During one of our EMTH 450 classes we were asked to read an article on a teacher who doesn’t give out grades to his students. The article is called is “No percentage marks from Red Deer math teacher” and when I first read it I was sort of taken aback by what the article was about. We had to write a post about what we thought about the article and this is what I wrote:
“I like this article in that puts into perspective how math is not graded like other subjects. When the article brought up the fact that in English classes we give students rough drafts to improve their learning and we do not do this in math, it really stood out to me. I am not sure how not assigning grades to students would go over with all schools, but I definitely agree that it should not be the thing in which students and parents focus on. They should be focusing on if they understand the math and why. I really like the idea of students being able to assign their own grade and give a reason why they believe they deserve that grade. In some of my university classes I have been asked to do this and it is an effective way of having students really take a look at their work critically.”
After reading this article, our class had a bit of a discussion, but some people were lead to more questions than answers so David Guenther emailed Dave Martin and asked that he Skype into our EMTH 450 class so that we could ask some further questions on his model. Luckily Dave was more than willing to do so.
We met with him on Tuesday and during our Skype meeting, he gave us a more explicit understanding of what it is he actually does. Dave does give out grades at the end of the semester to each student because he has to, but what he does differently is that he gives students a grade on what they have mastered. He developed a list of “rocks” in which he determined were the main concepts of his courses. Once student completed one rock at a mastery level (meaning they got 100%) they were to move on to the next rock. Now they never moved onto a new rock until they have mastered the previous one(s), but they also never forget about the rocks that they have already completed, they continue to use them as they progress through the course. Then at the end of the course he gives them a mark based on how many rocks they have mastered. Dave goes into more details about it, but that was what really stood out to me from that post.
Dave answered more of our questions and was great at really going into depth about what it was he did, while pulling up examples as he went along. His blog is amazing, it has so many examples of his students work and great articles of what exactly he does. He told us that if wanted to use any of his work to go ahead and I think someday (because I know this doesn’t happen overnight) I’d like to use some type of model that is similar to his. It really promotes students to focus on the understanding of math, rather than memorization of it.