June 4, 2011

Feedback toolkit: web-based grade book

So, how does someone who never puts points or a letter on any activity and who never assigns homework use a web-based grade book -- a program designed explicitly for these purposes? The single-word answer is a familiar one by not, I hope – feedback.

When I created the results-only classroom, I knew I’d have to show students something tangible, upon which they could base their progress. Parents, accustomed to seeing assignments, points and grades on our online grade book, would not be satisfied if their children’s language arts page was blank. No problem. Instead of points, grades, or the word “missing” for incomplete assignments, I would use the comment field, which is available for every student, adjacent to any activity that the teacher creates.

Online comments improve learning
So, instead of seeing a grade, students and parents could click the Language Arts link on our web-based grade book, and they would see a categorized list of activities, diagnostics and projects. Next to a single activity, I provide the type of narrative feedback that specifies what was done right and what needs to be changed or improved. It took some time to get students and parents used to the idea that there was no grade, but by our Open House (roughly one month into the school year), students understood and most parents were quickly on board.

Does your online grade book allow for this type of narrative feedback?

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