Students Grading Themselves

When my principal came to me at the end of the year last year telling me about the ROLE classroom and how she would like me to attempt it (with some other teachers) one of the things that made me leery was the idea of students assessing their learning for the grading period and giving themselves a grade with my assistance.  I have now gone through this process with all the students in my class for the second grading period and I think that I have come to some decent conclusions.

First I think that students are more honest with you than you would think.  My first grading period I was shocked at how many students were well thought out in their evaluation of themselves without much guidance in how to do so from me.  Unfortunately for my students, since it was also my first time through the process I was still learning how to coach them up.  This second marking period I added a Google Form for them to fill out beforehand that allowed them to process how they did this grading period and set some ideas of what their goals for the upcoming weeks will be and what their grade should be.  The kids did even better with some prompting than they did when we began for the first time.  I would say that 90% of my kids had a grade that I would have given them myself.  The other 10% took a little bit of conversation to help them understand why their grade was either too high or too low.  In the end, I reminded them that the grade is not important to me at all, I just want them to have an accurate representation of their growth this grading period.

Be careful with your prompting of children.  I found that my kids had many of the same goals and usually they had to do with any prompting that I gave them to help them think through their growth.  We finished a PBL late in the grading period and with that came a ton of different ways that my students could grow themselves for next time.  When I reminded them to think through this on their Google Form, they all gravitated to one of a few basic skills for their goals.  My hope was for them was to use my suggestions as a way to brainstorm specific skills each student needed to work on, but what I got was the path of least resistance.

The only other thing that I’m noticing with this process is that it takes time.  For my classes, it’s taken me between two and three full class periods (of 50 minutes) to get a grade for every student.  I have been asked a few times if I thought this was worth it, and I can legitimately say that I think this classroom experience is growing my students in ways that I could not have even planned.  It was not evident in the first few weeks of trying, but the further in the school year we go the more convinced I am that this way of teaching is revolutionizing my classroom.  I’m excited by where my classroom is heading and look forward to see where it is going to head in the future.

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2 thoughts on “Students Grading Themselves

  1. I am so glad to find a fellow ROLE educator out there. Like you, Tyler, I was presented with the idea by my principal in response to reading Mark Barnes book, Role Reversal. I had already decided that I would not assign grades this year to writing, since it is a process rather than an end. I wanted the students to have the opportunity to write, rewrite…When my principal asked my seventh grade ELA team to go “no grades” cold turkey:), well that began the most interesting year I have had as a teacher! We just finished our first quarter and you are correct that conferencing took way more time than we thought, but it was SO worth it! To add to the equation, we had only student-parent conferences. It was so incredible to watch the students explain how they arrived at their grade. They showed their parents their papers (we keep everything in a file folder), analyzed their work ethic based on my feedback and their own observations and like you observed, were most of the time right on about their grades. I would love to hear more of your ideas! I am so glad I found your blog!

    1. Thanks for reaching out Virginia. We had a little more lead in time. We were given Mr. Barnes’ book in the spring semester last year and talked about it a little bit. This year it has been my history classes and an ELA teacher per grade participating, so I’ve had some help for the difficulties. I agree it has been difficult, but so rewarding. Thanks for reading, and I’ll keep posting things I learn.

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