Summer Experiment: Going "Grade-Less"
It's Friday morning of my first week of summer and I am getting things together to take back to campus because I start summer school on Monday. I love summer school. Four short weeks of accelerated teaching, a crash course of content with students who all have a reason to be there, summer school is full of this energy and drive you don't get in the normal year. I also love summer because it is the perfect place to try something new.
This summer, I am changing my grading practices. I am changing my grading practices because I am frustrated by how often students copy and cheat, I am frustrated by how defeated students become from a zero, I am frustrated by the question "how many points do I need on this assignment to...?", I am frustrated that compliance is more important than learning, I am frustrated that the traditional system offers little room for growth mindset, I am frustrated that my traditional grading practices don't focus on learning at all.
So, I read as many books (some found here and here) as I could manage on the subject and blogs and articles, until it was clear that I was getting the same message over and over and over again: there is a way to grade for learning but it is insane and crazy and student centered. You hand the reigns over to the students and in exchange you promise them clear, consistent, meaningful feedback.
This summer, I am trying a reflective grading approach that has students reflect and provide evidence of how they have met each learning objective. I am hoping to use OneNote ClassNotebook for students to write daily reflections on each learning objective we covered that day. They will explain if they have met the objective using a four point rubric, and then must include evidence on meeting that standard (assignments we've done, quizzes we've taken, etc). I know how I've set it up is probably not perfect, but the beauty of summer school is that it moves so quickly and you have to provide feedback (and update grades) so often that I'll know within the first day or two what's working and what needs to change.
So far, the planning has been a mountain of work but it is work that has me excited about what I am teaching. I can better articulate how each lesson or activity supports the objectives (because if I can't, how can I expect my students to be able to?) and because of this I've cut out the "busy work." I have had to be more clear about how and when to deliver feedback and I've built in more time to talk with each student every week using the secondary Station Rotation model.
Will it work? The research says it will, the books say it will, but I guess I am about to find out. I'll be sharing updates weekly on this so feel free to subscribe and follow along as I take my classroom in a whole new direction.
What are your thoughts on grading? (Big question, I know!) Share in the comments!
Mrs. Kathryn Byars