I’ve spent the past few months interviewing teachers who have chosen an alternative to marks in their classroom assessment.
Here’s what I’ve learned from them:
- A single number contains very little information.
- Clear criteria, in the form of standards, expectations, big ideas, or over-arching learning goals, are absolutely necessary.
- We can empower students by our transparency. When they know what they need to learn, they are empowered to do so with or without us.
- Learning maps help teachers plan, help students self-assess, and are wonderful tools to share with parents, administrators, and colleagues.
- Students need our expertise to “notice and name” their learning, and to give them the vocabulary to use to tell us what they have learned.
- Our memories are short. Our students need portfolios, so that they can connect their learning over time, and between “courses”. We need to be able to look back in order to reveal their growth, and help plan for learning.
The technology that teachers use does not really matter. Good assessment plans can be paper and pen. They can be a Google classroom, with its related tools. They can be online portfolio and assessment tools like Sesame, Freshgrade, or Seesaw.
What is important are the relationships: teacher and student, expectations and evidence, effort and results.
So, get to know your kids, get to know your curriculum, and keep the conversation going.
Check back here for more conversation over the coming weeks.