Going "Grade Less": Thoughts on Reflective Grading Week 1

I am one week into teaching a four-week long summer school course that I am grading using only students reflections on the learning objectives and right now my mind is racing. I started writing about why I decided to go "grade-less" last week and in five short days of summer school World History, I have a lot of thoughts and emotions to sort through. Everything is kind of messy, but the good kind, the kind that feels like progress. Here is a brief update on a few of my thoughts so far.

1) OMG I love Station Rotation
Dear Catlin Tucker, Thank you. Your blogs and tweets about Station Rotation in secondary school inspired me to try it and I get it now. It is the best way to find time to meet with students, to host interventions, to differentiate instruction, and to keep students engaged by keeping class moving with a variety of activities and assignments. This model of teaching allowed me to meet with students one-on-one in a way that was effective and meaningful. 

2) Learning Objectives Are Essential 
You know that thing we all did in our credential programs and that thing we still do when we have to submit a formal lesson plan? That thing where you sit down and write a clear objective and then make sure the lesson ties directly to it? Well, you can't do reflective grading without it. I have to be honest, while I was always looking at my standards while planning I wasn't always asking myself if the lesson, reading, or activity clearly met or supported a learning objective. The lessons always related to the standards but having a clear objective takes that it step further, it asks for more specificity in your planning, and it is a piece you can't skip with reflective grading. 

3) Feedback from students have been overwhelmingly positive. 
I send out surveys to my students all the time to see how things are going. This week one of their survey questions was "How is the reflective grading process going for you?" Here are some of my students responses: 
  • "It is very good because then I am able to look back at the things that are confusing to me."
  • "Good it's making me analyze the reading and my work more precisely than I usually would."
  • "The reflection is taking legitimate effort from myself, but it is fair and straightforward."
  • "I actually like it because it gives us a chance to prove what we actually learned."
  • "It's going okay. I like how the grading system is. It makes me feel like I can fix my grade easier if I make a mistake."

It's only week one and I still have a lot running through my mind about this process that I need to explore more. A few students have brought up some valid concerns (which I plan to explore in my next post) but so far things are going really well and honestly, I feel more excited about "grading" than ever before. 

What are your thoughts on Reflective Grading? 

- Mrs. Byars 


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