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No Grades in Math March 31, 2015

Posted by jennienorgaard in ECMP 455.
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Recently in my EMTH 450 class we have talked about a teacher, Dave Martin, from Red Deer who gives no percentage marks for his math classes. The Edmonton Journal did an article on the way he teaches mathematics that can be found here. We were fortunate enough to Skype with him and discuss the different way that he teaches and grades his students in a math class. Three things that he talked about that he incorporates in this different way to teach math is autonomy, mastery and purpose. With that being said, students get to chose different things that they want to try and figure out, and they get to do things that relate to their every day lives making their learning interesting, engaging and authentic to them. This approach that he uses has increased the attendance rate in his class where students now enjoy going to a math class because it isn’t the traditionally textbook questions and notes from the board everyday.

He gives no grades on his assignments; instead he leaves the students with meaningful feedback that allows them to see what they did wrong or what they need to improve on for next time. He allows students to go back and fix their mistakes after receiving the feedback that he has for them. He also has extra sessions throughout the week where he will re-teach topics to the students if they need the extra help. Instead of grades he has a list of rocks that have different outcomes that students should be able to reach by the end of the class. He gives the students their grade at the end of the year depending on where they sit on the list of rocks sheet that he has.

The reason he switched to this no grades in a math class:

“My classes would start around 30 students, and by the end of the semester the class size would be 20.  What I did was “weed out the weak”.  One day I realized that I wasn’t weeding out the weak mathematicians, but instead weeding out the weak test writers.”

His blog can be found here

http://realteachingmeansreallearning.blogspot.ca/

and he is also on twitter.

What are your thoughts on no grades? Do you think more classes should be switching to something similar to this?

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