Doing everything online and using backward design to organize my classes has lead to many noticeable improvements in the structure of my classes. One aspect of the class about which I didn't like the way a digital life seemed to be pushing my pedagogy was in the grading.
For the last dozen or more years, I've read and graded students' work, writing a comment on the document and a grade in my book. I don't allow students to see their grades until after the deadline for revision had passed.
At the beginning of each year, a bold student or two would ask in class, "Ms. Gardiner, where is my grade?"
I'd explain that I want students to read my comments. I want them to read the marginalia and annotations I make. I want them to decide whether or not to complete a revision based on the types of improvements I recommend rather than based on the letter grade I've assigned to the work.
Many of the students hate that approach. "But why can't I just know what you gave it? Then I know if I need to revise."
In so many ways, Hotchkiss students are lovely people I happily spend a lot of time among, but when they start thinking about grades, they can get a little fiendish. They've been conditioned for so many years to believe that grades matter, that grades indicate something important and finite and true. It's hard to convince them that grades are a subjective measure of absolutely nothing much.
Some students come around to my point of view, enjoying the freedom of thought that not seeing a grade provided.
Then came rubrics. With point-laden rubrics, students can see their grades as soon as I highlight squares in a chart. Once they see the points, some of them don't bother reading the criteria. I tried to take all of the point values out of the rubrics, and the "smart" programming rearranged my columns into alphabetical order (so instead of achieved-attempted-absent, I had absent-achieved-attempted. Ugh!) Well, I figured out a work-around. My rubrics now say, "1. achieved; 2. attempted; and 3. absent. Ha! Take that smart programming! My husband has a different system. He has points on the rubric, but divorces the rubric completely from the grade. (Fortunately for me, that's the only thing he's divorcing!) His system works just as well. That way, we can keep the grade from students until after they have read the other feedback and completed a revision based on that information.
In any case, I stand by my approach of giving students lots of feedback without any grades.
What do you think? Do you use rubrics? Do you like being graded by rubrics? When you get a grade and a comment, do you alway read the full comment or read the comment only if you don't like the grade? In this year of rethinking everything, should I rethink how I grade student work? I'm looking forward to reading your advice in the comments.