I just finished watching Part 4 of the Books and Things seminar, “Four Ways to Destroy your Child’s Love of Learning.”. I have a question in regards to assigning grades. I can perfectly see Sonya’s comparison- love of learning vs. learning for grades compared to enjoying eating apple pie vs. pie eating contest. The entire focus of “why” changes. I can see this in my 14 yr old freshman daughter. All I’ve heard this year so far is “Why do I have to know this? Why study hard? I’m going to fail this test anyway! I’ll never understand grammar! I give up!” etc, etc. This is followed by lots of tears, disrespectful communication towards me, and extreme frustration with herself. I wish I didn’t have to assign grades, but at the high school level, I think it is necessary to have an acceptable transcript. She is studying Apologia’s Biology and each module is concluded with a test- I can’t just not show her her grade- she knows she took a test. Tests are part of Algebra, Grammar, French. I like the idea of grading character applied to each subject, but how would one do that and would it reflect a “fair” grade on a transcript? What also bothers me is that she does not seem to even like learning, much less love it, and she has always been homeschooled and for the most part, we have used a literature-based, Charlotte Mason style education.
I’d love to hear from Sonya and others who have already traveled this high school road and had the challenge of perserving/promoting a love of learning in spite of the necessity of assigning grades.
Thank you, Ladies.
We’re not even close to having a child in high school, but maybe this will help. I’ve got two suggestions.
What if you just told her you weren’t going to show her the grades any more? Let her take the tests, give her a grade right then for effort and character shown, and then grade the actual test at a later time. At the end of the semester or term, you could show her the grades. Maybe she’ll surprise herself with how well she’s doing.
Or allow her to correct wrong test answers until she’s at 100% correct? There are no rules in the public school system that I know of that say a child can’t correct a test paper, so why not in a homeschool. My ds takes a test at the end of every math lesson. The only thing that differentiates the test paper from the worksheets he completes are that I don’t help him on the test. When he’s finished, I look it over and point out any incorrect answers. Then he has to correct what he missed. I don’t write a grade on the top of his paper, and he doesn’t get overwhelmed because he’s freaking out over “the big test”. I know grades for high school transcripts are required, but this could be a way to help her get passed her feelings about grades.
Hope that helps a little,
You determine what is a “fair” grade in your homeschool.
In my homeschool, hard work and effort were rewarded not just the ability to take a test. My students had the opportunity to earn extra points by doing extra work such as doing an outline of the text, a written narration or reading extra books. It was possible that the one that earned the lower test grade could make the higher overall grade by putting forward more effort.
For Apologia, I used a different rubric than the one that was provided. My kids understood that in order to make an “A” they had to do more than just make an “A” on the unit tests.
Test taking is a skill. Personally, I believe that it is appropriate to spend a year or two working on this skill without focusing on the results. For my daughter, I let her take the test as an open book exam. The next day I would let her retake the test. This allowed her to develop the ability to focus on the information that the test maker wanted her to know which may not be the information that she wanted to know. As she became more proficient at seeking the information that the test maker wanted her to know, I weaned her from this extra step.
I used the tests in Apologia to teach test taking skills not necessarily to asses their mastery of the material. I knew she understood the material from her narrations, written narration, lab reports, etc. I could have skipped the tests entirely and still been able to give her a grade on the transcript.
Both of my older children have needed to take tests in their post homeschool life. I tried to communicate to them that test taking is just another skill that can be learned. I did not let their skill level at taking tests interfere with their learning. I also didn’t let my son, who did quite well at tests, think that this lower level thinking skill actually reflected his overall knowledge of the subject!
I have given grades to a few of our classes (not by any means all of them–except on the National Merit application which wouldn’t allow any submissions without grades, aargh!) but my children rarely ask to see them, and I really don’t assign them until I make up the transcript (Of course I have test scores and notes on effort and comprehension written down so I don’t forget later ) But I would completely refrain from showing a child any grade at all until they “got” education and understood the point of what they were doing first–I would totally not allow “grade pursuit” to interfere with education. YOU can make notes on how she is doing, but if she stresses, just ask her how SHE thinks she did. (I’d actually use nonformal assessment instead of tests where possible for a while–this doesn’t work so great for math but I’d try some oral or project or paper methods for a bit instead of one of those scary test papers with points and all that–you can come back to that later. We just don’t think about it much here–my boys will occasionally ask to see how they “did” on something, but they know that even a test score isn’t the whole thing. In fact, since I teach by mastery instead of by “tests” really, then they know if they do a substandard job on anything, they’ll be doing it again until they get it right. So it’s less a matter of “how much they get right” than of “how long it takes to get it right.” You might take that as a guide for a bit. Tell her you expect an “A” effort, and this may take one week or three months to achieve, it’s up to her, and it doesn’t really matter in the long run, just that she either understands what the lesson covers or she doesn’t.Sonya ShaferModerator
I will only add an Amen to these wise ladies’ counsel.KimberlyParticipant
Thank you, everyone, for your counsel. I truly appreciate it.
LindseyD- Yes, it would be a good idea to have her correct any mistakes she’s made. I have done that in math, giving half-credit for corrected answers. I haven’t given half-credit in science for corrected answers, though. I’m not sure why, because we’ve always discussed what the correct answer is, so I think I will put that into practice.
WendyB- Thank you for some great ideas. I have set up a slightly different rubric for science too- and I have tried to remind her in times of “freaking out” over an upcoming test, that the test scores only count for 55% of the overall grade (35% Lab Reports, 5% weekly oral narration, 5% student notebook with OYO questions, study guide, etc.). But she still sees 55% as “huge”. I like the idea of presenting the tests as an opportunity to learn test taking skills- not so much to test comprehension. I think I will have her do daily narrations over the section she reads. She will balk at that at first, but I’m reminded of something I read somewhere about narration not primarily being to test comprehension but is actually part of the learning process, helping the student to organize and cement the information in their own minds. It’s so easy to forget that when I grew up taking quizzes and answering workbook questions, knowing that I had to prove I was listening or paying attention. Do you “grade” a narration? Do you keep a daily record of “grades” and assign a grade at the end of the quarter/semester?
“So it’s less a matter of “how much they get right” than of “how long it takes to get it right.” You might take that as a guide for a bit. Tell her you expect an “A” effort, and this may take one week or three months to achieve, it’s up to her, and it doesn’t really matter in the long run, just that she either understands what the lesson covers or she doesn’t.”
Through elementary and jr. high, this had pretty much been my attitude- you do it until you get it, so then we can move on- even now, she just repeated a chapter in Algebra because she really did horrible on the chapter review/test- second time through- huge improvement! I guess what bothers me most is the attitude she displays when she struggles with anything. I’ve given all the lectures: “If you already knew how to do it, you wouldn’t have to learn it; Some thing are hard, but you have to be determined and keep working through it; etc.” I guess I need to determine what an “A” effort is: no complaining, habit of best effort, working through difficulties without despairing, keep going until you get it right, learning how to handle frustration. Any other suggestions for an “A” effort? When you say you keep notes on effort and comprehension, do you set that up for each course and make notes each day, or weekly, or by the project? How do you translate your notes into a number or letter grade?
Sonya- Just wanted to say “thank you” for all you have taught me through your website, DVD seminars, and study guides! Love the discussion forum, too! It’s so nice to have a place where moms can learn from those who have already “been there”.
Those are all good qualities for an “A” effort; I also add in making good use of time while working (even teens can dawdle–even if we thought we had that beast slain at age 8) and spending an appropriate amount of time (instead of ripping through at record speed) and I also require legibility if handwritten. I assume for most things that my kids will earn an “A” and if they are on shaky ground, I tell them, tell them why, and tell them what they need to do if they want to keep an “A”. I keep a course description form for each “course” we do and I keep the notes on that, periodically. Again, for my kids I’ve been very blessed, and their “default” is a pretty good attitude, so most of my notes occur when that isn’t the case for some reason.WendyBMember
No, I didn’t grade narrations. I also did not keep a daily record of grades.
My kids kept a schedule book. In it they kept track of test grades and marked if they did a oral narration, written narration, outline, etc. I had a file folder system set up so that they could keep track of their paper trail. We went through a lot of spiral notebooks! At the the end of a course , like Apologia, I took a look at their schedule and their paper trail to determine a grade to put on their transcript. I did not spend a lot of time worrying about grades.
My kids did not earn all A’s. They have some B’s and even an occasional C on their transcript. They earned a C for being a bit lazy and for doing the minimal amount of work for a subject. They earned an B for putting forth some effort of learning the material. This may be demonstrated by doing Ok on the tests. I did not give my son an A for a course just because he earned an A on the test. Some kids can make an A on a test and actually learn very little. He had this “gift”. If all he did was read the text and make an A on the test then he earned a B for the class.
To earn an A, they had to put forth real effort to learn the material. They also had to have some form of written proof that they had an understanding of the material. They needed to have the ability to have a conversation about the material. They had to take full responsibility for their education. If they did all this, even if they made a B on the test, then they earned an A for the course.
- The topic ‘Books & Things Seminar- Assigning Grades is High School’ is closed to new replies.