It’s been a while since I have posted. The last time I wrote for Make Them Master It, I was beginning to explore what it would look like to ditch the grade book and go gradeless in the classroom. I was excited to post about what I was learning and get the conversation going here. But then something got in the way: grading essays.

So, the growing education trend I was getting really excited about (going gradeless in the classroom) had to wait until I was done . . . grading? And the assessment that I set myself up for during that time was intense! For catharsis at the time, I even used the Twitter hashtag #AmGrading.

But it was rewarding. More on that some other time.


Usually when I close out a school year, I am grading all the way up until the last minute. I am working on taking down my classroom while chipping away at a stack of papers. Then crunch time hits, and I grade in a rush. Like shooting from the hip, it may be fast, but I’m probably missing the mark. And because I’m probably more miss than hit, I get really gracious, overlooking all kinds of errors that I would have painstakingly scrutinized months earlier.

What are my students learning from this? Absolutely nothing.

What am I learning from this? Stepping back and looking at it, the only thing that makes sense is “I like pain.” Who does this to themselves?

Thankfully, this year, that is not how it ended. I had all of my major assignments assessed in the grade book a few weeks ago. I closed out in record time! What a relief. What a feeling!


Now my thirteenth year is over, I think I may be more excited than ever for the year ahead! There were a few accomplishments from this past year that make the road ahead look like and adventure. Here they are:

  • Started the Make Them Master It (MTMI) platform
  • Published a book
  • Read several teaching books
  • Changed several elements of my teaching to emphasize student ownership of their learning
  • Collaborated to develop a live action role playing game for a novel

This upcoming academic year, I am looking to extend these endeavors even further by:

  • Growing MTMI to include other educators who are shifting their practice to make students own more of their learning
  • Publishing another book
  • Starting a podcast
  • Creating an online course for how to set up The Writer’s Notebook
  • Transitioning to a gradeless classroom, one that uses narrative feedback to assess learning
  • Having students build portfolios of their learning so that they can give their own feedback of their growth as a learner

And this all begins . . . well . . . now! No time off. I’m jumping in with both feet.

athletes running on track and field oval in grayscale photography
Photo by Pixabay on

In the next couple of weeks, you will hear more about some deep learning that happened in my classroom at the close of the 2017-2018 academic year.

How do you spend your summers between the school years? Do you gear up for the fall, or do you take the break you earned over the year? Is it perhaps a mix of the two?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.