New Marking Strategy

When grading a 10-point assignment, I have a hard time deciding if the work shown is worth 4, 5, 6, or 7 points. If I like the kid, then I’m giving her a 9. If I’m hungry, then the kids gets a 4. If the kid’s mother gave me a $25 Starbucks gift card, then the kid gets an 8 with a drawn smiley face.

What I end up doing is giving every less-than-complete paper a 1 — yes, ONE — and so far this marking strategy seems to be working.

I want kids to revise their work until it’s flushed with coherent mathematics. A score of only 1 at the top of their paper — along with my comments — motivates them pisses them off so they go back and revise their work. If they need help with the revision, they know where to find me. If the revised work is still not up to par, then the score stays as a 1, and the kid gets to revise it again until the zombies come home. Or when the grading period ends. And while I haven’t kept track of any hard data, nor will this ever be FDA approved, I’m willing to bet that the revision rate has at least doubled.

Grading papers sucks. But grading with a 1 or 10 has alleviated much of the stress. Like I found a cure for my crazies.

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  1. Debbie Boden
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Fawn, this is awesome! (did I tell you I saw the Lego Movie last week?) If there aren’t 10 problems (when are there?) I sit there and try and figure out how many points or partial points each problem should be. Or I just take off 1 point for each problem not done, and sometimes it’s a gift, other times the kids get a little screwed over. I too want them to know how to do it, and a 7/10 won’t inspire them to fix anything, but I bet a 1/10 will! And this will stress that I WANT them to fix it! And yet another great idea from Fawn… don’t tell Jeff or Andrew, but I think you’re AWESOME!

    • Fawn
      Posted February 11, 2015 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Hi Debbie. I forgot to mention in post that this is more for a PS-type problem. It’s just so much faster to NOT have to think of how many points to assign (faster means less stress!), and the 1 is a huge motivator to do something about it. I have very few (if any) kid who leaves it as a 1, and my suspicion is that the kid who did not revise on a 1 copied the work from someone else to begin with.

      Right, many kids didn’t care to revise prior to my switching to this. They seemed perfectly happy with a 5/10, 6/10, 8/10. Parents can check their kids’ grades online too and will push/remind kids to revise also! Thanks, Debbie!

  2. Posted February 10, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    “Brutal !”, that’s the spanish, and fairly brutal, english. Good for you.

    • Fawn
      Posted February 11, 2015 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      No, not brutal. Only love and kindness here, Howard. :) Some years ago, one kid said to me (during class), “Mrs. Win, you try to be mean… But, you’re not very good at it.” Damn, can’t fool them all. Thanks for dropping in, Howard.

  3. Posted February 10, 2015 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Responding to Debbie above:
    In Holland all assignments are out of 10, but the points values differ. We give a point for every “thinking step” (a rough translation), so that a student loses a point for an incorrect thinking step but gets points for correct ones. Then we total their points, divide by the total number of points, multiply by 9 and add 1. This ensures that students will get a grade between 1 and 10. We round our grades to 1 decimal place.

    In the IB we use a rubric for everything. You can create a generic rubric.

    Fawn, think it’s amazing that you’ve gotten kids to revise so much (though you’ve probably doubled your own workload!!!)

    • Fawn
      Posted February 11, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Hi Kate. It’s so much easier/faster to give a 1 instead of sitting there mulling over the number of points to give, so I’ve saved a ton of time on the first run through. Then on the revision, I can just focus on my comments to the kids’ work and see if he/she has addressed those specific things. I’m just trying to maintain and honor this culture of problem solving and revision, and no two ways about it, this takes time. Thanks, Kate!

  4. Posted February 10, 2015 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    If a kid does 10 assignments and gets 10s on 6 of them and makes small mistakes on the other 4 but is too lazy/disorganized/overscheduled/demoralized/ticked off to revise, do they get a D? Or are these just a smaller part of the grade?

    What would happen if you wrote comments for revision but didn’t score them at all, and warned them similar questions would be on the scored test soon? That’s my experiment this year and while I’m still collecting the data, so far my impression is that it is working way better than scored mid-unit quizzes did, and as with your system, I don’t have to overthink what’s a 4/5/6/7 any more.

    More on all of this at Twitter Math Camp!!

    • Fawn
      Posted February 12, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Julie. My score of 1 is very much in the mindset that I “wrote comments for revision but didn’t score them at all.” So the “1” allows me to enter something into the grade book, so all parties involved know that it was turned in but needs revision.

      Guess I just don’t have the kid who would get 10s on 6 out of 10 and ignore the other 4. These kids do check their grades regularly as part of their Exploratory class routine. By the end of the quarter, the few un-revised papers most likely would not earn much more than a 1 in the first place because 1) they copied someone else’s work, or 2) there was little/no understanding of the problem and no work shown, or 3) revising the work may not bring up the overall grade because of low scores on other assignments and quizzes (and I allow retakes).

      I look forward to seeing you at TMC, Julie!

  5. Dawn Millerick
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I grade similarly, except with yellow or green sticker dots and comments usually in the form of questions. In grade book it’s either 1 or 2 points respectively. Once they get green, they can try for blue with a more demanding problem which is worth 3 points. This gives kids time for revision while others move on. I just got fed up with the point grubbing – not just from kids, but parents!

  6. Posted March 1, 2015 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    This sounds like my grading/revision scheme…

    • Fawn
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Scott. Really appreciate your detailed post. I do make notes of common errors and have discussions with the class about them. Yeah, writing comments on every paper takes about 2000 hours, so that’s not possible. My colleague and I also do SBG. This 1 or 10 grading was geared specifically to the students’ problem-solving write-ups.

  7. Elissa
    Posted September 29, 2015 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Is this problem solving things only or do you do this on quizzes and tests?

  8. Patricia
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Fawn, do you still use SBG? I was looking for your posts on the topic but I couldn’t find them. I am planning to use SBG next year and would appreciate any input. I love your binary grading for the problem of the week. Thank you. I’ll be attending CUE in Los Gatos. See you there!

    • Fawn
      Posted April 30, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      Hi Patricia. I still use SBG in spirit. :) Kids are still able to retake tests [as many times as they need] — and this I’ll always do as long as I’m in the classroom. What I haven’t been able to keep up with are the smaller quizzes. I couldn’t keep up with it, more because I allow kids to take as much time as they need on any assessment, so this fact makes it hard for regular instruction/activity to happen when some kids are still working on the assessment. So the assessments are bigger, more content, like 2 per chapter. Yeah to CUE!! Please say hello when you see me. Thank you!

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