Saturday, November 16, 2013

Report Card Tips

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Today On Sprinkle Teaching Magic!

 Report Cards---Testament to Your Teaching Artistry

Report Card Day descends and a feeling of dread builds.  The hours spent on report cards is often perceived as anti-climactic, less than scientific, and final.  Teaching to the whole child is critical, and yet the report card does not adequately represent the whole child.  Doubt surfaces  as  grades are entered. A teacher realizes that the grade may demoralize the student, cause the parent to question one’s teaching practice,and act as the gatekeeper, restricting a student from moving to the next math level, honors English, etc. Maybe the teacher dismisses the exercise with a quick reminder to themselves that the student earned the grade and with that the teacher feels justification for the grade. OR  Maybe for a fleeting moment a teacher realizes that the skills needed to report authentic grades was not emphasized during pre-service, that district  professional development never touched on grading or report card guidelines.  With that, teachers are left to their own devices to fill in the report card and move on.  It is time to breath new life into this out dated reporting system and put the heart, creativity, humanity into the reporting process, so reporting becomes a celebration and a motivational tool for academic success.  Can this be done without creating more work for the already stressed, and overworked teacher?  Yes.  Will the changes blend with the current system of reporting?  Yes  Will the dread change to desire? Yes 

What will the reporting process look like that increases student competence, confidence and courage?  How will the reporting process become part of your teaching artistry? When students read what you write on the report card, the message will become one of their vivid memories of their year with you and it will help them define their next steps? There are three changes that will put you on the path of profound reporting.  First, infuse report card comments with data that emphasizes student personality traits, eight ways to be smart, and the 42 developmental assets .  Second, set aside time through out the semester for student reflection after assessments. Student reflection (written or oral) will include analyzing the rubric results, realizing their misconceptions, comparing essays to see progress, setting goals etc. The student understands why he/she received the final report card grade.  Third, provide a system that allows the student voice to become part of the reporting process and empowers the student.  

Following are examples of specific traits to observe for ample data to include in the report card comments. Consider observing student personality traits, which will serve students well both socially and academically.  During the semester gather anecdotal notes about the following personality traits: competitive, active, cheerful, friendly, courageous, curious, flexible, resourceful, innovative, generous, helpful, honest, self-reliant, persistent, liked by peers, self-controlled, sensitive, considerate of others.  Another layer of student data is Howard Gardner’s 8 intelligence. At the start of the year provide the student with a survey that assesses their strengths in the eight intelligences.  Students analyze the results of the survey, understand their intelligence strengths and realize that their strengths will be the building blocks to improve the weaker intelligences. By highlighting the specific intelligent assets in a report card (musical, spatial, linguistic, logical-mathematical, etc.), the student receives a motivational message that he/she has an expertise to build academic success and build confidence. With confidence comes resiliency, and the Project Cornerstone 42 developmental assets provide a gateway to help students thrive.  Keeping the 42 assets in mind as you assess students will provide a wealth of good data to include in the report card comments.  

The next important consideration is the actual grade on the report card and how to make that grade meaningful for the student.  Providing time for students to reflect on their test grades, essay scores is time well spent.  Students may set goals and track progress.  The student is aware of the grade outcome and takes ownership.  In addition, consider this simple system which provides students with an opportunity to contribute their voice to the report card process.  Distribute a blank report card template to each student and have them fill out the report card with grades and comments.  If students have collected their reflections, you may want to ask them to include some quotes from the reflections as testimonials to his/her academic success.  

Here are some examples of report card comments that I wrote this week for my students.  Names have been changed! Enjoy!


Ways To Go:
-Suzy is successful in all academic areas
-Concepts and classwork come easily for Suzy because she focuses when directions and instruction are given. 
-Suzy performs well on assessments.  Her short answers on assessments are always well thought out and she uses proof from the chapter in her answers. 
-Suzy raises her hand to participate!
-Suzy is a delight to have in class.  She is such a dear soul who always tries her hardest.  She aims to please and is well liked by her peers because of her kind disposition and her willingness to help.
-Suzy is neat and careful.   

Ways To Grow:
-Writing is a focus area for Suzy.  Revising her first draft.  Looking up spelling words in a dictionary. Keeping each paragraph focused on the topic.  Adding details, opinions, and vivid words will continue to be an area I will support. 
-Now that Suzy is comfortable speaking in front of the class, I want her to practice speaking in a louder voice with more confidence and expression.


Ways To Go:
-Brent is filled with smiles and has a fun loving spirit.  His classmates enjoy his energy and want to be around him.  
-He participates in class discussions
-Brent is putting more effort in his short answers.  He is using proof and responding with more details.
-Brent works hard to complete his class job and responsibilities.  He aims to please me and his classmates!

Ways To Grow:
-More consistent neat handwriting and desk organization
-Brent needs to work on planning out his time better both in class and at home.  When given quiet work time in class, Brent will choose to read a book.  I try to guide him to complete assignments with an upcoming due date.  Also, he will spend time on trivial items instead of seeing the bigger picture.  For example, he spent lots of class time coloring the ocean over and over again on his explorer map.  I eventually stepped in and assured him it looked good and to move on.  He had a hard time realizing coloring the ocean once was enough and working on the explorer speech was a top priority.  He tends to procrastinate and then is left frustrated by the workload.  Brent is very capable and can work independently.  I hope as the year goes on he realizes just jumping in will make the assignment easier.  My goal is to prepare him for successful study habits next year in Middle School.  


Ways To Go:
-Julie is successful in all academic areas
-Concepts and classwork come easily for Julie because she focuses when directions and instruction are given.  
-Julie performs well on assessments.  Her short answers are always well thought out and she uses proof from the chapter in her answers. 
-Julie loves to participate in class discussions.  She is such a deep and critical thinker that her participation really helps shape and advance our learning.  
-Julie digs deep into learning with resilience and problem solving skills.  Her brow is always furrowed and she is able to make connections and understand.  I have noticed this skill during our persuasive unit when we researched our pro and con topics.  Dense informational text does not phase her.
-Julie works well in teams.  She exhibits leadership roles and is able to listen to others while having her voice heard.
-Julie is very intuitive and picks up on critical pieces of information.  She is a problem solver.
-Julie is such a creative and vivid writer with a strong voice!

Ways To Grow:
-My goal is to help Julie foster successful girl friendships.  Help her discover ways to express her thoughts and frustrations when it comes to friends.  Cool off and take a break when there are disagreements, misunderstandings, or hurt feelings.  To adapt to changes in friendships and have resilience.  


  1. Wow!!! This is beyond helpful. You have described the children in such a specific way. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I love this! Thank you so much! You are such an inspiration!


Sheila Chako
Sprinkle Teaching Magic