classroom management / critical thinking / education reform

How Do You Grade Tech? I Have 14 Ideas

eu-63985_640It used to be simple to post grades. Add up test scores and see what the student earned. Very defensible. Everyone understood.

It’s not that way anymore. Here are the factors I consider when I’m posting grades:

  • Does s/he remember skills from prior lessons as they complete current lessons?
  • Does s/he show evidence of learning by using tech class knowledge in classroom or home?
  • Does s/he participate in class discussions?
  • Does s/he complete daily goals (a project, visit a website, watch a tutorial, etc.)?
  • Does s/he save to their network folder?

  • Does s/he try to solve tech problems themselves before asking for teacher help?
  • Does s/he use core classroom knowledge (i.e., writing conventions) in tech projects?
  • Does s/he work well in groups?
  • Does s/he use the internet safely?
  • Does s/he [whichever Common Core Standard is being pursued by the use of technology. It may be ‘able to identify shapes’ in first grade or ‘able to use technology to add audio’ in fourth grade]?
  • Does s/he display creativity and critical thinking in the achievement of goals?
  • Has student progressed at keyboarding skills?
  • Anecdotal observation of student learning (this is subjective and enables me to grade students based on effort)
  • Grades on tests, quizzes, projects

I’m tempted to put everything in a spreadsheet, award a value, calculate a total and find an average. Then–Magic! I have a grade! It’s risk-averse, explainable to parents and Admin, a comfort zone of checklists and right-and-wrong answers. But, I know I can’t do that. In an inquiry-based classroom, too much is a subjective analysis, a personal evaluation of the student’s uniqueness. I can’t–and don’t want to–get away from that approach.

What do you use that I haven’t mentioned? I’m already thinking ahead to the next grading period.


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, a columnist for Examiner.com, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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16 thoughts on “How Do You Grade Tech? I Have 14 Ideas

  1. The Specialists in our school use a Behavior Rubric, for one of our grades, which we worked on together. From 1-4 pts: conduct, following directions, job completion, respect of others, cooperation

    • I like those four pieces. It keeps the focus on what’s important–process not product. The only piece I’d add is transfer of knowledge and problem solving (critical thinking).

  2. I use a variety of rubrics to grade students in my technology classes. I use rubrics to evaluate homework, projects, class participation, online discussion participation, keyboarding etc.. I work very hard to refine my rubrics so that they accurately reflect what I am evaluating. I find this to be a fair process and less subjective than assigning an arbitrary grade.

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  6. My pendulum swings wildly on this topic for several reasons. First, I only see each of my 25 classes(about 600 students) once each week for 45 minutes. It seems unfair to judge student performance on technology-related skills in such small opportunities to display their ability. I like your notion of evaluating student application of skills in the regular classroom. Reaching that end has been something I have worked at for a while. When I first began as a computer lab teacher my “course” was not graded. Honestly, I feel like that provided better results. I believe the best method is to embed technology skill requirements in the regular curriculum. Then, have those skills taught during my class. The skills could then be designed to fit the needs of the regular curriculum and classroom teachers would have a stake in what I do with their students. Students would work on projects for the particular subject area in need. Grades for those projects would be part of the curriculum area(i.e. social studies, science math) for which the project was created. I know many would question why I can’t just do this myself. Well, TIME. By that I mean there is no collaboration time for me to meet with classroom teachers to make this happen. We have no common time. My class time is their prep time. This is another change I would make. My pie in the sky world would have the classroom teacher staying with their classes during computer class time. And NEED. By that I mean it is necessary to have the technology requirement in the regular curriculum to drive the need for the classroom teacher to have a stake in what is done during my class. I don’t mean that as a dig. I really want to have a collaborative partnership with the classroom teachers rather than being prep time. Since I know that will not happen any time soon, I need to work on some ways to create the collaborative environment without the physical participation of the teacher during my class. Don’t know if any of that makes sense, but there it is!

    • You hit most of my hot buttons, Charlie. I’ll never understand why teachers don’t stay in the tech lab with classes. Sure, I hear what they say–they don’t have time–but truly, they don’t NOT have time. The classroom is going tech and those teachers who won’t embrace it will be left behind.

      Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach once said, “Teachers will not be replaced by technology, but teachers who don’t use technology will be replaced by those that do.”

      Amen.

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