an IEP. I’m a little nervous to get into too much detail here but basically, the boys case manager loves what I’m doing, from what I’ve been able to tell her and she is willing to go to bat for me. There wasn’t a sense of negativity from my phone call but I definitely needed her to support what I’m doing and for that I personally thanked her. She spoke with the other parent and explained some things and I called that other parent after in the privacy of my own room.

        Everything went well. The parent understands, it seems. One moment down, a trillion to go.

      2. I agree – no need to call home on attentive robots (unless they are failing). We have the perfect answer for parents of robots when they call in, but THEY can do the calling. That’s not an issue.

        The issue is with the disruptive kids. And with jGR this year I don’t have any so far. They know they will get at best a 2 on the rubric and that, at 50%, is a fail. I let my rubric do the talking. It shouts.

  8. I’ve got a question about interrupting instruction to attend to the rubric.

    I’ve given my kids a copy of the rubric and talked them through it. I’ve asked them what a 4 would look like during stories, and they give it back to me.

    But then during stories when I see a student off in the clouds, it’s tricky for me to stop the flow, walk to the clipboard, find the kid’s last name , make the mark and then get the flow going again. So I’ve held back and not given the interpersonal grade the student has earned.

    Any technical suggestions here? How do you keep track? How often? How do you inform the kids about their interpersonal grade??

    Something I got from Jason Fritze is that, just before dismissing the class, to anonymously announce that X number of students earned a 3 today, Y number earned a 2 and the rest a 4 (or whatever). And if you think you were one of the students who got a 3 or a 2, you could come see me after class. Whenever I’ve done this the students who have earned the low grade usually know it and come up to see me. It has confirmed for me that they’re indeed aware of their level of participation. I think this announcement also informs the class that I mean business. Just an idea.

    1. It’s a tricky point and I can only respond for myself. The kid in the clouds may be spaced-out just once because of something at home. Why mark that down? What I look for is observable behavior over time. It forms an impresssion in your mind.

      Each instance of a space-out adds up to create an impression over time – that is what I grade and it is more subjective that way, but why should I have to apologize for that? I am the teacher and I am a teacher who does not provided data to data sharks in such a minute, dumb ass way. It is insulting to me and to those in my profession.

      The kids will not respond to your vague admonitions and requests that they pay attention by your being a wonderful theatric teacher who gets great stories going. Hell no. Give that up. They have to do their 50% for it to work since that is the way language is acquired, through meaning. Why doesn’t it work?

      Because they are dead people, most of them. School and the mind-numbing dark-as-hell times we live in have removed the life out of them. They are sleeping in the torpor of youth that is the subject of so many fairy tales where it takes a kiss to become the princes that they are meant to be – how many such fairy tales are there and why are there so many about waking up to become something real?

      We can help. We can be shamans who gently draw them out of their sadness and into life again. Stories have always done that, and stories are doing that now. Many of us over the years have seen kids with chains and tats become class leaders and perfect little memorizers become crazy because their elitist mentality of power via memorization is being challenged by a more democratic classroom mentality of cooperation via stories.

      Maybe I gave the wrong impression in making you think that I mark such individual moments of behavior down. I don’t. I teach. But I interrupt such a spaced kid with a walk by him and the comment in English, “Don’t forget, you’re being graded now. It’s a two way street here.”

      One of my smartest (but one of those “I’m smart so don’t ask me to actually participate”) kids went to the back of the room and put his head down at the start of class. I asked if he needed to go to the nurse and ruled out a bad night or whatever. He was testing me. I told him that it would devastate his grade if he didn’t move to his seat and show up for class. Then I walked away. I meant it. He moved.

      The Jason idea is fantastic. I do think I know him well enough to tell you he certainly doesn’t count those numbers – he makes them up. That’s why he is the greatest CI artist in the world. It is art, not science. Teaching is an art. So he makes the numbers up. So what?

      What we use jGR for is the effect on the students. They are all little Rip Van Winkles, who have never been held accountable for a think in their lives. Education needs some real men and women to stand up to the torpor and pathos that has become common in kids today. I don’t see grammar teachers doing anything. Maybe we’ve been elected.

      Ben, just let them know the deal. Teachers who count beans get gassy. What is your opinion of them overall? And do you doubt that it is accurate overall in class? Most will earn 1’s and 2’s because they are all dead – they have been deadened by what schools have become. Help them.

      The biggest mistake you could make would be to not follow the rubric to the letter as it is written (with changes sure to come soon as we test this bad boy). Fangs only make their mark if they find their target.

  9. Accountability – YES!!! that is what this jGR provides!!! (and the “participation grade” form too – which I have tied to it.) As I said earlier in this post, I had the students bring them home last night and discuss with their parents this new form of grading “being there” in class. One parent’s note read, ” I’m sure my son will be successful in this class, and it’s good to know that the expectations are made clear. It helps to give the students accountability.”
    WHOA!!!! that was an awesome note!!! 🙂
    another parent, “_____ likes learning Spanish. I hope he follows all your instructions and guidelines in class.”
    So, the parents seem to be appreciating this as well!

  10. Mb I’m glad you said that about parents’ reaction. It makes me hopeful. I introduced jGR to my Chinese 2 kids today and a couple of the 4 percenters protested, especially the girl that wants to chat with anyone around her whenever she gets the chance. She questioned the method and I patiently explained again why we have made the change. Another kid was calculating what it would do to his grade if he got less than 5 every week. And one more said he was worried that this method wouldn’t get him ready for college Chinese.

    Meanwhile, the kid who would rather not be taking FL at all came up with this, “you mean if I just sit here and listen and show you when I don’t understand and don’t talk to my neighbors, I could actually get a good grade?”

    It took most of the period to get through the explanations and then I started getting stupid questions meant to kill the time. The last straw was when a sign up sheet that had been going around for our club came back and I saw a bunch of fake names on it. I blew my top at this point and that was it. I shut the class down. They knew I was mad and I am known as the happy fun teacher so it scared them. I have never done this before but I told them to take out something to work on and that I didn’t want to hear peep out of anyone unless they wanted a demerit. No one said a word and I ignored the couple of raised hands for the last 8 minutes until the bell rang. When the bell rang, I told them we would get back to Chinese lessons tomorrow.

    After class a girl stayed to talk to me about how well this new method is working for her because she had two concussions last year and it is hard for her to concentrate on textbook reading for any length of time. Starfish number 6 and counting. She asked to be moved away from that girl mentioned above. I told her to give it a couple of days for the new grading system to take hold.

    What a day! That said, about 20 out of the 26 didn’t protest so the jGR is up and running.

    1. Enough of these explanations! You have spoken, the kids know their old tricks aren’t going to work and they’re scared. Tomorrow, go in and make it a point to speak only your TL. Start right away with the CI. We need to say now, at this point in the year, no more!

      The kids that don’t do what you want, point to your rules and speak with them after class. Today, 25 min into the period, one of my classes was totally weak so I called a break, sat at my computer and filled in their jGR grades. I then told them I would NOT give names for any reason but would tell them how many of each rubric grade there was for their class. Wouldn’t you know, that class snapped out of their funk immediately after we went back to CI work? These kids know what they’re doing and sadly, they come in with the impression that they’re going to win because they’re used to have their parent go to bat for them. ENOUGH.

      1. No, we use Edline. I set my aural/oral grade at 40% of the total and am putting the jGR grades there. It is a little less than what Ben does but I think it will work.

  11. I just started this week so I don’t really know what I am doing but I started putting grades onto my attendance sheet today when behavior was really obviously great or terrible. I am hoping that I will be able to see by the end of the week whether the initial grades should stand or not and then complete for all by Friday. Do you think this makes sense?

  12. Since nobody cares and what we really want to assess, bottom line, is at what level does the kid show up in class according to the national Communication standard as a human being ready to do her half on the language learning.

    So right away we can see that it’s not about taking a bunch of tests over time and doing well on some and average on some and poorly on others and then the teacher compassionately takes the average and the kid earns a grade.

    Here, in this jGR grade, and this is why I asked the question, it’s really about a process (just thinking out loud here) where in the first few weeks, I just sit down and go through and assign the grade. THIS IS ABOUT KEEPING GRADING SIMPLE and also about using jGR’s fangs to effectuate the desired classroom behavior. I use it as a tool to allow me to do my job. So simplicity and making them show up are the goals. The assessment should serve the classroom process and help to improve it, rather than just be a number stamped on the kids’ heads.

    So my thinking is I am going to give the kids one of these grades every two weeks or so, max. jGR gets kids’ attention in a way NOTHING I have ever seen does. So why act like it’s a quiz? It’s a hammer.

    So every two weeks the kid gets a TRUE grade (2 is generous for some of these stuffed shirts) and gets to go into the gradebook and see what that is doing for them and then have a few more weeks to try to get it right, which would be a 3 and very rarely a 4.

    This keeps them on their toes. I’m just thinking out loud here and hope it makes sense. And I ain’t gonna do no daily bean counting. Who needs the gas? We got enough going on than to add more assessements in some gradebook all the time. That’s just my opinion.

    Guess what is going on downtown? A colleague who teaches math just three doors down from me is down there watching a baseball game at Coors Field. And her brother is there too. He is the second basemen for the Chicago Cubs who are playing the Rockies tonite and he just knocked in a run with a base hit. How cool is that? His name is Darin Barney and our Lincoln teacher’s name is Darilyn.

  13. Ben – a clarification on how you enter the grades for jGR. Do your students ever see the number 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 that they have earned, or do you simply enter in the corresponding percentage in the gradebook? Thanks.

    1. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10. I am still not clear on the percentages but somehow the desired result of the 50% tanking the grade works. It’s weird, isn’t it – the percentages?

      Hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it is my idea on that. I think it is working in terms of what I have told the computer to do because of the basic ten point scale that I use everywhere.

      1. And Kevin this is always changing. I am in between classes right now and I think I am going to always just have one grade for jGR in the book. If I keep putting grades in over and over like we do with the Quick Quizzes, then I am applying an old model, the accumulation of grades to jGR which I don’t want to do. Why?

        Let’s take an example. So there is this kid who did great on jGR while she was here but has now for the past four days been unexcused from class. Instead of adding her current jGR grade of 0 to the 8 she had before, I am just going to give her the four by overiding the 8 with it and keeping that one grade moving up or down as the student changes and grows into getting above a 4 (2 on jGR) or tanking due to unexcused absences or whatever.

        jGR will be a single grade that I adjust to my PROFESSIONAL ASSESSMENT of where they are at any given point in the grading term. I will do it this way until somebody shows me that there is some kind of flaw in this approach.

        So jGR then becomes a single grade that rises and falls with the current tide. It’s weird, I know, but I’m just going to do it that way. One grade – 50% of their grade. And I refuse to get into a big discussion about it.

        Don’t challenge me, is my message to administrators. Just don’t. I will explain it to you if you want, but I am certain that I am going to successfully pushback any challenges about assessment/pedagogy with people who are still using a 20th century version of same.

      2. First of all, jGR absolutely works for me!!!! I have decided to record the numbers whenever I feel like it and then put it in my grade book on Friday. So, if I decide to grade them on Tuesday and Thursday, then I just average those two numbers and put them in the book. I just have to figure out a way to adjust the percentages because if I put in a “3” (out of 5), that is automatically calculated as a 60 in our online grade book, which is a failing grade. And, like Ben suggested, every once in a while I will enter it as a quiz (which is weighted 70% as per district specifications).
        I always keep a copy of it on the Smartboard and all I have to do is point to it when things are getting a bit out of hand. Usually, they snap right to it. What a great tool!

        1. Thank you. I am going to have to look at that. A 2 is a 40. But to me the 2 on jGR conveys the fact that the kid is not meeting standard. We’ll see what happens. This will change, I just don’t know how right now. Meanwhile, the kids are indeed “snapping to”.

      1. …I just need to make the jGR stick….

        This is where the honeymoon with it is going to be met with resistance and we will see things in the future that we can’t see now. Will it be harder or easier to make it stick int the future? Will we cave on it?

        So many teachers unconscionably bow to kids’ requests for extra credit. Just today I happened to hear during a class change a teacher say, “Oh well when you get that extra credit paper in your C will be a B” and the kid acted like they had just bought something. They had. They had bought a teacher. Extra credit should be icing on the cake and not something we award when there is no cake to put the icing on.

        That said, I have noticed a huge surge of interest in the jobs, as kids stuck on 2/5 on jGR are starting to want to do more than stare at me in class. That’s a good thing bc it brings greater levels of involvement by the kid in class, where it counts.

        But there will be kinks*, naysayers and pushers back and we need to take their blows to the head and ask for more. If it gets to be hand to hand mental combat in your department, emrace it, for it is the way of change. Make jGR stick.

        * for more, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvyDWGF290M

        1. I did away with Extra Credit several years ago. With Standards-Based Assessment, when a student asks about bringing up a grade, I talk about mastering the standard. If students master the standard, I will weight that much more heavily than an early grade; if students stop meeting the standard (not on just a one-off basis but consistently), I will weight that more heavily than an early grade. There is no Extra Credit because there are no “points”; there is only mastery of the standard.

          I had a student who missed class today. As I was getting ready to leave school, he showed up at the door and asked what he had missed in class. He genuinely wanted to know, so we talked for about half an hour about what we had done in class. He gets a solid grade for Interpersonal Communication today, even though he was absent.

          1. Most teachers wouldn’t have done that. Did the kid really want to know?

            I love this:

            …there is only mastery of the standard….

            I’m going to bring that sentence into my ministrone admonitions.

  14. Oh boy, my 3 classes so far have really dragged. I had it in my head that this might be the feared “October slump” that Ben has mentioned. In one class, I have a kid who is notoriously bad, according to the whole school. I purposely made class about something he drew on the first day during CWB and it worked. I got to see his other personality. But now….now even after making him student of the week and heaping praise, he is slipping and I don’t know what to do (besides calling his mom, though I don’t know if that’ll help. I walked over to him today and whispered that he was currently getting a failing grade as per the jGR and he needed to decide whether to stay and get it together or leave.
    He, at first, said he would try to go the the in school suspension room (kids love it cuz they don’t have to sit in an actual class) and then he said exasperatedly that he just wants book work (to which I said, “Of course. This way feels hard for the brain but I KNOW you can do it.”

    He decided to stay and toned it down a few giant notches but I’m still worried. And as for the other classes, I feel like they are all dragging. ::big sigh::

    1. Sadly, had to ask him to leave today for an extremely inappropriate comment re: pornography…. I still don’t know if it was the right thing but I feel that this is the take-charge decision we’ve all discussed that needs to happen.

  15. I have to say that I do not feel “right” about this rubric. I have remained silent all along because I wanted to allow that I was missing something. Even now, I can allow that, but the more I come back to it and consider using it, I simply cannot. There are some kids who would walk up to this and score big time. There are others that I know right now would never understand what this rubric asks for, and I feel very strongly that a rubric is something teachers and students share as a mutually understood way of working together. I could not use this with students that I know would not understand it. I am the one who needs to modulate, not them, when it comes to this sort of thing.

    I don’t know if any of that makes sense to anyone else, and that’s okay. I don’t have to follow lock-step what others are doing. Just trying to stay in the conversation about what we are all doing.

    1. I have stayed out of the discussion also Bob. I’m grateful that it is working for many people. It may be that the populations that I teach just don’t respond well to this kind of “motivation”. It may be that I have a long-standing reputation in the district. Grading people’s behavior is something that I simply can’t make work in my own heart, so I am grateful that I’m not required to do so.

      What I “see” is that this rubric has provided a common language between the teachers and students that didn’t exist before. Young people are very concrete….so is this rubric. Teachers can outline the expectations and students can choose to follow them or face the consequences….and before the consequences didn’t mean much. Teachers wanted to say what they mean and mean what they say, but a number of things were getting in the way of that really happening. This rubric says, “This matters.” My guess is that in these kids’ world, it only matters if it is graded. I suspect that, using this model, when a student chooses not to follow the rules, the teacher can now react to that behavior in an objective way, with a grade, rather than in a personal way with frustration, despair and anger. There is now a very clear, and serious, neutral zone where the business of language acquisition can now take place.

      It is so important to norm behavior….but it is often difficult to get students to see a reason to be “normed”. Now there is one. Hopefully, this is a structural piece whose teeth are most important during this “fallout” period of the year. As the year goes on the students will have found a pattern of behavior and interaction in the class that will motivate them to stay on board. As students get to know the teachers, the students will realize that their behavior matters because they themselves matter, as people, not just as a daily grade.

      Thank you, for voicing your thoughts. I can’t wrap my mind around it either. But right now, I can’t argue with the success that folks are having. Knowing the people in this group, it is their million other skills that are REALLY at work here. The rubric just gets kids on board so those skills can come to the forefront.

      with love,

    2. I totally get what you are saying Bob. And I love that you chimed in, because there is a part of me that deeply hates rubrics. Just ask anyone I know. I used one once and it was so miserable. That was 15 years ago.

      If I’d had a spine earlier in my career perhaps I would not need this tool, but I didn’t. I also teach in a very bizarre school culture. I have come to that conclusion slowly over time (haha, as I got older I turned into my mother!). So for the past several years I’ve observed some huge gaps in our student population with regard to (for lack of a better word) “etiquette” “civility” “politeness” “basic people skills.” I have been operating on assumptions for many years and have finally realized that I cannot assume anything. So for me this is a tool to help show the kids what certain skills look like. It feels stilted, for sure, but I am committed to emphasizing the importance of showing up.

      I intend each day to be completely present to my students and to learn something from each of them. That is the joyous part of what we do, and for me, this tool (I hope) will help the students learn to be more present, to learn by listening more and talking less. Ok, I am just a bit idealistic. Oh well.

      Thank you for what I call the “probing question:” it makes me think more deeply and question my assumptions. It’s great reflective practice!

  16. I need this rubric badly. My Chinese 2 kids cannot get on task without it. Today they were acting like wild things again. I called out on a couple of students who kept talking to neighbors and I said, “Stephen, I hope you understand how badly you are hurting your grade right now.” So he stopped. The problem is that I haven’t put last week’s grades in so they don’t see the effect yet. I told them to watch for it this week because I’m a little behind. At one point, they were just being noisy all over the place so I just stopped, picked up my attendance list where I write in the jGR numbers when the behavior is obvious and I started looking at particular troublemakers and writing in their scores. Then I heard a kid say, “hey, she grading us!” and they started quieting down.

    Bob, maybe you have good classroom management and another way to keep your students on task but I don’t have that kind of authority with my kids. I am well-respected as a teacher by many and my enrollment is growing like crazy (2nd largest of 4 languages) but I don’t have the environment I need in this particular class to make CI work. So I am all for the jGR and I am going to make it work.

  17. To me it’s simple. Bob has most likely already created a culture of inclusion by kids and respect for him and the Classroom Rules, which are an earlier form of the rubric, in fact. So he doesn’t need jGR.

    And, if I am reading correctly what he says, the idea of encouraging the behaviors we want (need) is in his hands and should not be dependent on a child’s personality. It’s almost like I am hearing Bob say that a child’s personality would not undertand the rubric.

    And that’s fine, he doesn’t want a kid who doesn’t have the capacity to understand this rubric to be brought down by it. But where I differ is along the lines of what Tamula said.

    Most kids are so immune to school that they only look as if they don’t understand and when I fail to light a match under them and their grade, I reap (have reaped for decades) the reward of a kid who looks like a cardboard cutout of a human being.

    If I were to look directly into the eyes of a cardboard cutout of a human being, I would probably see cardboard. Unless, hiding in there was a human being. And a human being with self interests that include passing my class.

    So, only with jGR and not without it, when I look into the cardboard, I see eyes move. And if the kid can trust me to celebrate that eye movement, that giving to me, that human response however weak, with a grade of 4 or 6, then they can believe that they can improve, and when I keep coaxing them out of the cardboard, we have done something human. And without that human piece, we can’t teach a language.

    So both ways are possible depending on our student populations (you know mine) and our own personalities. I very much appreciate this perspective Bob.

    And I know that you know that I am never on this site trying to standardize comprehenion based instruction. I’m just trying to find my way, every day. And now that I have this rubric that works for me, I am a happier teacher and a happier person, because, quite frankly, teaching without a hammer sucks.

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