Is this a good grading style?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Tanner Thompson, Oct 28, 2016.

1. Tanner ThompsonGuest

Oct 28, 2016

Ok im not a teacher but i didnt know where i could ask this so i came on here. Basically im a sophomore and im taking enriched english 10. My english teacher converts all grades to 6 points total... i dont know why she does this but for some reason all our grades go in as x/6. so its either u get 100%, 83.3%, 66.6%, or fail. I could get a 90/100 on a huge project and she would convert it to 5/6 which is a b- or something. Also she has the grades weighted which is normal (1/3 tests, 1/3 homework, and 1/3 whatever else). ive had her so far for almost 2 months and im starting to think she is a bad teacher. not to mention the amount of bias towards this certain group of girls. There are a group of girls in my class who suck up to the teacher and answer all the questions and she gives them better grades even if we did just as good as them (ex. only lets them work in group of 4 instead of 3, always picking them for reading our play or whatever, commenting that my friend didnt cite sources when the same girl didnt cite sources and still got a "Good Job!"). but thats not part of it, im just asking if you think this is a bad or good way to grade, thanks.

3. GTB4GTCohort

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Oct 29, 2016

this will be a "very teacher -like" response but here goes...I do something similar in my math classes. All homework grades are converted to a 10 point equivalent. The reason i do this is some sections may have 25 problems assigned. Sometimes I may assign just 5-6 if the problems are complex and require much more time. I consider all the work important so I want them to have the same weight.

Let's say I did not do this...a student could make 25 out of 25 and then skip the assignment with 5 really difficult problems. Without the weighting system, he or she could forego the assignment with 5 problems and still have a passing grade...i.e. 25 correct out of 30. With the assignments weighted, the grade would be a 50...10 out of 10 on the first, 0 out of 10 on the second for a total points earned of 10 out of a possible 20. I think this is a better 'grade' that reflects abilities, effort, etc.

2 more thoughts....most of my students are seniors. I talk to them constantly about the need to adapt to their professors at the next level as they are a lot less flexible and understanding than what the teachers are at my high school. In other words, ANY grading system is fair if the rules are laid out at the beginning of the term (within reasonable parameters of course).

The last thought....this is what I love about math and disliked about other subjects back in my school days. Grading math papers and tests eliminates (as much as humanly possible) the bias. In math, the answer is either right or it is wrong, although I do give partial credit if the process followed was correct and the answer was incorrect due to a simple calculation error. I always tell my kids that if Hitler and Mother Teresa were in my math classroom...Hitler would make an A if he could do the problems and MT would fail if she couldn't. So I emphasize a bit on your other comment. I had some humanities courses were the grading process did seem rather arbitrary.

thanks for posting. i love to hear what students are thinking.

4. teacherintexasMaven

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Oct 30, 2016

I have to be honest. I quit reading after the third line due to the mistakes.

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Oct 30, 2016

Converting to 6 points seems arbitrary, though it would work if the original grade was out of 6 instead of a percentage. So if a 6 was "exceeds expectations" and a 5 was "mastery" and so on, and the grade on the report card was out of 6 instead of a percentage it would make sense. If I were consistently getting back assignments with one percentage grade on them,and a different percentage was going in the grade book to be calculated in my grade, I would ask my parent to schedule a conference to find out why that was happening.

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6. a2zVirtuoso

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Oct 30, 2016

I do not believe this. I once knew a MS teacher teaching a HS level class who would only give 1 of 2 grades on homework assignments. A zero or a 100%. Not writing one step on one problem out of 25 would result in a zero.

Just because something is stated doesn't make it fair when it comes to a grade that will end up on a transcript. You can say it is fairly applied if every student's work is treated the same way, but the grading system may not be fair, especially if the course is taught by several teachers in the school who have different grading policies. Then it is not fair because the grade is not representative of the coursework but teacher preference and when a college compares the grades between students in a school a teacher with an harsh grading policy causes negative recourse for the students. That is inherently unfair.

7. a2zVirtuoso

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Oct 30, 2016

If you really have a paper with a 90% on it and a printed progress report or on-line grading system shows that same assignment listed as a 5 which is translated to an 83%, this does need to be brought up tactfully with the teacher. There may be more to the grading system and weighting than you understand, but that 90% and any other graded work that shows something other than those 6 grades (unless she uses decimals in her fractions which I have seen in the past) you do have the right to ask how that 90% ended up an 83%.

As far as the x/6, if it is primarily for homework or class assignments, while I don't like it, it is a usual type of grading.

I personally have a problem with any grading system that doesn't align well with our district's grading scales, but that is me.

8. GTB4GTCohort

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Oct 30, 2016

If you notice, I qualified my statement with the phrase "within reasonable parameters". Of course, every grading system is not fair.

9. a2zVirtuoso

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Your qualification is so subjective that it doesn't really mean anything, especially since is follows the generalization of ANY grading system being fair. All it does is allow any comment to be rejected under the "within reasonable parameters". That MS teacher felt that the choice was "within reasonable parameters". Not only that, the teacher was very proud of the choice to grade that way and saw it as a very good thing for students causing them to be more detail oriented and exact.

I thought you believed, " ANY grading system is fair if the rules are laid out at the beginning of the term (within reasonable parameters of course)."

I'm now confused regarding your position.

10. GTB4GTCohort

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Oct 30, 2016

The use of the word ANY was a poor choice of words.I will confess to that heinous error that apparently caused so much confusion.. Replace the word "ANY" with "MOST" . fwiw, i have never been exposed to a teacher with what I felt was a "bad" grading policy (in a sample size of exactly 1 school) so maybe that influenced the poor choice of words.

WTBS, if a teacher deducts points if work is done in pencil rather than pen as specified in a grading rubric...is that fair? Some might say that if the work is correct it shouldn't matter.Others might say that doing the work in pen was in fact part of the assignment and was specified up front . I tend to fall in the second camp...that the instructions were known up front and should have been followed for maximum allowed credit.

11. a2zVirtuoso

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Oct 30, 2016

This must mean you believe that grades are representations of both the ability to demonstrate knowledge and compliance rather than a measure of demonstrated knowledge of the academic subject at hand and the standards associated with that subject.

That being the case, where is that line regarding fair when it comes to the percentage of a grade that can be based off of compliance rather than knowledge? Is 10% fair, 20%, 50%? Should the student who can't write without making mistakes thus needing to do the work in pencil receive a lower grade just because the teacher has decided that he or she prefers pen to be used by the student for whatever reason?

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12. GTB4GTCohort

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I guess the answer is somewhat dependent on what it means to be an educator. is it teaching just content? or does it expand beyond that to preparing students for life beyond just high school? I have had engineering professors that all work/answers be shown in metric units. I have had bosses that demanded that all reports follow a certain format. Were/are these request important? I would argue yes because it demonstrates an ability to read, comprehend and follow directions no matter how trivial they might seem.

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13. a2zVirtuoso

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I'm all for report cards that have other non-academic grades. I'm all for 2 grades on a paper. I'm not for an academic grade to be corrupted by things that are not in the scope of the academic content. Use the comment section on the report card to indicate that the student struggles to follow the directions of the assignment.

If you really want to emulate the real world and their required format, hand that assignment back to the student and make them re-do it following the directions and subjective decisions of the teacher before it is graded. That is what the real world would do with something that doesn't follow the format.

14. Peregrin5Maven

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Oct 30, 2016

Many teachers I know convert everything to a 4 point system. I've started to do that for some things. Honestly I experiment around a lot with my grading, but I try to do it in a way that will not penalize my students.

For instance, my quizzes have as many questions as is necessary to assess students but I usually set them to equal between 10-15 points each. But my grades are weighted so that exams are worth 45% of the grade, so even if it's less than the homework assignments in point value, the HW assignments are only weighted at 15% of the grade. And some things I grade numerically (quizzes and exams), and some things I grade using letter grades (labs and projects) which assigns a percentage to each letter grade and uses that to calculate how many points they got out of the assignment worth.

I feel a little guilty for my grading system being so arbitrary seeming (it's one thing that I've never received clear directions/instruction/guidance on), but every decision I make regarding this usually helps a students grade rather than makes it worse and I have rationales for each decision. It also gives me some freedom with my assignments. Some assignments require more work and effort than others and I can make that reflect in the grade (i.e. making one assignment worth 10 points and other worth 15).

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Oct 30, 2016

Back to the OP's original question, the main point, from a teacher's perspective, is for grades to indicate progress. An x/6 method can show accurate progress. It is similar to a method of averaging just letter grades. Miss Thompson, I believe you are on the right track. Instead of relying on your emotions, you are researching to find objective information concerning a problem you are experiencing. Rather than relying on your own perceptions of a situation, you are weighing them against all perceptions. This is a mature manner of handling a dilemma that many adults still have not discovered. Perhaps a polite discussion with the teacher would be helpful, especially if you avoid sounding accusatory and ask what procedures you can apply to improve your grades. More than likely she is quite enthusiastic about seeing you progress in your learning. Two quick pre-conference tips: 1. Always consult your parent(s) for advice in situations such as this. 2. Practice talking with an invisible teacher and drill responding in a positive attitude. Perhaps the best goal is not to change the teacher but to adapt to her methods of teaching.

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16. 3SonsEnthusiast

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How often have your efforts resulted in someone learning to be obedient?

17. Puppet DebrisRookie

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I skimmed over all this just enough to feel compelled to put in my 2 cents whether it helps or not. Let me put it this way:
Suppose you have a very difficult assignment of 97 questions and get all of them right. Your grade is 100%.
Suppose you have another assignment of 3 easy questions and get all of them wrong. Your grade on this second assignment is 0%.
But now what is your average? I don't think it should be 50%. But it kind of sounded like that's what is going on. I doubt one little greatest possible error of 16% or whatever it was on one assignment would be a big deal unless the teacher is simply averaging rather than using a weighted average (the hard way) or totaling (the easy way).

Why wouldn't a teacher keep a running total of points possible for each class, and points earned for each student? Isn't that easier? Isn't it common sense? Wouldn't that be a better way to measure progress? Wouldn't that make more sense to students?

I think totaling points makes more sense and communicates more useful information to students including the following:
1. Students would see their grades go up or down as time goes on,
2. Each individually graded assignment will still show a % grade which will help show growth,
3. Students will see smaller and smaller fluctuations as the total possible gathers momentum. This helps students realize they can not wait until the end to try and get a bunch of A's to pass or to get to a certain letter grade.

Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
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18. Puppet DebrisRookie

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Nov 4, 2016

Sorry, but somehow I seemed to have accidentally commented on my own post. Noticed it a day later. I thought I was editing my post - immediately after posting it. I didn't notice my mistake until the next day. Also, I thought I could simply delete, but the system isn't letting me. Once you post a comment, you can not just delete, but have to say something. Is that right? Idk. Again - sorry.

Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
19. CindyBlueCohort

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Nov 4, 2016

I disagree.
Grades should reflect both the content knowledge and following directions as to format and any other instructions the teacher has given and expects the student to follow.
And in the "real world," the employee would be given one, maybe two chances to follow the format. After that, with rare exceptions, the boss would get rid of that person and look for someone who can and will follow format, because dealing with a person who won't deliver the material in the format required, no matter how good it is, causes more work for the boss.
Schools need to help the students learn that skills such as direction following are every bit as important as content knowledge. It can't be one or the other, it must be both. We are doing our students no favors if we don't help them learn this important lesson. And what other teachers do doesn't change what I do. If other teachers want to make it easier for their students to earn an "A" by not requiring neat work that follows the format that was taught and expected (such as the MLA format for papers or showing all steps in a math problem) so they look better on college apps, that's their business. I know that I want to help my students to be a "step above" other students, so I teach, and expect my students to learn and their work to reflect, both the course content and format/direction following. For me, it's right and reasonable to expect that a grade in my class grade will reflect both.

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20. MsAbejaCompanion

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Nov 4, 2016

Serious question for everyone reading this: can anyone here say that during their credential program they received adequate instruction and guidance on how to develop and implement a fair and effective grading system?

21. GTB4GTCohort

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Nov 5, 2016

I don't have data for that. For one thing, I don't have a control group. So the following is mere conjecture and speculation based on observations. I suspect the kids that have sufficient IQ and EQ and/or are grade motivated adjust and adapt easily to the requirements and rubrics in (most) any classroom. You can verify this by looking at their report cards and academic history.

Those lacking in these areas will continue to perform at or near their previous levels for the most part. Perhaps modest gains can be realized but I am not sure how to measure them. My students are seniors for the most part so I don't have a personal history with them or be able to see a 'before" and 'after" glimpse of them socially or academically.For kids this age, they seem to be pretty well settled in their "school persona" so to speak.

And, of course, there is always the very small percentage of kids who willingly and quite openly choose to ignore things like school rules and/or teacher rubrics.

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22. a2zVirtuoso

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If your district's report card allows for both, then you can include both. If your report card indicates the grade is based on mastery of the content, which is what I have found to be common, then the grades should be reflecting what the district's progress report indicates, not what a teacher decides it will mean. Doing so would make the grade meaningless since every teacher can decide what the grade means. An aside, in many places grades are meaningless because from class to class and teacher to teacher the content and the level of assessment is so different that you can't compare an A in Mr. James' class and a C in Ms. Markin's class even if you wanted to. That trend is changing somewhat, but it still has a long way to go.

As I said, I am all for 2 grades for each subject. One that indicates content mastery and one that indicates behavioral/compliance measures. You could then easily see the C student who academically advanced but behaviorally behind and the C student who has a lot of soft-skills but is still struggling with the academics. Isn't that much more informative for all than a knowing that the first C student might know the information but can't get their act together and the C student that has their act together won't have the academic skills to do the work but the built in behavior points pulled that grade up?

23. MrsCMultitudinous

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Our subject grades must only reflect mastery of the curriculum expectations (standards); there is a separate section on the report card to report and comment on Learning Skills. We need to be sure that we are evaluating skills, not compliance. For me, I don't care if a student circles instead of underlines, chooses a font other that the default, or writes on the wrong side of the paper; I worry about whether or not they know what they need to.

24. GTB4GTCohort

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I really do like the idea but wonder how to assess behavior/compliance issues objectively? it seems that teacher bias could very easily come into play. For example, I have many students who do not have behavioral issues in the classroom, however, their effort is low. Of course I have an idea of where each child is individually re: effort but is my ranking accurate. What about the kid who can make A's with very little effort because he or she is avoiding the more challenging courses?

But,overall, I do think your idea would (if grading is done correctly) be a better descriptor or predictor of a child's ability to succeed post high school. It would also provide perhaps more meaningful and holistic feedback to the child and his parents. And allow meaningful conversations on how the student can improve in perhaps more meaningful ways than merely academic content.

As a math teacher, I see a lot of students who struggle with content (and consequently grades) but who I believe will be quite successful in their future endeavors outside of the STEM arena.

25. GTB4GTCohort

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This (ability to assign 2 grades and/or make comments) isn't always the case. My district's report cards only show 1 letter grade in each subject with no comments. I think a2z's ideas above (2 grades per subject) would provide better feedback into a student's true overall abilities. which is more than just content knowledge. In my former life, I have fired people who were technically proficient at their jobs... but other issues - inability to function well with coworkers, tardiness, absenteeism, failure to comply with policies, etc.- made them ineffective.

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26. a2zVirtuoso

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I understand that there can be cases where there is only 1 grade and NO comments section in which to document poor work habits. I do believe that this is probably more rare to have a report card with no way to give any type of communication other than just the one grade.

But who are we really fooling here? Taking away points is not really about teaching students to improve those lacking skills. It is about using a punishing method which is easy to implement in the hopes that the behavior will change. The methods certainly don't work well because we still end up with students with lacking skills in this area with poor grades or worse, students with high grades because of points that boost their grade based on behavior rather than ability giving them a false level of competency.

27. GTB4GTCohort

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I don't understand how a student can boost their grades by complying with rubrics? Obviously yours set of experiences must have influenced your reply.
And again, I fail to see the "punishment" aspect if expectations are clear and laid out in advance. we just may have a difference of opinion on this issue. As i said earlier, my report card has no area for comments.You will have to assume that I am telling the truth here. in your post above, you seem to be for the idea of 2 grades so that leads me to believe that you support the idea that our responsibilities lie beyond just teaching content. otherwise, why bother to have two grades.?

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28. a2zVirtuoso

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This assumes that every teacher uses rubrics for their assessments. That is not the case.

You realize the same can be said about you.

This would give the information that others say is a responsibility of teachers - to prepare kids for the "real world" where people only get one or two chances if they are lucky. It is a way to try to give more separation between types of skills, one being academic and one being soft skills.

I see nothing wrong with having to bear some responsibility in trying to get students to learn skills of handing in things on time, being detail oriented, learning to discuss topics in a civil manner using sound arguments rather than emotion, following directions (although I do think sometimes those directions are ridiculous), and other skills.

29. 2ndTimeAroundPhenom

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You may find directions and expectations to be ridiculous, but that may be because you don't understand the reasoning behind those rules. Sometimes it is for the teacher's benefit. Sometimes it is to teach a greater lesson. Sometimes it directly relates to the content being taught.

In high school chemistry, for instance, it should be a big no-no for kids to write their lab results in pencil. GLP, or Good Laboratory Practice, stipulates that immediate results be recorded in a manner that they cannot be changed at a later time. It is to prevent falsification of data when calculations don't work out correctly down the line. I have seen a handful of people escorted out of a company's doors because of this very thing.

I worked with an English teacher that required daily journal writings to be done in pen so she could see the way kids self-corrected their writing and how the writing would progress over the semester.

I have considered requiring pen for my free response questions simply because kids take too much time erasing their mistakes when they write in pencil. I'd rather they focus on getting GOOD answers down in a limited amount of time. They can cross out their words faster than they can erase.

I go back and forth on compliance versus content-only. I take off points for not writing names on papers (in science publication is important for critique, after all) but I won't create an assignment where compliance only is the focus of the grade (notebook checks). As a high school teacher part of my job is to make sure kids can follow directions before they graduate. I have to ensure they are college or career ready.

30. GTB4GTCohort

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I really think we are closer to agreement than what you might think. I too think we do have a greater responsibility than merely teaching the standards. Without the luxury of having two grades, one must use rubrics in an attempt to teach and influence behaviors. In other words, is deducting x% for late work when students know that this is your grading policy "'punishment" for the student or is it reinforcing the idea that choices have consequences?

31. a2zVirtuoso

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Does that mean we need to take a complete inventory of all rules and regulations in businesses and professions around the state (because education is supposed to be a state function) and ensure that those policies and practices are put in place in all schools to ensure that by the time the student finished k-12 and potentially university degree(s) that they will be able to know those policies and regulations?

32. a2zVirtuoso

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Why can't a rubric have two grades?

33. GTB4GTCohort

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as an aside to the discussion, this comment reminded me of one of my funniest exchanges ever with a group of students. They (3 males) were in the back of my class room and talking quite vocally about how they couldn't wait to get out of our HS. So, wanting to engage them in conversation, I asked them why that was and Bill said "we have too many stupid rules and regulations here at XHS". i said ok and asked them about their future plans. All of them perked up and said they were planning to "join the Marine Corps" upon graduation. I just started laughing at that comment and later asked them to touch base with me after a few months in the Corps.

34. GTB4GTCohort

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It probably could. So assume a student makes a 98 on content and Z on the other metrics. Assume I average them (remember I don't have the ability to record 2 grades on the report card). Mathematically how is that different than subtracting x% from 98 for tardiness?

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35. 2ndTimeAroundPhenom

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No, but it does mean that you, as a high school teacher, should know the basic requirements of the profession whose content you are teaching. Chemists should record results in pen (or on a computer that records all keystrokes) so chemistry teachers should encourage those behaviors when they teach.

It seems like you're intentionally being argumentative here - did you really think I was implying such a thing?

36. GTB4GTCohort

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this is spot on. One of the biggest issues with the educational system is it is a closed loop system. The vast majority follow the path of HS to college, where they are taught by people who themselves have never been outside the public sector then straight back to the classroom. I am not calling into question about anyone's intention. I just think there is a real lack of understanding of what it takes to be successful in the world outside the public sector. I think 12 years of "focusing on just the standards" does a great disservice to our students. FWIW, a great many people who are looking for good employees share this perspective. I talk to them frequently.

37. a2zVirtuoso

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You don't have a method to make comments on the report card either?
You don't have a way to indicate 2 grades in a grade book and send an additional progress report to parents indicating struggles in other areas?

I just have trouble believing there is no way you can provide information about the student beyond 1 letter grade on a report card. I think you at focusing on the one grade and forgetting there may be many ways to accomplish the idea of providing 2 sets of information so that the information provided is actually more relevant to student performance.

38. GTB4GTCohort

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Let me repeat myself yet again: NO... I DO NOT. I thought I have made that clear throughout this discussion. Apparently not. But there it is.

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39. a2zVirtuoso

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So, the argument is only you talk to others outside of teaching....

I do too. I hear different things. I now hear people complaining about the lack of knowledge of new hires. Sometimes it is a real lack of skill even though the transcript showed great grades and other times it is a lack of the things that used to be part of new employee training. Businesses have always complained about the quality of new employees because they forget how green they were when they started because they had an inflated view of self. Nothing new there. It has been written about for thousands of years.

We want students who comply, but we also want them to be able to think and question (someone else).

40. a2zVirtuoso

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Thank you for the clarification. You kept mentioning grade and saying you only have one grade. That is why I asked about a comment section. Multiple states, public and private schools, I have yet to see a school that did not have a comment section on report cards to indicate information that goes beyond what a single grade can show. So, that really surprises me. I'm sorry I did not understand that your focus on one grade meant there were no comments. I apologize I couldn't comprehend what you were intending by your descriptions.

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