jGR Update – November 2012

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben's Patreon at $10 or more
Already a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to access this content.



23 thoughts on “jGR Update – November 2012”

  1. I would also caution that many of us who use jGR might be giving too many students a 2 or 3 when, if you read what a 1 is, they actually deserve that grade. This is grade inflation. We must be honest with jGR. That is why taking jGR’s weight down to 30% or below has been a necessary change in my own gradebook.

    Note also that I borrowed Paul Kirschling’s additional description of what a 1 is. I think it is honest in a world where too many teachers have been, for far too long, afraid to be honest with their students and state what they really see. In the light of Paul’s description, it becomes apparent that giving a kid a 1 would benefit both the child and the class greatly. Those of us who are giving 2’s or even 3’s to students who exhibit the behaviors listed as 1’s are not only lying to both the child and the class, but are severely compromising the rubric, reducing its considerable potential to create real and meaningful change for our classes and thus make comprehensible input come alive for us in our teaching.

    1. I’d like to ask you to repeat yourself about what makes up the other 70% of your students’ grade. I am sure you have mentioned here, somewhere, but could you please repeat?

      Right now, my school wants this: “Assessments”-85%, “21st C. Skills”-15%
      Right now, I have it set as this:
      “Interpersonal Communication”-50%
      “Class Journal”-15% (this is a daily jotting-down of word wall meaning I collect every 2 weeks just to make sure they’re doing it)

      -My idea was to incorporate all the modalities but of course it becomes difficult when most of the time, kids are just listening. I set up the books like the above because I attended Scott Benedict’s Summer workshop and that was a suggestion I liked. It’s at least better than “Homework, Tests,Participation”, right?

      Now, I don’t know if it would be better to do something like the 3 modes or leave it as is but redistribute the weight from the jGR and put the balance in Listening/Reading assessment. ARRRRGH!

      This post probably reads as frantic as I feel….Any suggestions?

      1. Hi Jennifer, sorry it took so long to get here.

        I personally like grading according to the three modes and done. (Okay, here’s a new slogan for Ben: “Three (modes) and done”.) Obviously that is not the only way to grade, but I prefer the more holistic approach; to me using the four skills is still too “discrete item” and – as Ben notes in another thread – too easily warped as a cover for more grammar.

        To more fully answer your question, I would need to know what your school intends when it asks for 15% of the grade to be “21st-century skills”. Do you as the teacher get to choose which ones you incorporate? Do they have to come from all of the domains (Life and Career; Learning and Innovation; Information, Media and Technology)? If the school means that you grade on “Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity” (Learning and Innovation domain), then you have two of them covered easily: critical thinking and communication. After all, the three modes are all modes of communication, and the skills needed there are the communication skills. Interpretive Communication easily incorporates critical thinking as students do things like decide what are the Essential Sentences, interpret a text, etc. Does the school genuinely expect you to grade students on how well they collaborate? Isn’t that work habits and citizenship rather than academic? Also, what are the criteria for judging a person’s creativity? In general, I think we need to ask administrators to clarify how they expect any new program to be implemented in our content area. For far too long I have attended workshops in which a strategy or technique is demonstrated for English, Math or Science, and everyone else is expected to adapt it to their content area because, “After all, you are the experts in your area.” Yes, I am the expert in my content area, but if you want me to adopt your new technique, you need to show me how it works in my content area, “After all, you are the expert in the technique.” If you can’t show me how it adapts to my content area, it has no value to me. (Sorry for the rant)

        The following website has some ideas for 21st-century skills and world language, but some of the examples seem to be a bit of stretch to me. Again, I prefer to grade holistically, so I see the quality of the end product as reflective of all of the skills, including collaboration and creativity, so I don’t need to grade them individually. I can certainly support my students, though, in learning how to collaborate effectively and how to support creativity. Anyway, here’s the URL:

        1. Dude, upon reading this I have to nominate Robert for “Smartest Man in the World”. He should have at least been awarded the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year. But today over in Philadephia that honor was awarded to my department chair at East High School here in Denver – Noah Geisel. I am very happy for Noah!

  2. In order to reduce push back and controversy, I’ve told my students (and told them to explain to their parents) that as we progress and as they get better, I will delete the older entries in the “Interpersonal Communication Grade” that were low. My reason for this is I want an accurate depiction of where they are currently, and I don’t see it as fair if 8 weeks ago they were getting 1’s and 2’s but now are in the 3-5 range. Why let their piss poor performance 7,8 weeks ago hurt them now when they are peforming and meeting the standard well?

  3. …I will delete the older entries in the “Interpersonal Communication Grade” that were low….

    This is only fair. The grade must reflect their efforts to change. Doing this is a major tool to get them to line up properly with jGR.

  4. What do you do with the kids who are constantly responding in target language, but blurt out, and are otherwise inconsiderate of others (making faces, being disruptive)? They are not unengaged at all. They often contribute very much to the stories.

    It is a huge problem in my middle school classes. I have been giving them 2’s or 3’s depending on the day and the level of disruption. However, in many ways their contributions deserve a 4 or even 5 at times. I don’t know if their grade at the end represents what they have been doing. And it doesn’t seem to have an effect on behavior.

    1. Hi David,
      Were you describing kids in my middle school classes? I have the same issues – usually not lack of engagement, but rude engagement and blurting. I give them C’s or D’s on the rubric depending on the balance of positive to negative contributions from each one, & make sure the child knows about it. Most of the time they fill out of self-evaluation that I respond to with a grade, so I can see if they don’t “get” what the problem behavior is. I think Ben’s “2” has a description of their behavior in it. I think they are used to thinking of language classes as “fun” classes, which means in their minds that they can talk off-task and goof around.

    2. …what do you do with the kids who are constantly responding in target language, but blurt out…make faces and are disruptive….

      As per this new version of jGR, I give blurters a 1. Disruptive kids don’t take over classes. I don’t care how wonderful they are or how much they contribute. They are a destructive force, if for no other reason that they disrupt the flow of my own thinking. When they complain, I tell them that it’s either they change or we stop stories and read novels for the rest of the year.

      1. Ben,

        Thanks for that. I will be honest – I dont´t know that I am confident enough to take that step. I don’t know that I am confident in my administration to back me up when (not if, but when) more shite starts hitting the fan. I don’t know if I am confident enough in my own observational acumen to defend myself from charges of subjectivity.

        Regarding your last point – what do you do when if the “threat” to just work out of a novel or book does not affect them? I have two or three of my most disruptive students from one class working out of a textbook voluntarily. I don’t particularly want to have to prepare 2 different classes for this group when I already have 3 preps. My thought is that when they see the traditional grammar test (which I still have from last year) they will be scared back. But what if that doesn´t work?

        1. My opinion is that you are overthinking all of this. My position with my classes is simple. If a class has one or two kids who blurt during stories, we don’t do stories. We just grab one novel and the next and do them as described in the Reading Novels category on this page. Word gets around that other classes are having fun with stories, this class puts pressure on the two kids to shut up, and I am out of the equation. I have two such blurters in one of my classes and I fully intend to do only novels until June with that class. They will learn just as much, it’ll just be less fun. They may learn more bc such is the power of reading. And reading novels is easier on me than doing stories. Less fun for me, but easier.

          1. I personally love my reading classes. Students usually hate them, but they’re so easy, I love them. I can just sit there on my stool and we read. And it’s soooooo quiet.

          2. Ok. Unfortunately, this is a Latin class, so i don’t have the choice of using novels. If we aren’t doing stories, then we are working from a textbook (albeit a textbook with a number of stories).

  5. Also, a quick note , the description of a (1) kid —

    (D/F) NOT ATTENTIVE: NO EYE CONTACT OR EFFORT – these are not creators at all of anything. They suck air out of the room. They do poorly on tests. They give nothing to the story. Their chances of failing the course are high.

    doesn´t seem to me to describe my rude but engaged middle schoolers. They have over 90% on the quizzes for the most part. They add the most details to the story, and are a creative force. Am I missing something, or is there no mention of blurting or English conversation in the description? I don’t mean for that to come off sarcastically, I am wondering if I am reading the wrong section.

  6. It’s in the section in blue above. It could be reworded.

    The concept is that a kid who blurts, even a good contributor, must be made to change that behavior at the risk of ruining the class. So what I had in mind there is to make the kid know clearly that no matter what their level of performance is in the class overall on quizzes and contributing to stories, the fact that they blurt gives them the 1 (frequent blurting) or the 2 (occasional blurting) and they will have to accept that grade at 30% of their overall grade and end of conversation. I will change the above to reflect the 1 for frequent blurting and the 2 for occasional blurting, which is a nice addition to the rubric and thank you. Let me know if this clears it up and thank you again for reading closely enough to point out to us the lack of clarity about what a 1 is in terms of blurting.

    Also David look at what I did with the last sentence descriptor in 3 (B/C) – I added that to draw a clear line of demarcation between the 3 and the two lower grades. In my classes, the math that I ended up doing with jGR is that I use a 10 scale and so a 2 is a 40% and a 1 is a 20% as a full 30% of their grades. That will stop most blurters in their tracks, because, doing the math, if every quiz grade (at 70%) is a 10 and the jGR grade (at 30%) is a 4, the highest grade possible for that kid is not the A but the B. However, if they don’t have a 10 on every quiz, and average 8 n the quizzes, then the grade is down to a C. Since most blurters are smart, or so is my impression, they don’t like the jGR weighing them down like a ball and chain.

    This is in no way an exhaustive plan to the problem of blurting, and the jGR grade is only one weapon. There is the human interaction piece in class in the moments of blurting that are the real key elements of this discussion. The fact is that most American kids have been taught by television, etc. to outwardly show disrespect and we must, in loving and dispassionate ways, react to that as the adults we are. If we can’t step up to the plate on that one, we will have career long problems. The first piece of that is picking up the phone.

  7. I’m thinking of writing the 12 main jobs with the names of the kids doing them on the board when I put the three structures up there to get Step 1 going. It might up the focus a little. I don’t know. So the plan is to write the job and the kid’s name next to it. Just tryin’ it out and I’ll report later today to see if it helped the focus.

    PQA Counter 1_____________
    PQA Counter 2_____________
    PQA Counter 3_____________
    Story Writer_______________
    Quiz Writer________________
    Professeur 1_______________
    Professeur 2_______________
    Where Person______________
    When Person_______________

  8. I love the idea of enforcing jGR unwaveringly but what do you do with the students who do not care about their grade? I teach in an intercity school and I am beginning to get this vibe that if students fail its the teachers fault and the students play this card. There are certain students who will tell me stories are dumb and put their heads down for the whole story and quiz and not care that they missed that grade for no reason. I tried to pull them in, give them a job but they don’t care. It’s a fine line between showing these students you care and being walked all over.

    These are also the same students who cannot handle the word chunk game because they want to give me names of gangs and references to street drugs as their team names. And when I don’t accept these names I’m the bad guy who trust some students (the awkward turtles) versus others students (3hunna, gang reference). I am currently brainstorming how to rectify this problems.

    That was two questions in one post. Both behavior problems and both weighting my class down greatly right now.

    1. Hi Lori,

      I read your comment about the team games. What if you assigned team names to them? This idea comes to me because I have classroom “mascots” (a few stuffed animals I got at a really great garage sale) and I give one to each team. Then they’re called that animal’s name. I’m always amazed at how personally they take the animal that represents them. My students are 6th-8th graders in a wealthy area. You’d think they never get to see stuffed animals though. (Or eat – another story. Any food rewards, even if it’s a single piece of candy, is considered very big.)

  9. Don’t assign jobs. Let those emerge in the natural flow of things.

    Maybe go read the category entitled Pigs again.

    I don’t see where you can effectuate any change. I just don’t. The way I got out of the pigs situation last year was to get the administration to realize how incredibly deleterious these kids are to the mental and emotional well being of th group. THEY MUST BE TOSSED OUT. They are dark vortexes sucking energy out of the room. For you to have to teach them is an insult to you and all teachers and to the other kids in the room.

    If you can’t get that done, if nobody is on your side with such kids, then maybe sit them in the back where nobody can see them. The one positive here is that when you fail them and are confronted you have the jGR power tool to explain exactly why and how it is that the kid chose to get the 1, or you could even give them the 0 since they are in effect absent.

    Nobody can argue with JGR, and then when you back that up in the meeting with a printout of the ACTFL standards and the 90% use statement, there is not much an administrator or parent can do.

  10. Actually there is one thing you can do, Lori, if the kid is not hopelessly gone by now. Go slower.

    We can blame the kid only so far, and some kids are definitely fully at fault for their failing grades, of course. But, if we can get to them early enough (it sounds too late now, Lori), we can at least keep up a dialogue with them where we make it clear that we ourselves need to go slowly enough in class so that they understand.

    If we at least tell the kid that we are going to go slowly for them and do all we can to help them understand and do that barometer thing with them, they may respond. Of course, barometers are defined as slow processors who WANT to understand, so that may not work, since there are too many other factors in the kid’s background to be able to allow him to interact on a human level with an adult for their own good, but it’s worth a shot.

    Susan Gross always said that the reason they don’t understand is that we go too fast.

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

CI and the Research (cont.)

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

Research Question

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

We Have the Research

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben