Among the challenges associated with getting rid of grades and mastery learning is the idea of redos.
Some folks say that students shouldn't be able to redo work as it doesn't adequately show what students know and can do and others say that students need multiple opportunities to learn.
Every person deserves a do-over in the learning process. It is a valuable chance to evaluate what was initially understood and what needs further exploration. By allowing students to work on the same task for longer after feedback is provided, we are offering an essential chance to approach the learning from a different angle.
The more time we give to the task, the better equipped the students will be when the situation arises somewhere else and they are asked to apply the initial learning in a new situation.
And that's the goal of learning, right?
To get students to really understand the skills and content we teach them so that they can apply it and synthesize it in different situations without our help moving forward.
Very few human beings get what they need from a learning experience the very first time they try. Depending on the experience we are providing students with, the depth of learning can vary. Tests and other "one and done" situations are never going to get the best out of students particularly because of the nature of time and memorization.
When we move to more formative tasks and learning opportunities, multiple chances for growth are built into the process. Students are naturally more collaborative and teachers are involved and watching the process. They work through problems in class over a period of time and the teacher can observe, answer questions, pose new questions, and offer specific feedback at the time it is needed and not just after.
The traditional way of learning sets students up and not in a good way. We need to start considering what we want the kids to take away from school and do everything in our power to help them be successful in the pursuit of that.
Here are some takeaways you can share with folks at your school when they don't want to give a redo:
First, we need to make sure our tasks are higher-level tasks or redos will just be chasing points. We need to de-emphasize point accumulation and focus on skill-building and content mastery.
Redos shouldn't be for a higher grade, but for depth of understanding.
No two students learn at the same pace or at the same time, so we need to allow for these variables in how we teach without penalizing students who take longer or rewarding students who do it faster.
The goal is always for as many students as possible to achieve mastery of a certain skill set and content knowledge, they have a year or more to achieve that, so we must offer them multiple opportunities to practice and master as they go.
Collaboration is an excellent way of helping students become more independent and innovative as they can work together to come up with new ideas while learning other social-emotional skills like listening and compromising while they work.
Formative learning experiences allow for ongoing growth and readjustment that help solidify mastery. They also offer feedback opportunities.
We need to remove the justice mindset that forces us to want to penalize kids who don't comply with our rules and directions. Make sure to provide an opportunity for student input and really look at what the students are sharing. What they come up with may be more meaningful than what we have.
Too often in education, those in charge forget what the learning is all about it. It isn't about compliance or mere task completion but a development of a skill set and depth of understanding that continues to be built upon and adjusted for mastery. We must, it is our obligation, to provide students with the richest learning experiences that we can and allow them to take away from each one what they need.
In what ways can you provide students multiple opportunities to focus on actual learning and de-emphasize the value of the points they can accumulate? Please share
*This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in February 2016