Soooo... How Am I Supposed To Grade A Yearbook Class?
Photo by Emmalie Herd
SOOOO... HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GRADE A YEARBOOK CLASS? A Walsworth Yearbooks New Adviser Resource
SOOO... HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GRADE A YEARBOOK CLASS? You aren’t the first adviser to face this dilemma. Even those lucky enough to have a detailed plan from their predecessor still need to figure out the methods that are right for them, their class and the year. The most well-seasoned advisers are continually tweaking their methods. Every adviser needs to find the method that works for them, but we’ve shared the methods of four experienced advisers to provide a starting point. • Lynn Bare, using a rubric to ensure objectivity • Leland Mallett, CJE, grading for people who hate to grade • Vena Geasa, using Habits of Mind in the classroom • Renee Burke, detailed grading sheets
Photo by Olivia Caulder
LYNN BARE Lynn Bare has completed more than 25 yearbooks. When it comes to grades, she had no idea what to do her first year. She had some help from the previous yearbook adviser, but admits that her grading was arbitrary. Fortunately, she found direction through the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association (NCSMA). A class about creating a staff manual included information on grading, which Bare used to develop grading rubrics. Her second year, a pair of siblings drove home the need for objectivity. “I had a brother and sister in the class who lived to make my life miserable that particular year. And their parents would show up. The son was a horrible speller and I kept having to take points off because he did ads, and he was misspelling the names of businesses and their street locations. The parents were really upset, and I just thought I’ve got to do something. So I started the rubrics when I took that class [through NCSMA], and then when I had those siblings, I tweaked them even more. She now uses rubrics for every section of their yearbook: student life, people, academics, clubs, sports and ads. Each rubric is customized for each section. “For student life, they’re graded on reading, captions, having correct names, getting quotes that add to the story, picture selection, having good action shots and making sure they do the index processes correctly,” explained Bare. “Anything like that, even down to making sure SOUTHERN ALAMANCE HIGH SCHOOL GRAHAM, NORTH CAROLINA
they have the correct information on the folio.” She adjusts the rubrics every year as necessary.
“Once my editors have their template, I go back and I adjust the grade sheet. Last year, every layout had to have some sort of package on student life and on sports. So if I were to pull last year’s rubric, you would see there were points allocated for having a package.” In previous years, they’ve tried to incorporate the 300-word story in their yearbook, and writers received points for embodying that style of writing.
BARE’S GRADING RUBRIC As the adviser and editors check the layout, they use this form to compute your grade. The average of total layout sheets, copy blocks and weekly grades in addition to ad sales will compose the grade for each grading period. Nine week grades can also be raised or lowered by one’s attitude and willingness to help other people after completion of one’s own assignment. The total points available for any layout are 105 and are distributed as follows. 1. Copy entered without error (typos, grammar, etc.) You must turn in the quotes with signatures. 2. Copy editor or adviser has read, edited if necessary and approved copy. 3. Each picture is captioned. There is a minimum of three sentences per caption. The caption has a bolded lead-in. The third sentence is a quote. Each person is identified by name and class. Teachers and other adults have courtesy titles. Officers have offices listed. The point size is 8 point. 9. Minimum of 2-3 quotes in copy are attributed to the correct person with their signature. Stats, when used, are entered correctly. Quotes and questions for quote boxes are included and entered on layout correctly. 10. Bolded folio tab included handwritten (page number, layout title). 11. Attended event(s) covered in layout. Submitted ticket stub or verification from faculty member for proof. 12. An Aurasma is included. 13. Index completed. 14. The name of each person on the layout, in copy and pictures, is checked off on the master list. Adviser must assist. 15. The top of this form is completed and is paper-clipped to all quotes collected for the layout and its copy and turned in to the editor or adviser. The layout folder is given to the adviser on a flash drive and the picture folder is included. 16. Layout completed and turned in early. Copy must be written by student and approved by adviser or copy editor before it can be entered into the computer. A grade is assigned to the copy alone. Also, pictures are easier to request for special features if the copy is written first. 4. Editor or adviser has approved pictures. 5. Editor has checked design for correctness. 6. Layout has a pix folder and all pictures are in that folder. 7. Catchy two to three word headline. 8. Sub-headline related to headline or copy.
Photo by Alaysia Stremel
THE BENEFITS OF THE SYSTEM Having these rubrics has helped eliminate complaints about favoritism, as Bare has documentation for everything. When grading a layout, Bare takes detailed notes for the student so they know what to do next time. She keeps a copy of that grade sheet. If there are any questions, she’s able to explain why a grade was low. She’ll work with students to explain what they need to do differently the next time. “Not only did it make my life easier because I could explain to somebody how they got the grade, but it also made my life easier because it was another way to help people improve what they were doing.” Bare estimates she spends five to seven hours per week on grading, depending on the strength of the staff. “The first couple of weeks, I pick and choose from the Yearbook Suite curriculum what I need to enhance my knowledge. After that, I get the students on the computers learning how to do basics. After those first couple of weeks, everybody has their layouts assigned to them, they know what they need to do and grading takes about five to seven hours a week.” Layouts at the beginning of the year take more time to grade. They improve as the year goes on, but the volume of work to grade typically increases. OTHER POINT SYSTEMS Bare also does a weekly grade sheet for in-class behaviors. All students, including her editors, receive points for good habits.
• Did you arrive to class on time? • Did you get along with your coworkers? • Did you clean up your area before you left? • Did you offer to take pictures this week?
• Did you offer to help a colleague? • Did you turn this sheet in on time?
“I look at it as a business. I try to encourage them to develop good habits like helping your coworkers and keeping your area clean so you can find things when you need them.” Although the weekly checklist is only ten percent of the grade, it’s enough to affect overall grades if the student fails to meet these tasks every week. Bare also assigns extra credit to students who turn in their layouts before their deadline.
Photo by Elizabeth Bunnell
“The first deadline they have, they never make it early because they underestimate the time it’s going to take to get a quote or that perfect picture.” However, after the first deadline, about half of her students will turn in their work early every time, even if it’s only one day early. HER ADVICE TO NEW ADVISERS “You have to figure out what you think is most important.” What helped Bare develop her system was looking at every layout and making a list from most to least important. “Then I thought about the things that really impacted someone else’s perception of that grade, and those were the things I assigned the point value to.” She continues to tweak her method every year as she evaluates the year’s successes and failures. That honest self-evaluation makes the next year even better. “I’ve figured out where I messed up on this grade or what would have made that layout better.” She also recommends getting feedback on your grading system, starting with your yearbook rep, and reaching out to people in your state’s scholastic media organization, if that’s an option. “And then [reach out to] your colleagues in your school system and other school systems. Last year, there was a new yearbook adviser in our system, and she would email me asking grading questions. I shared my rubric with her.” Workshops are another resource for new advisers, whether they’re through your yearbook company or local scholastic media organization. “I used to go to both, but now I only go to the company-sponsored workshop. It’s a little more helpful because it’s all things that are very specific to my book and the expectations of the company.”
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LELAND MALLETT, CJE Leland Mallett, CJE, has been the adviser for more than 20 yearbooks. His staff has won numerous national awards, and Mallett was named a Distinguished JEA Adviser in 2018. Mallett is no fan of grading. “It’s the worst thing we do, for sure. It’s hard, because it’s all subjective,” he explained. “You’ve got to figure out a method that allows you to produce the book. That changes from school to school. In fact, for me, it changes from year to year.” He only grades on Sunday nights, and it’s a non-negotiable deadline for students. “If they miss it, it’s a zero for the week.” Mallett recommends fellow advisers stay flexible when it comes to grading methods. Adjust each year as necessary. Different systems will work for different advisers, so find the grading system that works for you. “I’m not a big stickler on grades. I’ve done point systems before – they get so many points for this, and taking photos for this – and you work up to 100. That was great, but it was a lot of work for me. I was spending more time adding up points than I was proofing the yearbook.” He stresses the importance of finding ways that will simplify the process of grading while benefiting the yearbook experience in order to avoid grading simply for the sake of grading. LEGACY HIGH SCHOOL MANSFIELD, TEXAS
7 LELAND MALLETT , CJE
HIS SYSTEM Mallett wants to see progress from his students each week. They print out their work on Fridays, then the class reviews everything together on Mondays. “They’ll print their pages out, and I will edit or proof them, depending on what my week looks like. Then I’ll give a weekly grade there. We’ll show it up on the screen on Monday, just to talk about common problems and to hold the kids accountable, them seeing their pages up in front of everybody.” The process allows everyone to see their peers’ work, so the look of the book stays consistent. Sometimes, students will like a classmate’s work but realize that it looks too much like previously published work. On the other hand, they’ll sometimes see one student’s modification, and like it so much they decide to work it into other areas of the book. He strives to grade the process of putting the book together. There are some worksheets at the beginning of the year, but Mallett typically has students grade them in class and they receive full points for completion. KEEPING TRACK OF PROGRESS Mallett recommends the Friday update. It provides a way to compare progress made against the previous week’s work. He has all his students keep their papers in their quote book, which is where they’ll keep class notes and handouts in addition to graded papers and quotes. “If they need a big grade – I have to give a project grade every six weeks – their quote book is their project grade. It will have their quotes, and when I give them their printouts back on Friday, they put those in there. Then you can actually see the progress of that page when you check their quote book. You can tell that they’ve changed it each week and done a lot.” Keeping clear track of progress makes it easy to demonstrate the reason for a grade to counselors, administrators or parents. It also removes personal bias from the grading equation. “I’ve had parent conferences where the parent asks why their child has a 70. I can pull their quote book out and show that they haven’t turned stuff in, or their page has been the same for three weeks when they should have added photos and captions. Or I can show when the deadline was if they missed it.” Mallett sends an email to parents at the beginning of the school year to explain his grading system. He also likes to have a beginning-of-the-year parent meeting if possible.
Photo by Sara Espinoza
“A lot of times, I’ll explain that I’m not concerned if the information is great or if the spread looks amazing. I’m more interested in going through the process. So if you turn in a rough draft, you’re not going to get a 70 because you have pictures going the wrong direction or whatever. You’re still going to get a 100 because you met that deadline and because the progress is happening.” OTHER POINT SYSTEMS Mallett uses the online grammar enrichment program noredink.com . Students answer questions in the interactive program, which adjusts to meet each student at their level. It grades within the system, which reduces the work load for him. “Kids aren’t a fan of it, but I’ve had several tell me it helped on the SAT.” They also use vocabulary.com , which gamifies vocabulary instruction. Interview sheets are an option for new advisers with untrained staffs. Interview sheets lay out the questions and responses, and can help the adviser track the student’s interview skills. It’s another way to assign points, but it also helps create a better yearbook.
Interview Log Your Name Interviewee’s Name Date/Time of Interview Location of Interview Story/Page
“Give me details about…”
“Who else could I talk to about this?
FINAL THOUGHTS “Any thing else you’d like to add?”
Full worksheet available at the end of this eBook “If they’re asking someone’s favorite color, they won’t get good quotes,” he explained. Mallett also assigns points for simple procedures. Did the student turn in the assignment? Did they save a file correctly? Are the links correct? “Just the little things so they know that later in life.” HIS ADVICE TO NEW ADVISERS “I think the biggest thing for new advisers is to have a system, explain it and spend the first six weeks drilling it. Make sure that it’s easy to understand.”
Photo by Courtney Reppert
VENA GEASA Vena Geasa started out as an art teacher, then added yearbook so she could remain full time. For years, she’s used the Habits of Mind method to grade in her art classes, and this year, she is trying out an adapted version for her middle school yearbook class. The Habits of Mind, developed by Art Costa and Bena Kallick, are a set of 16 life skills used when learning and problem-solving. Rather than simply measure a skill, they can be used to evaluate a student’s approach to learning. “I’ve long used studio Habits of Mind to grade in the art room because it’s possible for a student who doesn’t have any natural ability at creating something that’s aesthetically pleasing to get an A, while a student who has a natural ability but never pushes themselves is really a C student because they’re not doing their personal best. And so the Habits of Mind helped me quantify for students what I was expecting of them.” DEVELOPING HER METHOD “When I first started teaching yearbook, I just used rubrics based on the spreads that I had inherited from another teacher. They were more task based, like did the student have a minimum of spelling errors or editing errors? Were all their photos facing the gutter?” She knows the value of having an accurate spread, but didn’t feel that the task-based rubrics captured everything that happened in her yearbook classroom. She tried a more holistic grading approach that takes into account work habits and meeting deadlines, but it was difficult for her students to quantify and understand where they stood. She had a light bulb moment at a yearbook workshop. While discussing Habits of Mind with another adviser, she wondered why she wasn’t using it in her yearbook classroom. “So I introduced my students to those 16 Habits of Mind. When we’re having class discussion, you might be a leader in the class discussion, but if it’s not on a piece of paper, test or quiz, how am I assessing that?” To get her yearbook students used to the idea, Geasa gave each of them a copy of the grid demonstrating the 16 Habits of Mind, then the class did a brain dump on the board. They discussed what they’ll be doing as a yearbook class. She then broke the class into groups which were assigned tasks like photo editing or writing copy. Each of those groups then identified the Habits of Mind they saw themselves using while completing the task. ELEANOR MURRAY FALLON MIDDLE SCHOOL DUBLIN, CALIFORNIA
HABITS OF MIND
• Persisting • Managing impulsivity • Listening with understanding and empathy • Thinking flexibly • Thinking about your thinking • Striving for accuracy • Questioning and problem posing • Applying past knowledge to new situations • Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision • Gather data through all senses • Creating, imagining and innovating • Responding with wonderment and awe • Taking responsible risks • Finding humor • Thinking interdependently • Remaining open to continuous learning
20% HABITS OF MIND
20% MEETING DEADLINES
For example, “striving for accuracy” is one of the Habits of Mind. When students take a photo, properly tagging everyone in the photo is part of that value. If a student is writing copy, editing and looking for revision is a way they can demonstrate that Habit of Mind. “But it could even be something as simple as somebody’s the scribe for the day and they’re writing on the white board,” said Geasa. “And they catch a spelling error on the white board and it matters to do it right.” She now tracks what’s happening in the classroom daily, with 20 percent of the grade reserved for the Habits of Mind. That portion of their grade tracks what the student is doing day in and day out that is thinking and learning behavior. “Completing a task” accounts for 50 percent of a student’s grade, and Geasa uses Habits of Mind to assess. For each task, she has the students reflect on their own work by filling out a rubric. Geasa then compares her assessment with that student’s. “It may seem subjective, but it’s actually less subjective because the students self-assess first. And then when I’m assessing them, I’m comparing,” she said. “And it actually speeds up the grading process for
50% COMPLETION OF TASKS AND ASSIGNMENTS
me because I don’t teeter over things as much.” Once work for the year gets underway, Geasa
estimates her student will be filling out their
own rubrics about every two weeks.
RENEE BURKE, MJE Renee Burke, MJE, was the yearbook adviser for 20 years at William R. Boone High School in Orlando, Florida. She’s no longer in the classroom, but still involved in the yearbook community. She’s known for her meticulous grading system, but she says her first year as an adviser was a struggle. She gave the students a schedule and told them the deadline. “And the first three weeks were really rough because I just thought that if you told kids they had this deadline, it would be done. And that was not the case.” After those first three weeks, she started breaking up the tasks into mini deadlines, with photos due at one time, captions at another and copy at another time. “We started kind of developing a system after that first nine weeks, but it was still very loosey-goosey, to be perfectly honest. If you finished it, you got an A, but a lot of the work was not A work, which I had to figure out. I wanted A material.” Throughout the rest of her first year, Burke developed a checklist of what the students needed to do, which evolved over the years. In her second year, Burke started using grade sheets to evaluate her students. “My first year was very subjective, which was hard for me because that’s not how I operate. I like things to be very organized. So it was a learning process.” HER METHOD Burke’s grading method starts with a story planner, which is equivalent to pre-writing in an English class. The group brainstorms what story they want to tell and how they’ll tell it. The key is to get students thinking about the assignment both visually and verbally, and consider the main story, secondary coverage and the visuals that will be used in the story. “The three primary grades a student receives for each spread are for body copy, photo and design, and captions. The method utilizes self review and peer-review, with student first grading themselves with a checklist. After the self-edit, the work goes to their section editor, then an editor-in-chief, then a copy editor before finally landing on the adviser’s desk. By the time it gets to me, I should really just be fine tuning anything. The content should already be there. It’s for students, by students, is what I believe. So it should be what the students felt was the important story to tell.” ORANGE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS ORLANDO, FLORIDA
12 RENEE BURKE , MJE
Burke typically saw significant improvement by the third deadline as the students started to understand what’s expected of them and editors gained experience in grading and
understanding content. “It’s a true learning lab.”
GRADING FOR PROGRESS When Burke would grade students, she was really looking for progress. “Anyone can be a good photographer. Anyone can be a good writer. They just have to practice. “ She took the time to sit and work with students, and even go sentence by sentence through a piece of writing to help them understand where the problems are. If a student was a weaker writer and she saw the story grow, Burke would grade accordingly. “At that last edit I’m not probably grading you as hard on the content and grammar as I would someone who’s a senior editor, I’ve had for four years, and I know they’re just being lazy.” Burke designed her system to account for the strengths of each individual student, but also remain objective. Each student knows what they need to have in their story, and the checklist ensures they get it. NOTHING TO BE SCARED OF Although yearbook is its own special thing, Burke emphasized that grading doesn’t need to be intimidating. It’s not that different from more traditional classes. “If you’re grading writing on good writing, it’s the same. The type of writing is different from an English class because we’re doing mostly feature-based stories for yearbook. There’s not a lot of news stories in a yearbook. But a rubric that you would use in English is pretty transferable to a rubric that you would use in journalism.” The big difference is that the final draft gets published, so students
Photo by Brooke Williams
are expected to put more time into the editing process. And just like in traditional classrooms, not every student succeeded. Burke hated the handful of times she had to fail or “fire” students. “It is just the worst thing, but I can’t give a kid a grade if they’re not going to do the work. That’s what it is to me – giving. You earned an F, so I can’t give you a C. You get the quality that you put in.” She always tried not to fail someone, starting with a personal conversation as soon as she saw a student missing a deadline. If the behavior didn’t improve, she’d call in their parents for a meeting. That usually worked, but a very small number of students just didn’t improve from there. She said it was one of the worst parts of yearbook, but she couldn’t compromise on product. “The more As I had in the class, the better I felt about the end product.” PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS Burke acknowledged that her organized, detailed method of grading may not be right for every adviser. She operates in a highly organized manner, and not everyone is good at that level of detail. Her advice is for each adviser to find what works for them, so long as it is objective. “Kids really like structure. They act like they don’t, but they like to know what’s expected of them and they do like structure.” Having structure also helps whenever parents ask about their child’s grade. “Whenever I had a parent conference for a yearbook or newspaper kid, I would just bring in the deadline folder and show them why their kid had that grade. And parents respect that. They appreciate it and respect it.” But at the end of the day, the adviser needs to have a system that works for them. Try borrowing another adviser’s system and tweaking it to make it work for you. “Things I do won’t work for everyone. And other advisers, the way they grade won’t work for me because it’s not as structured as I need it to be. We all just have our own quirks, but we should play to those to find something that works for us and works for our kids.”
Photo by Madison Tenorio
WHAT COMES NEXT? It’s clear that there’s no “right” way to grade a yearbook class. Every adviser needs to find what’s right for them, which will probably involve a bit of trial and error. The input from advisers Bare, Mallett, Geasa and Burke demonstrated a few common themes every system needs. • Students understand why they’re graded the way they are • Frequent feedback to students • Easy for students to keep track of their standing in class • Grading is objective • The system can be explained and justified to parents • Record-keeping to demonstrate why students have the grade they have • Can be modified to account for the specifics of the year If you’re struggling to find the right grading system for your class, reach out to someone who can help. That may be your Walsworth rep, an adviser at a nearby school, a mentor you met at a workshop or someone from your local scholastic media organization.
15 WHAT COMES NEXT?
Yearbook Grade Sheet - Student Life
Deadline Date_______________ Date Turned In_______________
Pages____________________ Directions: Each time a layout is completed and submitted, complete the top of this form and submit with your documentation. As the adviser and editors check the layout, they use this form to compute your grade. The average of total layout sheets, copy blocks, and weekly grades in addition to ad sales will compose the grade for each grading period. Nine weeks grades can also be raised or lowered by one's attitude and willingness to help other people after completion of one's own assignment. The total points available for any layout are 105 and are distributed as follows: 1. Copy entered without error (typos, grammar, etc.) You must turn in the quotes with signatures. (10 pts.) _____ 2. Copy editor or advisor has read, edited if necessary and approved copy. (5 pts.) _____ 3. Each picture is captioned. There is a minimum of three sentences per caption. The caption has a bolded lead-in. The third sentence is a quote. Each person is identified by name and class. Teachers and other adults have courtesy titles. Officers have offices listed. The point size is 8 point. (10 pts.) _____
4. Co-editor or adviser has approved pictures. (10 pts.) 5. Editor has checked design for correctness. (5 pts.)
_____ _____ _____ _____ _____
6. Layout has a pix folder and all pictures are in that folder. (5 pts.)
7. Catchy two to three word headline. (5 pts.) 8. Sub-headline related to headline or copy. (5 pts.)
9. Minimum of 2-3 quotes in copy are attributed to the correct person with their signature. Stats, when used, are entered correctly. Quotes and questions for quote boxes are included and entered on layout correctly. (10 pts.) _____ 11. Attended event(s) covered in layout. Submitted ticket stub or verification from faculty member for proof. (5 pts.) _____ 12. An Aurasma is included. (10 pts.) _____ 13. Index completed. (5 pts.) _____ 14. The name of each person on the layout, in copy and pictures, is checked off on the master list. Adviser must assist. (5pts.) _____ 15. The top of this form is completed and is paper-clipped to all quotes collected for the layout and its copy, and turned in to the editor or adviser. The layout folder is given to the adviser on a flash drive and the pix folder is included. (5 pts.) _____ 16. Layout completed and turned in early. (5 pts.) _____ Layout Grade _____ Copy must be written by student and approved by adviser or copy editor before it can be entered into the computer. A grade is assigned to the copy alone. Also, pictures are easier to request for special features if the copy is written first. _____ 10. Bolded folio tab included handwritten (page number, layout title). (5 pts.)
Example from Lynn Bare
Interview Log Your Name Interviewee’s Name Date/Time of Interview Location of Interview Story/Page
“Give me details about…”
Example from Leland Mallett
“Who else could I talk to about this?
FINAL THOUGHTS “Any thing else you’d like to add?”
Example from Leland Mallett
FIND MORE WALSWORTH EBOOKS Walsworth is among the top four yearbook printers in the U.S., and the only family-owned publisher of yearbooks. As a leading provider of resources for yearbook advisers, Walsworth’s focus is making the yearbook creation process easier and more successful for our schools. Learn more by visiting us at walsworthyearbooks.com.
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