Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Grading Moratorium: Kelly Aleman

Kelly Aleman has joined the Grading Moratorium. Want to join? Here's how.

Kelly Aleman
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
Middle School Councillor
Social Studies

At what stage of the abolish grading game are you?

I have been giving only report card grades for the last 7 years.

Why do you want to or why did you abolish grading?

After becoming a counselor, I found so many students of all abilities that were being degraded by grading.  Low achievers were defining themselves as not able to learn, and high achievers were being destroyed by the odd low grade and were so competitive that they were no
t caring about their fellow classmates.

What do you do in replace of grading?

This would be my recipe:
  1. Engaging lessons
  2. Lots of verbal feedback
  3. Specific written feedback
  4. Letters to parents informing them of my reasons for no grades
How do you establish a grade if you have no grades?

Mostly I decide in consultation with the student.
What fears did you have about abolishing grading?

Mostly that parents would not understand and that administration would field calls and tell me to stop.

What challenges do/did you encounter with abolishing grading?

Mostly from the students.  It is such a paradigm shift that some felt that the rug was going to be pulled out from them. After a short while, however, when grades were removed, almost all students soon forget about the carrots and sticks and focused on their learning instead.
The other challenge that I welcome is creating engaging material for students do so that they are immersed in the learning and I do not have to threaten them with a low grade for completing the work to the best of their abilities. They are having too much fun in the activity to worry about being bribed or punished.

Are you willing to provide contact information (e-mail, Twitter, blog, Skype, etc) for others who are interested in abolishing grading?


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