Let’s Talk

By Liana Loewus — September 22, 2008 1 min read

English teacher Ariel Sacks is rethinking her grading schema. “Just what is a class participation grade?” she asks. “How is it calculated? I’ll come clean and say that I’ve mostly been making mine up.”

While looking over the state standards—which emphasize reading, writing, and speaking—with her colleagues one day, Ariel realizes that participation, for her, is really about making “meaningful spoken contributions to class.”

And now, as I rip apart my less than useful practice of making up class participation grades, it occurs to me that I should just get rid of it, and create a new category for speaking. . . I have many assignments that are designed to build and assess students’ oral language skills, and even rubrics that make explicit what’s being graded. Yet I’ve struggled with which category to place them in! So now they have a home, and my grading is more aligned with ELA standards.

Speaking, with prescribed objectives much like reading and writing, can be taught and assessed. Now all she has to do is figure out how to manage students who express their oral language skills by interrupting the teacher. . .

A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.