I’ve spent years searching for a fair-minded approach to grading that demands accountability but also doesn’t crush student spirits when products don’t turn out well.
I’ve definitely been given the “hard grader” label over the years, but students have also mostly agreed with my observations when it comes time to conference. Our district writing rubric is clear and concise, and since students are familiar with it we can have conversations using common vocabulary. I would venture to say that most of my students are not surprised by the grades they earn.
I did once have a student respond to my feedback by shouting, “Ah, fiddlesticks!” but I consider him an outlier…
Despite being generally happy with my approach to grading and encouraging a growth mindset in my writers, I’ve still sometimes wound up frustrated with myself, or with the firm language of a rubric that feels fair until those peculiar moments when, on a particular paper, it suddenly doesn’t.
One of the most effective remedies I’ve discovered is the practice of pre-annotation. Continue reading