Friday, March 10, 2006

The grading thing

Yesterday, I finally got all the middle school work graded. Late. Very late. I hate that I took so long to get around to grading the midterms -- but this year has really been tough. Of course, as I type this I wonder if I would listen to a student who had that kind of excuse. I've always felt bad when I set due dates and then lingered over grading the papers. How can a teacher take points off a project or paper when s/he is late grading the stuff? I've never been able to reconcile that quandry - and probably never will.

The mid terms focused on analyzing think writes, and most students did a great job. Some, however, fell into the "trap" of grading spelling and mechanics rather than content. A think write is just that . . . writing about thinking, and as such should not be graded for spelling or grammar or mechanics. I'll be sure to allow them to do the think writes again; the important thing to me is that they learn how to use them for an assessment . . . not when they learned how to do it.

Workshop VI

Well, I'm going to try to post an entry while everyone else is rereading through their professional journals. I reread my blog, and noticed that I often have real insights as I write about what happened in class, but my problem is remembering the insights. I have kept a professional journal since I began teaching at the college level. At first, it was a way to vent my frustrations -- when I first started teaching in college, I assumed my students would be more . . . more . . . more something than my high school students had been. But they often forgot assignments, just like the high school kids; they often did just enough to get by, just like the high school kids; they often were more interested in a grade than in learning, just like the high school kids; they had excuses for not doing work, just like the high school kids [only more creative or bizzare]. It never occurred to me that perhaps I was not helping them to be more thoughtful or more reflective or to consider issues at a deeper level. Just like when I first encountered the ideas in what was then called content area reading -- I had assumed that students weren't doing their homework because they were "lazy" or "didn't care" -- but I discovered that in reality I was not teaching in a way that supported their ability to do the homework, or the reading -- I was the problem, not them. As I look back over this blog, and reflect on the 15 years worth of professional journal entries I have made it occurs to me that I've written a lot - and thought a lot, but that the missing piece for me has been to reflect on the reflections!