Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Feedback in Lieu of Grading in ELA

The link to this video will be sent home with parents, to help explain our grading in ELA for the 2016-2017 school year.  See this video and my full philosophy at our classroom website here.

My resources so far: "FaR" tabs of our classroom Weebly
                                    Feedback Instead of Grades LiveBinder for parents to inspect
                                    My own reflections on this journey


  1. I can't wait to share this wonderful video with my colleagues we are on a similar journey thank you for your leadership

  2. Joy! Once again you pave the way for others to dare to change for the benefit of student learning. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  3. (Made an edit to my first attempt!) Thanks for sharing this, Joy. I've watched it before and it makes perfect sense. One more question I have is where do you keep all the evidence that you will use in these conferences? Do you or the students store it in a portfolio? Is it visible to parents and stakeholders? I'm thinking particularly of situations in which a kid is not accumulating enough evidence to make a determination at the end-of-term meeting. We had the discussion a while back how the question of "effort" can insinuate itself into these discussions.

    As flawed as it is, the online grade book can show parents and other stakeholders what evidence has and has not been submitted, along with a continual head's up regarding a kid's standing in the class. Leaving out its many other flaws, it has at least provided those two things. I feel like a lot of self-deception could fester before an end-of-term conference and summary grade, if not with the student then with parents and stakeholders. How do you REPORT this progress/standing throughout the term? Again, great post and I'm curious to learn more!

    1. Hi, Arthur!

      As for evidence, everything we do will be kept. If it's on Google Classroom - yippee! If not, it will probably be on paper. This next year, students will have a binder to keep their work in. I've played with the idea that students should publish the work they want to use for evidence, but (teacher confession) our work isn't authentic enough yet for students to WANT to publish much of it. Book reviews and narrative writing, yes, but other than that... That's my next big hurdle.

      If students are not "accumulating enough" evidence, they'll be working in our room during lunch or before or after school. If work is missing, I'm going to have them in before it gets to be too far along. We did this last year, to keep up with eligibility for sports, at the least.

      The online gradebook will be the communicator to parents. ALL of the feedback I document will be in the online gradebook - there just won't be a letter attached. Some online gradebooks don't allow for comments, but ours (at least this year) allows for me to write a TON! Last year, I also found it valuable to put the link to the unlisted YouTube video feedback so students and their parents alike could access it. That's where all reports will go, so there will be no "self-deception" prior to end-of-term conferences. We will have time in class to check out the feedback, so there will be no excuses.

      I hope this answers some of your concerns. :D Keep the conversation going! I do better when questioned!

  4. I do believe I'm walking in some semblance of your footsteps, Joy, and those you credit for having made marks before you. Thanks for these breadcrumbs to follow.

    1. Brian, I'm excited that you're mixing it up, too! Once you do the research, it's a no-brainer. This is something I've GOT to do now. No turing back... ;) Let me know if ever I can help, or if you want to hash out questions or play Devil's advocate. I learn a lot when other people question what I'm doing. :D