Friday, December 5, 2008

Writing Assignment

I am responsible for decorating one of the bulletin boards on the 3rd floor from December to March. I'm going to make the kids write about their upcoming trip to Grade Nationals and Disneyworld. (obviously, they'll write about it afterwards) The exact assignment is going to be to tell me one awesome story in 2.5-3 pages.

And I'm going to invent a set of symbols to use as grades. Like there will be a symbol of two stick figures holding hands that will mean "awesome characters." Or a pair of glasses means "You should have read over this for editing mistakes before you handed it in." A mouth and an exclamation point means "great dialogue!" A smiley face with laugh coming out of it means "Your story is hilarious!" There will be a key on the bulletin board, and of course a more specific description of what I think in my comments on each paper.

I like the idea of grades that offer feedback but are nonsensical.

"What'd you get on your paper?"
"I got a pair of glasses, a bullseye, and two fish."


Anonymous said...

I think you are onto something. Traditional letter grades -- A through F -- carry too much baggage and, at the same time, aren't really informative enough. At my kids' school, they start giving letter grades in 4th grade and I remember one parent talking about how his son brought home a "C" and said something like "I'm a C student. I'm stupid" without understanding what he could do to become an "A student."

Anonymous said...

That's because traditional letter grades aren't assessments -- they're evaluative labels.

But good luck getting this system into place. Few public school districts are willing to deviate from percentage-based grading, in which every grade represents a degree of shortfall rather than a degree of success. What's more, many districts require teachers to use a "tougher" grading scale, like 93/85/78/70 instead of 90/80/70/60, in the unfounded belief that this will make kids work harder. It doesn't. You just end up with fewer A's and B's (or teachers who pad their tests with a few more easy items, or who continue to grade subjectively and simply assign different numbers).

Have you read Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn?

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I'm lucky that my immediate supervisor at school is a very intelligent guy with a good understanding of what motivates people. He won't tell me I can't do it; he'll just make some helpful suggestions. Besides, its a bulletin board and I'm a chess teacher.

I haven't read the book but I'll keep my eyes out for it. Thanks.

es_trick said...

Hi Elizabeth,

I'm wondering if you could help me with a question I have.

Have any of your kids ever gained 300 or more rating points from playing in a single event, after their rating had become established? The distinction between provisional and established is important.

If you have seen this happen, could you cite a/some tournament(s) where this occurred?

Many thanks,


Anonymous said...

Are there openings at your school for language arts teachers?

Gurdonark said...

Cool idea. It's fun to use your inspiration--a smiley face with two arms shrugging, "I don't get it, but I like it".

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