EdTech 531: Blowing Up The Gradebook

By no means am I new to this notion of “Blowing Up the Gradebook” presented by Dr. Chris Haskell in the video.  Over time the concept of learning of the sake of learning has intrigued me more as an educational philosophy then the first time I heard this concept presented.  As Rick Wormeli has discussed in several of his education books, the concept of what is fair for one student doesn’t mean that it is equal or the same path that his or her peers need to follow.  Students should get what they need when they need it in order to be successful.  However, the current educational system that many teachers are “encouraged” to function in doesn’t always accommodate that model in a fashion that is manageable or accessible for all students.

I agree with Dr. Haskell to a degree with the concept of at home practice being a challenge for many students.  The home environment can greatly impact a student’s ability to be successful in at home practice without access to teacher assistance.  With stated in the ideal world where there was no digital divide, this would be an excellent opportunity to utilize the concept of a flipped classroom.  Where students can view teacher instruction, modeling, or acquire background information from a video in order to prepare them for in class practice with access to the classroom teacher while they are working on academic practice activities.

I have found that in a quest based model students that have choice of assignments and point goals strive to achieve greater than if they just had paper and pencil homework.  In fact, the first time I launched 3D Game Lab in my social studies classes I couldn’t stop students from completing practice work.  The concept of choice and unlocking new pathways had students addicted to something new – Learning.  Instead of struggling with students to practice social studies concepts, they were asking for more work and even giving suggestions of assignments that could be incorporated into the quest based system.  Empower students to aid in exploring their interests and even letting them aid in the quest based assignment creation lead to amazing Ziggurats of Ancient Mesopotamia recreated in Minecraft with video tours.  Even when I switched my position mid-year to become the computer science teacher, students continued to quest despite the fact that my replacement wasn’t running the quest based model.
I agree that the metrics of schools needs to change.  However, the change game in education is a slow process.  There is a mentality among people that education they way it was for the previous generation worked fine so there isn’t a need to change it.  I know as a parent that I am perpetually leveraging choice for my own children.  They feel more empowered when there are options.  There is a greater sense of ownership when you choose the path to the outcomes.  The path of the learning can still be carefully crafted with prerequisites prior to unlocking new learning opportunities and challenges.  We want our students to be lifelong learners that continue to learn beyond their school years.  We need to find ways to maximize engagement in the learning process and student choice is a very powerful component as is flipping classroom instruction.

“IP11: Chris Haskell – Blowing up the Grade Book.” YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2015. <http://youtu.be/atMlkVgzx-Y&gt;.