I hate giving grades in Art. Anyone else feel this way? It is my least favorite part of the whole experience in my classroom. I love to witness as kids think, design, sketch, try something new, experiment, create, etc. But as for me telling them that their efforts were worthwhile (or not)? I do NOT like it.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where grades are a marker that guides students to the next phase of their lives. Its how they, their parents and the system says they’ve succeeded (or not...) I could argue against this in SO many ways, but that’s a post for another day.
One of my solutions to the whole grading dilemma in 7th-12th grades is to give students a self evaluation to fill out with each project. There is a lot of value in giving them space to critique, defend and process what they’ve learned. It helps me get a feel for what they have accomplished separate from what I have observed and also assists me in grading them as fairly as possible. I teach my students how to fill out the evaluations in 7th grade and expect more and more complete and educated responses as they mature.
I find that, in general, they are harder on themselves than I am on them. I give credit for doing the evaluation because they do a better job and take it more seriously when it affects their grade. The biggest challenge I have is in getting students to write enough in answer to each question. I tell them to “write me a book” because I want a nice chunky paragraph for each question - not the meager one sentence I might get if I did not push them.
My favorite question is #4. I learn so many interesting things about students when they share bits of themselves. Sometimes they are silly and fun, but many times they are serious. I really appreciate the trust they show when writing about their lives like that. I get to know them on a whole new level.
This self evaluation, if done properly, takes a while to fill out and a while to grade. To remedy this and prevent burnout (in which they will just whip through it and not give me thoughtful answers) I designed a short evaluation that we use also (which I will share next time.) Rotating between the two gives me the feedback I need, while preventing burnout.