Discover and read the best of Twitter Threads about #Ungrading

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I revamped my pedagogy and tried #ungrading for the first time this semester. I have thoughts! A🧵:
Some context: this was for a general education course at Notre Dame, designed to fulfill the literature and writing requirements for nonmajors at a variety of levels. We read four canonical texts, focusing on lit analysis and public writing rather than academic essays.
Students submitted informal writing regularly, along with two major public writing projects. They could revise their projects based on my feedback as many times as they wanted, with the expectation that they would complete at least one revision for a final project.
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Now that my final grades are submitted, I've had a chance to reflect on using #ungrading in my 400-level seminar this semester. It was a huge success so I wanted to share what I did for those interested. A 🧵
1/First, I gave students the option of choosing an ungrading format for the semester or standard grading. 22 out of 26 students chose ungrading. Many commented they were nervous at first but trusted me that it was the best decision (trust is KEY with ungrading).
2/Assessment took the form of a multi-step research assignment that was scaffolded across the semester: primary/secondary source analysis; proposal; draft of project; final revised version. Students could choose btw. a research essay and a creative project.
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Finished this semester’s midterm portfolio interviews! I have a skills-based #ungrading gr 11/12 Physics classroom. This means that nothing has a grade on it. Ss look at their learning from the perspective of developing skills @TG2Chat #assessment #iteachphysics
1/15
@TG2Chat When we do need a grade, like now for midterm reports, its based on these skills and in consultation with Ss. Every chapter is seen as a re-test of these skills with different content. We also do weekly “check-ins” instead of tests to assess skills
2/15
This time I added a couple of documents to help Ss. A skills tracking form for Ss to write 1 thing they were happy with on each check-in and 1 thing they want to work on for the following week. Ss keep track of completing practice problems and corrections as well.
3/15
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I wasn't sure how #ungrading would go in #MCV4U, but at the halfway mark, it has been a rousing success. Here's what's working, how it happened and what's next! #thinkingclassroom #mtbos #udl #assessment #evaluation 1/13
1. It started w clear communication to families. A lot of the fear around going #markless is the fear of the unknown. Ss wonder "How will I get a mark?" & "How will I know how I'm doing?," & parents worry "Will my child get the marks they need to get into post-secondary?" 2/13
A lot of these worries are grounded in the belief that Ss are competing amongst and against each other to earn grades. The whole notion of "earning grades" speaks to a deeper problem, but our focus is on learning. When Ss learn, they will excel & they will achieve! 3/13
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So I'm taking some coding courses to expand my skills and passions and it's making me think a lot about how we approach grades in traditional classrooms. As I learn this new skill myself, my instructors are super supportive and allow me to resubmit as I learn. /1
I'm building a skill that takes time and practice to learn and I'm not penalized for mistakes that I make early on in my learning journey. I can go back and fix those mistakes as I learn. /2
As a science educator in the K-12 space, I've seen a lot of examples of expectations put onto students that they can master a skill after only practicing it once. And they are evaluated on it and that grade is incorporated into their average for the course. /3
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I’ve been tinkering with the relationship between #Ungrading, pedagogic ego, and student dependence. And bodies, of course, which are never far from my thinking.

Just rolling it all around a bit. 🧵

1/
Grades infantilize. They keep students dependent on us to assess *for them—stunting their potential maturation.

Students remain immature/dependent in top-down grading paradigms because we need them to. Their dependence satisfies our pedagogic ego. It benefits and centers us.

2/
When we build paradigms to satisfy our need to be depended upon as sole arbiters, students who take unsanctioned autonomy in those spaces feel like a threat.

Their attempts to assert agency feel like a personal affront.

3/
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#OntEd MTH1W: End of Term reflections always give me great insight into what students valued and took away from the course. The benefits of de-streaming, thinking classroom and accommodations for all is very evident in their responses.
some takeaways:

collaboration & community

check your understanding

math confidence

math is fun 🤩

more than one way of solving a problem

note-taking skills

critical thinking, problem solving

develop a sense of trust, inclusion and see the potential in all students
BEFORE MTH1W: I was nervous b/c I had only taught Academic/U-level courses. I was worried about how I would be able to reach all types of learners.
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#Ungrading is part of a love ethic.

When the grade is no longer the focus, our day-to-day interactions with students change. Our process of working with them takes a completely different tone and tenor. We evaluate, yes, but as part of the process.
1/
Our responsibility is to seek understanding first. To try to understand their work *from their perspective* as much as possible.

This applies to anything we evaluate: student work, faculty dossiers, manuscripts for peer-review, etc.
2/
If we can ask them about it directly, as we often can with students, we should.

In earnest, open-ended, without snark or sarcasm or irony:

“What are you trying to do here?”
“Why did you make this choice?”
“How are you approaching this?”
3/
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First day of S&P is on the books! Today involved telling students how assessments work, so now seems like a good time to share my (new) approach for this term. The TL;DR version: We're not doing points. Points annoy everyone and this ain't Hogwarts. Read on for more. <1/n>
First, a word about #ungrading. I REALLY want to like ungrading. I have colleagues who are strong advocates for it and I've seen success stories here and elsewhere about it. I also had a terrible go at trying it in a much smaller class last year - just didn't work at all. <2/n>
Honestly that experience got me pretty low about teaching - about the worst I've felt about it during my career. BUT, I still wanted to try and break the points-based mentality a lot of our students have. So: a compromise. <3/n>
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Hey all, here is my report (THREAD) about my first #Ungrading semester, part 2 (pt. 1 can be found here: threadreaderapp.com/thread/1449462…) #ContractGrading #Pedagogy #DigPed #AcademicChatter #AcademicTwitter 1/
The biggest takeaway from this semester how easy it felt. Not ease of work--there was work, but how it helped conversations about student writing, which is literally my job, easier. #Ungrading #AcademicTwitter 2/
Here’s how it worked! Materials: my 1101 syllabus, project rubric, semester “snapshot” template, portfolio assign. sheet, class grade agreement, & list of grade items is here: tinyurl.com/weaverungrade . #Ungrading #AcademicChatter #WritingTeaching 3/
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Submitted grades last night
A cool 40% of my students went from having Cs and Ds to getting A-/B+ just from having done extra credit assignments.

I always make them available at the beginning of each semester. It’s about learning the material! #Ungrading
EC are usually doing a critical analysis of an article, film, or video I post. Many chose the films and videos. 2-3 pages each and boom! Game changed.
It was a tough semester for folks trying to adjust back to the “normalcy”. I also have a lot of first year college students (and first gen) who are still figuring things out

Some I was like “damn why you ain’t just do one EC? 😩😩” but most did
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To those who would suggest that #Ungrading and other non-punitive policies don’t adequately prepare students for a profession/career: a thread.
+
Any early-career professional will know precisely when/how to fall in line if needed because the system of education has raised them to uncritically follow rules and directives, or else be penalized. The threat alone produces the desired behavior. +
What too many young professionals are missing is the ability to *participate* in a field; to wield agency; to understand a system & decide how to engage.

(Those are the folx I want to work with—the creatives, the curious. The “difficult” who challenge oppressive systems.) +
Read 7 tweets
Reducing the need for accommodations should always be a goal of educators. It might prove impossible to completely remove the need for all accommodations, but there is A LOT more most of us can do, and Twitter is an easy place to start. (1/4)

#AcademicTwitter #HigherEd
If you're an instructor or staff member in #HigherEd or are significantly involved with students and their education, there are a number of hashtags you can follow to keep track of ways to be accessible, inclusive, and informed (please add more!): (2/4)
For universal design for learning, there's #UDL and #UDLHE. There's the #UDLChat, there's #LectureBreakers podcast.
(3/4)
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UNGRADING report! Halfway through my first ungraded semester (comp 1) and I find I’m saying the same things when people ask how it’s going: 1/18 #Ungrading #ContractGrading #Pedagogy #DigPed #AcademicChatter #AcademicTwitter
My students report feeling “relieved” they don’t have to worry about grades, and I feel relieved, too: as I mentioned to a colleague, I feel more “settled in my soul” about how much freer I am to focus on giving constructive feedback. 2/18
Responding to work has been easier and quicker-- in the past, a not insignificant amount of time was given over to dithering abt letters and numbers (is this an A? Is this a B?--Thank god we don’t have pluses and minuses). 3/18
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I've been #ungrading this semester and we are at midterms. My students were asked to reflect and give themselves a grade on their work in the course so far.

This is organic chemistry lecture btw. Reading their reflections and assessments has been awesome; they took it seriously
But a question I got a while ago was: what if a student gives themselves a higher grade than what I would agree on?

These scenarios are infrequent, but I still want to talk candidly about how we work through it in my class--because it happens.
This semester, two students self-assigned an 'inflated' midterm grade.

So what did I do? I planned for it.

That's the best advice I can give if you are looking to let your students self-assign their grade.
Read 17 tweets
Some thoughts about resisting harmful edtech, partially inspired by our UM Dearborn #ungrading group

Its so important to recognize what power, privilege, + influence you have in your role (faculty, staff, admin). Obvi, the nature/amount of that power varies widely. But... 1/
Students very often have less power than instructors, and certainly less than admins. Harmful surveillance techs are very often implemented for the convenience or data hungriness of people w/a lot of power, despite their invasion of student privacy+ discriminatory features 2/
I'm not saying that resisting things like eproctoring, plagiarism checking etc is easy, but I also don't think it is useful to see our hands as "tied" because of accreditation requirements or other instructors with different views about academic integrity. These are solveable 3/
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🧵I've been finally able to process and ruminate over Ss Final Self-Assessments in an intense 5-week summer comp. course that employs a *labor reflex* approach to #ungrading. Some lessons & observations:

✅Students are intrinsically motivated to learn (and even "unlearn"). 1/
✅ Reflective practice is critical for self-assessment and for locating areas for improvement.
✅ But Ss need time and practice to reflect fully & deeply.
✅ Ss possess more important and stronger goals for learning than can ever be established in the syllabus *outcomes*. 2/
✅ Definitely try out @Jessifer's approach to *epiphanies*. Ask Ss for those "aha" moments--you won't be disappointed!
✅ Some words used to describe initial reactions to #ungrading: "refreshing" "scared" "anxious" "skeptical" "worried" "love!" "excited" "shocked" "concern" 3/
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I want to share some reflections on my first semester of #ungrading, which I did in my 100-level survey & 300-level seminar. This will be a long thread, but the TLDR is that I think it went really well. I loved it, the majority of my students loved it, & we all learned a lot. 1/
First, though, let me acknowledge that it is easier for me to do this type of experimentation than others because of my own privilege: tenured, white, a “known quantity” to my students, and supported by a dept. chair & cohort of colleagues testing the waters with me. 2/
My own positionality matters, and we need to keep pushing for *all* faculty to have these opportunities. 3/
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If an ultra-sophisticated language algorithm can pass a college writing assignment, that's a sign of a problem, but it's not necessarily a problem with the AI, or the assignment. h/t to @BryanAlexander for the tip on the original article. insidehighered.com/blogs/just-vis…
When @BryanAlexander sent me the original article, I thought I would have a very different take, that I would be either skeptical of the AI or critical of the nature of the assignments. Neither turned out to be true.
The AI (GPT-3) is pretty freaking amazing, like how Deep Blue was amazing when it beat Kasparov. Language AI couldn't do what GPT-3 does until GPT-3 did it. The seemingly impossible is suddenly possible.
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I’ve been using @hypothes_is for collaborative annotation of both primary and secondary sources since 2018. It is the best digital pedagogical tool I have encountered. Some things I’ve learned:

A 🧵 for those thinking of using #annotation in your Spring 21 courses.

1/
Like all online learning platforms and tools, it works best with instructor presence. If you’re annotating with the students, there will be a richer conversation and you will get to hear from more folks.

2/
Pre-annotation is especially useful. Before posting a link to a piece for annotation, I add my own questions, comments, and reflections. I encourage students to reply to me (and each other) or add their own thoughts.

3/
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I've come to appreciate the vast amount of knowledge on #teachertwitter! #ungrading
A1: Not yet ungrading, but focusing on mastery of topics rather than grades on assignments. It has been a work in progress! #ungrading

A2: Yes! I think the point that did it for me was when we had Ts complaining about their evals while at the same time failing kids left and right! DL here has shown how arbitrary grades are and how they are hurting our Ss. #ungrading

Read 10 tweets
On teaching without grades.
A long-ish (20-tweet) 🧵. Here goes.

So, you know how you write lots of comments on an essay/exam, and the student looks at the grade and never reads the comments? That's because when grades enter the picture, the learning stops. /1
Instead of focusing on learning, there is a lot of negotiation: can we find one or two points on the midterm as the student is just on the verge of A-?

Everyone is just on the verge of the next grade.

And all the evals are not about the class but about the grading. Really? /2
Is the grade at all informative? If you are just below the A- or just above that, is that giving the student any information about how to improve their knowledge or skills? No. t is just a useless, demoralizing & stressful smoke screen /3
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"Trust the student" is something that @Jessifer continuously reminds those us #ungrading. In the past, I've nodded my head in intellectual assent of this truth. Of course-- it sounds sane! But it wasn't until this semester that it really resonated with me . . . #UngradingSlowChat
And I think it's related to the "power" dynamic involved in so many of our educational experiences. Remember the profs who taught via the pedagogy of confrontation, the adversarial power struggle? . . . As if learning was a chess game to outwit the competition.
Even today, when a student misses a learning opportunity or ignores my communication efforts, part of my reptilian brain signals, "You need to teach this person a lesson. How dare they ignore my assignment reminders?!" Part of my growth in #ungrading has been to reform this. . .
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#UngradingSlowChat --Today finds me extremely thankful for everything #ungrading! This morning, I've been reading my students' final Labor Journal Reflections where I ask them to mindfully (& compassionately) describe their labor in my course. I'm all for #ungrading research,...
but I'm more of a praxis person--cool with theory, but love to see boots-on-the-ground evidence. I've gotten into heated arguments about "quality" and "rigor" but I always return to "Ask the students!" The #ungrading reflections . . .
I've been reading today confirms it for me! I don't need any "academic research" into the efficacy of #ungrading. I can see it with my own two eyes! Words like "quality" and "rigorous" show up in my students' reflections, but guess what? . . .
Read 5 tweets

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