How do you track/grade participation?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by vivalavida, Jul 18, 2014.

  1. vivalavida

    vivalavida Companion

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    Jul 18, 2014

    During my student teaching I followed my CT's method of marking participation points on the seating chart every time a student contributed, gave an answer, etc. However, I quickly learned that turning these points into a grade was time consuming and, oftentimes, subjective. I ended up having to find the range of points that existed in the classroom and assign grades based on where students fell in the range. I do NOT want to sit and do this for five separate classes every few weeks. Therefore, I'm curious what methods you all use!
    - how do you track/mark participation? Or do you?
    - how is this converted to a grade?
    - how often do you give participation grades?
     
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  3. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Jul 18, 2014

    Participation grades are highly frowned upon at my school, so I do not use them. In my opinion (which luckily, matches the school's opinion), participation is a required facet of being in class, not something you earn a grade for. So, you participate (take the notes, complete the assignment, answer the question I asked) or it's a discipline issue.
     
  4. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Jul 18, 2014

    We aren't allowed to give participation grades.

    However, with the new evaluation, we have to a) make sure we call on every single kid, b) don't call on the same kids all the time, and c) keep a physical record of which kids we call on and how many times.

    So I literally walk around the room with a clipboard and a class roster and put check marks next to their names.

    I pretty much hate it.
     
  5. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Jul 18, 2014

    I give one participation grade at the end of the nine weeks. Mine are based on work done during center rotations. The centers are practice work so I don't typically grade those. It usually makes no difference in a student's overall grade.
     
  6. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    my method might be frowned upon, so take it with a grain of salt.

    I only consider participation when students are doing partner/group work. This is to make sure that some kids aren't goofing off while the other works.

    I simply assume everyone is participating fully unless I note otherwise. I have a class list next to me and when I see too much playing around I put a tally mark next to that student's name. Depending upon the project/grade weight, etc., that tally mark can be a minus 1, 3 or even 5 points off of the participation or contribution portion of the rubric.
     
  7. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I used to give kids three index cards. They had to use all three in one week by asking a good question, participating in discussion, etc... Then they got 9/9. It worked pretty well.
     
  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jul 19, 2014

    I used to be in the anti-participation grade faction, because like many others I felt, it was just very subjective. I've been in classes where subjective teacher "scholar points" took me down a grade and I hated that.

    However, I've since begun to change my mind about them.

    You need some kind of consequence for non-participation, and if it's not participation points it would probably have to be the same consequences you provide for behavior.

    Now for me personally, there are a lot of behaviors, such as non-participation which don't logically merit a harsh consequence such as a time-out. Students who aren't participating anyway probably wouldn't mind time-out. In addition, I have always had a student each year who would simply not do anything, period. If I kept moving him up my consequence ladder each day, it would just lead to a bunch of battles I would rather not fight. Every student has a constitutional right to fail if they want to as my team teacher says.

    But at the same time I can't just ignore him or require his group to pick up the slack because then other students will think it's okay if I don't actively respond.

    I think participation points are good for this reason. Students who are more inclined to participate but may just be shy will be encouraged to gain a few extra points by being ready to answer questions. You can publicly dock participation points, and sure the kid who doesn't care about their grade probably won't care, but the rest of the class will see that you take participation seriously.

    You can award group participation points for a single student's answers, so maybe that student who doesn't ever want to participate might be more motivated if his peers are urging him to be prepared to answer.

    I'm going to be trying an app to log participation points this year so I'll see how it works, but the system I will try this year is every students starts off with a participation grade of 7/10 each week.

    Being unprepared or off task loses points, and being prepared for discussion and working well in groups awards points. That means students who want a perfect 10/10 need to do more than just sit there and exist. They need to actively pursue them. My participation point grade is only 5% of my grade but just having it there will cause students to go for it anyway in my opinion.
     
  9. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Jul 19, 2014

    What are you trying to accomplish by grading participation? It may seem like a self explanatory question with an answer of participation, but what does that look like.

    You have seen various posts. Some grade things such as being prepared, answering a question, participating in group work, etc. So, is your goal to use it as a method of behavior management, a method of assessing student grades regarding understanding, a requirement from the administration, or something you are doing because you saw it done before and think you need to do it too but not really know the purpose for it.

    The method you use and what you grade should be completely based on what you are trying to achieve.

    A teacher was talking about a situation in his class. A girl had to come to a different section of his class to do some make up work. She remarked to the teacher how quiet this section of the class was during discussions. She boasted how much better her section was because they participated so much. He response was that her class did talk a lot more, but the quieter class had much more thought out responses. So, if he were to grade for participation, which kids should be getting higher grades? The kids who talked a lot but said not much of anything or the kids that said very little but when they talked, it was very well thought out and at a higher level.

    It all comes down to choosing a method that will accomplish your goal not just doing it because you think you should.
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jul 19, 2014

    When looking at participation, I think it's important to remember that putting up your hand or answering a question posed to the class is only one small part of participation. For me, participation includes: completing all work, taking notes when required, being on-task when working with a partner or small group, doing their share of work in a group, completing homework, and much more.
     
  11. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    MrsC, I think it depends what your goal is. When I did participation, I was solely focused on our discussions of literature. To have a really good discussion, you have to have more than two people talking. I eventually stopped doing participation with most of my classes because it broke the flow too much. I don't like having them raise their hands. I encourage them to have a free-flowing discussion. If things get too intense I stop them and do a pass the mascot thing.

    Some of the things you mentioned, I count in other ways. Group work has a grade on the rubric for working well with the group. Not doing homework means homework intervention. Some of the other things may result in demerits.
     
  12. vivalavida

    vivalavida Companion

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    Jul 19, 2014

    I agree that it's more than simply raising your hand in class to answer questions. This was a big part for me because I teach a foreign language and do need them to participate for practice, but I also tracked participation when students stayed in the target language during partner activities, were on task, etc. However, I think all of these various forms of participation is what made it difficult for me to track and grade. I want students to know it's an expectation that they participate without it becoming a headache on my part.
     
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jul 19, 2014

    I don't grade participation. I've tried all sorts of methods and asked about different methods here. For me, it's just too difficult and cumbersome to deal with all those points. My classes are fairly large, there is a lot of absenteeism, and I already feel like I am tracking a million other points of data. For someone more organized and motivated than I am, though, it may not be as challenging.

    In general I've just come to the belief that the amount and quality of students' participation in class is going to be reflected in their work. Even if I don't have a separate participation grade, they will still get graded for it one way or another.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jul 19, 2014

    Can you give some more details on this method?
     
  15. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Jul 19, 2014

    If you're talking about general class discussions during notes or activities, I wouldn't rely on students to initiate participation. If I wanted student voices during that time I'd use a popsicle method of some sort.

    Refusing to do work when assigned is different to me. That is insubordination and deserves its own consequence.

    I don't like having students raise their hands to show me their level of participation. I have all sorts of students in my classes. Students that want to brown nose so they raise their hands all the time. Students that want to show of their knowledge so they wave arms frantically. Students that are very secure in their knowledge and sit back and wait for new material while I quiz the class. Students that are slower to respond and are embarrassed by their limitations and don't want to be called upon. Students that just don't care about anything and would rather be at home. The student that genuinely doesn't understand what I'm saying and has a question that can benefit everyone is in the minority.

    My purpose for asking the class questions is not to see if one particular student knows the answer. It's not to see how many students THINK they know the answer. Instead, I'm wanting everyone to have gears turning in their heads. I'm wanting connections to be made. I want the class to get a preview of questions they'll see later on a quiz. Sometimes I want them to go off on tangents.

    Typically I'll ask a question, pause and then call upon a student randomly to answer it. Or seemingly randomly ;) This gives everyone a chance to think and no one is off the hook for answering.
     
  16. vivalavida

    vivalavida Companion

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    Jul 19, 2014

    I appreciate the responses thus far! I guess I assumed everyone tracks and grades participation, so your ideas are making me think twice about the necessity of doing so. I remember one teacher said she had all students fill out an index card at the beginning of the year with adjectives about themselves in the target language. She would flip through the stack once or twice per period, and sometimes would list the student's adjectives before saying their name. She said that with this method, it was assumed they would participate and she didn't need to track it separately. Something like this does seem much easier to manage. I guess as a new teacher I feel like I have to keep track of everything! However, as Caesar mentioned, I do see how their participation is reflected in their daily work.
     

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