New Way of Business, Part 2

Here I am, grading the latest round of tests. This time, it’s geometry. Last time, it was decimal multiplication and division, and I don’t know who wanted to cry more – the kids or me.

Those of you who read of my dream know I told myself that I’d put together a checklist (buzz-speakophiles will call it a “rubric”) highlighting the learning targets, then judge how far students were towards mastering those targets. Perhaps it would be easier for me to grade (read: I can sleep at night), and it would be better for the students.

If you’re curious how it looks

Drum roll please? Now, I’m a numbers person. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE numbers, and the ability to quantify a construct. But using this checklist to grade, rather than assign point values on each question, was about 500 times easier (oops! there I go, quantifying again).

Why?

For starters, just about anything you ask someone to do in mathematics requires more than one skill at a time. I have to say it’s already a habit of mine to conduct error analysis on just about everything my kids turn in to me. Did they make a math fact error? Are they missing a key part of the procedure? Did they just not read the stinking directions? I also encourage kids to keep an eye on their work so they can learn that same analysis.

Having this checklist allowed me to treat one problem as though it truly required more than one skill set. Take the first problem: “Identify two parallel lines or line segments.” If a kid missed the first problem, maybe it was because they didn’t properly notate lines. Maybe it was because the lines they wrote down weren’t actually parallel. I had kids miss for either reason. For both, I was able to accurately reflect where their skills were.

I found that it was far easier to decide if a student should be marked “developing” or “got it!” than to decide on a point value for a set of problems. For me, it feels like I’m establishing the difference between being evaluative and being constructive. For me, it feels like I am seeing kids for their strengths and needs. Correction: I’ve always intuitively done that. I guess now it feels like I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

What started to become difficult was to follow one reader’s challenge to also quantify a score. I’m still working on that. My first thought is to connect it to the checklist. I could also go by my standard test-scoring procedure.

What I want most is to have a student look at a graded assignment and feel that it’s an accurate reflection of the time, effort, and heart that they put in.

Tomorrow’s the big reveal. I’ll be bringing these to the kids for their responses. Tune in tomorrow, kids!

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