Why do we grade? It can be a complicated answer, but it boils down to the fact that checking work and grading can help us weed out mistakes and find strengths. Making it more complicated? We often don’t know how or when or what to do about allowing our students to have re-tries in math.
I LOVE the concept of re-tries in math, but it’s important to decide how you want to use them as you homeschool. Let’s dive deep on what all we can learn from re-tries by looking at:
A re-try is a pretty simple concept. It’s when a student gets a math problem incorrect on the first try, and is allowed one or more additional attempts to get it correct before the teacher intervenes. In a scenario where the family is using either the solutions manual or Online Grading, the parent gets to choose how many re-tries the student gets to attempt before counting it wrong and/or getting involved to correct and re-teach.
Some parents choose to reward points based on how many of us learned when we were students: You get one shot and if the answer on the submitted work isn’t right, the problem is worth zero points toward the grade. Others may choose to reward half a point for retries. And still others may reward full points if the correct answer is submitted at any point in the process.
All three of these methods are used with success in growing solid math students.
The first method prioritizes precision, even perfection in math. The second still values precision but offers a bit of wiggle room for a student to be able to try a second time. The third example may be indicative of a classroom in which the process of learning the concept is prioritized over perfection.
“How do I grade re-tries in math, Nicole???”
This is a great question and one I get a lot. A parent wants to know if their student has done well or not because, though they eventually got answers correct, it may have taken two or three times to do so.
I think it depends on what’s a priority to you. Do you only want to give them credit for a grade if they get it correct on the first try? Then they would get zero points for each incorrect problem. If the priority in your homeschool is that the child gets the problem right no matter how many tries it takes, then the score would be 100% regardless of how many re-tries you grant them. (Remember, in my online grading system you have the ability to determine how many retries they get.).
And, as mentioned above, you could also award half points, ⅓ points, or some other option for retries.
The point I am making is that it really is up to you. When you homeschool, you get to decide what works best in your home school versus us telling you what the grade is. Online grading just provides you with the data to do it.
First, prioritize what you want in your homeschool. If there is a reason you think your child needs to be able to get the answer correct on the first try, then go with that. And there are reasons for that–standardized tests don’t come with re-tries, and there are other times in life when the ability to perform on the first chance really do matter!
But maybe you want to ease the stress on a child who needs that. Re-tries are great for giving them space to explore processes without being concerned about how it will affect their grade.
Or maybe you want to use the number of re-tries to determine when you should step in and help with a concept. If you notice your student is needing multiple re-tries on certain concepts, that may signal that something isn’t clicking. And regardless of the grade you decide to give, you may take it as a cue to help out.
Second, communicate what you prioritize to your children. This can help them understand what you are looking for and help them know your expectations. They may then be able to let you know if they are needing additional help or explanation before you’re left with a lesson you don’t know how to grade.
Third, play around with the number of re-tries you want your student to have. Too many re-tries may be just as frustrating for some kids as too few. That function of Online Grading can be changed at any time, so remember you aren’t married to any one method when it comes to re-tries. You may even choose to do different things with different kids, depending on what they need!
Sometimes it can be hard to put aside our own feelings about grading. They were often formed in our own heads by our experiences when we were very young. But homeschooling is a great opportunity to define what you want for your own kids and determine how best to get there.
In this blog post, we’ve talked about the benefits of re-tries in math and how to determine grading priorities in your homeschool. I hope that you can use these tips as a starting point for figuring out what works best for your family—you know how strongly I believe that learning should be fun!
If you haven’t tried Online Grading yet, I hope you’ll try it out! The instant feed back and ability to customize can really help your student learn math without stressing over it. If you’re already using it–what’s your favorite feature and how has your approach changed as you’ve used it? Let me know in the comments below!
Talk to you soon,
Nicole the Math Lady