Tuesday, October 8, 2019

No Grades and The World Did Not End #MakerEd

I started a new class this year in the middle school. It is a design and innovation class that is supposed to help students explore problem solving and critical thinking skills. One of the things that I wanted to really explore was a class free of grades. I was nervous about how this might look because I have never done this before and I was scared about how students and parents would react, but I was surprised to find that the world did not end.

We have completed two projects in the class and are starting our third project this week. The main reason I wanted to avoid grades was because they can be a hinderance to students who are afraid of trying something new or risky because it could hurt their grade. Even though I assured kids no grades would be coming, some were still very hesitant to "go for it" on the first project. Using Design Thinking to create a home for a friend in Minecraft was something I hoped would ease students into the process of designing and building with a sense of freedom. Some students pushed themselves and others took the path of least resistance. I was worried that these students would always just do what they had to and try to get by with minimal effort. I decided to use the 2nd project to really push those students on their design and builds.

Students were asked to design a shoe using 4 pieces of newspaper, 1 foot of duct tape, and 1 foot of yarn. Once it was designed, they needed to create an ad for their creation. Some students really went for it and created some amazing, functional footwear, while others settled on a slip on shoe for their first design. I could have let it go, but I really wanted to push them to think bigger. I let those groups have a chance to redesign their entire shoe with new supplies if they wanted. I told them to just go for it because they are not getting a grade on this project or for the class overall. Every single one of them chose to go at it again instead of just sitting and "being done". It was awesome.

I could see that students have started to become more comfortable in trying new things and are not letting the idea of grade impact their choices. The next project students are going to design elements from Ray Bradbury's short story "There Will Come Soft Rains". I think I have built the capacity to try the tough things and learn without the fear of failing grades. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please post your thoughts here. Thanks!