Assessing Character Symbols

Okay, Marisa. You can do this. I coach myself as I begin my first Standards-Based Grading. Just be honest. Be consistent. And be smart. 

My first experience with Standards-Based Grading is with my students’ Character Symbols, an activity I created to help students make inferences for characters in Hunger Games. 

I had such a tough time grading these! I wanted to push my students to think deeply–go beyond the obvious! Yet I ran into difficulties, for example, when a student used a bottle of alcohol to represent character Haymich. This was a logical and relevant symbol, yes, but when their explanation of the symbol was ‘Because he drinks,’ I felt that students weren’t really making inferences. They were choosing evidence directly stated in the text.

When I considered the different levels of proficiency: Far to Go (1), Not Proficient (2), Proficient (3), Mastery (4), a symbol of a beer could be proficient, but only based on the student’s explanation. Thus I began grading examples like this as a 2.5, almost to proficiency, but not quite there yet.

A Mastery level, however, was going beyond the obvious–selecting a symbol that challenged the norm, that was deeper, or well thought out.

Here are some of my student examples,

As I reflect on my grading process, I now know that I need to focus on what it is that I want the students to grasp. Then consider what proficiency is–Do the students understand? Are the proficient in the standard?–and grade towards that standard. I think the hardest thing is to eliminate past notions of grading. A ‘2’ or ‘Not Proficient’ is not equal to a ‘C’. I need to throw those ideas out the window and think of proficiency. Is this student proficient or not?

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