Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to better improve my grading system and overall classroom environment. I want to continue to figure out how to better promote growth mindset (thanks Jo Boaler), eliminate classroom status (thanks Ilana Horn), and have students take ownership in learning.
Last year, I implemented Standards-Based Grading for the first time and saw a big increase in student motivation and success. However, I realized that there were still a lot of issues with status and competition whenever I handed back assessments. In addition, students were more focused on their grade instead of improvement and pursuing learning.
This year, I decided to counter these issues by no longer writing grades on any assignments or assessments (thanks Twitter). My thought was that if students couldn’t see a grade, then they would be less likely to compare themselves with other students, and they could focus more on improvement instead of grades. This tweak has led to better results than last year. Now, when I give back assessments, students aren’t comparing grades and establishing status. Also, they aren’t reinforcing fixed mindsets by seeing labels (grades) that represent current progress. Both of these are wins.
One issue that has risen with the new strategy is a somewhat lack of direction for student improvement. Some students have mentioned that they want to see a grade in order to know how they are doing with concepts. However, I believe this desire can be satisfied without attaching grades to assignments.
I decided to create a “Growth Mindset Report” in order to provide feedback for student progress. The idea was to turn a traditional progress report into a document that encourages continued pursuit of learning. Also, instead of putting traditional grades on the report, I wanted to use growth mindset language. The brainstorming process went like this:
Maybe progress should just be shown as red, yellow, or green?
Wait…kids know what those mean and will compare with others.
Maybe I’ll put words like, emerging, proficient, or advanced?
Hmm…still sounds like a reinforcing label.
I was stuck because even if number or letter grades aren’t attached, students can still figure out the hierarchy of words used.
But what if I’m not the one creating the labels? What if students self-reflect? If they choose their own rating, then maybe the focus will be more about the path to improvement instead of the evaluation of current standing.
Insert a Google form.
2 big hat-tips:
- I completely stole the form idea from a Google session led by Amy Mayer. She presented an original form created by Mike Jaber for individualized technology plans for teachers. Check it out.
- I stole the ratings, “Starting Out, Getting There, Got it…” from a tweet by Nico Rowinsky. Really like these phrases for promoting growth.
My goal for the site is to provide students with a place to get extra practice for any concept we learn in class. I created reviews for the conceptual, PBL activities we do, Desmos demonstrations, and practice problems. I’d really like to get suggestions for improvement on how to make this site better.
During Amy’s Google session, Adam Hamilton brought up a good point. How do students know how to self-reflect? Do they know what they need to work on? I’m not sure if I can answer that at the moment. I hope that students have a solid awareness of how they are progressing, but it’s hard to know sometimes. I’d also like to get feedback about how this issue can be addressed.
What other hurdles do you see? How can this be improved to further promote growth mindset and eliminate classroom status? Any comments are helpful.
Matthew Switzer provided some awesome feedback:
My brain wants to add another column/question to the report/Google Form that asks students to share a link to something THEY’VE created that demonstrates their learning (i.e., student makes a youtube video showing they know the different parts of slope-intercept and how it works with other models they designed). Having your help-site in a column alongside the student inputted site may help with self-assessment.