Small Addition to jGR With Examples

I just added a few sentences to what a 2 is. Feel free to use or reject. It’s in blue below:

I’m really fired up about how jGR has changed my entire classroom energy this year. It is a strong classroom discipline tool – the strongest one possible because of its message to all kids about how observable classroom behaviors will in fact determine half of their grade.

Everything I do is based on ten points, so that I have to double jen’s five point based rubric, but it is easy – I just put 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 into the little box in the gradebook under ACTFL Interpersonal Skill. An added bonus of shifting from the 5 of the jGR to the 10 I use is that if a kid is “on the line” between a 2 and 4, for example, I can give them the 3. Really, this is by far and away the most accurate grading system I have ever used in my career. And what is really special is that I only had to wait 35 years to find it! Proving that God in fact does have a sense of humor.

What is really cool about it is how each category translates SO ACCURATELY and expresses SO WELL what each kid is really doing in terms of the Interpersonal Skill mode of communication. I will try to put that into words (in red below):

5 ALL SKILLS IN 4, PLUS NON-FORCED EMERGING OUTPUT – this is a rare kid who throws out some good unforced French every once in a while. Like if I am in the middle of piling up reps on “She went camping at Wal-Mart”, this kid is the one who says in the target language, “So there is a girl who goes camping at Wal-Mart, right?” and I go, “Yes, that’s it!”, and we go on with no use of English. That kid is a 5 kid. These are really strong co-creators of stories.

4 (A/B) RESPONDS AUTOMATICALLY, IN TL, TO ALL INPUT, INCLUDING USING “STOP” FOR CLARIFICATION – this is the kid who is really involved but not spontaneously outputting speech yet. They are fun, always visually locked on, always there with cute answers, and just a blessing to each class and I tell them so. These are strong co-creators of stories.

3 (B/C) RESPONDS REGULARLY IN TL OR VISUALLY, INCONSISTENT USE OF “STOP” SIGNAL – this kid is also involved but more passively. They show that they are not always on top of all the CI because they let the stop sign slide a bit. This is the kid who used to get an A in my class just for getting 8 or above on quizzes. No more. But good kids nonetheless. These are limited co-creators of stories.

2 (C/D) ATTENTIVE BUT DOESN’T RESPOND; DOESN’T USE “STOP” SIGNAL – this is the kid who may get a good grade on a quiz but makes me work way too hard. They just aren’t involved. They don’t get how to play the game yet. They occasionally blurt out words in English or talk to their neighbor in English, both of which destroy the goal of the class, to stay in the target language as per the 90% Use Position Statement of the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages, which is the national parent organization for foreign language teachers in the United States. But usually they just stare at me in spite of my being practically on my knees begging them for a more creative and energetic response to all the hard work I am doing. These are not co-creators of stories.*

1 (D/F) NOT ATTENTIVE: NO EYE CONTACT OR EFFORT – these are not creators at all of anything. They suck air out of the room. They do poorly on tests. They give nothing to the story. Their chances of failing the course are high.

*One might object that that is just the way some kids are, and are that way through no fault of their own. Fine, but my job, the main clause of my school’s mission statement in fact, includes how my job, my mission, is to “build productive citizens” ready for work in the 21st century workplace. I take that seriously. So if I let those same kids’ stonefaced behavior or blurting go, thus not aligning my assessment with the national standards, I am not properly doing my job for my employer and I should be fired.





13 thoughts on “Small Addition to jGR With Examples”

  1. Tomorrow, I am switching to this on my *super important* classroom behavior poster, just because I think this particular breakdown is super-clear.

    I like it! Plus, parents will see it tomorrow night at back-to-school night and they will understand it, too.

    Thanks, Ben!! This will help so much.

  2. It stands for jen’s Great Rubric and then I wanted to make sure I could access that here fast so I decided to label it as a kind of second post to the final version of the rubric, thus jGR 2. I even made a category for it so I could just click on it to find it. To me, it’s a breakthrough of monstrous proportions, or could you tell?

  3. Ben,

    May I use your comments in italics beneath the behaviors (in some cases altered so they’re not as brutal) and discuss them with my students as a handout?

  4. Ben,

    Your comments are bad ass! I explained them again today to my students. We must demand that they show up and be engaged. For so long, I was like a farmer throwing out seeds to see what took. I really needed to make a change. This blog with everyone here gives me the confidence and power that I need to do it for real. Not the BS that I did half-heartedly because I was afraid, but I think this awesome group is a powerful place that we can point to. It has authority, it has power, it has strength that I wouldn’t have on my own, I can point to this work and say that I am part of a PLC that we are following the standards and our practices are vetted out by some of the best teachers out there. Wow, it is empowering.

  5. Well, just know that I and many others, if not all of us, have been that afraid teacher. We know the fear, brother, and I don’t know how else but through trust in community and free and open discussion that we can solve these problems.

    So many of us think that we have to solve all the problems of teaching alone – that was what I did, but it is impossible. I love working together like this. The jGR itself, for me, is the biggest of many breakthroughs we have worked on together.

    Jen’s rubric pretty much guarantees discipline, in one document. It guarantees that I have focused students in a way that I have never had before. Pay attention and contribute or get a C or below, is the message, and the C is if you are really smart.

    This stuff, as you say David, actually and atypically has teeth that bite. It is inspired. And it came from one of us, in this safe place. If jen had written it on the moretprs list I would most likely have missed it, bc the discussion that led up to it would not have been so focused as the discussions we get going here.

  6. PLC friends, I am totally on board with the jGR for many reasons, but there’s ONE concern I have, maybe I missed it in someone else’s comments:

    What about the really quiet, reserved, terrified students for whom it’s a big stretch to make their voice heard? The rubric is great for pushing kids who are naturally louder, more boisterous, etc. But we all have the quiet ones, and I just don’t want to give them the message that it’s sink-or-swim, participate actively or fail. Anyone else figure this one out??

  7. There are two answers I would offer Ben. The first one addresses the rare, really quiet ones with high intelligence:

    Yes absolutely we stay out of their face with jGR. Ted Kimbrough, now a medical doctor, I believe, years ago was that kid. And I have a few now. What to do with those kids?

    O.K. now let’s make this simple, and this is my answer only on what to do with these kids – there may be others. You look in the kid’s face and see the eyes, right? And the fear is there, right? But you see the intelligent responses to your teaching and you also see the quiz grades right? You know lots is happening, you just can’t see it.

    So those eyes are the answer. They are participating. In the eyes are the beginning hope movement responses of the whole body. They are the beginning of the wave of these kids being involved in life and coming out of their fear, which they carry everywhere.

    These kids are some of us a few decades ago. They are the children standing next to the bikes in the growing up wars of life and all they can do is put their hands on the handlebars and they are scared beyond fear. They are wanting to but not able to show up outwardly in life. They are trapped miners.

    But, I submit to you one crucial question. Are they involved? Are they not just restricted by some kind of plastic wrap that is inhibiting their self expression, down there in their minds/mines? Is the flower that they will become one day just not able to grow right now in that outward way?

    And so the question becomes do we rip off the plastic wrap or do we keep teaching to the eyes until that plastic wrap loosens up and comes off on its own?

    That is my answer and what I do with those kids. I let them hide. Now here is the crucial point:

    I also take them aside and tell them (I’ve done this with about two kids now so far this year) that they will get an A in the class no matter what and to relax about the grade. I’ve mentioned this before. I tell them that I get what is going on and that they can get involved more when they want, but they don’t have to now.

    Some teachers would be horrified at this. Some – not us – would even try to get them to speak in the TL. But jGR involves no forced output of any kind and is for the good of the class and may not be for the good of these few kids who fit your description above, Ben. So that’s my first answer.

    We teach the kid first and we differentiate with them as well as those at the other end of the spectrum, those who can’t process fast but try. We differentiate. It is as if they are flawed in a weird way, like God is taking away their ability to speak or something. But He won’t do that forever, he is only doing it now.

    And we are being used in that way, do you see, to help draw the kid out into life where, in spite of the fear inflicted by others/parents/teachers/life itself, we are there to be patient, smile, and wait years if we have to for our flowers to take root in the firm and rich soil of our classrooms, and grow into trust of life.

    To do otherwise, to grade these few kids using the rubric and forcing output would be horrible for all involved. So yes there is no exception to forced output, if we want our flowers to grow at their own rate, the natural rate, the rate that brings them safety. So we do it that way.

  8. Ben the second answer describes the kids of average intelligence and not the rare highly intelligent ones, which I addressed above.

    So I am trying to state that there are two kinds of non-responsive kids – those whose cardboard cutout demeanor is made of fear (addressed above) and those who can do more but choose not to out of a kind of teenage arrogance and pride and a certain kid of teenage defiance, which, I agree, has its base in fear but somehow is different from the rare kid I describe above. What about those kids? Do we hold them accountable? Yes.

    My own reaction to that more commonly occurring kid is to give them the 2 and make them work the plastic wrap off by themselves a little. I know the difference between the rare kid above and the more common kid who is the second type of non-participant, and I make kids of this second type show up more because I know they can.

    We have to be able to tell the difference, of course, between the type 1 kids and the type 2 kids. I’ll leave this idea at that and wait for your response. But do you agree that there are two types of non-participants in our classes and that some need to be exempt – the type 1 kids above, and then this second type, who need to have jGR applied fully to get them to grow because that is what they need?

    Specifically, the type 2 kids normally would earn a 2 at this early point in the year and then they wold be set up to work in class for the 3 because, unlike the type 1 kid, they CAN get on the bike and they CAN unwrap the plastic wrap and they are NOT stuck in a mine. I think I have expressed this clearly and I hope so. We do need to see this difference and be able to apply it when we use jGR. What do you think?

    (Getting any bike rides in out there? Got any jobs out there in California? Half time or one class a day? Slavic is thinking of coming back home, right back where I started from after a strange life long detour to the east. I miss my peeps.)

  9. I had one of these highly intelligent quiet kids come to me the other day concerned about their participation (jGR here) grade. It was lower than last year. They want an A. I told her that I get that she understands, but I also need to be able to OBSERVE that she understands, given that this is the participation/interpersonal component of her grade. I stated that she need not become louder or more boisterous, but just do gestures when I ask, respond, and above all, show me with her eyes that she is getting it all. (I also stated that I would take into consideration her concerns and that I would try to see via other indicators her participation.) This week has been great for her, has kind of pulled her out of that allowed nonchalance, and got her responding and keeping eye contact better than ever. It worked in this case.

    Maybe a way to separate those two types of non-responsive students Ben mentions above is to encourage disappointed (with Participation grade) students to come talk to us privately about this. We know, if we are honest with them and if we push them to be honest with themselves, which students we are dealing with.

  10. I had to post grades so I didn’t incorporate that new 12 range. Now have six more weeks to reflect on it. As it turned out, keeping the old 10 scale but dropping the weight of jGR down to 30% got the numbers really in the right place. I may just keep it. It’s fair, I don’t inflate the jGR grades, which is my biggest concern, and all is good.

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