Open House Thursday, Aug 22 2013 

Tomorrow is Swain County Middle School’s Open House for all grades. The Open House begins at 1pm and goes until 6pm. I will be available in room 210 during those hours. I look forward to meeting everyone and I am looking forward to a great year!


What I Have Learned Sunday, Jul 3 2011 

When I first started writing this blog I was terrifed of grading anything that would be handed in by a student. I was afraid that if I graded them harshly than I would damage the student and their work. My goal was to find a way to give feedback and grade appropriately in a way that would not hurt the student. When reading the academic articles I came across a lot of ideas on what grades meant to students and some alternative methods to grading. I had to find a way to help students in a way that would not affect their grades in the classroom and the importance that they placed on them but I did have to find a way to give them the feedback they needed. I believe that the best way to accomplish this goal is two fold.

1. Assess and change the students pre conceived notions on grades. Grades are not meant to be punishment or rewards for that matter. They are meant to give the student a clear idea of where they are at on the grading scale. Unfortunately, many teachers use grades only in terms of accurancy without taking into account effort or work. When I grade student’s assignments I will take into account the amount of work they do and how much they learn through the process. I believe that this is more crucial than just a number on a page.

2. I also want to put the students in the role of grader. I want the students to enter this role so they can uunderstand what it is like to have to grade and critique another person’s work. This is important so the students can receive different and versatile feedback in order to make their assessments as powerful and poingnant as they can be. By allowing the students to take over the role as teacher, however temporary it may be, they can appreciate how it feels like to be on the this side of the gradebook.

Overall, the blog was a great expereince that allowed me to explore everything that I need in order to feel comfortable with my position in the classroom.

Writing Activity #4 Wednesday, Jun 22 2011 

Please seek more information on Writing Activity #4 in the page entitled Writing Activity #4.

Writing Activity #3 Monday, Jun 20 2011 

For more information about Writing Activity #3 please see Writing Activity #3 the page.

Writing Activity #2 Monday, Jun 20 2011 

Please see the page entitled Writing Activity #2 for full details.

Writing Activity #1 Monday, Jun 20 2011 

Please see the page on Writing Activity #1 for full information.

Coach G’s Blog Sunday, Jun 19 2011

This is the url link to Coach G’s blog. He only has several posts concerning many of the adventures in teaching in a classroom. The particular post that addresses grading is particularly interesting to read. It is mostly concerned with the fact that students to not want to do work that is not graded. Coach G maintains that no matter how good your intentions, students will not work on non- graded assignments unless you change their perspective on grading.

Coach G states that students need to understand the link between their everyday assignments and their tests and papers. He says there are two ways to accomplish this:

  1. Design tests and other graded activities so that earnest effort on class work (and homework if you assign it) ensures success/improvement on those graded activities.
  2. Assign grades for class work (and homework) based on effort rather than accuracy.

I am particularly interested in the second item in the list: this idea of accuracy is very interesting and one that I do believe has a place in the classroom. Sunday, Jun 19 2011 

The is a free website that teachers can use to do a variety of activities that pertain to their gradebook. First, the user must create a free account with the website in order to reap the full benefits that are offered. There are 12 main components of the site that are used more often than the other.

1. Gradebook

You can create your own online, personal gradebook that works like an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of your students’ grades. The gradebook is something that each teacher creates according to their needs and desires.

2. Messaging

The messaging feature is quite unique in that you can email students and their parents using a spam free environment. This is a safe and appropriate way to communicate with your students and their parents who are interested in your grading process and how you came to the grade that you assigned to a certain assessment.

3. Homework Calender

The homework calender is one of the most exciting features (in my opinion)! The students and you can see at a glance what homework, major assignments, and tests are coming up so nothing is a surprise and who knows it may also be a lesson in time management.

4. Quizzes

This online quiz feature automatically grades the quizzes and puts them in your gradebook for you. It is time saving but I do not know if I would use it myself because personally, that is putting too much responsibility on the computer’s part.

5. Discussions

The teacher, student, and parents can engage in online discussions that can be educational and stimulate at home learning. This cpuld be particularly using if the class is covering a controversial topic in their reading material.

6. Wikis

Taken from the idea of Wikipedia, the class can build their own online dictionary for their specific classroom purposes. The teacher can also share these with colleagues.

7. Flashcards

The teacher can make online flashcards for students while they are studying for an upcoming assessment. The students never have to fear losing their notes again!

8. Attendance

The teacher can track daily attendance and notfiy any missing students of the information that they missed in class that day.

9. 24/7 Student Access

The student can access the website whenever it is convenient for them. No more having to worry about only talking to the teacher during class time.

10. 24/7 Admin Reports

The teacher can easily identify which students are missing more days and whose grades are slipping. Hopefully, this tool will make it easier for the teacher to spot at risk students.

11.Private and Secure

No need to worry about any leaks of information here?

12.Completely Free

Anything and everything on the site will cost the teacher, students, and parents nothing.


I think this website is amazing!  A free website that allows me to build the exact assessments I need to help foster learning in the classroom while still keeping the gradebook on the back burner.

Reading Reminders Saturday, Jun 18 2011 

In this book Jim Burke writes in mostly checklists and rubrics only using sentences when absolutely necessary. This makes the book extremely easy to use and easy to read. Burke concentrates more on the assessment aspect of grading. It does not seem like a number in the gradebook matters a lot to Burke, his true passion seems to be his need to help students learn and grow in an intellectually safe environment.

Burke proposes checking for understanding and growth for students through the grading process. Right now I know you are thinking, “Hey, that’s what grading is!”, and my dear reader, you are correct but not all teachers do this. Most teachers loom tests and papers over students heads as if they’re punishment instead of an oppurtunity to show what they have learned. A test is something that most students dread and fear for a variety of reasons. I have never heard of a student being excited about taking a test. The only time I have ever heard students excited about turning in a paper is in one of my esnglish classes where we were allowed to pick our own topics and “dazzle” our teacher with our knowledge. Students want to show their teacher what they can do and how smart they are, Burke gives us a way to do just that.

Burke recommends giving the students:

1. a quiz or an exam

2. a performance task or project

3. an essay

Any of these tasks need to “be useful and make sense to the student, the teacher, and the parents” ( Burke 123) so the student understand why they must complete the task. Hint: it’s not just a grade, it’s an oppurtunity to show what they know!

Educational Pyschology 11th edition Saturday, Jun 18 2011 

This popular school textbook has an entire section dedicated to grading and assesment of students. The textbook leads the reader through the basics of assessment, testing, alternatives to traditional assessments, grading, and standardized testing. I was particularly interested in the alternatives to testing because of what the academic articles had to say on the subject.

The textbook had only a few options but all were helpful. They were portfolios, exhibitions, scoring rubrics,  and journals. The one that I was the most intriqued by was the journaling activity. I have been keeping a journal for quite some time now in my ENGL 3310 class and I can sincerely tell you that my writing has been greatly impacted in only the most positive way. I feel safe to explore different styles of writing and do not fear the harsh reaction of a negative grade.

This is fundementally important for students to feel. They will not explore and grow if they are afraid that they will fail. Our job is to help them fly on their own so they can find their own voice and learn from their mistakes.

This textbook and the academic articles are clearly in sync.

Next Page »