Weekend 1: Grade-a-palooza

Saturday, Sept 30

I have grading coming out my ears, but I am definitely getting it knocked out. I’ve now graded all of honors, one entire class of AP, starting on the other class of AP, and need to pop by my office to get some papers I need to finish grading the regular class tomorrow.

Things I am learning based on grading all this work at once instead of as the assignments came in (LIKE I SHOULD HAVE):

  • The feedback I am writing on these assignments is effectively useless, because it’s been so long. I didn’t get one quiz back to them before giving them a second quiz on the same topic, so other than the practice we did in class I missed that opportunity for individual feedback. Same on the homework. Seeing the same mistakes over and over and over again that I could have corrected a week ago but let the papers pile up. This is completely unacceptable, and I must do better.


  • I’ve been taking up all the homework in Honors (after answering questions) and none of the homework in AP (after answering questions), and it feels like both are too extreme. I want the students to do a practice problem or two and come with questions that we can talk about, but the grading mismatch making for too many assignments in Honors to grade within a reasonable time and not enough assignments in AP to give them a chance to not have one bad assignment tank their grade completely. Considering every day have a 20% chance of picking up the homework (I’ll just roll 2d10). It’ll average out to once per week, not even I will know which day or days I’m picking it up, and picking it up one day has no effect on whether I’ll pick it up the next, so students can’t game the system and not do the homework the next day because I picked it up in this class. Still pondering. I’ll get changes sorted out and codified this week so that we can start the new system.


  • I need to make a homework style-sheet unless I re-think the homework process entirely, because holy smokes was letting them “be reasonable” a terrible idea. They don’t know what amount of work is “reasonable” work, so I’m going to have to spell it out for them. I should have done this earlier, but grading so many assignments all in a row of so many different problems really clarified how poorly I have helped them develop good work-showing skills and just how garbage the back of textbook questions are for more than plug and chug answers in most cases. I also need to move away from having them answer the problem as written and instead practice applying models/diagrams/charts, etc. This will change as well starting in the new Unit.


  • The students may have taken 2-3 years of lab science before getting to me, but they have no idea how to design a lab or analyze errors. At all. I don’t know why I expected any different. I guess I kinda wanted to see what would happen if I let them try some stuff on their own, and now I know and see at what level they are coming in at. The future calendar needs to have time built in to talk about labs for a debrief BEFORE the lab reports are due so that we can talk through the problems together. At least now we have some serious topics for conversations to have while we review this week. Having them talk about the labs will get them to think about the actual physics and what it means.


  • From now on lab reflections must be typed in a Google Doc and shared with me, because I can give comments and feedback SO much more easily that way than writing in the margins in terms of asking questions and explaining where there is a problem.


  • I need to drastically increase the formative assessments that I do. It’s something that I’ve been struggling with for a while, but this really drives the point home. I’ve been relying on student self-reported level of understanding, which is a dang rookie mistake that I know better than to trust with freshmen, but I for some reason I didn’t apply that knowledge to the AP kids here. I also really want to implement the Critical Incident Questionnaire from the Brookfield book. More things to consider deeply this week as we review for the exams in AP and Honors.

Ok. I have graded everything for the other AP class except for one assignment, which I will do in the morning. I have some significant changes to develop this week and roll out next, since this week marks both mid-term and the end of Unit 1 for AP and Honors. I have other changes to make for Regular, but I’ve been grading all AP and Honors today, so that is where this reflection focuses. Tomorrow I’ll finish up the last AP assignment and then focus on the Regular. Monday they have an exam and start a new Unit on Tuesday (Momentum and Energy), so I can start easing into changes this week.

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