Change the conversation about grading to one about learning. When a student asks, “what did I get?” redirect him/her to “what did you learn?” The language we use around learning matters, so we must be intentional when students want to talk about progress. Try to avoid speaking in terms of numbers and letters and focus more on questioning and engaging in a dialogue.
Give feedback in lieu of grades. As soon as we put a grade on an assessment, the learning ends. So instead of labeling the learning, provide specific, directed, actionable feedback to help improve student learning in a continuous way. This promotes a growth mindset and puts the focus on learning not on the labels.
Get kids involved with assessment design and success criteria. Students have great ideas and they will buy into the learning process more when we involved them in the expectations. Allow students to have choice when engaging in their learning. Everything from what to how should be a decision for students to make. They should also be involved in developing rubrics and other measures of success. Consider having a lesson just asking students to discuss what successful learning looks like and keep these ideas visible throughout the year.
Provide time in class for student-led learning - We value what we give time to in our spaces and students should be working in front of us so we can provide them with immediate feedback. Classes are more successful when students are expected to be an active part of their own learning and adopting a project-based learning approach allows for optimal student success.
Teach students to give each other feedback. There is one teacher and at least 20 students. The ratio is clearly disproportionate. So if we teach students to be excellent providers of feedback, they can learn to be more self-directed and provide feedback to each other which allows them to be better identify and address challenges in their own learning as well.
Use portfolios to track progress. Students need to see progress and instead of giving summative tests, students should be tracking progress with a portfolio. Each evidence of learning inside of the portfolio should reflect areas of their growth and learning based on the standards and the goals they set and reflected on throughout the year. Reflection is a huge part of how we grow and when students are taught to be metacognitive about their process, they are able to ask better questions and recognize growth. Reflection and goal setting is a big part of the portfolio experience.
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