Now that we’ve seen how to grade quizzes, let’s take a look at how to enter them in the gradebook. What percentage breakdowns are preferred? Where do daily grades fit in?
We’ll talk about that and more in 10 seconds.
To begin, it’s important to talk about the percentage breakdown between quizzes and daily grades. I prefer the breakdown to be 70% concept quizzes and 30% daily grades. You can also think of it as 70% major grades and 30% minor grades.
In general, the 70% is only made up of concept quizzes, except for mandatory district assessments. So, if a district requires district wide assessments to be entered into the grade book, those get included in the 70%.
From there, everything else you grade, whether it’s daily work, homework, or any other minor grades you have, those go in the 30% category.
Why 70%? I’ve found that the quiz or major grade percentage has to be high in order for the overall grade to be representative of student learning. When the percentage gets lower, daily grades either overly inflate or deflate students’ grades based on the amount of assignments they complete. I don’t want to dismiss assignment completion altogether because it’s certainly a very important aspect of a student’s life. However, I believe a final grade should ultimately represent learning, and the 70-30 breakdown has been a good balance for my classes
Alright, that’s the percentage breakdown. Let’s now shift our focus to how we actually enter grades into the gradebook.
For me, I begin by using a personal spreadsheet to track grades, and from there, I transfer the grades into my district’s official gradebook.
Let’s look at the spreadsheet first.
As you can see, it’s broken down into each individual concept from our concept checklist, and each concept represents a concept quiz students take.
Next, there are columns for up to 3 attempts per quiz. Attempts 2 and 3 are retakes, and I only include 3 attempts because I almost never see students with more than 3 attempts on a quiz. Of course, if a student meets the requirements to retake more than this, I’ll add an additional column. But again, that’s extremely rare.
In addition to the 3 attempt columns, there is a max column for each concept. The spreadsheet automatically puts the highest score for each concept in this column, and this is the score that ultimately goes into the gradebook.
Finally, if we scroll to the right, you’ll see the daily grade section of the spreadsheet. We’ll talk more about daily grades later in the workshop, but in general, I try to take as few daily grades as allowable by the district. I don’t like to over grade students because it can easily turn the class motivation into accumulating points instead of maximizing learning.
But again, more about that later. For now, just know that this is the section to add any daily grades you take throughout the grading period.
Another note before we transition to the district grade book. You’ll notice that all the scores I enter into the spreadsheet are single digit scores such as 6, 7, 8 etc. This matches what our rating scale looks like, but eventually these turn to 60, 70, 80 etc. when they’re entered into the official district gradebook.
Finally, one of my favorite features of the spreadsheet is that it’s conditionally formatted to show certain colors for certain grades. I like this because we can quickly see what areas a student is excelling in or needs more work in. This helps with many areas including tutoring, knowing what to refocus on in class, and knowing where to go with the class in the future.
Also, in addition to individual student grades, there is a row at the bottom for the class average for each concept. This is also beneficial when making decisions about what concepts to reteach or prioritize in spiraling assignments.
Okay, now that we’ve seen the spreadsheet, let’s transition to the district gradebook. Obviously, I can’t show you an actual district gradebook, but I’ll describe the typical process.
First, when do I actually put the grades into the district system? I learned over time, especially now that technology is more advanced, not to put grades into the district system until after we’ve had the chance to go over quizzes in class. I want to make sure students don’t know their grade before they look at their completed quizzes, because once they know their grade, they’re less motivated to do the work of learning from missed questions.
Therefore, once class has ended on the day we go over quizzes, and the kids have left the room, at some point that day their grades are entered into the district’s online gradebook program. Since many students receive alerts on their phones about their grades, this avoids the spoiler alert situation before students are actually able to look at their completed quizzes.
Then, as I’m entering grades into the system, again, I convert all the single digit grades to normal looking grades like 60, 70, 80 etc.
Here’s an illustration of what a typical grading period looked like.
Our district required 9 daily grades and 3 major grades each nine weeks. Usually, I put the minimum number of minor grades as mentioned earlier, but major grades tend to exceed the minimum number of 3 because each concept on the concept checklist has its own major grade. This does create a bunch of grade entries, but I prefer this method because students can see exactly what they need to work on. It’s harder to know where a student is strong or where they need more work if the concepts are bundled together. For example, if I bundle Reflections, Rotations and Compositions of Transformations all into one major grade for Transformations, then the kids only know that they need to work on Transformations. This is more general than I prefer and makes it harder for them to focus their continued learning.
Finally, as students retake quizzes and achieve higher scores, I make sure to keep the district gradebook up to date to reflect new scores. This actually doesn’t take very long, and it’s satisfying to see students’ grades improve as they grow in their understanding.
That’s the process for adding grades to the gradebook, and you may have some unanswered questions right now. What does it look like to go over quizzes? What do daily grades look like? And can we hear more about the philosophy behind using minimal grades?
We’ll make sure to explore these questions later in the workshop, and I’m looking forward to answering them.
Next up though, we are going to take a closer look at the retake policy I prefer and how retakes work in my class. I’ll see you in the next video.