Create Your Own Assignment

In a recent chat with a colleague, it came to my attention that I haven’t been allowing creativity a place in my classroom.  The ideas have all been mine.  The projects were carefully constructed to allow them to be easy to grade.  Rubrics distinctly spelled out exactly what I expected.  Every student was expected to produce the same work for the same grade.  Easy peazy.


After this conversation, I felt the need to step out of the box.  So I went to the most creative source I could think of — Vi Hart!  If you haven’t heard of Vi then you are truly missing out on a truly creative mind.  You can catch her YouTube Channel here.  (Be warned: Vi has a unique gift to turn your students’ papers into works of art!)  After perusing several of her videos, I found one that I thought would fit just right.


The next day, I asked the students to completely clear their desks (something I don’t usually do). I showed them Vi’s video.  When the video had finished, I handed each of them a blank sheet of paper.  I gave them the instructions to “create your own assignment”.  I told them to do their best.  We would “grade” them as a class the next day.  There were many questions. Yes, I played the video again (without sound).   Every student was engaged.


The next day, I showed the students our grading scale and asked them to “grade” themselves.  “How do we do that?” was asked in every class.  We discussed together what constituted a grade for this assignment.  Students were asked to grade themselves on the back of their paper.  They brought them forward one at a time.  We put them under the document camera so everyone could see.  Then I sat back and asked the other students their opinions.  There were helpful critiques.  In the end, the students were harsher on themselves than I would have been.  Their classmates were generally impressed with their work.

One student did such a remarkable job, that the other students asked if she could get extra credit! When asked if they would be willing to give up points from their grade, not one student said no.  This young lady was so overwhelmed by her classmates opinions.Beautiful

It was a truly remarkable lesson for them and for me.


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