In My Defense…Which Is Ridiculous!

So today I wanted help. I did what comes naturally, I used social media and asked my PLN. I just wanted to know if anyone had a way of grading their students’ blog post.  Instead I spent lunch in my room crying & questioning whether or not I suck as a teacher.

Let me back up to why my students blog. I am not an English teacher.  I never grade written work based on grammar, spelling, nor on ideas.  Because of RTI I need to have proof of assessment of my students.  Instead of doing exit slips or worksheets or quizzes, I decided to let my kids blog about what they learn. They are given 2 questions to choose from and must answer one. Then they have another section where facts really mean nothing it is more opinion.  I only grade on the factual information I never mark off points rather add.

So I asked today if anyone had a rubric or checklist or ideas on grading student blogs.  That was it. I have to give grades.  I would rather not give grades but since I do I want it on things like this where most kids are successful for making the effort than test they really have trouble with.

My “@” and DMs filled up pretty quickly. Thank goodness the bell rang for lunch because it did not take long for tears to flow.  Yes everyone, I know it would be great to get kids to do work and not grade them. I understand we need to instill in them a desire to learn and share.  I am all for that. But I have a job. I must fulfill my duties on my job, the job I almost lost 2 years ago because of parent complaints about grades.

I tell everyone how important a PLN is. I tell them it is like sitting next to the smart kids. Smart kids are mean.  We need to take debates as they come but not when they aren’t.  I never said “I love giving kids grades” or “Grades are just what kids need.” I asked for ideas to grade fairly.I asked if anyone else is doing it. Other than one of my teammates here at the school I don’t have anyone around that blogs with students. that is the beauty of the PLN, its more brains to pick.

On Friday I am meeting with each student on their 4 weeks of posts. I want to say: yes you did it correctly and I have great news, you are showing me you know this even though you did not test well, I know your grade is important to you and your parents and this will help you.  Let me show you on this rubric & lets look at the posts areas you can improve on. I just wanted a rubric to help me do that.

I cannot tell where this debate idea comes from. I know as humans for us to advance we need questioning, we need advancement, we need a movement of change.  But why is it we are so quick to question others when they are asking for help or excited about something they see they are doing well (I have seen this happen as well). Is it because we are online can say it and go? Is it because we are so angry at our system we take it out on each other? Would we say this to our coworkers if they came in our classroom and asked us a question?

Today has been rough. It started out exciting, fresh, new. So quickly I hit a wall because of this. I know I will think twice before asking for help ever again, and that upsets me even more.

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Brenda Smith says:

    Hey, Amanda.

    I am sorry you had a bad day!!! Yes, sometimes the “smart kids” can be mean. The problem I have found is that they often think they are always right. These types of people need to be able to see the whole picture and remember that there is great diversity in schools as well as in the educational system!

    I didn’t see your earlier post, so I didn’t offer any of my suggestions until now. As for grades, I think it is important for students to see progress. For many of my rubrics, I use a scale…Advanced, Proficient, Progressing, and Beginning. (That is also how the state of Nebraska scores statewide assessments.) For each of these scales I have a numerical counterpart that goes in the grade book.

    Example:
    Advanced might be rich ideas, specific and detailed response, little or no errors in sentence structure, etc… (I usually make this a WOW ranging from 9-10 points (averaging an 90-100%)
    Proficient might be good ideas with some detailed response. Several errors in sentence structure, but those errors do not prevent understanding and purpose of the blog post. (I usually make this a GOOD ranging from 8-9 points)
    Progressing might developing ideas with little detail. Errors in sentence structure might prevent understanding and purpose of the blog post. (I usually make this a GREAT START ranging from 7-8 points)
    Beginning might be basic ideas with minimal detail. Errors in sentence structure prevent understanding and purpose of the post. (I usually make this a KEEP TRYING ranging from 6-7 points).

    If it is totally off topic and does not address the assignment at all, then I give a zero and a re-do.

    Of course your descriptors will depend on what you intend to assess in the blog post.

    Hope that is one bit of help. Great teachers always question what they are doing and look for ways to do even better. Too bad for those that think they know everything.

    1. amandacdykes says:

      Hey Brenda, thanks for kind words. 🙂

      Thank you for all your suggestions. Definitely using them. Probably condensed version bc I have 120 students. But taking them all into consideration. Thank you thank you!

  2. Dearest Amanda,

    We need to get you some thicker skin. 😀 HOWEVER… isn’t it funny how we’re all wrapped up in ideology right now? Isn’t it interesting how easy it is to forget that some teachers have rules by which they are forced to abide, even when said rules conflict with our philosophical beliefs?

    Instead of helping you, you got a lecture. A 140 character lecture, but sometimes those things still hurt.

    In my opinion, EVERYONE (including myself) needs to take a big honkin’ deep breath, maybe a figurative chill pill or two (or three), and cut each other some slack. In 140 characters, it was impossible for you to expound upon your situation and explain how much you disagree with grading blogs, but you are still required to show evidence. I love the idea of a nice rubric (not a checklist) where you can show the kids their progress and encourage them to continue.

    I HOPE somewhere in the mess of lectures that you also received some real help with your dilemma. I’m not in a place where I am even able to blog with my kids, so I’m useless in that department for you.

    Chin up, girl. I got your back. 🙂

    1. amandacdykes says:

      Thank you Michelle! Didn’t mean to fire ya up 😉 I really just have this fear that that will happen to someone new around here. I love my pln & the ideas they share. I liked to be challenged. I hope this didn’t not come across that way, I just think I used this post as coming to peace with it. Your post was very head on. Glad you wrote it. When I remember to get on here while at computer I’ll link to it. Thanks for being a supportive friend 🙂

  3. Michael W says:

    I agree with you. I was introducing glogster to my staff, and I still had to also give them a grading rubric so that they could understand what to do with it. Its one thing to tell everyone that your of their great new ideas, and that grading and marking are bad, but there is no need to harshly criticizes those who live in the real world. And while there are those that will tell you that you should not take offense so easily, I merely need to point them to the expectations that I would have for any students behavior. #1 is that I would not want them to say anything needlessly negative or hurtful to anyone.

    1. amandacdykes says:

      Thank you Eric. I agree that as educators we teach students online behavior. It’s funny bc on my notes of things to discuss w/the students when we meet Friday is how to respond to each other online. 🙂

  4. Jason Bedell says:

    Amanda,

    I apologize if my tweet came off as insensitive. I was trying to ask if it required a grade or not. I wasn’t trying to question your teaching or attack. I didn’t see the rest of the conversation and haven’t personally done a lot of student blogging – I was in the library when I first wanted to and did not have my own students anymore.
    I understand the situation you are in and am sorry if I contributed to your frustration.
    Jason.

    1. amandacdykes says:

      Jason you did not. Thanks for being so kind. I had many more messages beyond yours and throughout the day! Btw looks like teach meet is coming together wonderfully! Proud of you friend! You have a knack for it!

  5. Those that are hung up in black and white worlds of ideology are the small people, and they’re easy to spot. The world is gray and is truly improved by good people working hard at the things that are within their grasp to change. Don’t sweat it.

    And, as an aside, in order for me to post this comment I had to enter the phrase “5nospamplease”. That’s pretty awesome. :p

    -Steve

    1. amandacdykes says:

      Thanks Steve! I like grey btw! Ha!

      Love the no spam. Had one other day that I could’ve kicked myself for not taking a screen shot! Sending a DM to ya in morning telling ya what it said. #itsthatcrazy

  6. Eric Johnson says:

    Amanda, At first you post made me feel sad, then I got mad. I understand how you can feel this way. Sometimes our agendas or point of view blind us from why we participate in a PLN. Some of your PLN is in my PLN, and I’m sorry we let you down today. We’ll try not to, the next time you ask for our help. And please ask for help, you’ve helped too many of us to not give us a chance to reciprocate. Thanks
    Eric @yourkidsteacher

  7. Ben K. says:

    I got your back too.

    I like the rubric idea. That provides detailed and measured feedback. How about grading completion? 5 points for doing it? That way, you have a grade and you can be more targeted in your feedback.

    Here’s one thing that I do: I let students grade each other. On some of our post we use Focus Correction Areas (FCAs, from Collins Writing). There are always three FCAs. One FCA would be “5 supporting facts – 20 points.” That’s 4 points per fact. Once they finish, the person to the right grades the first FCA. If they can’t pick out the supporting facts, then it wasn’t well written and they don’t get points. For the second FCA, the 2nd person to their right grades it. For the third, the 3rd person to the right grades it. Lastly, the person to the left adds up the scores.

    All of the feedback is left in the comments of each blog post. We’ve done this a handful of times with pretty good success. Usually, the students are much harder on each other than I would have been.

    In the words of Tupac, “Keep your head up!”

    1. amandacdykes says:

      Thanks Ben! Think I am going in that direction too! The more weekly posts are going to be in this way. Plus i will be giving feedback as well. Thanks for advice, you rock! And yeah love me Tupac!

  8. Ruth Ferris says:

    I am not having my students blog int the library yet. One place that has great help and information is the blog Two writing teachers. They do lots of writing with their students and are very helpful. You may find some resources that you can use http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/

    Hope tomorrow is better.

    1. amandacdykes says:

      Ruth, Great link!! Thank you thank you!

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