- Jul 2011
Teacher Erin Marsella, centre, speaks with students in her grade 9 advanced math class at Richmond Hill High School.
Much more: At an Ontario high school, a mark-less math class is challenging how students engage in learningNone of the students ever pass math quizzes in Erin Marsella’s high-school class, and none of them ever fail. They never get their results in the form of a percentage mark at the top of the page, but rather with a series of check marks, X’s and dots.
It is an unusual approach, but one that is challenging the intense focus on marks and how teachers and students think about learning and achievement.
“I really, really believe this is where education should be going,” said Ms. Marsella, from her classroom at Richmond Hill High School in Ontario. She added: “This method of assessment meets students where they are. It supports them to have courage and take risks in their learning.”
Other than a midterm mark and a final grade, which are provincial reporting requirements, Ms. Marsella gives her Grade 9 gifted students a tracking sheet after a quiz or test, where each question is given a check mark or an X, which means it was answered correctly or incorrectly, or a dot, meaning the student used the correct approach but made errors in calculations. It shows them whether they have mastered certain expectations, and if they don’t have consistent check marks, they can meet with her where they will have another chance to master the concept.
When she first proposed the idea of a virtually mark-less classroom this fall to parents and students in her gifted math classes, she was met with little resistance. Although parents wanted to be sure they could still track how their children were faring, and some students wished they could see a mark, they all understood that mastering the math was more important, she said.
That IS an interesting approach...
And, perhaps, it works for her special, "gifted" kids, and that's great for them. But, I have a feeling it would not be so good with regular children...
I recall myself at that age. If I wasn't graded on my school subjects, I would have just said, fuck it, skipped all the classes, ignored the homework assignments, and not learned anything at all...
I don't want to think my own sons will be like me when they are teens, but, I do believe in genetics (and my other kid back in Moscow apparently is already, at 12 now, just as much of an annoying handful as I was at 12, according to his mom, my ex-gf, back there haha)
Grading is necessary for discipline, in my opinion, as well as for feedback for parents (also part of discipline too)