Grading classwork: Just Say No!
As I begin a new school year, I look back at a very successful first year. I have grown and reinvented my class taking full advantage of the flipped model. This year, I am tackling grading and classwork. I am fully implementing Standards Based Grading and I did the thing that I thought I would never do. I’m no longer grading classwork and putting it in the gradebook.
Yes, that’s right. A math teacher that is not putting a single assignment into the gradebook. It sure sounds absurd and even when I type it sounds so weird. I was expecting a revolt when I was going to make this known to my students and parents. I envisioned my students taking this opportunity to never do classwork again. Since I’m not grading it, why would they want to do it? There would be no reward for them since they weren’t earning a grade for it. So earlier this week, I braced for the worst. I informed my parents and I told my students and so what happened!? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Students continued to do their work as if nothing had changed. There wasn’t even a slight bump in the road. When finished, they checked their own work and rather than turning it in they put it right back into their binder. They had no problem that I wasn’t collecting their work. Over the course of the last year, I worked hard at setting high expectations and letting students take control of their own learning in the flipped classroom. My students no longer needed that reward of getting a grade in the gradebook. They had put all of their focus on the learning and not the grade. They were intrinsically motivated to learn.
You may be asking how I know if they are understanding the material if I am not collecting and grading it. The truth is that I am actually assessing their work but it’s as I am walking around asking them questions. In addition, if they still have questions about a concept or still struggle after they’ve checked their work, they can turn in their work to me and I will now give them feedback. Feedback to help them get better. Feedback with no grade. Here is to another great year. A year ahead to engage, inspire and empower students.