Question from Melissa

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15 thoughts on “Question from Melissa”

  1. In my school teachers have a harder time defending the failing grades than an abundance of A’s. My feeling is that if you have “data” that backs up the grade then you should feel good about giving out a lot of As. I’ve never had a complaint about an A, but when students do less well than their parents think they should I get a lot of push back. My administration bullies us into raising grades to make parents happy.

    When a student is absent I just don’t put in a grade. Then at the end of the marking period I look back and decide if the overall grade makes sense to me. Usually it does, if a zero had gone into the average it wouldn’t. I’ve realized that even though an online grade book makes it possible for admins and parents to micromanage, they only do so when the grades are bad and not when they are good, at least in my school.

  2. I think that after seeing a gradebook full of As, an admin would be concerned only if they walked into the classroom and didn’t see any teaching or learning happening. I think you truly did the right thing by keeping things simple as you introduced your students to your new style of teaching: TCI. I overloaded kids when I started and it backfired on me.

    Students that deserve Cs and lower are those that are absent physically and either sleep in class or disrupt class, right?. If you have none of those, golden. You’re also at the end of 3rd quarter, meaning that these grades aren’t as meaningful as the end of the semester. So students have all of 4th quarter to test the waters and dip down into the B or C range if they so dare.

  3. Melissa, I give a lot of As, too, because most all of my students are acquiring the language well. We teach in a way that reaches all kids, which every teacher is told to do, and then we are worried about not giving enough Fs. That’s a sick system. Just let it ride. Give As but keep data/work samples to back everything up.

    Also, I would not start jGR during 4th quarter, if I were you. Others might disagree, but I would spend 4th quarter grading exactly how you graded this past quarter and just continue to focus on your teaching skills. Starting jGR 4th quarter might lead to some nasty reactions.

    1. I agree with James. Starting jGR except in the direst of circumstances will give students the feeling that you simply changed the rules on them, will increase uncertainty and therefore engender resentment. How that plays out in behavior will vary, but most students will probably have a sense of betrayal.

    2. I agree that to start the jgr now could be tricky. When you do introduce it, don’t forget that it helps students to develop skills that are going to be important and helpful to them in every class and interview that they ever sit through. When we help our kids become better communicators, they work on life skills that are more and more important to practice in the classroom.

  4. I do daily quizzes about 3 times a week about the last 5 minutes of class. They are the simple yes/no quizzes that Ben talks about and help hold the students accountable. Most score 8 and above. If students are absent I merely mark their grade as a “no count” and it doesn’t factor in to their grade. I love not having to deal with make-up work!

    I would agree not to start JGR until next year if you do it. I have taken a suggestion from Eric Herman, I believe, and grade kids on their attentiveness and responsiveness. I actually have the categories on the Smart Board and have them grade themselves. Eric explains this in a post somewhere but I don’t know where. I have been surprised by how honest the kids are and I tell them to be and that I have the right to give them a lower or higher grade if need be. Most kids are spot on and I do even have kids giving themselves Ds and Fs now and again. I like putting it back on them as I can’t possibly grade them accurately in a 50 minute class, so why not have them do it? So far it’s working for me as it was too stressful to figure out what to give who. Making the kids work is way better in the long run and making them accountable for their own learning. I always tell them that I can’t make them learn, I can only motivate them to want to do so. Learning should be an intrinsic desire in my opinion.

    Other than JGR a couple times a week, the yes/no quizzes a few times a week and a dictation and free write now and again I have no other grades. Most kids are getting As and Bs and I have no complaints. I feel they are all acquiring and that is what matters. I don’t really like grades anyway as I feel they stifle learning, so why not make it as easy as possible on us. This then allows us to put our efforts into the classroom and providing engaging material.

  5. …learning should be an intrinsic desire….

    Amen! Imagine… we in schools don’t operate like that. We just don’t. We crush that intrinsic joy of learning and then wonder why they aren’t learning. Why do I like this method? It doesn’t crush their joy.

  6. Annemarie Orth

    I think that if you explicitly connect the pieces of the jGR to learning outcomes (increased comprehension, etc.) , the jGR should be treated as part of the content grade. I got permission from my principal to count interpersonal mode (jGR OR responsiveness, attentiveness, active engagement, and emerging output) as one of my content standards. Each student receives a content grade in each class and a HOWL grade-habits of work and learning. One of the HOWLS is actually responsibility and under that is classroom participation. So I could have decided to keep is as a HOWL, but I realized that the jGR piece really affects their ability to acquire language in class, which is my main objective.

    1. Annemarie Orth

      I should add that our school is completely standard based in regards to our grading this year. So a student’s report card has 1,2,3, or 4’s (for each of the standards in each content area) instead of letter grades or percentages. A 3 is meeting the standard. I find that it’s not as easy for them to get a 4on the jGR , or even a 3-meeting the standards, so the interpersonal grade for students tends to be the lowest one-so when you start grading them using the jGR, you might find that your students aren’t all getting A-s all the time. Not that this should concern you…but it makes others and perhaps you think that you class isn’t rigorous, when in reality it is quite rigorous. I think that for the students, the interpersonal piece-the piece assessed by the jGR -is the most rigorous because of the level ofattention, engagement and responsiveness they need to demonstrate.

  7. …one of the HOWLS is actually responsibility and under that is classroom participation. So I could have decided to keep is as a HOWL, but I realized that the jGR piece really affects their ability to acquire language in class, which is my main objective….

    This is important. Those of us who know Annemarie know that she truly has command of the jargon. She gets all the aspects of educationese and uses them in more areas than just language learning. You know what I mean – she gets it, walking the walk beyond just talking the talk. The reason I say that is that this quote takes on even more meaning in that light. It is a strong thing to say, and a very welcome one that fully supports Robert’s original whim about jGR back in May of 2011.

    Here is another finely turned phrase from Annemarie about the connect between rigor and jGR:

    …I think that for the students, the interpersonal piece – the piece assessed by the jGR – is the most rigorous because of the level of attention, engagement and responsiveness they need to demonstrate….

  8. I had a girl this semester, on the first week of jGR, write on the back, “What Spanish are we learning that we need this?” She also totally blew up behavior-wise one day last week but gave herself all 4’s on jGR. When I contacted Mom about her behavior that day, she said, “I know, she says that you single her out all the time. I think it’s a personality conflict. Maybe she can change teachers?” (it’s not an option!) I was supported by Admin, but he looked at her grade – all A’s, and said that maybe she doesn’t feel challenged.
    With that being said, her buddy in the class (this is a 2nd semester Level 2) can’t even understand Agentes Secretos without help! I also gave an assessment last week on a Movie Talk retell. Student #1 was lacking some comprehensibility on a few of the stills (I had them narrate slides) but her buddy, Student #2, tried, but it was a definite struggle for me to read.
    Then, when we started Agentes Secretos (I used it last year in Level 1; however, MANY of this year’s Level 2’s have not read it and don’t know anything yet about the Spanish Civil War, so I am repeating it.) So, when I started it, Student #2 said, “Why are we doing this again? Why do you keep teaching the same thing every year?” thankfully a senior piped up and said, “HEY! I haven’t learned this yet!!!” and then when I gave her the opportunity to translate the second paragraph – since she read it already! – she couldn’t do it.
    So, any ideas on how to deal with this disparity in the class — from two friends who are at both ends of the spectrum giving me grief?

  9. Annemarie Orth

    mb-I was just reading over my notes from susie gross’ conference in maine from 2011…and reading about the love bank-remember that? Can you think of a way to connect with her outside of class, even in English? Can you think of a way to “hook” her? Do you know any of her special interests? Last trimester I made a point to go to the basketball game of one of my students who had been “failing” or getting 1’s in my class (which is nearly impossible to do.) He was one of the star players and he actually had to sit out of an important game because he wasn’t getting at least a 2 in just my class. I made a point to connect with him the next day about his playing in the game-gave him specific feedback about his playing (I’m a bball player too:)
    I realize that high schoolers are a different breed-I don’t know what I’d do with a student with serious attitude except trying to find ways to connect with her and have her somehow feel good about being in class.

  10. Yeah i have……many times…..we went through 2 years ago too! Met together eith guidance too… she’s doing it again! Crazy thing? I really like her and admire her talent in her sport! So i dont understand. I think shes a stressed out kid!

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