Learning a Second Language

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Learning a Second Language As a young teacher, assessing students has become one of the more daunting tasks that I have to deal with on a regular basis. One of the biggest problems I face is deciding what it is I should be assessing. How important was that task? How important was it to the big picture of what we're doing? How important is it to her development as a writer? As a reader? As a valuable human being? Then another question always seems to rise: what percentage of the quarter or semester grade should that task count for? As teachers, we have an obligation to society, schools, parents, and even the students, to assess where a student stands in a given class. I do not want to pass a student onto the next level if that student is not ready. If a student works twice as hard to get somewhere as another student, the hard working student deserves to be rewarded (this is where an effort grade comes into place). If a student has not mastered certain skills, I do not want to send that student to a university with a "B" on her report card; I do not want to students a wrong message. This is doing them a disservice, I believe. Giving grades to students is necessary. Although this may sound a bit cruel, some students can get it done and some can't. This is not to say that all "lower skilled students" will fail. There is a big place in the way I assess my students for participation and effort in the class. Sometimes, I think I should increase the percentage (role) that these two areas play in determining a student's final grade. (Some players get it done on Friday nights, some don't) I believe in assessing students on what they know, not what they don't know. I try to provide a classroom environment that offers many options. I want my students to reach, to grow, and to try new things. I want them to be involved in the assessment; that is, I want them to have a say in what gets assessed. During the current school year, I have restructure my Writers' Workshop a bit. We still work two or three times a week. In a given quarter, students are given two types of grades: a "skills" grade and an effort grade.
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