As I begin planning for the year and this new endeavor of going gradeless, I’ve been thinking a lot about all that can be gained in my students’ learning:
- Students focusing on feedback and learning instead of a digit.
- Students no longer comparing scores with their peers.
- Students taking risks without fear of failure
These are just a few of a long list of hopes I have for my kids no longer burdened by daily grades. However, I’ve also had to think about what may be lost.
- How will I communicate to parents and other teachers about student progress?
- How will I submit grades for report cards?
- How can I ensure the students understand their own progress?
I’m ready for the trial and error approach (and more errors and more trials, I’m sure), but these are a few of the logistical points I plan to start with.
- Reformat online grade book
When parents, teachers, and my students log on to our online grade book, I don’t want them to see a blank page under “English.” I never want to give the impression that because we don’t have grades we aren’t learning. As a result, I plan to do two things to help communication of expectations and learning.
First, when I create an assignment on Google classroom for students, I will still make an entry in our grade book. However, rather than entering a score, I will just mark “collected” or “missing.” This will give everyone a clear picture of what we are doing in the class and the students’ level of completion.
Second, I will have a column titled “Feedback.” Our online grade book allows us to add comments to individual assignments. In the past I have used this to denote if an assignment had been revised or if it was submitted incomplete. Now, I will add a comment and provide a URL to a Google doc with the proper share settings. This Google doc will be a running record of feedback.
- Running record of feedback While I do want to give feedback on the individual work students submit, I also want to keep one doc for each student that gets updated with feedback specifically addressing the standard objectives. By keeping this information in one doc, students and I will better be able to evaluate the entire grading period as a whole and the progress made.
At the mid-term and 9 week mark, I will take a week to schedule conferences with each student individually. During this time, students will present their work, describe their efforts, and advocate for themselves. We will review the standards marked as objectives for the quarter and look at revisions they have made based on the feedback they received. The mid-term conference will mostly function as a practice and checkpoint, while the final conference will determine their numeric grade that will be entered in the grade book for the quarter.
I know meeting with an entire class of students for individual conferences will be a challenge. I have some classes as big as thirty. However, independent learning is already built into my curriculum with reading days and writing days.
During this time, students are given the freedom to read what they want and write what they want for the entire period. The expectations are set that this is individual learning time, and by doubling up a few of these days in the week, combined with students who can meet in our school-wide Student Resource Time, I am hopeful I can get to everyone. Plus, by reading and writing, students are still meeting some umbrella standards and can bring their work from these days to the conferences as further proof of their learning.
Do you have any other ideas for increasing communication on student progress? Leave them in the comments below.