Make a Mark, Not a Grade
” My dilemma is that I don’t know how should I grade/evaluate them? Actually, no, that’s not the issue. The real problem I’m having is that I just don’t know why I should.” ~@royanlee~
My son Ben and his two classmates discovered the reality of film work this week, realizing that a HUGE number of stills need to be taken to make the 30 second stop animation PSA they are creating in their grade 8 class (all @techieang and I could do was smile, well perhaps there was some smirking and cackling in there as well). But, the kid who ‘hates homework’ spent over an hour working away (with 2 or 3 more hours to come this weekend) and all we could hear was the sound of purposeful chatter, laughter and lots of meaningful productive talk ‘flowing’ from the dining room.
Later that evening I read @royanlee’s post on the struggle he was having with assigning a grade to the wonderful film work that his students had completed and the powerful, reflective writing they had created in response to their works. It reminded me of the short tribute film to Holocaust survivors that a group of grade 8 students created when I was still in the classroom. After viewing it I told them my tears, and the tears of their classmates, were worth more than any mark I could possibly give; they made us notice, they made us care and that is the point of creating something. Whether it is a film, a poster, a piece of writing, all I ever asked of my students was to create something that would make an impact. These were the ‘success criteria’ that were shared in my classroom (and the ones I now share with the teachers I’m leading).
I’m more interested in having our students make a mark than get a mark, and so are they. So, lets be genuine with them. Push them to create great stuff about important ideas and students will not only rise to the challenge, they will be able to articulate what they have learned and why it matters. Do this, and don’t cheapen it with a mark. Share your descriptive feedback, offer a genuine response. Let them know that when it comes time to write the report card you’ll turn the great things they have created into a grade and all they have to do is keep creating things~the wonderful thing about people is we actually do great things when we are given the chance, a purpose, feedback and an audience. After all, look at all of us bloggers.
This entry has been cross posted at connectedprincipals