I’m getting my gradebook up to date today, attempting to quantify the unquantifiable.
I teach seventh grade. Assessing their work is a bit like comparing butterflies. Or buttons.
Each child is different. Seventh graders come in all shapes and sizes (look at a seventh grade girl and a seventh grade boy – they can appear to be different species), and they are all in radically different stages of cognitive development.
To ask them all to complete a range of tasks – reading for content, word recognition, sentence construction, imagine, craft, analyze, evaluate – is complicated and fraught with problems. Some seventh graders can and some can not and it has NO bearing on their intelligence or ability – just how far along their brain is in becoming adult. And they have as little control over that as they have over how tall they are. Would we ask a student to be taller?
So I try to evaluate on effort and completeness – do they follow directions? Can they explain their process? What does that illuminate for me? Do they actually do the work and hand it in?
I hate grading. If we could just enjoy the books together, write the assignments and work to create personal critical responses to the readings, play with words, explore the language, then I would be happier. I am glad (although they can be traumatizing to write) that we have narratives along with letter grades.
So, back to the gradebook… and assigning numbers to the unquantifiable.
Image by Aah-Yeah