Vicky Davis wrote Fail Forward- Move Forward a few weeks ago.
I was inspired by an art teacher’s experiment on his grading system that she describes.
The ceramics teacher told the left half of the room that they would just be graded on the quantity of what they produced. If they had fifty pounds of pots on the last day, they’d get an “A,” forty would get a “B” and so forth.
The right half of the room would be graded on “quality” and “needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A.”
An interesting thing happened when it was time to grade. The HIGHEST QUALITY came from the HIGH QUANTITY side of the room. The author tells it like this:
“It seems that while the ‘quantity’ group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the ‘quality’ group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than gradiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”
I shared the experiment story with one of my teachers and she was immediately game to work with her 5th grade students. We decided to tweak it a little bit. We told the students about the original experiment and outcome.Â We divided the class into two groups (Quantity vs. Quality) and asked them to create a Grammar tutorial/practice for “Contractions” with the SmartBoard notebook for the first graders of our school. The Quantity group had to create as many separate tutorial/practice slides as possible, while the other group was told only to turn in ONE slide with a perfect tutorial/practice.
After students created the tutorials/practice slides, it seemed that the groups who produced quantity slides also produced the most creative slides compared to the groups who had to only produce one. The latter group seemed to have used the flash gallery items instead of creating their own.
In the back of my mind, I continued to have Alan November’s Six New Roles for Developing Empowered Learners and Contributors, which I have written about before: Math Lesson? Empower Learners? , Skype Jobs for Students & Students as Meaningful Contributors
Due to school scheduling issues, it took several weeks to schedule a time when 5th graders could present their final tutorial/practice slides to first grade. The best scenario would have been to meet at the computer lab and allow first graders to “play” with the tutorials to observe them in action. Unfortunately, time ran out and we had to meet in the classroom with a SmartBoard. The older students became the “teachers” to their younger schoolmates by letting them “play” with their tutorial slides on the SmartBoard under their guidance.
Take a peek at the slides students created.