I asked them to imagine what that would look like at our school.
Their answers were largely summed up in this sentence: "We would feel less stress without grades, but we wouldn't know how we were doing and no one would care about learning without the stress of the grade."
I was a little shocked that they were SO unable to envision a world without grades, even with an example of how this fantastic teacher gave extensive feedback and the kids in the class talked about learning more in that system.
It's no secret to them that I don't like grades that much. I really don't like the hundreds of emails from students asking how to earn back one point on x assignment so they can get an A.
I try and not talk about grades at all. The question "How will this be graded?" usually gets A Look, followed by my head collapsing into my hands. They've learned not to ask that. But that doesn't mean they don't think about it.
Oh, they do.
It happened with 8 pARTS grammar. It happened with Tuesday Newsday. And it happened today with Membean.
If you're not familiar with Membean (you should be!), it's a web-based vocabulary development program backed by brain-based research for best practices in teaching new words in order to make them stick. No memorisation. Lots of feedback.
But the kids didn't even need to be told that they'd get a grade for their work on Membean to be wholly engaged in it. There were little dances of celebration, comparisons of levels, and the moments total rapt silence that comes with real engagement.
They loved it.
I would like everything in my classroom to be like that. The grades fade away, but what really matters is feedback in order to produce individual growth.
I'm not sure how to replicate that with some things that always seem tough for students - longer reading assignments, formal writing assignments, reading logs, etc. But I feel closer to an answer than I was a year ago.
Yes, I'll always get emails from certain students asking how to make up that last elusive point, but I'll also get emails from students telling me that they have already spent an hour learning new words just because they wanted to.