Friday, June 29, 2012

Traffic Light Grading

I want you to think back for a moment.  If possible think back to a class where you received a test back that you failed.  How did you feel?  Hopeless?  Feel like giving up?  I hate that feeling, and I try at all costs to have my students spared from that feeling.  It is my hope that when a student doesn't do well on as assessment their feeling is how can I fix this?

When I collect students' work it is graded green (you know what you're doing), yellow (you're close to being able to do the skills I require for this assignment), or red (you need work in many of the skills required).  This is how I handle ALL of my grading.  No numbers, no letters, only colors.  I'll write more about converting this to letter/number grades in another post.



When I'm grading a classes' assignments, I look at the number of students who are yellow and red and decide if we need to spend more time practicing this skill.  This is a lot of work.  For the most part, I'm not sure what I be teaching tomorrow until I see what my students can do today.  But here is what I've noticed, students who get yellow or red no longer crumble up their paper and throw it away.  They turn to their neighbor to see if they're green and ask for help.  Score!!

The traffic light grading system gives students hope.  I don't tell students they "failed" an assignment.  I tell them they are "not yet proficient".  Not yet.  Give them hope.

A plus for me is that I know my students much better.  I know that little Jimmy struggles with this and little Suzy is really good at that.  I had the opportunity to have this knowledge about my students in the past, but I would have to look closely at the grade book.  It just happens now because when grading I'm not looking for how many they got wrong/right, I'm looking for what skills they got wrong/right.  It sticks with me when little Jimmy gets yellow on an assignment and when I assess that skill again, he gets green it make my job worth while.


8 comments:

  1. This idea meshes well with standards based grading. How many students do you have? Are you grading their classwork from the target of the week or their homework?

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  2. @ Brian: Last school year I had class ranges from 8 - 22 students. My school district is awesome at keeping the class sizes small.

    I am grading it all. The classwork/exit tickets/quizzes/tests are graded with traffic lights. The only homework they have is to prepare for Flashback. I'm still not sure how I'm going to grade that.

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  3. What do you record in your grade book? A color? A number? Do they have the chance to bring their color to green with repeated practice? I'm intrigued.

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    1. I record a color in my grade book. I'll have to share some of those images with everyone, because it's easier to understand that way. I grade individual assignments by color. I don't allow the students to change an assignments color, I just record it as another assignment. I do this so the student and I can see improvements that the student had made, along with the effort they put forth.
      Once I see that most of the students (if not all) are green, then I give the test. Only then do I assign a grade to the outcome/target.
      At this point students can practice the skills again and take another version of the test if necessary (Flashback Days). I will change the grade of the outcome, but not the color of individual assignments.

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  4. So how does homework work for you? What kind of assignments do you assign? How long are they? I'm used to giving quite a few practice problems, which makes it harder to grade every question.

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    1. I don't assign homework. I only grade classwork, exit tickets, quizzes, tests, and activities. One of the reasons I don't assign nightly homework is because by the time the students do the assignment, hand it in, and I grade it; it's already a day later and not timely. I like to have the students do the problems in class and hand in by the end of the period. This way I can plan the next day with the knowledge they have.
      My assignments are usually very short. My favorite is an exit ticket, which is 2 or 3 carefully planned problems to determine if a student can perform the skills for that lesson.

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  5. Do any of your other colleagues in different subject areas use this method. Eg English, history? Interested in subjects that are perceived as being more subjective rather than content based?

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    1. As of right now, my school district only does this type of grading in the math classroom. But trust me, I'm pesting my administration to allow this to spread.
      Anyway, there is a school district near mine that does this grading in every classroom in every grade. Here is a link to thier district website.
      http://www.qcsd.org/site/Default.aspx?PageID=345#
      There are FAQs that may have more information for you.
      I hope this helps!!!

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