For now I've laid the accuracy component down, and with every opportunity I am designing practices for my students that focus on communicating as many details as possible about the prompt as well as forming strings of sentences rather than just words and phrases. I just want to get my students excited about using as much language as they can possibly produce right now. My tactic is to reward them for producing so much language that they will get over the fear of making mistakes when speaking Spanish and will just go for it, because accuracy comes later right?
You would think that doing this would be easy, but all of their other classes are constantly at odds with this idea. In their other classes (for the most part) they can earn high grades by just filling in blanks, but accuracy and completion are the enemies of proficiency. They are also the enemies of transferring skills because shouldn't the goal of any learning be that you know how to perform the skill, but also know when to apply it in a new situation? Very few of their other classes train students to be proficient at anything they are learning, and someone very wise (whose name I can't remember and who I am paraphrasing now) said that, "performance is what students can do in a controlled situation, but proficiency is what they can do in an unpredictable situation." Maybe that is why standardized testing scores are never what we hope they will be. Students are trained to find the one right answer, but not how to use that knowledge or skill in other ways. Students have been conditioned to be anxious about accuracy and they are only interested in just completing assignments, not really thinking about them. How will I know when my students are ready for me to grade accuracy? When they stop asking about how much they have to say or write.
So, today I am brainstorming on my own blog ideas for grading without accuracy being the focus. Let's see how it goes...
- Writing practices can be graded with only one component of the rubric to make the students focus on how to improve in that specific area.
- Take old fashioned grammar worksheets and re-design them so that students have to write/speak with that concept in a more open-ended way. Don't grade accuracy, grade for comprehensibility. Are they using the new concept well enough to be understood? Grading comprehensibility is great for peer evaluation. If their peers can't understand it, there really is a problem.
- Only take full credit off of an assignment when there is no response at all.
- Add grading goals to assignments or practices. For example, if in the assignment your students are writing sentences, make the grading goal be how well they can connect smaller sentences into larger ones or their ability to use sequencing or transitional words.
- Take your favorite rubric and pare it down to its very essence and train your students to evaluate themselves and each other with it. Here's my own example: