I teach fifth grade Language Arts and I am not sure if I should take a grade on my students' journals or not. What do you do?? I am thinking that I should not grade journals because it is where the students practice the strategies we are learning. I would love your feedback.
Every thing that's important enough for them to do is important enough to get credit for doing it. It could be a completion grade, which has the advantage of creating an opportunity for an easy "A". Find a way to make grading them easy on yourself, or it becomes completely overwhelming.
I give a "completion" grade. I spot check them weekly and grade them based on whether or not they are actually writing (complete sentences, ideas, etc.) I do not mark grammar or worry about sentence structure, but the purpose is writing. If they are there and have 15 min, they should have a seveal sentences minimum, with thoughts about one subject (either the one that is in the prompt or one of their choosing). I do not accept random words, repeating the same sentence multiple times, or drawings, etc. I also teach fifth.
I give the students a journal prompt daily. I just want them to practice getting their thoughts down-just like you'd have to practice a sport or an instrument. I do collect 5 or 6 a day. I read them and write a brief comment about what they wrote to acknowledge the fact I'm reading it (not about spelling, punctuation, complete sentences, etc.) .
I do grade journals. They get 10 points a week just for doing it, writing to the topic, and having enough sentences to make it worthwhile. It's an easy A for those that put the effort forth. I assign each student a day of the week and they hand in journals once a week. That way I only have to collect a few a day and makes it a little more manageable for me.
I grade Bible journals and free writes as done/not done. I respond to the Bible journals, and I will write positive notes in the free write to point out things they did well, or pieces I feel have good potential and should be published. Occasionally I will give a specific direction in writing and I will grade on that only (ex:including dialogue between characters or use of precise verbs). There are a number of formal writing assignments that will be graded for all aspects at once following a 6-traits style rubric.