Category Archives: Homework

Assessing myself (and reading)!

Let me start by saying that I haven’t graded notebooks for two weeks while my daughter was still visiting. All my grades were either anecdotal (because the kids said how they did) or they were for speaking. Now I have graded two classes’ worth of notebooks. It’s actually kind of nice to wait this long, because this way I put five grades down for each kid, rather than spending the time to open the notebooks for just one or two grades. (These notebooks stay in my classroom, and everything goes into them: daily vocabulary, pictures, all sorts of quizzes, fast-writes, and cloze exercises on songs.)

I already knew the kids blew past the numbers I required on the sliding scale vocabulary quiz. (Now I have to create some for tomorrow. Yikes!)

I don’t really care about the homework grades…except that I was able to tell two kids I want them to spend more time reading, once I graded their reading quizzes.

Writing and reading were very interesting. I used the Scott-style rubric for writing, and marked down two areas of success and one to work on in each paper. It’s the first time I’ve done that, and I found it instructive to pull comments from the rubric. When the kids got their speaking rubrics back last week, they were all very positive, so I suspect they will like this as well. But what was cool was that by figuring out what they were doing well, I could also see what I was doing well–or maybe, what gets acquired early.

The next step was grading the reading. I need to make up a rubric from the ACTFL standards for that too. Since kids are reading in three or four different groups in each of the “advanced” classes, I didn’t know quite what to do. I told them to pick the most challenging part of their reading that they understood and to translate five sentences in a row. The outcome was that I am going to add to the instructions that if they think they’re right on the edge of getting it, that’s what I want them to choose. If they’re letter-perfect in their translation, that means it’s too easy. If they have more than one word they just don’t know, that means that it’s too hard a selection. If they can make it sound correct in English, but they make a mistake or two despite their best efforts, that’s where I’m going to count it an A for translation. It might not be an A on the rubric (because they might not be reading up to their level), but that will have to wait for now.

That may not make a lot of sense, but I’m hoping I can think of a good way to explain it before they have another reading quiz.


Rethinking homework

I’m opposed to homework for many reasons (see Alfie Kohn). I gave Nathan’s list of homework options to my advanced classes and told they had to spend 1/2 hour a week doing something that they enjoyed to further their Russian. (The AP kids have more specific homework.)

I recently read something Susie wrote about how TPRS kids and their parents often don’t realize that kids are really learning, unless the kids regularly go home and tell their parents the stories they learn in class in the target language. It doesn’t teach them anything, but it will give them the confidence and the pride in what they can do, because the stories will extend and grow more detailed.

Today I told my level 1 kids that in this new quarter, they are going to have five or ten minutes a week of homework. For now, I’ll have them take drawings home of the current story to tell to their parents in Russian for a signature.

This still fits my concept of homework that doesn’t allow copying and that doesn’t cut into family and recreation time.  (A story can take at most two minutes right now.)  I’ll let you know how it goes.