Grading Participation

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Brendan, May 17, 2012.

  1. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    May 17, 2012

    This has always been something I've struggled with as a teacher. During my career, I have tried basically everything from not grading it to giving daily, weekly, monthly,etc. grades. Currently, I give participation grades as a test grade and update the grade twice per quarter (once at midterms and once at finals) based upon a rubric I give them. Days where we have debates, whole class discussions, and socratic seminars have a separate grade because they require more preparation. They are generally worth a classwork or quiz grade.

    I did not grade participation when I taught Math, in history it is different. Participation is expected in my department/school and is generally expected in History classes in college as well.

    What do you all do?
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 17, 2012

    I don't grade it at all. But then, as you mentioned, I teach math.

    In my mind, it's the equivalent on grading a kid on personality. Some kids are shy, some aren't. Being shy isn't a bad thing, it's not something I'm comfortable passing a value judgement on.

    so, for example, Colleen has an A average in my Geometry Honors class. I'm pretty sure the only time I've ever heard her speak was when she showed up yesterday to make up a test she had been absent for. (She got a 97.) Her hand is never up, but she does all the work.
     
  4. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    May 17, 2012

    I agree Alice, but in History it is different. Participating in discussions is a MUST.
     
  5. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Do you offer an out for the student who would not participate (shyness or even a disability)?
     
  6. Ms.History

    Ms.History Rookie

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    May 17, 2012

    I personally think there are better ways a teacher can encourage participation. (And they are more finite, which makes them easier to grade and makes expectations more clear).

    For example, during socratic seminars or discussions, I pass out 4-5 tickets to each student. Each student "spends" their ticket when they want to add to the discussion. Once ALL students have spent their tickets, it's free-for-all discussion.

    As the year progresses, the need for tickets is phased out.

    I have to admit, though, that the reason I have never done participation grades is because I feel like it takes too much effort, which I would prefer to put towards class time. Just my two cents!
     
  7. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    May 17, 2012

    The test grade for participation is based upon their in-class participation, and online participation on the online forum. Or e-mail.

    Failure to participate in a debate, socratic seminar, or grade discussion can be made up with a paper (usually 2-3 pages).

    I've never seen an IEP in 25 years that accomodated for lack of participation. I teach mostly honors and AP courses though and many of my students go on to major in History. I find it crucial that they learn to participate now.
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 17, 2012

    I am thinking about adding a participation grade next year. I'm still working out the details.

    While I recognize that some people are more shy and quiet, I have to say that I don't think those things are an excuse to not participate in class. Some classes do require discussion and interaction, and I don't think that it's fair for students to avoid participating without penalty. Sometimes we have to do things that are unpleasant or uncomfortable, but we do them anyway because they help us learn and grow. I didn't particularly enjoy the 9-minute mile that I had to do twice per year every year in PE, but I still did it because it was required.
     
  9. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    May 17, 2012

    I can see both sides.

    On the one hand, the student can go on to have a career where they don't really have to interact much with other people. As such, they don't have to be social.

    On the other hand, they could get a job that doesn't require much reading or writing either...yet we would never think about not requiring those things.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 17, 2012

    I think that's brilliant! It enables even those kids who are shy about speaking in class the opportunity to express their opinions and be part of the class discussions.
     
  11. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Brendan---I think that you have a great system worked out. Offering participation in an online way or a paper is great for the students who would not wish to participate or cannot for some reason.
     
  12. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    May 17, 2012

    A history teacher in my school counts participation, but allows students who don't want to speak in class email him or talk to him after class about something that they found interesting about the material to make up for it if they're shy.

    I don't count participation, but I teach math. I appreciate it when students do participate, but I know that some students (like myself in high school) are just too shy or nervous to participate.
     
  13. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    May 17, 2012

    Most students just opt for participation, however, in class.
     
  14. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    May 17, 2012

    I count participation in my debate class only (never my LA classes). The actual debate is a summative grade (they can't opt out); the participation grade is simply to make sure they are working WITH their partners to prepare for the debate. No one wants to bumble a debate/huge grade because their partner couldn't be bothered to prepare. Of course, I have the little ones for this class...

    I like the online forum idea. Another idea... to give the shy kids an out in class, let them volunteer to say, "I heard someone say..." - whether or not it's their own thoughts or someone else's, it takes some of the fear out of speaking publicly.
     
  15. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Well in all honesty, I never have a problem with kids not wanting to participate. It could be because my syllabus and course description emphasizes in class, verbal participation. Basically, everyone is required to post online at least twice per week (200 words per post). Additional posts count towards extra credit for their total participation grade. So in affect, it's a substitute for lack of verbal participation. I let students know this at the beginning of the year.

    To be honest, though the extra credit is mostly done by the overachievers who already participate and when kids miss class. I've never had a kid just sit through a class or debate without talking.

    I like the way I handle my in-class participation now, but I really struggle with letting students right a paper in-lieu of a socratic seminar or debate. It's really not the same type of assignment, whatsoever. Most of my colleagues just give a zero for not participating; I'm not that mean.
     
  16. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I give two participation grades every 6 week grading period....1 for the first three weeks of the grading period and 1 for the last three weeks of the grading period. When I grade I'm looking at whether or not they did the work in class when assigned, turned in any homework they might have had, gave forth effort on projects, etc. I teach special education ELA and math so I feel participation is a good thing for my students.
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    May 17, 2012

    Many language arts standards categorize skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
     
  18. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    May 21, 2012

    In my enrichment class, I grade totally on participation. This is a more laid-back class, so their entire grade is based participation and cooperation.

    In my language arts class, I don't grade on participation. I have a student who literally gets sick to their stomach if they have to make a presentation in front of class - which is required twice a year. I have that student present to me in private. This same student is okay with raising a hand to answer questions though they rarely ask a question.
     
  19. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    May 22, 2012

    For my honors classes, I grade class discussion of literature rather than giving them homework to show they have read and understand - plus it's way more interesting and brings up even more topics. I give a bonus point if the student actually starts a discussion point or topic.

    At the end of the week, I scan over the seating chart (I give a dot for each time they participate) and get an average of what I think is fair (It can vary based on how much we discussed, if we had a full week, etc.) and I give a grade. Any extra points are extra credit.

    Students who are absent, or just don't want to participate, can complete questions for the chapters and submit those instead. However, I don't only accept volunteers for discussion - sometimes I will just call on students.

    But I don't really consider this grading participation. It's just how I assess their analysis of their reading. They don't automatically get points for participating - I have had kids not pay attention and then say or ask about something we just discussed, or ask a question that shows they have no idea what is going on and probably didn't read. They don't get points for that.
     
  20. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    May 23, 2012

    Hmm, see my kids still have homework to do even though much of the discussion is based upon the reading (and the lecture too). I may give this a try. So Silver, do you lecture at all or is your class totally discussion based. Do you find that the kids are not adequately prepared for class without having written assignments?
     
  21. funnyface07

    funnyface07 Rookie

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    May 23, 2012

    This is definitely an interesting thread. As a new teacher, and someone who is also still trying to learn the ropes of classroom management, I've been starting to put a lot of thought into this idea, for when I start full time next year. But again, I teach math, and I do agree about the point that there are some kids that are just shy and will not speak up in class.

    How do you feel about things like behavior being factored into the class participation grade? I've observed a bunch of other teachers in my school and a few of them do it - one veteran teacher assigns kids a certain amount of points a week, and they lose points for things like getting up out of their seat without asking, calling out answers etc. It sounds bonkers but all I know was, it was the best behaved class I have ever seen. And for a new teacher, who started in the middle of the year with badly behaved classes, that idea became extremely alluring to me. But again, this is one of the things that I really have to think about before next year.

    I love the online posting thing though! I would absolutely love to have a math blog, but I'm too afraid that I won't have the time to really update it.
     
  22. KatieShow

    KatieShow Rookie

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    May 24, 2012

    I grade my students for participation every day. Most quarters it come out to almost 600 points. Participation, for me, means they are on time, they are prepared, and and are paying attention. Late, disruptive, or annoying students get a zero for it. One day won't kill you. We have online grading that gets updated daily so kids can see right away what a difference participation can make.
     
  23. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    I grade participation on certain days. Sometimes we do in class writing assignments or group projects, and I give the kids 10 points to start the day. Every time I have to tell them to be on task, they loose one point.

    I don't grade class discussion or things like that because I have a lot of ELL kids who aren't necessarily comfortable speaking in front of their peers yet.
     
  24. msleep

    msleep Rookie

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    May 26, 2012

    Why is participation a must? Not all students learn the same way. Some students are shy or introverted. Should they be punished for not speaking up during a discussion? Of course not. A grade is to reflect mastery of material and that is all. It can also be argued that grading homework does not necessarily reflect mastery of material but whether they turned in their assignments or not.

    This is all why there is a move to break down a grade into multiple arenas instead of lumping a students progress into one final letter grade.
     
  25. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Obviously barring IEP situations involving class discussions and participation, it's not unreasonable to grade students based on class discussions and participation.

    The standards for my content area are broken down into four categories: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. A student who doesn't participate on the basis of shyness will essentially fail at demonstrating mastery in two of those four categories.

    Sometimes the content is that students perform a task and communicate with classmates, so they needed to be graded in this way. In some classes, it doesn't matter that the student is shy and introverted. They are graded not on whether they are outgoing but whether they can communicate with their classmates via speaking and listening.
     
  26. msleep

    msleep Rookie

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    May 27, 2012

    Why would a teacher make a student's grade be based on something they are physiologically unable to be comfortable doing? Having classroom discussion is just one tool. Would you lecture all day? Or only have hands on activities all day? Or base their grade on how well they are able to cut without going outside the lines? All students are different and learn differently.

    Classroom discussion should be used. Shy and introverts also need this kind of activity. But they also need time to reflect and listen. Why punish them with something as subjective as classroom participation grades?
     
  27. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    May 27, 2012

    As was mentioned before, students with IEPs should be considered individually when making decisions about grading. However, including a grade for participating in class discussions as one part of the whole assessment is NOT hurting the student. I feel like there is a tendency to go overboard with trying to accommodate every student's feelings rather than challenge them to do something they aren't 100% comfortable with. Yes, teachers need to be sensitive, but part of our job is also to scaffold students within their ability range. Classrooms are a prime place for students to learn to share opinions as long as the teacher ensures that it is a safe environment. It's not punishment; it's a reasonable challenge.
     
  28. funnyface07

    funnyface07 Rookie

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    May 29, 2012

    Interesting! I think we use the same, if not similar, online grading system. How does this system work for you? And how do you keep track of the points everyday?
     

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