To Change Everything While Changing Nothing: Going Gradeless

This is the first in a series of posts exploring teaching and learning in the de-graded and de-tested language arts classroom. The first thing I tell teachers about removing grades is that it changes everything while simultaneously changing nothing. Students still come to class, complete assignments, and receive feedback. Hyper-students, kids who have successfully mastered … Continue reading To Change Everything While Changing Nothing: Going Gradeless

Hate the Game, Not the Gamers

Recently, I have been following a conversation on Twitter about why certain assessment methods are better than others (see Aaron Blackwelder’s post about cheating). One of the ideas coming out of this conversation is that educators can gauge a method’s effectiveness by whether it can be ‘gamed’ by students. Wikipedia defines gaming as using the rules … Continue reading Hate the Game, Not the Gamers

Grades, Equity, and the Grammar of School

After observing the “shattering effect [of grades] on the ‘bottom' group” of students, Merla Sparks got permission from her principal to trial a gradeless system with five classes of students who were grouped at the ‘bottom’ of her school. Sparks quickly found that “Imaginative ideas spilled out all over the paper when the student knew … Continue reading Grades, Equity, and the Grammar of School

The Child Behind the Grade

Teachers don’t generally like to come down to the office. In fact, most people (even as adults!) still have negative feelings about seeing the principal. They believe when they are in that space that they are ‘in trouble.’ This is a large reason why I like to engage with students and staff in their spaces … Continue reading The Child Behind the Grade

Creating a Culture of Feedback

In order to be effective, feedback must be relevant, meaningful, specific, frequent, and time-bound. Feedback helps students move forward, question, and grow as learners. If teachers are providing feedback on every piece of student writing, students are not writing enough. Besides, both Jennifer Gonzalez and Starr Stackstein claim when feedback is only offered at the end of … Continue reading Creating a Culture of Feedback

What About Cheating?

A teacher catches a student plagiarizing a major essay. An initial reaction is often, "How could he do this to me?" The teacher may feel violated and even want retribution. In an attempt to seek justice, she gives her student a zero and a referral. All too often, this is the default response to cheating. … Continue reading What About Cheating?

The Problem With “Measure”

One of the biggest blessings in my life is my marriage. I love my wife. When I dislocated my knee (twice!), I experienced pain. I react with anger when confronted with injustice. Joy warms my entire being when my daughter slips her hand into mine as we walk. With some thought and effort, I could … Continue reading The Problem With “Measure”