I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 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 my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Assessment 3.0

I have finally finished Assessment 3.0 by Mark Barnes. It's taken me a long time, and that's a good thing, as I've had to stop and sort through ideas in my head. I've written sticky notes, added to a notebook just for ideas and questions, and I've begun creating forms for students and I along with ideas for explaining "no grades" to parents.

That's right - "no grades." It's that way until report cards are due, of course. I haven't even gotten permission from my administration yet to see if I can pull this off, but I'm in the planning stages anyway, thanks to this book. My brain has to get out some kinks in my thinking and take the time and paper to brainstorm just how the heck I can make this happen. I'm finally finished with the book, yet I'll be returning to it time and again to read my notes alongside the text...

In order to make "no grades" happen, I need the following:

  • A way to create a digital portfolio. At this point in time, I'm thinking our blogs would suffice, as long as students use tags or labels so we can sort the posts by standards or other categories.
  • Some sort of chart to show each assignment, room for feedback, and columns for resubmission notes. There is a sample on page 69, but I think mine would look different. I want mine to include URL addresses where student work is located, and I'd love this to be filled automatically by a Google form of some sort...
  • A simple Google form for students to resubmit / turn in work. This will have to have an easy-to-remember link for students.
  • SE2R feedback examples ready to go for certain work we already do in the classroom.
  • Plans for students to work on during 3-4 days of our individual report card discussions at the end of each quarter. I'm already thinking that first quarter could be taking an online "Google Like a Boss"-type class to prepare for second quarter's Genius Hour.
  • A clean comment sheet so students can choose their own comments for their report card, as well.
  • Something like "Sign Up Genius" for students to make appointments with me to discuss anything we don't get to in class.
  • A general guide to distinguish between an A, B, C, D, and F. Each quarter might be different. This we'll use when there are discrepancies, or when students need a scaffold of sorts.
  • Research to have on hand for parents. Of course, this was a catalyst for a new LiveBinder...

Questions I have to ponder and ask for guidance:

  • I have three classes. Right now, one is co-taught. Do I pilot "no grades" with two of my three classes? One?
  • What do I do when eligibility checks come about every week? Do I ask the student if he/she thinks he/she is failing?
  • Does this mean I need to provide much more time in class for student independent work? This would include time for revisions, editing, peer and teacher feedback.

I'm very glad I read Role Reversal first. Mark Barnes got me to thinking that it is actually possible to have students grade themselves, and the seed was planted. This was almost TWO years ago! That means it's now time for me to act. Assessment 3.0 gives specific examples to make "no grades" possible. The feedback we will provide in lieu of grades will be transformative.

I'm excited to build this new LiveBinder with resources for other teachers to try giving more feedback and fewer grades. Many of the articles cited in Assessment 3.0 are already included.

Check the hashtag #TTOG (Teachers Throwing Out Grades) to see more teachers taking on this challenge. There is also a Facebook group by the same name if you want to stay current.


  1. Joy,

    I have so much to say about this post, but saying it would require some coffee and meandering conversation (which would be lovely), and I only have a wee comment box.

    I'll be brief.

    Thank you as always for sharing your thinking and sharing it regularly. I've learned the willingness to share, but I'm still working on the regular practice (the part that actually makes it helpful).

    I am definitely going to get Assessment 3.0. My grade 12 English class is trying to eliminate grades, and this book could help solve some of our feedback and assessment conundrums. Personally, I'm starting with one class as a pilot.

    Yes, I do think your class will need and benefit from more independent work. I have used ,Nancie Atwell's workshop model and found it effective in empowering students and focusing on the learning instead of the grades. Her techniques are what really woke me up to the shortcomings of traditional assessment/grades and started me on the path to eliminating grades. I used the entire system with grade 8, and I'm using many of the techniques and systems today in grade 12. If you don't already know the book/model, it may help you envision the practical, day-to-day components of increasing independent student work in meaningful and manageable ways.

  2. Good read! I will have to put the book Assessment 30 on my reading list for this summer. I am a 4th grade teacher in a 1:1 ipad classroom and honestly giving grades in the traditional sense is difficult sometimes. I do have to inform my parents at the beginning of the year that there won't be many "papers" coming home, but at any time they are are able to see what we are doing in class through their child's school email account. I would definitely like to learn more about digital portfolios. I will have to revisit your blog and see what comes of "no grades". Best of luck to you! What you are doing is so much more valuable to kids and their futures than a letter grade.

  3. Hi, could you share the ebook Assessment 3.0 of Barnes M.?


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