Standards Based Grading Reflection Piece

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45 thoughts on “Standards Based Grading Reflection Piece”

  1. Ok. So how would I enter those Standards-Based grades into the system. It is set up for each of those categories with their respective percentages…and then I just have been assigning points values to items. I plug the points values in to the system and the overall percentage is calculated for me. Please forgive me if I sound stupid but I feel I am when it comes to grading in general…..
    I briefly mentioned Standards-Based grading to a few colleagues today and it was met with a brief pause and went out with a whimper. One said that s/he did not see why participation should be viewed as a behavioral grade because the student could have a bad attitude but perform well, give answers during class. I wasn’t sure how to respond as I’m only beginning to research this new way of grading. It would have been like fighting a forrest fire with a water gun. [Insert confused/frustrated face.]

    1. “Participation” should not be viewed as a behavioral grade – if by “behavioral grade” we mean we are grading citizenship. If we mean that we are assessing how well students perform in the area of Interpersonal Communication, then it is all about “behavior”. As I mentioned in another thread, a student can get a good citizenship mark in my class but a poor grade in communication and vice versa.
      The difference in approach is, perhaps, subtle but critical. If I am assessing only knowledge or “skill” in the modalities of reading, writing, listening, speaking, culture and grammar, then a student with a bad attitude can do really well. That’s still possible in the areas of Interpretive and Presentational Communication, though the Presentational Mode is more difficult.
      As soon as I add the Interpersonal Mode, though, that bad attitude will torpedo the grade. Students simply don’t have the sophistication (or the desire) to keep the attitude out of interaction with another person. As a result, they won’t indicate lack of understanding, their body language expresses disinterest rather than engagement, they either refuse to respond or respond inappropriately, they withhold details, they speak English, and they don’t follow conversation conventions. Yes, those are “behaviors” but they are also “skills” just as much as reading and writing are skills. They just have never been important in the classroom before.

  2. This first paragraph from Jennifer above hopefully gets a lot of responses from blog members. Please chime in on this everybody. The colleague who can’t see the relationship between behavior and grades doesn’t get that it’s not about behavior but about standards. I would avoid this person on the grounds that he or she is an idiot.
    We’ll work out the answers to the first paragraph about the numbers in the next few days, if that is o.k. with others. I’m out the door but that first paragraph is my highest priority right now, to have my grade book all set up with standards based grading before this topic cools down. I feel like I have the help of true experts on this blog so now is the time to act.

  3. ??? I am a big fan of simple. Here is a very non-statistical idea: 5=A=95%
    4=B=85% 3=C=75% 2=D=65% 1=F=55%
    I just picked those percentages randomly. You would substitute whatever your dept / school percentages are.
    Regarding the “behavior,” grade, I think I would not use the word “behavior,” because that is polarizing in the sterile laboratory vacuum of “education” (as opposed to actual education). I know, semantics, but anyway. What I am thinking is that “Interpersonal Mode” includes the set of specific skills that Robert spelled out in the rubric. I think of these as skills rather than behavior. They are necessary for communication. That IS what we are teaching, right? (I think this only recently dawned on me!) So if anyone questions this, we can point to these concrete skills that students must master in order to communicate.
    This is just me thinking out loud. I am going to use a similar system to Ben’s: 50% Interpretive (scores from quizzes, dictee, translations) and 50% Interpersonal. I just made this up yesterday after reading the post! This will work fine for my level 1-2 classes (keeping in mind the level 2 has not had CI before). As the students are ready for “presentational mode” I will adjust the percentages (?somehow?). Not totally sure how I will do this. I gave the level 4s (also brand new to CI) one quarter without assessing output, so I have until January to figure out how I will transition the percentages into presentational mode.
    I am basically stumbling around, but giving myself a break since it’s my first year doing this. I try to remember this when I read all the awesome posts by all of y’all who are veterans! So inspiring 🙂

    1. Jen,
      The percentages you suggest are the ones I used last year and mentioned in another thread. They will work fine, though I would reserve the right to give a student 100% something like an end-of-class quiz. As long as they are looking at traditional percentages, their thinking will be traditional. Consequently, you will get questions like, “I got all five questions right, how come I only got a 95%?” That might be difficult to explain.
      Most grading programs distinguish between the value of a grade you enter and the percentage range that translates into a given grade. So, I would suggest, at least for the end-of-class quizzes
      5 = A = 100%
      4 = B = 85% (which is still better than 4/5=80%)
      3 = C = 75%
      2 = D = 65%
      1 = F = 55%
      In your scale, though, 100% = A+ and 90-99=A. So, a student gets the following grades:
      5, 5, 4, 3, 5, 5, 4, 5, 5, 4 = 90% = A
      You’re really dealing with two different things:
      1. What value you give to the performance
      2. What range of percentages translates to a letter grade
      BTW, I think this is unnecessarily complex but recognize it as an intermediary step to full Standards-Based Grading. I did it this way, and it works if you have to compare with your “traditional” colleagues.

  4. LOL Ben, I actually did laugh out loud when I read that “I would avoid this person on the grounds that he or she is an idiot.”
    Thanks for restating and summarizing all of this. It is really starting to make sense to me. Robert posted this on the German TPRS site and at first I couldn’t see changing what I do, to me it was kind of like interpretive is the same as listening and reading and presentative is speaking and writing, which I already had as categories.
    But the interpersonal mode is what makes this so great because it ties in the rules and expectations for class with standards and learning targets. It all gels into one cohesive whole.

    1. Grant Boulanger

      So, I get Jen’s numbers (5=95%, etc) but here are a few questions before I go about converting everything.
      Robert’s descriptors for Interpersonal are great – they’re adapted to a CI environment and work well with Ben’s rules, if you use them. But, Robert, where do these descriptors truly come from or, did you make them up?
      What about descriptors for Interpretive? Should there be descriptors for this? Should we be able to give them a text and, based on their ability to interpret it, assign a 5 – 1? It seems like the 5 pt scale for Interpersonal doesn’t match up to 10pt interpretive quiz grades.
      Then there’s the whole question of “Summative” assessments. I’m required to weight my gradebook with summative taking 50%. I’m not required to name it summative, but the assessments are to be summative in nature. I don’t have a good answer to what does summative assessment look like in a CI classroom. In a NON CI classroom it’s clear- you either know the discrete grammar points and isolated vocabulary or you don’t.

      1. ??? To me most of what I’m doing is formative: comprehension checks, watching/listening for appropriate responses, quick quizzes, dictation. These are all ongoing assessments in my classroom. Maybe a translation of a paragraph is more summative? That’s kinda how I am viewing it as of today. But I could be misinterpreting “formative and summative.” My 2 cents, but it seems like interpreting a longer or denser chunk of language would reveal the overall strengths/ skills. Is that summative? That is what I am thinking of for the reading interpretation, and then for listening interpretation it could be a series of questions about anything relevant to the student (stuff we talk about in class or general PQA about him/her). Flying blind here, but these are 2 assessments I am going to do at the end of the quarter.

        1. Jen,
          I agree that most of what we do in Foreign Language is formative. As I mentioned to Grant, it isn’t so much what the assessment itself looks like but the use to which it is put that makes it formative or summative.

      2. Melanie Bruyers

        In my gradebook for this tri, I had all my categories: speaking, listening, etc., and then a category of 50% called summative. I am going to give a final test for the trimester which is like a series of quizzes in the different modalities: listening, reading, writing, etc., but it is cumulative and it is worth 50%. Even next tri, when I change my categories to the 3 modes, I will have a 4th category called summative. I just thought it is easier for me to keep it separate and then I don’t have to worry if I actually get enough summative assessments.

        1. Melanie,
          Most gradebook programs have the option of weighting categories (and sometimes individual grades). Thanks for mentioning the idea of incorporating a separate, weighted summative category.

      3. Grant,
        I adopted and adapted those descriptors from the following:
        College Board (AP German Language and Culture rubric)
        21st Century Skills
        Ben’s Classroom Conduct
        I am using Costa’s Levels of Inquiry as a guide for this. Simply put, the levels reflect the following
        1 – understanding of text-explicit material = performance level 3 (basic)
        2 – understanding of text-implicit material = performance level 4 (Proficient)
        3 – understanding of text-unbounded material = performance level 5 (Advanced)
        Most end-of-class quizzes are basic, i.e. text explicit, so the highest score possible is a 3 – but 3/3 is still 100%. Sometimes I can ask a Yes/No question that is level 4. For example, we are talking about Chelsea, who has As in all of her classes: AP Chemistry, AP English, AP Statistics, German, PE, AP World History. Question: Is Chelsea intelligent? Everyone will say, “what a stupid question, of course she’s intelligent”. But did we ever make that statement in the conversation? If not, then it was implicit, not explicit, and a Costa’s level 2 question.
        Today my class took a quiz on Mathias’ Halloween. It was an Interpretive quiz. With the text in front of them, students had to summarize the story in English. Just “translating” the explicit text earns a 3 (basic); realizing that Dad likes black, for example, shows an understanding of implicit text and gets a 4 (proficient). At the end, Dad drinks his “special red juice” and thinks, “Grandpa Vlad, you’re simply the best.” Using text-unbounded information about who Vlad Dracula was and making associations with red being the color of blood, any student who figures out that Dad is a vampire gets a 5 (advanced). There are other things in the text that students could mention, but these are just three examples.
        BTW, I think a good alternative to the 5-question quizzes is simply to ask students to write down in English what the class talked about that day. According to ACTFL and College Board, beginning students should be able to state what the main idea of the text is, e.g. what were the targeted structures?
        Formative and Summative
        The way my district views formative and summative assessments is that there isn’t necessarily a difference in the way they look. The difference is in the way they are used. Let’s say I take the end-of-year final and give it on the first day just to see what my students know. Then I look at what the gaps are and what I need to do to fill the gaps. Then it’s a formative assessment. At the end of the year, when no more instruction will occur after the final, that same test is a summative assessment.

  5. Would the 5,4,3,2,1 be points? ::dumb face::
    I can’t go changing the percentages of the Homework, Participation, Assessment categories in our grading system. Parents would not be happy, administration would be unhappy.
    …And I’d like to just add that my colleague was not questioning me from a place of resentment….I think s/he was just trying to figure it out….

    1. Jennifer,
      The 5,4,3,2,1 aren’t points. They are levels of performance. If you put them into the gradebook program and don’t adjust the percentages, your students will all fail. In your situation, do what jen is doing and assign each of the performance levels a percentage value.
      Also, I would suggest making the Homework as kid-friendly as possible (see the suggestions in another thread). Make “Participation” the Interpersonal Communication Grade. Make Assessment the Interpretive (e.g. end-of-class quizzes) Grade. That should at least make things livable though far from ideal.

  6. Can we do reading, listening, speaking , writing? If you need it, culture, structures and/or vocabulary. Then you need descriptors for explaining to kids where they are on a continuum. That sounds like rubrics. The Alfie Kohn article is unreal (so spot on) and it left me reeling with all of the other stuff I am always thinking about. Now rubrics a re no good? This year, my goal was to move toward changing the way I grade and I I just moved standards-based grading – very quietly. Chez moi, the culture of grading has almost become obscene. The whole process is demeaning to the teacher and student alike. I gave a level 3 writing assessment last week – it took sitting down with each individual to show them what a BMX racer (HT Robert Harrell) product looked like. Fortunately, when I asked them to honestly assess their work, they came up with proficient and saw the difference. It’s my lonely effort to ratchet down the grading mania.The book that is usually recommended is Ken O’Connor’s “How to Grade for Learning “. I think the third edition is the most recent. From p. 153. ” Think “body of evidence” and professional judgement – determine, don’t just calculate, grades.” These ideas are like the mercury rolling around on the bathroom floor after the thermometer dropped off the sink – difficult to corral! It’s a lot to wrap my brain around. I am assessing less. I will tell you that my kids have still not made the connection that everything is equal. There are no more categories labeled Tests, 50%; Quizzes , 30%; Homework 10%; Participation ; 10%. When their grades are broken out into the skill areas, it is very easy to see where they need extra support. I can show them where they are strong and help them get stronger where they are weaker. It’s almost the end of the marking period and I have yet to get in a summative assessment. I think I am going to ask my level 4 class to design their own. Maybe all of them!

  7. Easy Grade Pro is my weapon of choice. It handles the Standards with ease.
    We use SchoolLoop at my school and EGP exports a report that SchoolLoop picks up and displays my standards grade: 3.15 Meets Standards.

  8. One more wrench, which may be included in the above conversations.
    Standards-based does not match with traditional letter grades, even as it is marching across the country (to my pleasure, I might add). Standards-based asks how well kids are demonstrating abilities. Traditional grades ask what percentage they got right, which may have nothing to do with how well they’re performing in any area. That being said, at least in my district, we still have to mark traditional grades. So I typically say that a kid who meets my expectations (that’s the level at which I want all students to perform for a given assignment) gets the B. Some would say that’s too high, but really, why should I tell kids that by doing what I expect, they earn only a C? A kid who exceeds my expectations gets the A. One who’s lower gets a C or D, depending on extent of “lower,” and one who doesn’t show up or doesn’t demonstrate anything gets the F. Under a B, it’s more subjective, but then all grades are subjective…the teacher decides what’s being assessed, how that assessment gets recorded in the gradebook, and on and on. By giving kids a clear rubric of what is expected for a B, I am communicating what they have to do. If it turns out much of the class can’t do that, it’s my fault, and I throw out the grade or I confess to the kids that I had to change the rubric. If they all get A’s, I marvel with them that they exceeded. Generally I know where to focus, because I have been teaching them all this time.
    To make this work, I put in grades as letters. The scale for an A is 80-100, for a B 60-80, and so on, so that an F is 0-20. That is because otherwise an F has too big an impact on a grade. (Who decided that an A gets 10% but if you get an F it covers 60% of the system?) But in the end, I don’t even look at the average necessarily. Instead, I pull up all the grades in one category, say, speaking. They have typically all been formative, up until the (summative) test. The most consistent, recent set of grades is what the kid gets for that area. To make things easier, all those little grades are 5 points each, and the final grade that I put in that pulls all the others together is worth 100. Then I move to the next category, for instance, Listening (or now, interpersonal communication). I have previously weighted these categories so that the ones I think are most important count the most. That means that speaking and writing are very light in the first two years, but gain weight as students progress. Interpersonal communication is highest in the first year.
    This system works really well for me. It follows a lot of what Wormeli and Marzano and O’connor suggest. A small group of teachers at our school has found that teachers, kids, and parents all like this because a single F doesn’t plunge them into the ground, but they still have to demonstrate their abilities, so an A is not awarded for good behavior and homework. Now when I look at my grades, I can tell what kids are good at and where they need to improve.
    Not everyone has the freedom I do to set categories. As a one-person program in a school where people are pretty free-wheeling, it’s much easier to do than where you are given the percentages. I like Robert’s solution, but hope that we can all eventually give standards-based reports rather than these outmoded grades.

  9. One PS: I totally agree with Kohn when he says that even standards-based grading is still grading and deleterious to the process of learning. My parents in parent Russian learn Russian way faster than the average kids do, given that they have only one hour a week, and also given that they aren’t supposed to do homework. I dream of doing an experiment…offer kids the chance to get A’s, if they show up every day continuing to do what they’re doing: paying attention, giving me ideas for stories, and so on. I’d have to get them to take an oath or something to not tell anyone.

  10. I am living that dream now Michele. Kids who, earlier in the year, were flunking from not showing up as per the school culture I work in, are now getting B’s and A’s. They have figured out, because I have repeatedly told them, that if they just come to class they will never get lower than a C. That is not because I am a nice guy, but because I am retraining their battered minds to accept that it is MY job to make myself clear and if they fail it is MY fault. So many other teachers have, in most cavalier and foolish fashion, slowly, over years, since 5th or 6th grade, mercilessly beat the curiosity out of them with worksheets and big tests. The kids have had the relaxed curiosity beaten out of them! These are mental victims, not students. But, teaching using comprehension methods allows them to rebuild their faith in their own minds. They come to class, they listen, they understand, and they succeed with 8/10 and above on easy quizzes written by their peers. I give them a word or two of encouragement about their rising grades as they exit the room, and soon, miracle of miracles, stony faces turn to trusting faces, even smiles and laughter in class. It is because I took the trouble to fail them in the first six weeks that this rebirth in attendance, trust and real learning is occurring now. At the beginning, everything about them had to be reset. They were functioning in the wrong part of their brains, they were functioning without trust, they didn’t know how to play, they brought with them from other classes and from their urban middle school settings (think about that in the case of some kids, when alcohol and drugs and poverty take away your hope and you are only 15 years old). Their sense of failure went with the territory of being in a classroom. Their battered minds and beliefs in themselves as learners could not heal because their teachers continued to do things that Kohn and Krashen have proven instructionally wrong. I use the term battered because it is what I saw every day in a huge percentage of my students. But, after ten weeks of PQA now, with that Learning Styles Inventory really cementing some trust in there last week, and some laughs, and all the good stuff that teaching using stories and readings brings, and all the INSANE hard work of the phone calls and the clutzy teaching of the first part of the year, I am now officially past that period of feeling that I wasn’t reaching them, and they have learned and I have learned and there is much happiness in our classrooms, even in that eighth period class I bitched about here two or three weeks ago. No need to hide any freebie A’s. They aren’t free, the kids earn them. The system is built to work. It is MY job to make my instruction crystal clear to everybody. This stuff is truly revolutionary. The term “the teacher fails the student” is very accurate. But we don’t have to fail them. No oath from kids needed. Besides, it wouldn’t work – they would take advantage of you on that free A. You have to give them the feeling that they are earning it. But really, all they are doing is coming to class and you are doing all the work of SLOW, total transparency of language, etc. We know through Krashen that anyone can learn a language. Nothing of what I am saying here could apply to a chemistry class. We are just lucky that we are language teachers because we know that all our students can succeed because the approach we use brings that every day. Now, as the Los Angeles Initiative (Robert and Drew) teaches us to reach through to the Vygotsky-like piece of reciprocal and participatory learning, with our students suddenly realizing that they are responsible for their own interpersonal standard work with us, healing is going on, and kids ARE, in effect, changing deeply in what they think learning is. and they don’t feel so much that they are being graded, or at least that piece enters a lot less into the picture. They learn in spite of being graded. Their B’s and A’s begin to be less noticed by them in the learning landscape. My kids really are forgetting they are being graded. They just forget. And in that forgetting, in the trust generated by the ease of acquisition brought by our comprehension based approach, they can function as Kohn suggests.

  11. Disadvantages to grading in terms of the Interpersonal and Interpretive standards: none.
    1. 10% – 30% more instructional time for CI, as testing shrinks to normal levels.
    2. the increase in CI builds stronger students, and people can’t help but notice even more the wide discrepency in actual student achievement between CI trained kids and others.
    3. even just one grade in the book on the Interpersonal piece, weighted at 50%, is enough for the computer. We need not waste our time with grading.
    4. teaching becomes about teaching and not about testing and grading.
    5. attendance goes way up as the kids realize how easy it is to flunk if they don’t go to class because all they are being graded on is how they show up in class and how they do on the easy short quizzes given at the end of class. There are no:
    – extra credit options
    – no big make-up tests to try to cheat on
    – no angles they can play
    – no homework they can use to crutch up their grades
    – no projects they can do to help their grade (projects are bullshit).
    None of that to nurse a grade back to health. They have to be in class.
    6. quizzes for the Interpretive grade can be on any PQA, any story, any reading, and song, and can be given at any time in a way that is spontaneous. The teacher, most importantly, can therefore not be making her instruction dance around some date when the test will be. The quiz is given when it fits into the instruction, when time allows naturally, and is entirely based on the CI heard in class.
    7. The kids don’t have to spend a minute preparing for some dumb ass test at home. No memorization of word lists. It’s all fresh in their minds. They gain confidence. They no longer get beat down because they can’t memorize shit.

  12. Literally just now coming back from handing over the paperwork to my boss showing that basically all of my students received A’s for the first nine weeks. I feel GREAT about it, though I was cringing at the thought of what she would say (but then again, I thought, its not a big bunch of F’s like the math teacher has right now down the hallway). She reacted as predicted (disbelief) but then just said, “Well, okay – I’ll just check on ProgressBook [our grading software] to see how the grading is going.” We’ll see how this plays out during the next nine weeks. I do want to nail down this idea of standards based grading (or do I?) but would still love to see them all get great grades. Maybe what I am trying to say is that I want to give them contructive (and well constructed) feedback (and this skill/standards-based stuff is eons above the old school grading categories), but not necessarily as a way that pulls their grades down….Ug, how annoying to have to worry and explain myself on the most wonderful, curiosity-filled teaching that I have ever done!

  13. HELP! Sorry…I didn’t know which category this fits in, but it’s related to the kids’ self-reflection on interpersonal skills. I pretty much gave out the form Robert posted, changing the wording slightly to reflect the rules we are using in class.
    So it’s only one students, but I can see she is not happy. Regarding “I signal the teacher when I don’t understand something,” she gave herself a 3, and wrote “I don’t feel like it helps. I think trying to figure it out in context works better.” Not sure what to do with that. She wrote the same thing a few weeks ago on another self reflection. I was clear at that point to make the distinction between reading and listening. I applauded her for this strategy in reading, but said that for listening in class it’s better to signal as soon as you are unclear. Do I need to let go of this idea??? Often when I do comprehension checks “what did I just say” this girl cannot respond and I remind her about the signal, but if she is determined not to signal, then????
    Also she wrote as a separate comment: “Can we please do something other than sitting? Like cooking or card games? ” Nobody else wrote this. I am working on the sitting thing, and think that I try to get them up moving. Unfotunately right now we are doing a reading blitz, so it’s a bit less active. The bizarre thing is that today I had them up doing a line dance to “Laisse Tomber Tes Problemes” and this girl just sat?!?!
    Anyway, probably just a bad day for her. But I want to address these things with her. She may never buy in and maybe she needs to sit and do textbook exercises. Today they were in groups of 3 doing quick retells of the novel we’re reading. One of the first “output activities I’ve tried. I made it up on the spot. Each person spoke for about 30 sec and then I switched, and they rotated around. It was pretty awesome, stress free, and they helped each other. I heard no English! Anyway, I was just curious so I did this, and to my delight everyone including the super quiet kids could say quite a bit. Except for this girl. I am not assessing output, but knowing her I would bet that she is reluctant to say anything that is not “correct” whereas everyone else seemed to just be in a flow.
    ??? Would love to hear strategies. End of quarter is next week, followed by parent conferences, so good opportunity for a reset if I need to (but nobody else complained so…???)

  14. This will change Brian, in my view. You will see and be able to identify different levels of A’s and you may want to call some of them B’s and even C’s and, yes, even F’s for those whose hearts cannot be opened even with comprehension based methods. I never had the courage to do what you did with that badge today. That is why I have used for some time now a ten point scale to quantify things using the quick quizzes and will soon use one on the interpersonal rubric that Harrell and Drew are designing for all of us right now. Thanks, guys… hee hee. Anyway, Brian, the way that the ten point scale works for me is that my computer is set to read a 9 out of 10 as an A-, but an 8 is a B, a 7 a C, etc. This is just the way my school scale is read by my computer. The 10 is the A. So some kids do get 7s pretty much on the quizzes and will get them on the interpersonal grade as well when I get that cranked up soon, and most get 8s and some others get 9s and a very few get 10s and that thin slicing of just one question difference per grade allows me to create the appearance of grades for my administrators. You may want to consider that just to make your life easier if this boss gets wiggy about all the As. Just a thought. It’s hard to defend success for everyone in a society that is based on slicing and dicing people into little pieces of relative value.

  15. Thanks Ben for your thoughts there. I keep thinking about your last sentence, “It’s hard to defend success for everyone in a society that is based on slicing and dicing people into little pieces of relative value.”…What to think. How to react to that.
    Florida divides the modes of communication into five: Interpretive Listening, Interpretive Reading, Interpersonal Communication, Presentational Speaking and Presentational Writing. I am also carefully reading everyone’s comments on the standards-based grading stuff, and looking to more carefully implement it with the above five categories in the gradebook I suppose? Does that sound right? If so, how Ben, would you weight each of those categories. To me, the Interpersonal Communication is everything. It implies listening and even some basic output. Also, what would you do with the presentational modes?…
    Thanks for this thread!
    p.s. yes, hard to defend success for everyone, but overall – the first quarter of ever not opening up the books…this is an A across the board.

  16. Those five categories all run together in my mind. See how Florida is blurring lines and making it into bullshit that we can’t use? Brian I support your idea that “Interpersonal Communication is everything”.
    The people who point teachers to the five divisions and tell them to grade that way probably never had to run them through a grade book in real classes. It is a classic example of how their ivory tower thoughts mess up real teachers in real trenches.
    Even Krashen’s research, like his use of the term transparency, doesn’t have any real applicability to real classroom teaching. I say keep it simple, as simple simple simple as possible.
    Do you have to now grade while highlighting those five areas? Good gosh everybody when are we going to kick this grading thing down to the level it needs to be in our classes so that we can teach and go home?
    I wouldn’t weight those categories. It pisses me off thinking about it. Not everyone has Harrell’s mind and can do that kind of assessment analyis. I am going the interpretive grades via quizzes and interpersonal communication grades via a proficiency rubric route, hereby requested so that I can wrap up this thing by next week – that’s it.
    I am the professional in my classroom. Nobody is going to tell me to align with five shades of modes. Life is too short for all that. What happened to our simplicity theme here, y’all?

  17. You could have 4 more categories of interpersonal: interpersonal speaking, interpersonal listening, interpersonal writing (texting, maybe), interpersonal reading.
    To me they just sound like the 4 modalities with interpersonal thrown in, which could be like Robert describes with body language and participation in class. I have the 4 modalities right now which I don’t think is bad. I have listening quizzes and put it in that category, reading quizzes, writing quizzes and speaking quizzes. (I also have culture and vocab and summative, so how’s that for not simple) But, I only give one quiz a week, unannounced, no tests, except for the final. So it does feel simple to me. This week we had one 10 point listening quiz. Last week we had one vocab quiz. When I wanted to put in a speaking grade, I just had everyone say two sentences in German 1 and a lot of things in the room are labeled, so they could just say “the poster is yellow, the flag is red.”

    1. Vocabulary quizzes don’t measure what they know if the word is simply given out of some (meaningful to them that they have heard) context. Melanie when you do the vocabulary quiz do you say the sentence the word is from, a sentence that they have heard before?

      1. Melanie Bruyers

        The last one, I had them match the word I said to a picture and I read them a few statements that were true false questions, like does the dog fly, does the chicken have 4 legs. And, yes, they have heard it before.
        Next trimester, I am switching my categories to the 3 modes, plus the summative that is required in our district.
        These categories I have now I started doing 4 years ago after I went to NTPRS and saw Scott Benedict. A lot of the TPRS people on moreTPRS only have vocabulary lists as their assessments.

  18. Thank you all for the feedback and thoughts. Today was our teacher work day (no students) and so my plan was to look a bit more closely at all this Marzano-based learning goals and scales stuff, read carefully everyone’s comments on this standards-based learning thread on the blog, and work my way into a nice blend of ideas that would work in my Ci driven class. I just got home now, and after thinking through it all and the recent posts here, I’ve come away with this: keep it simple. DON’T go down the route of trying to quantify and objectify my students every little effort (and sincere they are this year!…how exciting) to understand and even communicate back in Spanish. Ben, I am not required to grade to Florida’s five mode of communication – I thought maybe that was the route I was going to take myself. NO. I’m back to keeping it simple. I’m going to write down today or tomorrow ALL the things that REALLY matter to me now (ex. understanding our in-class CI, eye contact, signalling when you dont understand, following free write rules, no English, etc.) and work that into a fair system. Ben – do you just use a simple point system then? No weighted categories? I need to know “Slavic simple” grading. You have shared many details of it above and in other posts…I’ll look back. Thanks again!

    1. I weigh the quizzes at 75%. They are on scantron. They are yes/no. They can be from any class except Fridays, which I reserve for songs and poetry, areas way to sacred to connect to a grade. Thus, they can be from the PQA we do on Mondays, the stories we do on Tuesdays, or the kick butt reading classes we do on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I choose on any given day if that is the day it feels like a quiz will even fit. I do maybe one quiz a week, occasionally two. It keeps the kids guessing. No predictable quiz day means that ditching class is potentially a big powerful (because there are so few quizzes) fat zero in the book that can bring any grade to an F in an instant. Not to mention that if I test any more than that I then lose valuable minutes that could have otherwise been used for CI in the form of listening or reading, which reminds us of Blaine’s famous statement, or Krashen’s, not sure, that you “can’t make a pig any fatter by weighing it more often”.
      Those who look at my gradebook to see if I am a good teacher believe that I am a good teacher when they see the term “Story Content Test 1” or “Reading Test 1” with the nice, official looking CT1 or RT1 abbreviation next to it. They haven’t the faintest idea that the quiz took only three minutes to give. It looks real. It’s not. I don’t need even need to test. I wish I had a helmet with a camera on it to record what I see in their eyes in class. That is where I can tell you with extreme accuracy how much they are getting. I am Susan Gross trained and one of her biggest things is Teaching to the Eyes and I am good at it. That is how I really know what they know.
      Every once in a while, if I don’t see their eyes focused on me and my CI, I just say in English, while looking at an offender, “You’re being graded right now and what I see now is what really counts. So sit up and square up your shoulders with me and pay attention.” There is a slight rustling noise as the offender gets back into focus (I wait kids out on that). I tell them that no matter what the gradebook says, I can and will change their grade up or down and I frequently do. I just change the grade to reflect what I see in class. One kid I have is a super super fast processor and a kind hearted kid. He doesn’t score perfectly on quizzes to reflect the masterful listening he does in class. By giving him a B and not an A because of what the gradebook says sends a strong message to him: in my classroom tests are more important then human interaction. Nope on that.
      Sometimes I forget to ask the Quiz Writer to write a quiz (which is so easy for some kids, they could write 30 questions if 30 minutes if they wanted to because everything is so SLOW and easy to understand and interesting). In that case of no quiz, and this can only be done in a reading class, I may have them take out a sheet of paper and tell them to look at the projected text we just spent all period talking about as per:
      and ask them to translate on paragraph or a few lines. I would take that stack of papers to my office and sit there and, in five to ten minutes, have slapped grades up to 10 on each, almost as fast as it takes me to move the papers from the “not graded” to the “graded” pile, as per:
      The other part is a bogus 25% “participation” grade (the term has no validity but I use it anyway). It allows me that grade manipulation capacity to move the kid into line with the grade that I know they should have based on attendance and what I see in class – sitting up and squaring up with me. But that will probably go to 50% as it goes from being bogus to real as per the information we are getting here from the Los Angeles Initiative.
      Frankly, Brian, I am so glad that you decided on ultra simplicity. Indeed, a good portion of teacher burnout, of their unhappiness with teaching, is straw man stuff. They think that the Emperor has clothes. They believe all that shit from administrators. Why do people become administrators? In my view, and I say this with compassion because it is true of all of us, they have control issues. And we believe them when they try to intimidate us with the implied falsity that we must have a good looking gradebook. We work ourselves into burnoutb over something as unimportant as a grade book. I shared a moment with a colleague last week who showed me her gradebook. In the last two and a half weeks she has about 20 grades in there. I kid you not. That is sick. She even admitted it and says that five years ago it was worse. Nobody cares, Brian, nobody cares. Except maybe your family and your own need of time to heal from work. Nobody cares. It’s all a big joke.

      1. I could never leave this blog! Thanks Ben for your frankness and your sense of where the truth is on each issue. I’ve regained my almost-lost sense of balance on the whole grading thing. Thanks to the rest of my co-troopers here on the blog! Serious, dedicated, willing to work through the nitty-gritty of the details of theory and technique, all with a huge dose of humanity…

      2. OK, I have a question now, Ben. You wrote: No predictable quiz day means that ditching class is potentially a big powerful (because there are so few quizzes) fat zero in the book that can bring any grade to an F in an instant.
        Do you put in a zero only if the student is marked as truant, or do you put in the zero no matter what the reason for the absence?
        At my school I am required to give students the opportunity to make up a missed assessment unless they were truant. Since parents write excuses for almost anything, that means nearly every absent student must have opportunity to make up work. (Today for example was an unofficial “Senior Ditch Day”. While I had very few absences, some classes had nearly half of the seniors gone – and nearly all were excused by their parents.) So, if I put in a zero rather than not applicable, I have to give opportunity to make up the quiz. What do you do as a make-up? (I’m looking for something that won’t create a lot of extra work for me.)

        1. ….do you put in a zero only if the student is marked as truant, or do you put in the zero no matter what the reason for the absence?….
          I put in the zero no matter what the reason for the absence. The school culture demands it. But I would do it in a school like a middle school where truancy is not an issue as well. Why? Because it forces the kid to come up to me with an excused absence slip, which I put on a clipboard and process (remove the zero) after school or during my planning. This is a minor hassle, but worth it – the kid has to be conscious of his grade all the time, has to be aware that the zero is in there. It makes the kids take responsibility for their absences, in short. It sure does destroy the all A’s thing – if a kid is going to ditch my class even once in a grading period they sure as heck are not going to get an A in my class.
          …at my school I am required to give students the opportunity to make up a missed assessment unless they were truant….
          That’s great, but this way, putting the zero in first, it transfers the responsibility of the paper work to the kid, where it should be. When THEY show up with the excused absence, then THEY have done something on their own behalf. When they don’t show up, as is the case 90% of the time, the powerful deterrent of seeing their grade go from a B to a D (I don’t give many quizzes) ensures that they won’t do it again. If you don’t burn them with the zero, you teach them that you will caretake their grade. Right? More work for you and less for the kids. Has no one in this community ever just allowed a kid to get away with a missed class because you had about sixty other things to juggle in that moment of dealing with the truant kid? The kids take our overwork to the bank. They own us. Me, I just put in the zero. And the make up work I have to give them? Screw that. I just x out the O and we’re done. If it’s excused, an x in my computer turns it into a non-grade, excused, not to be made up.

  19. Brian,
    As someone mentioned somewhere (sorry, don’t remember who or where), the whole breakdown of the modes can get pretty complex. The AP exam has seven sections that cover the following six modes of communication:
    -Written Interpretive
    -Oral Interpretive
    -Written Interpersonal
    -Oral Interpersonal
    -Written Presentational
    -Oral Presentational
    So, what is the seventh section? A combined Written and Oral Interpretive.
    A couple of colleagues set up their gradebooks with all of those categories. I looked at that and decided it was far too complicated. I would never keep up with it, and the necessity of telling my students that this assessment or questions is one thing or another would be a nightmare for me. So, I just stuck with the three modes without regard to oral vs written.
    Also, in levels 1 and 2 I am pretty much in line with Ben’s idea of making the end-of-class quizzes the interpretive grade and classroom interaction the interpersonal. Along the way I will do some other things as well. For example, I gave an interpretive quiz on a reading we did. I see the reading as an opportunity for students to show some of the higher-level thinking skills. In levels 3 and 4/AP I have to do some other things because students are ready for some output and their skills are starting to become a bit more sophisticated.
    As far as presentational mode is concerned, I want to give students opportunity for output without forcing it. Although I put in a category for Presentational Mode in my gradebook, to date there is nothing there – and it may remain that way. I think Ben is right that assessing the presentational mode is inappropriate for at least level 1 and probably level 2 as well (maybe second semester). I will probably do an activity with “sentence frames”, give all of my level 1 and 2 students good grades for it and call it “presentational” just to keep everyone happy. Maybe I’ll give them a grade for how well they participate when we go Christmas caroling (without telling them there will be a grade).
    There are a number of factors that influence the difference in how Ben and I see some of the numbers and breakdown. Part of it is that I also teach level 3 and 4 classes. The great thing about this is that we are so cutting edge here that no one else has any idea of how to do it, so whatever we come up with – and there’s room for variety – will be setting the standard in our schools. By the time anyone else has gotten there, everyone on Ben’s blog will be able to say, “Here, let me show you what I have done.” The others will be so happy to have the work already done for them that they’ll take what you have and use it. (How’s that for a “heile Welt” view of things?)
    After a couple of comments from Ben and a colleague here at my school, I realize that without ever setting out to do it, I have become one of the more radical teachers in my district. To me though, it isn’t radical at all. It’s simply the logical application of what I understand to be true about acquisition and assessment. It also doesn’t seem that complicated to me. (This coming from the guy whose mother used to say, “Ask him the time and he’ll tell you how to build a clock.”)

    1. Robert, can you give an actual example (with the translation) of what you mean by “sentence frames” in the following:
      “I will probably do an activity with “sentence frames”, give all of my level 1 and 2 students good grades for it and call it “presentational” just to keep everyone happy.”
      I have to do far too much “presentational mode”–that’s the end product for every New Tech project–and my students are just not ready for the sophisticated language they are attempting. Any kinds of “frames” I could provide would spare me a lot of rough draft corrections.

      1. Lori when we correct drafts we accomplish nothing for 96% of our kids. Except the draining of our own energy and the wasting of our time when we could be healing. Most kids don’t care, and research shows that in language acquisition error correction has zero effect in making all but a few kids better at the language, and it’s questionable with those few kids. Zero effect.

        1. Yeah, I know it doesn’t help at all. I never do corrections for my CI classes. When there are common errors in free writes, I choose dictados which demonstrate them and point them out. Or I just give more readings to demonstrate correct language.
          I do correct rough drafts for their New Tech projects because they are asked to produce beyond their level and I don’t want to give them bad grades on written communication for things beyond their ability. I have the same projects/rubric as the other Spanish II teacher.
          My goal is to somehow simplify their output so that I won’t have to correct rough drafts. Yes, that’s my goal for my next project. This forced output too early is just a mess. Thanks for the reminder.

      2. I don’t know if this would work for you at your school, but I have always had my level 1 students learn “trabalenguas” or “tongue-twisters” and then we all practice saying them chorally every day. I tell them they need to memorize them for those occasions when their friends ask them, “so you’re taking Spanish, can you say something?” They rattle off one of these tongue-twisters and it blows their friends’ minds 🙂 I require that the students all move their mouths and do the hand motions to get the credit. Invariably I have several, over time, who challenge each other to see who can say them the fastest. Tons of fun!! And, a big confidence booster in that they feel like they are able to say something.

      3. “Sentences frames” are when you provide students with a sentence that has blanks in it. They fill in the blanks. In a way it’s just letting students do on paper what we have done orally in class. Let’s use Jim’s Halloween story as an example. Sentence frames might be:
        Two years ago, Matthew wanted to be ______________ for Halloween, but __________ said, “You shouldn’t be _______________ this year, you should be ___________________. That might be to allow students to see the targeted structures one more time and add their own details. Since it is writing and therefore “output”, it’s presentational – just scaffolded presentation.
        Two years ___________, Matthew _____________ to be a dragon for Halloween, but his mom said, “You shouldn’t be a dragon. This _________ you ______________ Minnie Mouse.” This might give students the opportunity to show they have acquired the structures. I tend more toward allowing them to add the details and use the sentence frames as another instance of Comprehensible Input by giving them the target structures.

  20. Ben,
    I just re-read your post. You wrote: He has said and we have agreed that the five C’s don’t really mean anything and that the real heart of them is only the one: communication.
    In the context of classroom assessment I support this statement – and that is what we are talking about here.
    In the larger context, the other Cs are things that I as the teacher ought to be doing: bringing target culture into the instruction; teaching across the curriculum (Connections – for example, today I had a former student come and share about his two years on a Cal State program to Germany; he mentioned that he was in Berlin and the temperature was -20C; we did the math together out loud in German so that everyone knew it was -4F; that was my responsibility, not the students’); creating Communities; and making Comparisons (e.g. when I write a phrase/sentence in German and then write the English under it, students can see – and compare – the differences in Word Order). What most of us, including me, have done in the past is place the burden of all five Cs on our students. Instead we should give them only the responsibility for showing up both physically and mentally to class. Everything else lies with us.

  21. When my kids miss school for reasons other than serious illness, they write a fast-write based on recent words, using them at least three times each in a story that is double the average number of words that the class writes in ten minutes. They do that for any day they’re missing. I tell them it doesn’t make up but helps them review whatever our words were.

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