Grading: #slice2012

So it’s another Sunday at home. The guys went on a field trip to Zoo America to test out our new HersheyPark passes and then to go see MeMe and Pap, so it’s quiet here.

Just me and three very lazy cats, a sleepy dog, and a rather industrious guinea pig.

I hate to say it, but I’m here in my red Snuggie and Mickey Mouse jammies at 6 PM waiting for the microwave to let me know that my popcorn is done.

The computer is open and on, tons of tabs open in my browser – Gmail, Google Docs, Edmodo, a couple of blogs I’m working on and a couple more I’m getting ready to comment on, the yearbook website. In another window I have the grade portal website ready to log into when I get the last of these assignments graded.

Grading is not one of those things I like to do. Seriously. I would far rather give feedback over and over and over, to conference and guide my students to become better readers and writers with endless opportunities for revision.

But I have to, eventually, sit down and put a GRADE on their work.


This is one of the most frustrating parts of my job because that grade seems to signal the end of something.

But I don’t want their work to be done until it is the best they can do.

So I’m dreaming up ways to do what I do better, to put off the grading and focus on the growth. To focus on what’s possible rather than what’s done. To reflect on what we do as writers and what we want to try to do better. Right now I have some ideas, but they are fuzzy around the edges. I’ll dig through some notes, talk to some students, look at what I have available to see what I can test out with this last marking period.


14 thoughts on “Grading: #slice2012

    • Haha! My bargain rate $2 clearance Snuggie. :) It matches the jammies though. Hoping it still stays cool in the evening for a while so I can enjoy it longer.

  1. The snuggie and the popcorn sound pretty perfect to me!! The assigning a grade – I’m with you on that, also. Hard to do, and I don’t like it. Good luck with this tonight.

    • Thank you. Glad to know I’m not alone. And it’s not in one of those misery-loves-company ways either. It’s just good to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. It seems worse this year – perhaps because my only child has now started school and I worry about him and what he’ll be like by the time he gets to high school, what his educational experiences will do to shape his perceptions of himself and his views of learning.

  2. I have a feeling you live closer to me then I originally thought. I didn’t realize you were by Hershey. Would you mind messaging me and letting me know where you live? Perhaps we can get together for coffee sometime soon.

  3. I, too, dread the grade. I don’t feel like it’s my place to put a final judgment on things, my students are 10-11 yrs old. If they aren’t writing effectively, isn’t that my challenge to figure out why and help them? Shouldn’t everything be formative (oh no, that means narrative grades) for this age? My colleagues and I don’t see eye-to-eye on this at all. For them the 88 is nowhere near as proficient as the 92. Just fon’t make me be the one who puts the period on the sentence, they’re still working…

    • I feel the same way about this for my high school freshmen and seniors. I still fantasize about what a dream school would look like. There wouldn’t be a “period on the sentence” there at all… :)

  4. Your night sounds like my night, without the snuggie. Although, my book bag with grading is still sitting where I left it on Friday and I don’t think it’s going to be opened tonight. Good luck!

  5. Yes, the eternal dilemma. How to find a way out of it? I do more process stuff, and more rewrite chances based on feedback, to at least make the grade as fair and ethical as it can be…which it can never be, ultimately. I’ve found it really helps to share my thoughts on it all with the kids. They get it too, even as they’re competing for and worrying about and fixating on the marks. Anyway, I was feeling exactly this way yesterday too…as were a bazillion other teachers on a Sunday! If you find the miracle solution, please let me know! :)

  6. Isn’t it funny the list of things we can do when we’re putting off a task. I really felt like I was right there with you — and the cats, and the dog, and the industrious hamster — watching you wrestle with a task you would rather do differently. Love the well placed *sigh*. It is a struggle to put a “grade” on growth. Grades seem to shout product where feedback shouts forward movement. Like you, I value the process. I love this line, “focus on what’s possible rather than what’s done.” Says it all!

    • I think I shall make a fancy sign of your quote (“Grades seem to shout product where feedback shouts forward movement.”) and hanging it in a frame above my desks…at school AND at home. LOVE it!

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