Last year I embarked on an amazing journey of going Gradeless. You can read about my starting point here. Now this was not without some ups and downs and I would by no means say that I am an expert but I thought I would record down some of my learning so far.
First, going Gradeless does not mean that I do not evaluate and assess students learning. I think the biggest misconception when I mention this is that I sit around and let students work and do nothing. This is far, far from the truth. In fact, I do more evaluating than I have ever done in my life.
Second, I know in my previous blog post I mentioned the benefits but here are some of the reasons why I did this:
- I have found that many of my students previously haven’t bothered to look at the feedback that I gave, they only cared about the letter. The same with the parents. The letter seemed to tell everything but yet nothing at all.
- To be honest having students reflect or gather portfolios has been a hard process for me. It has always been an add-on or something that came around during report cards. Going Gradeless has allowed me to embed reflection and portfolios into my everyday. Students are more willing to look at the feedback and think about their learning.
- My students care less about competition between themselves and more about the learning. This in itself has been the biggest reason I decided to go Gradeless.
So what do I actual do? The first step in making students reflect and think about their learning is to actual show them what they intend to learn. So before every project my students and I look at the curriculum, yes I said the curriculum. They look at the specifics and overall expectations and rewrite them to form standards for their learning. These standards go into a met or not met chart that they keep recorded of throughout the unit and project. As students learn they record down what piece of evidence shows this learning the best as well as any standards that they think they haven’t met yet.
Once the unit is complete the students then record a reflection down to show me there thinking.
A final step is a google form which asks them to self-evaluate themselves and also help prepare for a student conference that we hold for each assignment. During these conferences, we discuss their progress. It is a time to share my observations and how I have been assessing. Together we talk about their marks for the final report card.
We also write monthly report cards to their parents. This process is still in the works but it has been working well. Students are gradually removing themselves from thinking about marks and more focused on their own learning.
Would love to hear your thoughts on this process or if you are doing something similar.