As I give more thought to my future classroom and my grading responsibilities, I'm toying with the idea of requiring a portfolio to be graded, instead of grading each piece on its own. I like the idea of a portfolio because it gives each student a chance to choose what they like best. I would require a portfolio that includes a specific number of pieces, drafts of the pieces, and even pieces that they chose not to finish. I also think the most important part of the portfolio is the letter from the student that accompanies the selections. In this letter, the student would be required to reflect on each piece and why they chose it for their collection. I want to see their writing process and see how they've grown as a writer. My hope is that students can see the change in themselves as well, and be able to articulate it into a letter to me. I also want to know why they chose the specific pieces, and why they did not choose other pieces. My hope is that the portfolio becomes a very personal representation of what the student did in my class that semester. I like the idea of requiring a number of pieces of a variety of genres, so I can be sure that the student grasps each concept that was taught.
Another important part of grading will be the journals. I don't want to grade these on specifics, but more on a pass/fail or check/check plus/check minus system. I want to be sure that the students are completing the journals and actually using them as intended, but I don't want to be too harsh with how their judged. I want students to feel comfortable writing in their journals about whatever they feel without the pressure of being graded. But, I also want students to know that the journals are an important part of the classroom... It's kind of a double edged sword.
Putting together a syllabus is tough work! I underestimated the work that goes into the pieces of paper that I usually lose half way through the semester! I definitely have a better appreciation of the syllabus.