Grading..and related musings…on a Saturday night

So, it’s Saturday, after 10 p.m. I’m sure there are people out there who are doing much more exciting, typical Saturday night things — drinking, singing karaoking, bowling, playing board games w/ friends, uh…yeah. I’m kind of a nerd and sometimes don’t have much of a social life. I’m not sure what normal people do on a Saturday night. Anyway…

So, I’m grading. I had to bring the laptop from school home, reset my home modem, but finally VOILA! I can put grades into our new online gradebook program w/o glitches. That is so reassuring and only a small hassle. Before, on my personal lappy, I’d get kicked out of the grade program & wouldn’t be able to do anything. So, this weekend, I brought the laptop home.

We have grades due Monday a.m. We have grades due then because we have Parent-Teacher Conferences on Tuesday. This is conference evening number 3 of 4. We have four nights of conferences a year because we’re on the 4×4 block schedule.

Have I mentioned lately that I LOATHE the 4×4 block schedule? I think it is entirely overrated and does NOT help our students. When you have students who are unmotivated, have learning issues (both that relate to their level of intelligence and their level of work ethic, etc), and attendance issues, then having a semester’s worth of material crammed into a quarter is NOT effective. It also sucks because students only get half a year of English (and math, and science, social studies, etc) each school year. The level of retention from one year to the next of basic skills in core classes is almost nil. (Or, at least it seems like it). Not to mention that if a student has English first semester, freshmen year (for example) they may not have it again until second semester, sophomore year.

Block schedule, the 4×4, is designed for motivated students who are ready to do the work. That is NOT the type of students that are the majority at my school.

Anyway…7 out of 20 passing in 1st block; 14 out of 23 passing in 3rd block; 10 out of 19 passing in 4th block. That’s not very promising, especially my first block. However, 7 of those failures are within the passing mark. They’re not far off from passing — so they have a shot of bring up their grades to passing.

The other thing that kills me about students some times (in general) is their attendance. I have 2 students in first block that NEVER show. Several of my first block kids are chronically tardy. I HATE assigning detentions for tardies, b/c a) I hate keep track of the paperwork b) I hate having to call home about that and c) I don’t think they’re effective. Dear readers: how do you deal with tardies/detentions, etc? Anyway, I have a handful of kids who miss my 3rd block often as well. AND, I have one kid who is hardly ever shows up for my 4th block. My 4th block class is probably my WORST class of offenders related to tardies. I have one kid who is late to class and also late back from lunch — EVERY DAY!

Anyway…I should get back to the wretched grading thing, I suppose. Bleagh. I hope my grades get better, the more things I add.



Filed under attendance, block schedule, conferences, grading, tardies

3 responses to “Grading..and related musings…on a Saturday night

  1. Cyber high-five for the 4×4 block thing. Whoever dreamt up that scheme ought to be forced to teach my students for six weeks on the 4×4. Maybe then a more sensible approach will be used. My school is "discussing" (read: we're going to pretend like we give a damn in an attempt to squelch some of the whining from the teachers) modifying the schedule in such a way that AP students can stay on the 4×4, but the rest go traditional year-long. How on earth is that going to work? AP kids don't have all AP schedules. Most of them take some non-AP courses. But, hey, we're "discussing" the issue. Whoopee.

  2. Hi! I have been teaching for 20 years and I too do not believe in detentions. However, you have to do something about the tardies. This is an issue which you should have nipped in the bud early, but it's never too late. You need to provide positive reinforcement for those students who are arriving to class on time. Every class has its own personality, so determine what you can hold over their heads as an incentive to keep those who are arriving on time and the rest to follow suit. These incentives for arriving on time will work temporarily though so you have to get creative and and find other ways to ensure they continue to arrive on time for the rest of the year. Perhaps tell the class each week, you will be revealing one test question minutes before the tardy bell rings. Like I said, it all depends on the nature of your students; some may care and others may not give a hoot, but it won't hurt to try. You may have to review norms for tardies, and start calling parents informing them of consequences like points deducted or the dreaded detentions. Good luck! Consider joining my blog which I just started…I'll promote yours too!

  3. Oh, one more thing I wanted to tell you! Please take it from a 20 year veteran. I am also a Nationally Board Certified Teacher. You should not be grading papers on Saturday or on Sunday, or on Friday night for that matter. Enjoy your time off! As a beginning teacher, you may have to dedicate more time to planning your lessons, but try your best to budget your time during the school day to grade at school. I know, I know…you don't have time at school either, but please if you have to provide your students with one day a week where they work silently, use this time to grade your papers…you may not be an expert yet at this getting them to work silently, but if you find an engaging assignment, it works. I am not suggesting busy work; I am suggesting a high interest assignment related to whatever you happen to be teaching. Life is too short for you to be grading papers on the weekend! If I could talk to my 21 year old beginning teacher self, I would have taken this advice. Dedicate your time to planning your lessons…and remember you only need one to two grades per week…resist the urge to grade everything…determine what exactly you want to assess. Anyway, I hope this helps! Good luck! Visit my site for an idea that you and your students will love for that silent work…Check out the post titled "Are They Talking Behind Your Back?" theempoweredteacher.blogspot,com! Take care!

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