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I recently attended a workshop on assessment. It made me realize that what I was doing in class was not the best and gave me a few ideas on how to improve it. I have also been reading about experiences of teachers not giving any grades to their students and all this got me thinking about assessment and grades in general : what should be graded? Quizzes and tests? Work done in class, projects, participation, presentations? How do you grade? Do you grade everything? If I give an assignment to students, they work in class and I make sure that they do their work properly...shouldn't the grade at the end be the maximum? Should I grade only chapter tests to make sure that the students master the skills I have been teaching in a specific chapter? I am very confused about all this and would like to hear your opinion and practice regarding assessments and grades.

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Lisa Dabbs's picture
Lisa Dabbs
Educational Consultant. Author. Speaker. Blogger.

Hi Celine,

Your question is a very good one and sometimes can be difficult to answer.

On the main Edutopia web page under Core Concepts there is an Assessment page. I highly recommend you start there as you are making decisions about grading and assessments. It has some great ideas that may help you with your concerns.

Let me know what you think.


Celine Mazoyer's picture
Celine Mazoyer
French teacher

Hello Lisa,

thank you very much for your answer. Watching the videos in the Assessment rubric comforted me with the decisions that I have been making lately with my French classes.
I realized the students were bored of just practicing grammar on a piece of paper, and it was painful for me to watch, but I didn't know how I could change things. My French 2 started a food chapter and food being one of the favorite topics for French people, I thought it would be a great opportunity to do something else than the textbook! Throughout the chapter, we watched a couple of videos of people cooking, a great opportunity to work on listening and review food vocab. I also assigned group presentations : one on etiquette when eating (they did a quiz for other students), one on famous restaurants and chefs and one on dishes. The students enjoyed making the PowerPoint and presenting it. And they types their recipes. Although I know it is far from being perfect as the students used English in their presentations, used Google translator if I was not behind them, students have been much more involved in the learning process, they are doing, not me. We have started working on the future and I spent very little time teaching concepts and more time with practice. The next step will be speaking activities.

So far, I have given one quiz to make sure they have acquired the vocabulary. We have barely opened the book but I have used it to make sure that we would stay close to the curriculum. Building units around standards seem to be relevant now,and it will take time.

It seems to me that this process allows me to assess the students while they are working and learning. We don't wait until test day to say "Ok, let see what you have learned from this chapter".
Now, I know that I need to improve on how to give meaningful feedback and proper rubrics before we start a project so that expectations are clear for everybody and grading easier.
I really doubt I will give the standardized test for this chapter!

Sorry for this lengthy post, I hope to read more comments and practices on assessment!

Lisa Dabbs's picture
Lisa Dabbs
Educational Consultant. Author. Speaker. Blogger.
Facilitator great to hear back from you!
No worries on the post size...that's why we have this group. :)

I love the things that you are describing that you're doing in your French class. My grandmother was a Foreign Language instructor at a High School and Junior College. She spoke & taught 5 languages. Her faves were Spanish and French. She would have loved to know that you are incorporating a food piece in your teaching. She consistently had her students go on field trips with her to restaurants, taste and study the foods, then write/draw about their experiences.
This was "back in the day" before the use of technologies in schools and classrooms. Her assessment of her students then was so much more meaningful as she could see them fully engaged (or not) in the activity. She could ask questions, have authentic dialogue.

I'm glad that you're working on finding just what works for you and that you found some of the Edutopia pieces were helpful
More to your point though...I agree that the whole assessment piece can be so confusing. I think it would be helpful to hear some personal stories from other educators who may be struggling, or have found things that work.
Anyone have thoughts out there on how they've worked with the grading assessment pieces? Please share with Celine and I!

I look forward to more feedback, Celine. :)

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