These chapters talk about a variety of topics, one being the response strategies. According to the text these are “techniques that teachers use to communicate the grades they have arrived at,” (Bratcher, 75). This might look like a writing conference. I really enjoyed getting ideas from the text about writing conferences because at my elementary school, the classroom conferences about my writing and formal parent-student-teacher conferences were always very beneficial. In the classroom when the teacher meets individually with a student to discuss their writing it is important to let the student speak first. Ask questions like, which part are you happiest with? Why? Which part doesn’t sound right? What things gave you trouble? How can I help you? This gives the student ownership of their writing. Teachers need to most importantly keep it positive. I loved the point, talk about the writing not the writer. Another great tool during conference time is to direct them to catch their own mistakes right in front of you. An area I think I might struggle with is to make sure that my suggestions don’t make the writing more my own than my students.
Some tools for conferences that I agreed with are the post-it notes. Love it! I can mark throughout the writing and place a sticky note right where its needed. It doesn’t mark up their own writing but simply makes notes that can be taken off later. Plus, post it notes come in bright colors that are positive. Marking on the paper seems to mean negative mistakes (often in red pen). My markings are not the end all be all of the writing, but suggestions. To me, post it notes are just added on suggestions instead of set in stone markings on their papers in pen. Marking on the papers leaves no room for student and teacher discussion and can be viewed negatively. I encourage teachers to make comments, even if only a few because no comments can be very disappointing. Imagine putting so much time and work into writing a paper for your teacher and you receive no comment back, good or bad. Lack of feedback can be very discouraging for a student.
In regards to value systems, the most common is E for Excellent, S for Satisfactory, I for Improving, and N for Needs to Improve. I have also seen + for 80% or better, check mark for 80%-50% and – for less than 50%. I find either systems more beneficial for the student than A, B, C, D and F. The letter scale of A-F does not seem to me like a good grading system for young students and I also think the classroom grading should correlate with the report card.
I fully support portfolios. I grew up presenting my portfolios at parent-teacher-student conferences and parent nights where we showcased our work throughout the year. I love that it involved me in my grade. For most portfolios the teachers allow the students to pick their best piece of writing to be graded. This gives the student control and can be an incentive to work hard. A portfolio can be a work of bests and a tool to show progress overtime. I will be using the sample worksheet that goes along with the portfolio that said, I consider these my best pieces…. I like them because… I’ve learned… I need to work on… In the future I would like to write about… This gives students the ability to explain their choices for their portfolio and have ownership for their writing. I will be implementing this into my classroom as a way to show my students best work and growth throughout the year.
Bratcher, Suzanne, and Linda Ryan. Evaluating Children’s Writing: A Handbook of Grading Choices for Classroom Teachers. Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates, 2004. Print.