Wisdom Begins with Wonder

I love teaching but I hate grading

How many teachers out there feel exactly the same way?

In my previous post, I describe the need for a better way.  I’m not going to spend a lot of time and energy trying to convince you of that need.  If you need convincing (or need a toolbox to use to convince someone else), go read everything about abolishing grading on Joe Bower’s blog, For the Love of Learning, then come back.  To me it all comes down to tons of research on the negative impact of grades on learning and motivation.

Okay, so I’m with you.  Now what?

Assessment really must be about mentoring students through growth and learning while helping them to be metacognitive and reflective.  What I’m talking about here is not grading.  I’m talking about being the expert learner in the room and facilitating students through the process of becoming expert learners.  I’m talking about mentoring students, not measuring them.

Self assessment is definitely a learned skill – and a critical one.  If a student can’t assess their own knowledge and the quality of their own work, then they are not ready for success beyond the walls of a classroom.  We have to use assessment methods that help students to learn how to do this for themselves.

Umm… you’re still not giving me any answers – just more questions.  How do we do it?

Honestly, I’m not sure what the answer is.  I really think portfolios are part of the answer.  Nothing earth shattering there, I know.  However, the real key is dropping the grading of those portfolios – at least by the teacher.

What happens when students grade themselves?  Here’s one great example: No Grading, More Learning.  The Duke professor who did this has more details on her blog, HASTAC.

What if I had my students gathering evidence of their learning throughout a grading period, and then asked them to grade themselves at the end?

What would the teacher do  in this model?

  • Give the students frequent and ample feedback and mentoring on their learning
  • Provide models of quality work and help students learn how to compare their work to these models
  • Serve as the model inquirer and teach students how to ask questions and answer them with clarity and quality
  • Deliver targeted workshops of knowledge and skills that the students need, when they need them

If you think this would be easy, you’re wrong.

If you don’t think the extra work would be worthwhile, I’m never going to be able to convince you.



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