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Continued Learning Quests

You get the grades, so you give the grades. That is what I told my students this past week. Needless to say, they were a bit shocked.

I have struggled with giving grades and giving homework for some time now. Many of my students just have focused on the letter grade, whether it was an "A" or a "F." They stopped becoming focused on what really matters most, the learning. They started having fixed mindsets, and that is not something I want 6th graders to have. Are those things their fault? No, I do not believe they are. I believe several parties are to blame, myself being one of them. However, things are changing. Grades will now have personal meaning to my students, and I hope that what I am attempting will bring the focus back to what matters most, the learning and having a growth mindset.

Attending PETE&C 2016, engaging in Twitter and Twitter chats like #paedchat, and also having a very supportive administration has allowed me to develop the "Continued Learning Quest" (CLQ) rubric (click here for link). I like calling the assignments quests, because after attending PETE&C 2016, I intend to start gamification in my class with Classcraft this coming week with my students. So quest seems to be a lot better fit. Also, the terms classwork and homework bring up bad feelings for just about all involved anyway.

The CLQ rubric is a 4-point rubric that students will be using to score themselves on what they once perceived as meaningless, mundane classwork. Now, the same assignments take on a entirely different feel, because the focus becomes on the learning, not just completing it for a grade. However students do not score their work, until after I give them timely and meaningful feedback. This allows them to become reflective learners, and it also allows me to easily differentiate my instruction. For those that scored themselves a one or a two, I can meet with them to discuss their insights and help them understand their mistakes and help them make their corrections. For those that scored themselves a three or a four, I can meet with them to discuss their understandings and give them enrichment. Never again, will a zero be given in my classes. Never again will an assignment, or rather a quest, be graded just on completion.

Now I know one might be thinking, "Aren't all of the students going to give themselves four's all of the time? What will you do then?" To be honest, I may have a small handful that do that, and if that is the case, I will meet with them briefly to discuss their scores and why they gave themselves those scores. If the problem continues, then I will score them on a similar 4-point rubric, and average the student's score and my score together.

Yet, I strongly believe students will not abuse this new grading system, as it makes their work have immediate meaning and has them becoming reflective learners. It puts them at the center of their learning, as they are in charge of their outcome. They will now know what their grades means, but more importantly, it will put the focus back on learning.  

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