Latin Quiz – Assessment vs. Grading

Yesterday was the first Latin quiz that my students took for a grade in my grade book. They take such a quiz, on vocabulary or grammar, every week on Wednesday (I’ll admit, they take it on Wednesday so that I have a couple of days to grade them and think about what the results mean, because Latin doesn’t meet on Thursday, but does meet on Friday).

But this was the second such quiz I gave them. Why is this the first one going in my grade book?

Easy.  I wanted them to take a quiz last week.  I wanted them to have the experience of knowing what a Latin quiz could look like, and what kinds of things were on it.

Last week I was MEAN… I took off quarter-points and half-points, and I made everyone take it in pen, and they had only twenty-five minutes to do all kinds of things: define Latin words in English, translate Latin sentences to English, answer grammatical questions about Latin, and on top of all that, translate English sentences to Latin and identify parts of speech in Latin and translate a long passage…

Phew!

But the data I got.  Wow.  From one two-sided sheet of paper, I wrung all sorts of information, using Paul Bambrick-Santoyo’s strategies for assessment.  I was able to re-seat everyone in both of my Latin classes, so that each person who is good at vocabulary is sitting with someone good at grammar, and someone who is good at translation… and so on around the circle.  Everyone who is strong at one thing, complements someone who is strong at something else. And everyone can get better in all three areas together, by working as a team.

And that means, these next quizzes are substantially better in the ways that matter.  The vocabulary scores are way up.  The translation skills are way up.  The grammar… is not quite as good as you’d want, but! It’s the grammar.  It takes a while to adjust to that way of thinking about the world.

Anyway.  Grading them gave me a good feeling about both my classes.  I’m so excited for them about how much improvement they’ll make in written language in their English and Latin classes in the next weeks, just by focusing on Latin grammar for a little while.

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