To Grade or Not To Grade: Homework in Math Class

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Next week:  Blog about Spiraling Review from Past Math Topics

Math Class Grading Policies

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This week we are blogging about math class grading policies.  Please submit your post!

Next week:  Blog about how you grade (or do not grade) homework.  (By Request).

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My Mini-SBG Experiment

The thing that I love the most about SBG (Standards Based Grading) is that both I AND the student will always know exactly what they need help with.  As soon as I realized this – I was hooked!  And, as much as I would love to jump head first into the SBG waters, I have a few obstacles in my path this year.  First, I am at a new school.  The other teachers and administrators do not know me yet, so I can’t go changing up their entire grading scheme before I even teach a day there.  Second, I am teaching a whole new grade level.  I have not even begun to plan all that I need to for this year, much less add SBG to the workload.  And third, I am a perfectionist.  So, no matter how much I read, until I really figure out this SBG for myself I just can’t commit.

But, I could not stay away either!  So, I decided to do a little mini-SBG experimenting this year.  That way, I can figure as much of it out as possible, ask lots of questions, and have so much more time to really get ready to launch!  What’s a mini-SBG look like you might ask?  Read on to see what I am implementing in my classes.

1)  I came up with my concepts list for each class.  I have approximately 50 concepts.

2)  I created (copied) a blank Concepts Checksheet for the students.  I took Dan’s and tweeked it some to work for me.

3)  I give them a pre-test on each chapter to see where they are.  This helps me condense sections they already  know large parts of and helps me focus on what I need to really work on with them.

4)  I score them from 1 (Beginning) to 4 (Exemplary).  This goes along with our rubric grades.  I only used 1 – 4 initally, but my fabulous middle school director suggested the B – E.  I like that so much better than the numbers 1 – 4 because I am VERY stingy with 4’s.  I give a 3 if you do not have the concept done perfectly.  For me, a 3 is almost got it!  But I am afraid they see a 3 as 3/4 (75%) and I don’t want that.

5) For each quiz and test I give them a concept grade for each concept covered on the assessment AND a number grade (95%).  The concept grade does NOT go into the “gradebook”.  It is just for my files and for their files to see what they know.

Yes, it is double the work because I am recording the concept grades AND the numerical grades.  However, I have already gleaned such valuable information out of this in just the first week that I feel it really is worth it.

Where My SBG is Different:

  • We make notecards as we take notes in class on key concepts.  I have them put the concept numbers on each of the notecards that they make so if they have a low score on a concept they know what to study.
  • I am using B, D, P, E instead of 1 – 4.  Still, I love it!
  • I am not re-testing.  But, I am including the concepts on each quiz and test several times so each concept will have at least 2 entries.

Kids loved seeing an improvement in the Concept Checksheet – even if they didn’t get as high of a score on a test as they would have liked.

Progressive concept questions are progressively harder.  So sometimes students go from a P down to a D.  They don’t like that.  But I tell them it is only temporary.

I need to organize extra work for the students (with answers) so that they may do additional work on the concepts they need help with independently.  Any idea?   Yes, I will help them.  But, then they need to know what to go and practice without me having to make up a million new practice sheets.  My MS director suggested the teacher’s edition practice workbook that goes along with the book.  I like that idea!  But, would love more!

My students are just figuring out the concept thing but so am I!  Plus, there is so much new stuff thrown at them at the beginning of the year that I doubt they have had time to absorb it.  After the first chapter I think everything will make so much more sense to them – and me!