I went to a local library the other day with my children.

We discovered a maker-space and asked if we could print out some lego. We could, so we did. And as I watched the lego piece build up layer by layer, I was mindblown. But my kids wanted to check out the movie and comic book sections, so we wandered off.

Final cost $5.05 and 1.5 hours of time. Seemed expensive… but I had no benchmark to measure from, so I paid.

It made me think about the last few days of my school year.

On exam review day a student challenged their final mark on both the exam and the culminating task. I am always open to these discussions and encourage students to think critically about their needs and wants in my classes right up to the last day of school.

Throughout the semester I slowly move the students from a marks based sense of learning to a competency base of learning. My aim is to help my students see themselves as skilled, not numbered. As such at the beginning of each semester, I explain that each student will be able to explain and describe their learning without any references to marks by semester end.

This student looked at their final marks and asked ‘Why’s my mark was so low?’

‘What have you done? What have you learned?’ I asked.

‘I haven’t learned anything obviously…’

‘Then your mark is on point, what have I missed?’

‘What do you mean?’ Anger bubbled in the question.

‘I really enjoy teaching this course, so sometimes I get caught up in the activities, the conversations, and trying the foods that my students make. At the end of the day I often write down my thoughts, but I do not always share these thoughts with you. That is one way I learn. When you think about your experiences in this class, what have you learned from them? Have you learned more than what I observed in class? What did I miss?’

The student then proceeded to explain their thoughts and observations from class, sometimes there was curriculum connections, other times just keen observation.

Ultimately, the student demonstrated a depth of learning that indeed did not surface on their final summative tasks.

Final cost 1.5 hours of my time.

What should I have done with their final marks?

What would you have done?

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