Five for Friday: Wonderings!

For my 5 for Friday I wanted to pose 5 questions. These are topics that have come up and I have been thinking about and/or discussing with my colleagues over the last week. I would love to hear your response, thoughts, ideas, etc! I have included some of my random thoughts, too! I think it's so important to collaborate and I love the idea of hearing what is going on in other schools around the country.

#1: What does your school do to address the issue of bullying?
I think my kids are almost desensitized to the word. My 3rd graders think anytime someone is "mean" to them or they don't want to play, they call it bullying. We have wonderful anti-bullying programs in place. We provide our kids with the tools to defend against bullying, but is it all enough? What about the consequences for the bully?? I've had two personal experiences where the child who was bullied was punished for standing up for himself against the bully. I'm just not sure that is the way to handle this problem.

#2: How do you think students should be graded if they are in danger of failing the grade level? In other words, should they make As and Bs on a report card or do you give all Cs? Or lower?  (I'm not talking about ESE kids)
I think it is confusing to the parent to see As and Bs on a report card, yet they are told their child is in danger of failing.

#3: How many grades do you take per subject area? Does your school require a specific amount?
I have taught for over 20 years. I learned long ago that giving 9-15 grades per quarter was more than enough for elementary students. One grade per week per subject has been my rule of thumb. We do not have a set rule or specific amount. It's left to the teacher's discretion.

#4: What kinds of assignments do you grade? Do you grade homework?
I only grade work I consider an assessment. I do not grade homework. I always check homework with my students, which provides immediate feedback for them and me. I can walk around while we grade and see quickly if there are any problems that need review.

#5: Have you found a way to reduce the number of papers you grade?
Using response journals, reader's notebook, and conferencing with my kids, has reduced the number of copies I make and therefore the number I grade.  Our math book and science and social studies books are consumable which cuts back on copies. For the most part, I do not bring papers home too often. If I do they don't seem to get graded anyway. I have learned to utilize my planning time and before and after school to get that work done. I do spend time at home planning, creating activities, and reading professional resources. I think that is a better use of my time.

I appreciate your comments! Agree or disagree! It's all a part of the learning process!! Do you have any burning questions? Looking forward to hearing from you!
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  1. Hey Gina! Great questions!

    #1- the counselor takes care of bullying. All I know is we are an anti-bullying school. I'm not sure of anything else beyond that (so sad, isn't it?). I do not think a child should be punished for defending himself from a bully since that will keep them from doing it in the future or from a student defending someone who is being ganged up on. I realize they should use force, but if you are defending yourself, is there another choice if you are being physically hurt?

    #2-I believe in truth in grading. That means a child gets what they earned on a paper. If I have to go back and reteach, that is one thing, but I don't modify anything unless they have an IEP. If a child is failing, they are getting failing grades because we need the data to show to parents, the psychologist, etc to see how we can best help the student, especially if there may be a disability. I still pull them in groups, reteach, and tutor, but for independent work, they get that independent grade.

    #3- We are required to have 9-13 daily grades and 3-4 summative (test) grades per subject per nine weeks. The summatives are hard to get- you feel like you are testing constantly.

    #4- I do not grade homework because that is practice and parents can help. I teach a skill over a certain period and then I'll give an independent practice for them to complete after I feel that they should have mastered the skill.

    #5- ugh. Grading. I do grade mostly at home (boooo) but I have been doing better about trying to grade at school when I can. I do way too much at home, which is hard with 3 little people running around. I tend to have more papers to grade towards the end of the nine weeks (like now) since I'm trying to make sure I have enough grades and we are doing summatives to close out the nine weeks.

    Not sure if that was at all helpful!
    Collaboration Cuties

  2. Great questions!

    We have had a lot of conversations about grading lately. Our administration cracked down on the "good grades but still not meeting expectations" a couple of years ago, but it still comes up.

    We use a chart that looks at scores we have for a student and place them into a category (Intensive, Strategic, Benchmark, or Advanced) based on where they have the most scores shaded. Initially it was just used in house, but now we share them with parents to show them how their student is doing overall. The joys of being a single school district - we "borrowed" it from another South Florida district(I can't remember which one) and then made it our own. Grades are only one part of the mix.

    Our grades are weighted in grades 3-5. Classwork/Homework is 20%, Quizzes/Projects are 30%, and Tests are 50%. We try to have 3 grades in each category for each subject in a nine weeks. Other than a few ESE students, my strugglers have grades that reflect their struggles. I think weighting the grades helps a lot!

    I'm with you on homework. I was put in a rough spot earlier this year in a twin situation. The mother was upset that the other teacher grades homework and I do not. Thankfully the principal stood up for me on that one!

    I've found Edmodo helpful. I've made my weekly reading log an Edmodo assignment. I can check quickly to see that they are turned in and look through them and make comments without having to lug home any papers. I try to assign open book assignments using the quiz features so the computer can grade them instead of me. I have the Spelling City App through Edmodo and the spelling packet is done online as well. It tracks their progress and gives immediate feedback without me having to grade anything!

    My students often check their own classwork and homework in class. The parents know that anything checked in red was student checked and any other color means I checked it.

    I'll have to check back to read the other comments!

    Suntans and Lesson Plans

  3. I definitely disagree with marking students higher in grades than where they are performing! Scores on the State Test should reflect those in the classroom. For those low achieving students, they need to be documented all the way throughout their grade levels, meaning by the time they have reached 3rd grade, it's not a surprise where they are scoring. Intervention needs to be implemented. I feel strongly that we should give these kids all we have, not pass them along, and pretend they are doing well.

    Amy Howbert
    Little Miss Organized

  4. Gina~ Great questions! It is so interesting to read comments and look at similarities and differences.. ahh the life of a perpertual math geek.. analyzing data. :)
    #1 Bullying- For 6th grade we use a program called One Clip at a Time which came out of Tennessee. It began in that district as a way to teach the small town about diversity and the district tied it to the Holocaust, a social studies topic. We study that too, so it fits with our currciculum. GREAT program!
    #2: Grading has been a hot button issue in my district for awhile. I just read a book by Tom Guskey (He is a prof out of the University of Kentucky doing a lot on standards based grading)- the book was called: Developing Grading and Reporting Systems for Student Learning... He came to our school and spoke on a professional development day.
    #3 We have no limit on grading. I usually try for at least 10 grades, but depending on what we are doing it varies. i try to give a formative quiz in math every week and a summative at the end of every topic.
    #4 I don't usually grade homework. One thing I do grade are Weekly Review Questions. They are a worksheet of 10 math review questions that I give the kids a week to do. They can turn them in anytime during the week and I will correct it and hand it back for them to fix. If they follow that pattern, it guarentees them a 100 which is fine with me. They count for 25% of my grade so they aren't really pushing anyone's average into something it is not.
    #5: I hate bringing home papers to grade. Usually when I do they sit in my bag until I go back to school. That is a bad habit. I need to spend my time differently at school and stop bringing home the work to grade.

    Thanks for asking these questions.. great idea! I hope you get a lot of feedback.
    Enjoy your weekend my friend.

    Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans


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