Ungraded quizzes

A week ago, as I began thinking about what I would do this week in class, I thought it might make sense to have a short quiz on Friday.  I left that idea in the back of my mind for a bit, got to class on Tuesday, and realized a quiz did not make sense.  We had just returned from spring break, and giving a quiz would feel unkind and stressful.  In that moment, it occurred to me to give an ungraded quiz instead.

Yesterday, I wrote the quiz using the same mindset I would use if I had been giving a graded quiz.  As I gave this quiz to two of my classes today, the whole experience felt different.  A few kids needed to leave class a bit early; not a problem.  They could leave the work they had done with me, and take a blank copy of the quiz with them to finish the last two problems, to bring to class on Monday for me.  Kids who typically have extra time on tests could use that time, or not, as they chose.  I felt like I was helping them, and they seemed eager for the opportunity for true feedback.

Some students finished their quiz in 15 minutes, while others stayed for 45 minutes.  I checked in with each kid as they turned in their work.  Quite a few students said they felt good about the quiz.  At least six other students asked to schedule a time to meet with me, knowing we would be having a graded quiz in about a week.  Overall, I think I just liked the feel of the whole process.  Students didn’t get stressed out.  Instead, they had an opportunity to test themselves, see how it felt, and then gain feedback from me.  I suppose it would be even better if they got that feedback before they left the classroom but I don’t see how to do that without using significant technology.

I would like to keep thinking about ways that I can view my role as “serving” my students.  What else do they need that I’m not currently providing for them?  What do your students need?