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I also create a grading rubric for almost every project. While this is a
pain, it helps make my expectations clear. After a few weeks, I include the
students in the creation of this grading system, which helps everyone. I've
found that most students have high expectations and sometimes grade harder
than I do. I grade half on effort for more creative, less technical
projects. We make up a system for this too (i.e. full credit: brought in
references for the work, worked at lunch and at home, solicited teacher and
student advice, really cares about the project, etc). These often sound
vague to me but it does help.
Since I am a relatively new teacher (starting my 3rd year), I am also curious
about the question of grading. How do other teachers handle it?