Student Well-Being Opinion

Are You Up for the No Grades Challenge?

By Starr Sackstein — June 30, 2016 1 min read
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A few years ago, Mark Barnes challenged me to make a video about what throwing out grades looked like in my classroom and who knew then that I’d be where I am now.

Eager to share my experience, I jumped right in (as I hope some of you will too as it will benefit your students in ways you can only imagine).

Admittedly, I wasn’t very good at filming myself back then, but as each one of my short videos got finished, I reflected on how I could do it better in the future (and I think I’ve gotten a little better at it).

Trying to get it done in one take, makes me think of my students and how they don’t like to revise. For me it’s a function of the fact that I’m not that good with video editing yet, but one day I will be.

Since I’ve created this video a while back and have practiced and have begun to master the practices of a no-grades classroom, many things have improved. Student learning has increased and the focus of our classroom is less about end grades and more about the growth process.

Standards-based understanding is hallmark of our reflective practice and students are more metacognatively aware. This has increased their level of involvement in their learning and has improved their ability to ask for help. Although I suspected when I started the impact that this choice would have on my students, I could have never guessed how much change would occur, not just for them, but for me.

As more time has passed and I’ve had the chance to revisit this video and others I’ve created throughout my journey (you can watch them all if you’re feeling bored on my youtube channel) I’ve seen my growth. Thanks to the use of Capture and Periscope, I’m getting more comfortable talking to the camera. Perhaps more exciting opportunities will come in that realm.

Here is another video which was a follow up about the challenges of the no grades classroom:

If you are interested in creating your own, “Throwing out Grades Challenge Video” - try using Capture from YouTube on your phone and post your link here! I’d love to hear about your journeys.

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.