Friday, December 22, 2017

Can I look at your grade book?!?

OK, so let's talk about an issue that can actually be really sensitive to each teacher. 

Meaning IF someone were to tell you to do this a certain way...the issue could be quite sensitive! 

That issue to set up your grade book. 

So I have been asked by several readers what does my gradebook look like. Along with the requests, I have also been given the opportunity this year to work with some of our new teachers and help them in deciding how to set up their grade book. 

Before I share what my personal gradebook looks like...I would like to share some rules. 

Woah, rules for a grade book? 

Let's just say I had to learn the hard way 8 years ago when it comes to grade books. 

Rule # 1: It must be personal. 

Okay, you're probably thinking whattttt??? 

So I can't tell you how many teacher friends have shared their "grade book preferences" and I have absolutely adored what they are doing in their classroom with their grades. 

They make it sound so easy and so awesome that I literally wanted to run back to my classroom and change everything I was doing. Here's the problem may not work for YOU! It has to be personal! 

What they are doing in their classrooms every single day may not translate to what you are doing every single day therefore it does not translate in the grade book. 

So before setting up your gradebook (or giving your gradebook and makeover) you have to ask yourself some pretty hard-core questions, and this means knowing what your class looks like from day to day...

#1: what do I want my students to do everyday? 

#2 What will be our routine? 

#3 How much grading can I do without killing myself?

(There are plenty of ways to grade WITHOUT checking every answer) 

#4 How much do I want my students to do to acquire a grade?

#5 How will the grades help my students to learn more?

#6 How will I assess my students?

#7 Have much emphasis am I putting on participation? Is my classroom even NEED a participation grade? 

#8 Off the top of my head, name some assignments that will be graded? Are the assignments worthy of different categories? 

So after you have answered these questions, this will really give you a clear picture of how your grade book should look like.

The second rule I want to share is something that I had to learn along the way. 

Believe it or not, I was one of those people that wanted to over complicate the system way too much so my second rule is simply DON'T over complicate things.

Thank God to my KTIP teacher who corrected me in this manner! Shout out to Ms. Laura Prather from Scott Co. HS! You were a blessing! 

I have seen some grade books where they literally have up to 10 categories. 

I don't understand how the teacher can manage the gradebook nor can the student interpret their grades. 

Think of what you want your kids to do and what those categories are called and stick with the basics. 

So now that I have shared the 2 very important rules that I think are super vital to grade book success, here is  my own grade book set up: 

-Whole classroom activities 
-Test and quizzes 
-Final Exam (includes only 1 grade) 

Side Note: it's our district policy that every class much give a final exam and it's 20% of the students final class grade. So therefore, we have to create a separate category for it. 

Now, let me give you a little sneak peek into my classroom of WHY I have my gradebook set up this way. 

First things first: I do not weight my grades. I used to but I decided that I wanted to even out the playing field for all students so this would mean letting everything count by a point system and not a weight system. 

I was done with making ONE category mean more than another. 

For instance, I had some kids that would absolutely never do their work but yet they would always do really well on the test and exams. This would do enough to get them a B in the class and they were satisfied with this...but I was not. 

Or I have the opposite where kids would do really well at turning in all their work, and work really hard but yet they would bomb the tests and quizzes. 

I just didn't feel like this was fair. 

The ONLY reason I even separate the categories (or have categories) is so when my students are reading their gradebook it breaks down a percentage of each area. 

This way I can help the student see what is their weak area and what is their strong area.

I can also specify direct problems in the class such as participation or not wanting to be involved in whole class activities or never turning in classwork. They know where to improve exactly. 

It's also nice and organized! :) 

So let's get to details: 

Class work and homework are bunched together. Class work and homework include everything that the students are having to do independently and a lot of this does include writing and reading activities. I don't give a ton of worksheets but this is where they would go. This is also mini projects, simple writings, and any quad d Products. 

The whole goal of my class work  category is that students are constantly practicing the language so that they can get better at the topics. They are solely accountable for their classwork. It's the same equivalent to practicing a sport every day. 

I want the concepts to become easier where my students are pros! When asking someone what activities they do, they don't have to think about their conjugation, they just spit it off. This is the point of my classwork grade: independent practice. 

Side Note: I do not give homework. Check out this link to hear the only homework I give: 

The next category I have is whole class activities.

 In my class we are always working and interacting together to get better at the language. I think it's important that when learning a language students have plenty opportunities to do communicative activities daily.  

What better way than to use your peers in the class in a real life  setting? 

Almost every single day we have a whole class activity where the students are accountable to each other to learn the language and to get better. 

Not only do I think that this is important to the kids in high school, but I strongly believe that this will help them in life and it will help them to be more of a sociable person who can interact with others. 

So how do I grade this whole class activities? 

I am always the facilitator of these whole class activities plus I am always monitoring even when I am playing with the kids. Yes, I play too! 

If I feel like a student has not given their full effort, if they have not done the prep work for the activity, or they are goofing off and really don't even care then by golly I am going to lower their whole-class activity grade. 

(I will show you how I grade this in live action when we return to school). 

Also, in many of these whole class activities the result is an end-product: Skits, art work, conversations, ending of a game where we have winners, or getting the answer to a mystery question.  

So if an end-product is missing from a student, I know they didn't do their work. 

The next category I have is super important to me. I have been doing this for eight years and don't plan to stop any time soon! 

This is the participation grade and I honestly believe it is a huge part of my classroom management style. 

In learning a language you must participate in order to learn the language and practice. 

If the students do not do this, this is where they are going to see it affect their grade. 

If the students are on their phone, goofing off, not trying, talking when they're not supposed to, or just blatantly not doing what they should be doing...this is where they will lose participation. Because face it: they're NOT participating! 

I give this grade daily. 95% of my students do great with this grade. 

The next category is quizzes and tests. Unlike the classwork grade where they don't have to have every answer correct, this is where I'm checking for the "right" answers. It holds them accountable to listen, get the notes, and STUDY (which I believe high schoolers struggle with) but yes, this is important to the students and myself. 

It's a way to look at my teaching and to see if I'm doing everything I should be. 

The last category is Final Exam. As I said, this is mandatory for every teacher, and it's worth 20%. 

I am totally indifferent about this category to be honest. 

Alright guys, there it is! 

If you would like me to include anymore details or go into depth on anything, give me a shout on here in the comments or message me on my Facebook Page
"Señora BB Spanish" 

God Bless!
Brittany B!

Note: pics to come later! 


  1. Hi Brittany,

    I teach Spanish at a small school in Illinois. I follow your blog and have used some of your activities. They have been a hit!
    I was wondering if you could share the link about homework (it was posted above, but it's not showing up for some reason). This is a topic I'm always debating, and I'd love to read/hear your thoughts. Thanks!

  2. I'm such a goober for forgetting! I will post that tonight for sure! Thanks for the reminder!!!

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