Monday, September 3, 2012

Back to School Tomorrow!!

Tomorrow and Wednesday will be Staff Development at my district, then the kiddos come back!  I'm trying so very badly not to go into school today, on my LAST day of summer vacation!  (Which is really hard to do!  I cleaned the house yesterday, did all my laundry, even the sheets on the bed!  What can I do at home besides sit around!?)

So, here I sit fiddling around in Grade Book on School Tool.  This is the first year that I will be using an electronic format to keep grades.  In the last two years, I gave students a grade based on E, S, N, or U.  They would receive a daily grade for participation and then they would receive a grade for each project (or 2-3 a project, depending on how in-depth it was).  Then, I just averaged up the letters and assigned a grade...

But now that my grades will be visible to parents and such through the Parent Portal, I'm trying to get a little more sophisticated.  I always try to put a lot of thought into my grades and give each student at least one comment on their report cards.  I'm hoping I don't over think this, but here is what I have come up with for my 6th grade Grade Book set-up:

Mini Projects  20% (drawing assignments, base projects before completing the unit project)
Participation 25%
Quizzes 10%
Unit Packets 10%
Unit Projects 35%

I'm hoping I weighted these properly so that if a student bombs on the written aspects that I have to give, they will still get a decent grade.  The above weighted grading categories will change for lower levels as well. I don't usually give K-4 quizzes unless their behavior deems one necessary and I don't use the packets for K-5, so they will have slightly different categories in their Grade Books.

I'm also working on attributes to apply to each assignment, which will apply to all my grade levels:

Extended Absence = Exempt  (For those students who miss an entire project)
Extra Credit = +1 point adjustment (For bringing in 5 bottle caps, students will receive extra credit)
No Name = -1 point adjustment
Exempt = Exempt (Students who arrive late to the district and miss the project)
No Credit = Worth 0 (Hopefully I'll never have to use this!)
Late = -2 point adjustment

Any advice on how I have this set up?  I know some people don't like the idea of grading Elementary students in art, or in art at all, but I feel it helps give the art program some credibility.  Currently, our K-2 students will be graded according to the letter grades their class teaches use (School Tool is supposed to be building us a number to letter converter in Grade Book for report cards), but 3-6 is in the air.  During our staff development days, the special areas teachers are going to discuss whether we should continue grading them with letter grades or change to number grades (like their classroom teachers use).


  1. Our computer grading program is Realtime. I have to come up with how I am going to be setting up gradebook for this year. It is the first year I have to use the gradebook portion. I usually just went in when it was time to load progress/marking period grades and had already converted my numbers to letters. I only give letter grades in grades 3-5. K is going to be an assessment portfolio and 1&2 still are being assessed with my old grading system. This year is the first year that my 3-5 school is going to be using the parent portal and parents are going to be able to view their child's grades on-line ( this should be interesting)( didn't mean for that to sound as sarcastic as it did!) I have to set up how I want the grades to be weighted for art. I am thinking of starting with only a grade for projects and a grade for class participation. Projects will be 90% and participation 10%. Since this is the first year we are using it I don't want to do too much too soon until I feel out how all of this is going to work.Basically I can always add things but once I put something in there is no way they are going to let me take it out! I'm still having issues with how I am thinking about doing this. I can't be loading participation grades constantly. That would be over 400 grades every week! Seriously?! I also have over 400 assessments to do at my k-2! I'm going to mull this over with the other special subject teachers tomorrow at school. I already know how a bunch of them are going to feel about it. UUgghhh! I feel the migraine coming on now! I'm cleaning and doing laundry today,although I don't know why because with two teens at home without me for two days the house is going to be trashed by tomorrow afternoon! Enjoy your last day off! DON'T go in to school! I think I might bake a batch of cookies this afternoon... :)

  2. I've been thinking the same thing about the participation grade...I think what I might do is continue my daily participation grades in my hard copy grade book and then every Friday, give each student a weekly participation grade. I like trying to make sure participation is weighted a little more because I have quite a few low functioning students who aren't the best artists yet...this way they can still achieve a decent grade and not feel disappointed in themselves. So far I've managed to stay away from school! Took my dogs for a long walk and then started writing my SLOs...cookies sound like a good idea!

  3. I also have a lot of students with special needs. I use the same rubric for them but all the objectives are modified to fit that particular students needs.A regular ed student and a special needs student can both get a "B" but I come to it in different ways. When the grade is given I also leave a notation in the comment box that their grade is modified and if they receive additional support from a para-professional. This way the modification is documented if there is any question to the grade. This also covers showing that I was aware of any and all modifications a student had in their IEP and applied them to their art lesson/grade.

    1. Do you have a generic rubric that you use or do you make a specific rubric for each project?

    2. I have a generic one that I use that works for every project. I honestly can't remember where I found it a couple of years ago but I have tweeked and changed it up a little to fit my needs. I have five categories: Elements of Design, Creativity, Effort, Skill and Attitude. They can score 13, 15, 17 or 20 points for each category(13 being the lowest and 20 the highest) I played around with the numbers to see what would give me the best range and that's what I came up with. It's worked pretty well so far so "if it's not broke don't fix it". One thing I did change this year is that their scoring rubric will be on the bottom of their Exit slip that they are going to have to fill out after completing a project. This way the students will put their names on, answer their exit questions and it will be ready for me to use when I score their piece. I'll make one copy for them and one for my files.