Hack Learning Team

Hack Learning Team

The Hack Learning Team brings you right-now solutions for teaching and learning from some of the best educators in the world. Look inside our library at http://hacklearningbooks.com

Why grading and evaluating are not assessment

Hack Learning’s Mark Barnes wrote about revolutionizing assessment by going gradeless in Education Week’s 10 Big Ideas special report. Some readers are intrigued, and some are pushing back.

In Episode 110 of the Hack Learning Podcast embedded above, Mark takes on the pushback and explains why grading and evaluating are not parts of effective assessment.

No, Students Don’t Need Grades, excerpted from Education Week’s 10 Big Ideas article

Technology and social media continue to disrupt education. Classrooms are morphing into maker spaces; STEM labs and media centers are filled with fascinating electronic gadgets. Teachers spend less time in front of the class and more time in the middle of the action. Schools, teachers, leaders, parents, and students across the country are embracing this brave new world.

In the midst of rapidly changing technology, and consequently, pedagogy, there is another fundamental change I would argue more educators need to embrace. It’s a growing movement to alter the one function of education that most stakeholders steadfastly refuse to revise: how we assess learning.

If you’re interested in disrupting education far more than the 3-D printer or smartphone ever could, consider schools and colleges where there are no grades. Imagine classrooms where teachers never place numbers, letters, percentages, or other labels on students’ work; where report cards don’t exist; and where the GPA has gone the way of the dinosaur.

In a gradeless classroom, the perpetual lies that numbers and letters tell about learning would cease to exist. Honor and merit rolls would disappear. There would be no school valedictorian. Clubs that celebrate high performers would disband. Many colleges and universities would change how they admit incoming freshmen, and academic scholarships would need a makeover.

Moreover, teachers would learn how to effectively assess academic performance, and students would become independent learners, driven by curiosity and inspiration rather than by the empty promise of a “good” grade or the threat of a “bad” one.

Now, this may sound like only a big, perhaps even unrealistic, idea. But the gradeless classroom already exists in schools worldwide. While I don’t claim to be the creator of no-grades learning environments, I and thousands of my colleagues across the United States and around the world have turned it into a movement that is helping educators reimagine how they assess learning.

Read the rest of my EdWeek article, part of the 10 Big Ideas in Education special report, here.

Mark Barnes on grades, feedback, and evaluation

  • Grades and feedback are not the same. Grades are numbers, percentages, and letters that label students and mislead stakeholders about what has or has not been learned.
  • There are many factors that impact learning, and teachers must have a conversation with students about those factors.
  • It’s crucial that teachers ask kids questions: Why did you do this? Why this way? What if you had done this instead? What don’t you understand? How can you better understand this?
  • Education needs to eliminate evaluation from assessment. Evaluation is about judging performance, and the only shareholders suited for this type of judgement are the learners. Teachers should relegate their feedback to observations and questions and teach kids how to judge their work.

More on going gradeless

Click image to look inside Hacking Assessment

Subscribe to the show

Never miss an episode of the Hack Learning Podcast. Click here to subscribe.

10 Mantras you Can Use Daily to Reduce the Stress of Parenting

Hacking Parenthood: 10 Mantras You Can Use Daily to Reduce the Stress of Parenting

Parenting Just Got Simpler

Because mantras bring peace to the process

You throw out consequences willy-nilly. You’re tired of solutions that are all or nothing. You’re frustrated with the daily chaos. Enter Parent Mantras, invaluable parenting anchors wrapped in tidy packages.

These will become your go-to tools to calm your mind, focus your parenting, and concentrate on what you want for your kids.

Now, you can connect with your child like never before

Parenting author, educator, and presenter Kimberley Moran works tirelessly to find best practices for simplifying parenting and maximizing parent-child communication.

Using 10 Parent Mantras as cues to stop and reset, Moran shares concrete ways to parent with intention and purpose, without losing your cool, creating better parent-child connections.

Click the image to learn more

With Parent Mantras, you’ll be able to:

  • Balance immediate needs with end goals
  • Grow your child’s independence
  • Engender trust and honesty
  • Let your decisions stand
  • Set boundaries with confidence
  • Locate practical resources for support

Bonus: Parent Resource Notebook

The PRN includes sample pages that parents can use as models for implementing mantras. These models are accompanied by blank templates you can actually write on, creating your own notebook pages that serve as your go-to guide for those difficult situations that are unique to you and your children.

Click image to learn how it works

Download the FREE Parent Resource Notebook here


Click here to purchase on Amazon

Click here to purchase on Barnes and Noble


Keep Hacking Parenthood and the included Parent Resource Notebook with you at all times. It’s like having your own playbook for parenting teens and children of all ages.

Ready to find your mantra?

Grab Hacking Parenthood today; find your mantra, and hone in on what matters most, when raising kids feels out of control.

EdTech Guru Explains The Power of Mission-Minded Learning

Shelly Sanchez Terrell, author of Hacking Digital Learning Strategies, is taking education technology integration to new heights with her EdTech Missions and mission-minded learning.

In Episode 102 of the Hack Learning Podcast, Shelly explains how Mission Learning makes kids and their world better, and how teachers can launch EdTech Missions immediately with 27 ready-to-use resources in her Mission Toolkit.

Shelly Terrell Sanchez says …

While writing about Mission Learning–an amazing way to integrate lifelong technology skills into any classroom–I wanted more than just a how-to book. I wanted to give teachers a blueprint and resources that they can use immediately to launch EdTech Missions in any class.

By Shelly Sanchez Terrell

Teaching is hard, and you don’t need to spend additional hours creating assets for students, if it’s not absolutely necessary.

This is why I created the Mission Toolkit, as an additional free resource inside Hacking DLS

I’m so proud of this 38-page Mission Toolkit because it can be used immediately. It comes with:

  • mission examples
  • student surveys
  • email templates
  • Mission Cards
  • discussion starters
  • blank activity templates
  • Badges, and much more

Best of all, you can copy or download and distribute these ready-made lesson supplements immediately.

Here’s some of what’s inside the Mission Toolkit that comes as a free, additional resource inside Hacking Digital Learning Strategies.


People are raving about Hacking Digital Learning Strategies, and I couldn’t be happier–especially considering that what they love most is the FREE Mission Toolkit, inside the book. — Shelly Sanchez Terrell



You can start using the entire 38-page Mission Toolkit today. Just grab your copy of Hacking Digital Learning Strategies, available now in three formats.

Ask Shelly about it

Want to discuss the EdTech Missions and the Toolkit? Join Shelly Sanchez Terrell Sunday mornings at 10AM ET on Twitter for a live chat about digital learning strategies at #EdTechMissions. Also, join the video chat on Shelly’s Flipgrid here.

Teacher Dress Unraveled: Hack Learning Chat

Click a button below and subscribe

itunes button

Hack Learning podcast on Stitcher



This #HackLearning chat was hot. Professional dress was one topic, and the opinions, both for and against dress codes or “dressing up”, were shared openly. Check it out and let us know what you think.

View Chat Archive

Click image to see entire chat archive

Share your thoughts on our Facebook page here and on Twitter at #HackLearning.

How Mantras Reduce the Stress of Parenting

Kimberley Moran is a parent, a former teacher, and an editor at We Are Teachers and We Are Parents. As a teacher, she found herself being asked question after question about parenting.

During conferences, she spent more time discussing parenting than student work. Even teachers would ask her what to tell the parents of their students. The more questions she was asked, the more she developed easy ways to talk about some of the most important aspects of parenthood.

In order to help parents remember what to remember, she coined the term Parent Mantras. “This will be your mantra,” she would say to them. “Begin at the end.”

After reading lots of the books in the hack learning series, she realized she wanted to write one about the kids in those classrooms and the parents they went home to at night. The result was her new book, Hacking Parenthood: 10 Mantras You Can Use Daily to Reduce the Stress of Parenting.

Available now

What Moran says about Parent Mantras

In this book, I’ve gathered 10 mantras for cutting out the stuff that doesn’t really make you a better parent, instead focusing on what you need to do in each moment to move your parenting strategy forward.

Each mantra shows you how to assess a situation and your child in it and then make a plan or use your intuition to help you and your child grow.

Mantras were created thousands of years ago by people in ancient India who understood that sound is a pathway to reaching enlightenment.

Mantras became medicinal sound formulas to calm the self.

I hope to help you use mantras to drown out the noise of the world a bit like sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting “La la la la, I can’t hear you!” These mantras should also help you hone in on what matters when things seem out of control.

When we decide on a mantra to guide our parenting, the simple act of repetition takes us beyond our everyday boundaries and allows for our mantra to seep into who we are as a parent.

We create an intention behind our actions. We strengthen an extremely powerful tool, our voice. When we commit to the act of using mantras in every aspect of our parenting, we are staying in touch with our deepest desire about who we want our children to be.

It allows us to release, relax and surrender to our parenting intention.

I really do use every one of these mantras to help me in my parenting. I love them because they aren’t judgmental. I get to decide what I’m going to do, but my mantras help me focus and be consistent.

This is the key to good parenting I think. If one of these doesn’t work for you, let it go. Being flexible is also a great parenting skill.

Download the Mantras

Want to have your own list of parent mantras to use? Click here

Want the Mantras sent to you via Facebook Messenger? Click here

Want to buy an advance copy of Hacking Parenthood? Click here