Today I continue to think about classrooms without grades, and I’m working through Hack #3 in Starr Sackstein’s book titled Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Gradeless, which is all about transforming the cliche assignment into a meaningful learning experience for students. This morning I read this fantastic article on the 5 skills we need to teach our students: Self-direction; Evidence-based thinking; Persistence; Calculated risk taking; and Tolerance for ambiguity.
Starr highlights the following problems with many assignments and assessments:
- Tests and projects don’t allow for students to show the depth of their learning.
- When teachers don’t allow for iteration, it stunts student growth.
- Many assignments provide a single learning path, which takes aways student autonomy.
We have no hope of teaching students the 5 skills cited earlier if we don’t involve students in the design of their learning experiences, and if we don’t allow them to pursue their interests and passions along the way. The learning experiences we help to create are absolutely critical to the development of creative problem solvers who take charge of their learning.
Getting started can be done by simply talking to your students to see what they like best about learning, ensuring they understand what your goals are for them in terms of standards, and then start by building in as many options as you can for students. Why not even let the students select one project for starters just to get your toes wet? And most importantly, in place of points and grades, only use formative feedback to help them refine their work!
Feel free to participate in the Twitter slowchat on #HackingAssessment, where I pose a daily question for us to discuss and learn from one another.