The challenge with grades is to find a way to make them valuable as an accurate reflection of the learning and growth that takes place during a child's time with me.
So, who should earn an A in art?
Grading reflection and growth is important, but it leaves out an important element: how students operate in the classroom. Do they just participate, going through the motions that are expected of them, or do they connect to the work? That connection is what I'm looking for, which is why I'm adding engagement to my grades. I'm defining it as enthusiastic participation in tasks and work. It will be graded weekly and account for around 20% of the final grade.
I'll still grade student reflections, but I'm including presenting and conferences with me as additional options. Some students are just blog-averse, which impacts their grades. Kids should write and do all sorts of things, like be on time to and eat their vegetables, but not all of them do. Making all of my students successful is my job and providing a range of choices helps me do that for more of them, so expanding options for reflection makes sense.
Between providing choices for reflection and grading engagement I hope to come up with grades that truly capture the learning that's happening in my classroom. To earn an A, students should be invested in learning and participate with commitment. They should also be able to analyze what they've learned through the art-making process and share the work they've created. I'd like my class to be about making art for art's sake; hopefully this new grading process helps me get closer to that ideal.
I'm an high school art teacher who's really interested in student choice and creating opportunities for self expression. I'm also a writer for The Art of Education and co-author of The Open Art Room.