Grading (not Assessment…thanks, Laurie!)

Before I start, I want to suggest you check out the link Carla attached on SLOW. I think it has a lot to say about our practice.

Robert Harrell, over on Ben’s blog, made a radical suggestion on grading. It was that we use the ACTFL standards! It’s one of those ideas that seems so obvious that I wonder why I didn’t think of that.

He said that he would start with the interpersonal mode, in which students negotiate meaning. That grade would include how students show that they are negotiating meaning in class–sitting up straight, focusing, and asking for clarification.

Another category would be interpretive mode, which would take in reading and listening.

The last category would be presentational, which would mean written and spoken language.

Where I have been weighting written and spoken work most heavily (above level 2), Robert would weight the interpersonal most heavily. I think that I would have to make sure that “interpersonal” didn’t mean “behavior,” but that it really meant what kids are doing to attempt the negotiation of meaning, in which case it would often mean higher-level skills: how do they figure out where they lost the comprehension battle, how do they use context clues to figure out word meaning in reading, how do they pose questions to others to get information.

An interesting topic…maybe we can continue it here! I am going to have the last of my Mother’s Day! Happy day to all of you!


2 responses to “Grading (not Assessment…thanks, Laurie!)

  1. I have hard time picturing how would one tie up a grade to the interpersonal aspect of communication without actually engaging the student into one-on-one conversation where it’s much more obvious. What criteria would be used? As you pointed out, we can’t grade them for behavior which “sitting straight and asking questions” really are. Would there be a daily grade? Weekly? I am afraid that it will turn out into a blanket for “you are here and doing what I ask you to do” grade (behavior not actually knowledge or skill).


    • This is exactly what I was thinking, Natalia. I think the real, complex part of this mode would be almost too hard to tease out and grade. So maybe we have to tie what we’re already doing in teaching to standards to what the ACTFL standards say, but don’t need to re-work too much more. Ultimately we do just want to know what they can do with the language.


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