Gratitude for my PLN for helping me stay fresh, excited and wise: things have been tricky at my school recently, and while we’re on spring break I am determined to relax, dangit. Refresh, Renew. All that good stuff. People are worried about me (turns out middle school girls and boys think I’m crying when I am having a hot flash–thanks, menopause). I was beginning to get a little worried about myself: have I taught them enough? Is testing going to be okay? Will the boy who won’t allow me to help him be a better reader be okay? Will that girl who has given up on herself understand that we won’t give up on her?
Perhaps this may be the simple answer to those complex, emotional questions: as we strive to allow for our students to be independent, the most obvious path is the timeless practice of self-assessment. Their emotional responses to learned helplessness and inner-dialogue of shame may be cooled by simply allowing them the space that they are in more control than they believe.
Things on teachers’ minds must be washed and dried before break ends–otherwise, it’s not a break. So just in the nick of time here are some ideas about having students self-assess. Chiaravelli draws from the great minds of pedagogy:
Drawing on the research of Ruth Butler, Dylan Wiliam, John Hattie, Daniel Pink, Carol Dweck, Alfie Kohn, Linda McNeil, Linda Mabry, Maja Wilson and countless others, we are teachers who are convinced that teaching and learning can be better when we grade less.
For some of us, the word gradeless means to grade less, that is, limiting the impact of grades within the context of current constraints. Some are just trying to get away from toxic assessment and grading practices, like assessments with no opportunity to redo or retake or zeroes on the mathematically disproportionate 100-point scale.
Okay, cool. I have always allowed for redos, and never marked things down for being late, etc. Okay. Instincts without research don’t mean anything – so he provides the research.
What my grading practices are now:
- Non-negotiable assignments:
- Weekly Vocabulary worth 50 points
- If they don’t turn it in, it goes in zero and missing in Skyward.
- They have one to two weeks to turn it in and receive full points. I never mark down work simply for being late, and never have.
- Positive: Once they see they are in control of their non-negotiables and have choice and flexibility, they get in a routine of learning and diving into new words.
- Negative: Students still don’t understand that the zero, which is horrible but the only way they and their parents pay attention or get a notification, can be easily remedied by doing the work. I will ask other students in the class who have turned things in late and subsequently turn them in, and their grade changes, to share that with the class. In addition, I still need to track students down.
- Weekly Vocabulary worth 50 points
- Grading every two weeks as required.
- Grading assessments (especially the Common Formative Assessments created by our ELA PLC 8th grade as ‘no count.’
How are they evolving:
- I created a unit/module in Canvas called “Top Ten Things” for ELA. Its intended purpose allows for student flexibility: if they are done with something, they can explore ten lessons in a ‘flipped’ way.
- Positive: Students who seek them out enjoy doing them as “extra credit.”
- Allows for self-exploration and questions– great opportunity for metacognition and independent work.
- Negative: Students have been confused — understandable. These absolutely require my guidance, and that’s fine. Another issue is students requiring more guidance than time allows. After the break this is something I will address.
- Provided a ‘create your own rubric lesson’ in the fall: this is a concept I plan on bringing back this spring after the break.
- Allowing students to assess student work—now that there is student work to share based on current projects!
- Paraphrasing and crafting metrics and rubrics based on CCSS, standardized assessments (from the OSPI/SBA)
- Crafting choice projects/burning questions metrics based on CCSS
- Crafting and self-assessing on both low stakes and high stakes assignments they create and produce.
- Continuing to provide curriculum maps to students — visible checklists to help guide them.
- Grading is done weekly to bi-weekly, with a one to a two-week window of communication and notice. I am putting students in charge of their assignment self-assessments: complete or not complete.
- Restate grading policies to parents.
- Be clear to students what is expected of them and their role in assignments:
- Schedule April May June 2017
- Rubric Resources:
- BIE: https://www.bie.org/object/document/project_design_rubric
- Rubistar: http://rubistar.4teachers.org
- ASCD: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/112001/chapters/What-Are-Rubrics-and-Why-Are-They-Important%C2%A2.aspx
- Cornell University: https://www.cte.cornell.edu/teaching-ideas/assessing-student-learning/using-rubrics.html
- SBA Brief Write Rubrics: https://www.smarterbalanced.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/ELA-Brief-Write-Rubrics.pdf
The second finding comes from John Hattie (2012) whose synthesis of 800 meta-studies showed that student self-assessment/self-grading topped the list of educational interventions with the highest effect size. By teaching students how to accurately self-assess based on clear criteria, teachers empower them to become “self-regulated learners” able to monitor, regulate, and guide their own learning. The reason students never develop these traits is that our monopoly on assessment, feedback, and grading has trained students to adopt an attitude of total passivity in the learning process.
Let us all “grade less” so students can learn more. Just like in any creative pursuit, the linear qualities of rubrics do not have to constrain, but to guide.
PS Not sure where I found this: