Valuing the learning process over the final mark

As I write this post and try to put my thoughts into words, I'm still trying to determine the focus of my Action Plan this year. Just like last year, I have a few things that just aren't quite right in my teaching practice but I can't just yet put a finger on what they are. The highlight of being part of the Cohort 21 community is having the opportunity (and dedicated time) to have conversations with other colleagues in a variety of disciplines to flush out exactly what it is that needs to be addressed.

In the mean time, I have continued to grapple with some of the work I did last year. My inspiration for last year's action plan was getting students away from the focus of unit assessment marks and more on their learning throughout the unit and showcasing what they know.

Having said that, if that is what I value as a teacher, what opportunities am I providing for students to showcase what they know? How am I being intentional in valuing that process in my daily lessons? With that in mind, here are two small steps I've taken this year so far in aiding students in valuing the learning process.

1. At the end of unit conversations in grade 9, I ask students if there is anything else that they learned in the process that I didn't ask them about in the conversation. This is similar to a suggestion I had last year about including this at the end of a test.

2. When returning the first unit test in my grade 11 class, all students were provided with the following handout. This helped them relate the test question to the learning process by having them link it back to the lesson. It also allowed them to personalize their next steps by identifying where to find extra practice questions.

I would end this post by noting that I was intentional in providing the above handout to each student in the class. I followed up with a brief discussion about the importance of everyone filling out the chart regardless of their mark. All too often, students who are pleased with the overall result may simply file away the test and don't look at it in detail until the final exam. My hope is that given them a guideline for purposeful corrections will allow them to see value in the process.

5 thoughts on “Valuing the learning process over the final mark

  1. Thanks for the great share/update @jgravel! Your ongoing endeavour is very close to my heart. Indeed, that number has persuasive powers that can distract from any discussion centred on learning. I love your approach here as you create clear opportunities and frameworks for self assessment and meta-cognition.

    Hey, have you ever tried not writing a grade on an assignment you're returning? What would this do to End of Unit Conversations? I've had some success with this within a larger process in which grades an outcome of student-teacher conferencing. Happy to chat more about this, while learning more about your ongoing initiative. Soon!

  2. tracy faucher

    @jgravel so many gems in this post! (@bblack, this maybe something you could add to your student conversations as well.) I think this is such a great way to accomplish the goal you are trying to achieve with your students- focus on the learning. No matter if it is their best mark, their worst mark or something in between havings students take a few minutes helps ground them in what matters- the process.

    I wonder as the year goes on if there would be a way for them to highlight their success, a bit of a self high-five if you will. As they gain skill in changing where the focus lies in your class, some good ole fashion celebrating of learning could go a long way....or maybe it will happen naturally. I am looking forward to seeing how this helps your students gain confidence and know that it is always in their control to keep learning.

    Awesome post!


  3. @jgravel It's great that you referenced the importance of learning as a process. I'm aiming to have my students make this same shift in thinking and have been playing around with unit conferencing in doing so. I'd be interested to hear how you provide students the opportunity to showcase their learning and what steps you are taking daily to support this mindset shift.

  4. Felicia Villano

    Hi Jen,
    Thanks for sharing this. I can use some of your ideas with my students in the Elementary level as well.

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