jGR Can Be Misused

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25 thoughts on “jGR Can Be Misused”

  1. Question- do you give them 0-5 or 0-10? I have noticed that the 10 scale can really lower their grades if they have a few off days but maybe a 5 would not. Hmmm. I might need to rethink. Bummer cause I just had a poster printed but I think the numbers would be easy to cover up.

  2. I use a ten scale bc everything I do is based on ten. If they get a 4 (a 2) it is interpreted by the computer as a 40% and that is 30% of their grade. I hold them to it strongly.

  3. One of the things that we can not forget is that the jGR is effective and it does do the job for classroom management. In fact I have not seen a better system. Since I have started using it my classroom management has dramatically improved. (I am not sure what that says about my former classroom management). Yes there will be some mistakes when we grade students and we do need to be careful but at the same time if we overthink it then we can get ourselves in trouble and not hold the students accountable. If we just stick to our guns make a decision and go with it. The students will come around.

  4. I think that for students, they are so driven by their grades that they will use this as extrinsic motivation. I don’t really care though. I can bring in the intrinsic by focusing on the kids though. I am facilitating a class where kids make up credits on online classes andI am sitting next to a senior who is pretty mature. I asked him how to spell extrinsic and he didn’t know what it was. We started talking about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation. He said to me “you HAVE TO make it PERSONAL!” This is super powerful. How can I make it personal when trying to teach vocabulary? I feel like I was better at it pre baby and the baby stole some of my brain. I am getting it back though. This was a great reminder. PERSONAL questions and answers. I am super excited about tomorrow.

  5. Darren or anybody else what about kids who are failing four weeks into a six week grading period? Part of it is absences, part me going too fast, part they don’t know how to play because nobody ever taught them, part bc success is not something they have known in school. Do I drop the fail and gvie them a new lease on the term at that four week point in the term? I think I do, but I haven’t yet done that but it seems like a cool idea to help the kid. If they want help.

    1. I think this is a judgment call, and ultimately you are the only one who can make that call. It helps that you have gotten to know the kids; you can make a better judgment. (That’s one reason why CI is great.) One good piece of advice I have tried to follow:
      Don’t punish kids for being kids. Punish them for defiance and disrespect, but not for flakiness, inexperience, lack of planning and other kid behavior. (Do let them suffer consequences for their actions, but not punishment.)

      Some ideas on consequences versus punishment:
      -The goal of punishment is to enforce compliance with the rules by using external controls or authoritarian discipline.
      -The goal of logical consequences is to help children develop internal understanding, self-control, and a desire to follow the rules.
      -Logical consequences are respectful of the child’s dignity while punishment often calls upon an element of shame.
      -Logical consequences are related to the child’s behavior; punishment usually is not.

      So, the questions become:
      Is the failing grade a consequence or a punishment?
      Is there room for grace (and mercy)?

      William Shakespeare : The quality of mercy is not strained It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed- It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.

  6. It’s a consequence of his behavior but I also know, and we all know this if we are to be honest with ourselves, that I could have presented the material more slowly. The pattern of burning slower kids gouged my teaching soul for 24 years, I must remember. It isn’t going away easily. Sometimes I still mention parts of speech, as well, when doing so has absolutely no bearing on whether they learn the langauge or not. In my pre-TPRS/CI days it was just so easy to burn the slower kids. It was what I did. It’s what happened in my military high school in Indiana and it was the way of Washington – St. Louis and the U of Rochester – elitist competitive stuff. So I need to see to what extent I am punishing (that’s my part of it) and to what extent he is just choosing to not comply with the rules. The feeling of my shaming him is there. I think I will just tell him that he has the chance if he wants it. What a useful tool you wrote there, Robert!

  7. A part of jgr is giving the signal. So even if you are going too fast it is their responsibility to “negotiate” meaning, part of the standard, by signaling.

  8. Have you ever read The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis? It deals with one of the perennial issues: how can God be good and omnipotent and still allow pain? Lewis talks about people’s ultimate destiny and contends that some people find the pain of hell (however we may imagine that) preferable to being in the presence of God because of what that entails (e.g. having to look honestly at themselves): “I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside.”

    So, given what you are telling us, I would say, go ahead allow your rebel to lock the doors from the inside (i.e. extend the offer of mercy to see if he is willing to look at his actions honestly).

    Just my opinion.

  9. Today in class during our first story in a while (we just finished reading a novel), Zack, who was way more engaged than usual, was leaning way forward and looking right at me. I said to the class, in English “EVERYONE FREEZE!” Then I pointed at Zack and said “Look at Zack. That’s what a 4 looks like (out of 5).” The class said “Ahhh” and I gave Zack a high five, and went on. The level of engagement in the room was a notch higher for a while.

    Never did something like that before, an experiment, I learned something: Kids need to see, explicitly, repeatedly, what we’re asking them to do. There are few if any other places where they’re asked to show up and fully participate. This is new ground for them and for us.

    1. Ben, what you said here:

      “There are few if any other places where they’re asked to show up and fully participate. This is new ground for them and for us.”

      sums up perfectly what I feel like I’m going to be expecting of my students and training them to do starting tomorrow morning. I genuinely feel that even on my most “successful” days teaching the grammar/forced output way that I’ve been teaching up to this past week, only 1 or 2 kids in each class was actually “there” as an engaged human being and participating. And I’m discovering in myself very rapidly (in the sense of a epic paradigm shift) that there is only one explanation for the kids who aren’t “there” in class: I’ve been expecting them to learn without teaching them as human beings. I’m so glad I have the opportunity to exit that mode of being as a teacher so early in my career (second year).

      1. “there is only one explanation for the kids who aren’t “there” in class: I’ve been expecting them to learn without teaching them as human beings.” beautifully put Greg.

        with love,

        1. This place is amazing. Ben Slavic, you’re the man! ALL OF YOU are the men/women! We’ll see how day one goes tomorrow at Northern High School, probably horribly -but no matter what my kids decide to do tomorrow, I’ll stand in front of the class (or at least when the bell rings at the end of the day) beaming inside with the realization that it’s all great from here on out. Because even if I’m not rehired next year and have to find a job elsewhere, I’ll be teaching PEOPLE from now on, not teaching people how to do worksheets. Peace.

          1. Greg what you said right there communicates power. Because you are not letting failure as defined by “them” into your vocabulary. When you bring in the human part, you win and your kids win – it’s no more complicated than that. Well said.

  10. This topic–consequence vs punishment–has been eating me up for a month. I am having a very hard time with pretty much everything because I’m “teaching” for like 24 hours a day. I catch myself running in the woods, going over something that happened in class and say “What? You’re still carrying that? Set it down!” And so for me this year I am in a constant state of looking at what I am doing and trying to release all my perceived failures every single day. I keep allowing them to climb back on my shoulders and it’s making me tired.

    I started the year so excited to get going, after an amazing summer of adventure, fresh off a nine-day hike ( 2 days from getting off the trail to my first encounter with students–I could not have been in a better frame of mind!). I had the rubric polished and ready to go. I was invoking all of you as my support system, and also feeling ok with the insecurity and questions that are part of this mystery.

    Don’t know what happened after that. It is a blur. I recall starting the year with the rubric and expectations and OWI / CWB. It seemed fun and easygoing, but at the same time I think for some kids it might have felt like “ok, enough with the cute stories about everyone’s summer…when are we going to learn some new vocab and start the ‘real class?’ ” Three of my four groups are brand new to me so I knew they had no frame of reference for any of this. The group from last year sort of knows the game, but with the new cranked up and specific rubric, posted on the wall, there is still a learning curve.

    I think at the start I was very conscious to stop and point at the rubric or the rule poster at every infraction, but then I think I just started to “move on” with the story and just jot down in my gradebook “blurting” “side conversation” etc. after class. I don’t think I explicitly ignored the behaviors, because I would try to reel the kid into the conversation in an upbeat way. Like if a kid started to talk across the room I would engage him by directing a question about the story (yes/no) to get him back on track but I wouldn’t stop the action right then to make a note in my grade book. So it is likely that the students’ perception is that it is ok to blurt bc I “didn’t do anything.” This was kind of a shift because for the first couple weeks I was doing the whole “red card” thing but the whole vibe of my teaching started to feel like I was on constant alert for infractions and I didn’t like my negative energy.

    Even with metacognitive discussions / self reflections, I find that the students’ awareness of the way they interact is about 50% accurate. By this I mean that about half the kids have an accurate sense of themselves while the other half has no clue. One girl rated herself at the highest level, which is the one about unprompted emerging output and no use of English. I was mystified at this bc I observe her at a 2 (blurting in English and side conversations) on the scale most days with the occasional 3.

    At some point it started to feel as if I were “wielding the rubric” as a weapon of mass destruction rather than just using it as a simple tool to help describe specific actions so that the students could develop more self-awareness. All of the questions everyone has raised run through my head. Yes, I want to hold kids accountable. Yes I am definitely going too fast. Yes, the kids really have never been taught to listen when someone else is speaking. I am fully aware that for a student it goes like this: “I know this stuff= I get an A.” So when they self-evaluate they are likely thinking about their “performance” on the quizzes or on the fact that they “understand the conversations.” They still don’t get that the quality of their interactions directly affects their success in terms of negotiating meaning. Of course they don’t get it. It is so radically different from anything else they have encountered in their school lives.

    I will try Ben L’s idea of “freezing” and pointing out what it looks like to be engaged. I hadn’t thought of this, even though I tried to do this in a different way by showing some DPS videos.

    Signaling is always a huge point of contention, and it’s one that I am always going to hold them accountable for. I know I need to work much harder to slow down, but they absolutely have to learn to ask for clarification. This is such a huge life skill. I have loosened up on how they do this bc there are kids who think it’s “beneath them” to slap their fist in their hands. These are the super perfectionist kids who I think need the “safety net” of being able to just ask “que veut dire…?” (what does …mean?) rather than use the fist signal. I tell them this in one on one conversations. So this is a “legal blurt” in my classroom.

    So…going into a new quarter, do I start fresh by projecting the expectations and having a discussion or do I just proceed and address things as they come up? I really would like to clear up any misperceptions about punishment vs. consequences. It’s hard because these discussions have to take place in English and I think it is confusing/ irritating to some kids bc we are supposed to “avoid English” and I think some begin to resent these discussions (we’re not learning any French!). Of course these are the kids who just want a unit and a list. I could use some advice on the balance of all this! I know there is no magic formula but I am feeling lost and I’m also anticipating some pushback at the parent conferences next week. Just to be clear, nobody is failing, and I have not had to make any phone calls. It’s just that nobody has ever had to practice “interpersonal skills” before, so this is where I think parents will question the grades.

    1. Thanks for posting your comment, jen. I have some of the same issues and stresses, and realized last night that I was too worried and taking too much on myself. My perceived success with each student is not a measure of my worth (or even my ability to teach well).

      I have conferences later today (a 13-hour workday!) and again tomorrow. Some of those conferences are going to be mostly about those interpersonal communication skills, and how some students have not yet adapted to those expectations. I think being convinced myself that those skills should be graded, and that I am making clear to students what is expected, I can speak with confidence to any parents with questions.

  11. …I can speak with confidence to any parents with questions….

    This is new talk. We have now put something into the educational product that we offer that requires a child to bring to the social setting that is a classroom a certain minimum human element.

    The robotic nature of education is being changed, one conversation at a time. You are the professional laying down expectations, informing parents about the bottom line of what you expect from their child in your classroom.

    You are going to do so with confidence tomorrow night. You have the big Interpersonal Skill of the big Communication Standard backing you up. I am very happy to read the tone of what you wrote. It is strong. We are strong and getting stronger. The face of teaching is changing. Children can no longer hide and memorize.

  12. Jen said: This topic–consequence vs punishment–has been eating me up for a month.

    It’s been on my mind too, because I’m reading my first (definitely won’t be the last) Alfie Kohn book, and he says that consequence vs punishment is a false debate. At least if I’m understanding him. He has a chapter called “The consequences of consequences” in Punished by Rewards that was quite an eye-opener to me. He says, “if a child tips her chair back too far, she will fall over. That is a ‘natural consequence’ — and the fact that it qualifies for that label offers no argument for letting it happen; caring adults go out of their way to prevent many such consequences from occurring.”

    Then he says something which seems pretty relevant to what we’re discussing here. “Some teachers and parents seem to think that consequences are acceptable as long as children have been clearly warned about what will happen if they misbehave. These warnings allow adults to pride themselves on their fairness — and to shrug off complaints — since adequate notice was given before the punishment was imposed. ….. But what is actualy promoted by this arrangement? A list of specific rules and consequences establishes a confrontational tone; the message is not that members of a community will work together and try to help someone who stumbles, but that anyone who violates a pre-established edict is in trouble.”

    I haven’t yet finished the book, but I gather that Kohn is in favor of treating students and even small children as beings who should have a voice in what happens, indeed he argues that the only way to teach them to become responsible, caring adults is to give them that voice. He sees everything else as “control strategies.”

    I don’t see jGR as a control strategy. I see it as a definition of the behavior that can help students to master a language. Perhaps we need to be careful of how we present it to students. We might say that several of our friends and colleagues have tried it and it seems very effective in helping students to get the maximum benefit out of their classes. Then we could go through the different levels, explaining why other teachers thought these elements were important and ASKING STUDENTS FOR THEIR OPINION. We might ask them to elaborate on the descriptions, whenever possible taking their ideas into account. I think that for jGR to be effective, students have to buy in, and for them to do that they have to have a chance to input. Each class might negotiate a slightly different version of jGR. The fact that students need to be listening attentively in order to acquire a language and that blurting out makes it impossible for others to listen attentively is not negotiable, but students should be given a chance to discuss how this can be achieved in their class. Simply seeing that the teacher is honestly interested in their viewpoint can help them adhere to and respect her viewpoint.

    I think this is what Kohn has to offer us. He quotes Thomas Gordon who said, “The critical question is not WHETHER limits and rules are needed in families and schools, but rather WHO sets them: the adults alone or the adults and kids — together?”

  13. Absolutely jen. I find it hard to believe that teachers actually have been able to get away with their heavy handed rule setting for so long now. It is unhumane and conveys a sense of disdain, and is, quite frankly, shaming.

    We will never have good classroom discipline without the kids’ being involved in defining and deciding what that looks like. I even have taken a somewhat oppositionally defiant student and made her the Classroom Manager so that, in that class at least, there is a kind of student reference point for acceptable and non-acceptable behaviors. I just ask her what she thinks two or three times a class and she tells me and so it not all me laying down the law – we discuss things.

    Including the kids in the process is crucial for our work in particular. We can’t lecture like some other teachers can in their fields. We fail if we do that. I completely concur with this in particular:

    …each class might negotiate a slightly different version of jGR….

    Once this is done in a comprehension based classroom, the sky is the limit to what can happen as the reciprocal and participatory nature of what we do really sets in for everyone and everyone feels that they are part of the group with an opinion that counts and so is given wings to fly.

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