Teachers are uhhhh obsessive, especially about marking. We write and rewrite assessment instruments, when we could be hitting a bachata class, ripping up the Grand Wall after work, or kicking back with our five-year-old.
^ wanna be overloaded like her? ^ 😞😞
We spend too much time thinking about grading. Luckily for us, I’m gonna make the rest of your teaching career waaaaaay simpler by showing you how to make marking simple.
Various assessment gurus will tell you something fairly similar regarding attaching Numberz to Performancez: there are only three, (or maybe four), real levels of skill that one can accurately describe. These are basically,
1. not yet proficient
2. functionally proficient
3. fully proficient.
Breaking things down further is complicated, and therefore makes marking slower (and rubrics more complex and therefore harder for students to understand). The more you refine descriptors and levels, the harder it is to distinguish between them.
Yes, sometimes more complex rubrics are called for, but not in a language class. And why not? Because the only teacher action which makes a difference for language learners is the amount and quality of input.
So…imagine if you got marked on partying. They give you a Number for how well you party.
Q: what would the rubric look like?
A: like this…
1 You are on your way to the party.
2 You are standing in the doorway, chatting with the host, eyeing a nice martini.
3 You are shaking it on the dancefloor with thirty others, with your second drink, and the sexiest person at the party is checking you out.
Works? Sure! It’s simple, quick and accurate. Your Party Mark will be 34%, 66% or 100%. Now, say we also wanted to grade outfits. So we add this:
1 Sweats and slides are kinda basic…but hey, you got out of bed!
2 Business casual? You look good and respectable but no eyeballs/mentions for you.
3 Oh yeah! What’s yr Insta, gorgeous? 😁
If we mark our partiers on both behaviour and dress, we could get from 1/6 to 6/6, or 16%, 33%, 50%, 66%, 83%, 100%. This is pretty good. We could add another criterion– say, flirting skills– and then our marks would range from 3/9 to 9/09, or 33%, 44%, 55%, 66%, 77%, 88% and 100%.
So here is our Rule of Three for Evaluation:
1. We focus on three levels of skill (not yet, just got it, fully proficient).
2. There is a clear difference between each level.
3. We do not mark more than three criteria.
Now, I’ma show y’all how this works for a language class. Here’s our oral interaction rubric (end of year, zero prep, totally 100% spontaneous & unplanned Q&A with a student, Level 2 and up in any language).
Here is the rubric. We are evaluating comprehension, functional accuracy and quantity of speech.
3. I understand everything said. My errors have minimal impact on how understandable I am. I ask and answer questions, and keep conversation going, appropriately.
2. I understand much of what is said with some obvious gaps. My errors occasionally make me impossible to understand. I try to keep conversation going but sometimes have problems adding to/elaborating on what has been said.
1. I don’t understand much of what is said. My errors often make me hard to understand. I have consistent problems keeping the convo going.
This rubric is a 3×3 and generates marks between 3 and 9 out of 9 (ie 33%-100% in 11% intervals). It’s a nice mix of detail, fast, and simple. You basically never want a rubric more complex than 3×3 cos it gets too texty for kids to read.
There you go. Use it if you want it.
Anyway, a few notes to go with this (and with marking writing, or anything else):
A. You can mark via selective sample. Eg, for writing, say your kids pump out 300-word stories (mid Level 1). I’ll bet you dinner and a movie that marking any three sentences will show you their proficiency as accurately as reading the entire thing. Same goes for answering questions about a reading, or listening. Pick a small sample and go.
B. You will generally see marks “clustering.” The kid who understands all the questions/comments in an oral interview will probably also be able to speak well. This is cos most “skills” develop in concert. With our partying rubric, it is likely that Mr Dressed To Kill is also quite sociable, a good and enthusiastic dancer, etc. Yes, there will be the odd kid who understands everything but can’t say much, but this is uncommon.
Now would somebody please make rubrics for spontaneous written output and reading comp also? Create & share.
Let’s be DONE with marking questions and focus on what matters: finding cool input for kids, and making our grading quick & simple, so that we can relax after work & show up energised. Remember, one of C.I.’s greatest innovators at one point said that their method was developed to boost their golf score. The logic? Well-rested, happy teacher = good teacher 😁😁.