Retrospective: the ungrading webinar

Wow. Thank you to Aaron Blackwelder, Laura Gibbs, and Jesse Stommel, extraordinary educators and contributing authors of Ungrading, for taking time to think out loud about learning. 115 people registered for the event, and most – including learners who work with me – showed up, representing 28 states as well as Canada, Ireland, and South Africa. Over two hours of conversation and presentation, we explored many topics, and attendees enriched the experience by contributing to the chat.  Special thanks to David Buck for his contributions and ongoing advocacy for #ungrading! Together, everyone created a wonderful dialogue and a library of resources.

Here is the recording, followed by a timeline with links and notes. If you’d like to contribute an idea or a resource, or if you’d like more examples and links to the coursework I do with learners on the public internet, please Contact me – I look forward to continuing the conversation.



00:00:34          Credibility bookcases


00:01:34          Panelists Aaron Blackwelder, Laura Gibbs, & Jesse Stommel


00:01:39         In addition to their many other accomplishments, panelists are all contributing authors to the recently published book UNGRADING, edited by Susan D. Blum, West Virginia University Press (2020)


00:04:17         This work is about a personal commitment to learning, not to be confused with jargon such as “personalized learning


00:04:31         Autism spectrum


00:05:01         Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Breakfast Club


00:05:54         The conversation where Richard Vernon is talking with the janitor about losing his connection with the students


00:06:17         Mr. Keating of Dead Poets Society


00:06:30         Mr. Hand – he set standards and held every kid accountable, but he also wasn’t going to let a kid go, and when Jeff Spiccoli was in danger of failing, he showed up at Jeff’s house and walked him through American history and made sure that he was able to not just regurgitate information, but was able to synthesize and communicate his own personal ideas about American history.


00:08:51         “Tiny Tales” series of folklore and mythology books


00:09:15         Laura on Twitter: @OnlineCrsLady and @OnlineMythIndia


00:11:11         Stockholm syndrome


00:12:04         Students in attendance


00:12:42         Marshall McLuhan


00:12:59         Critical theory


00:13:05         Peter McLaren & Schooling As a Ritual Performance


00:15:11         The fourth wall


00:17:42         Scientific management & behavioral psychology


00:18:04         Democratic Education at Cal

[in chat]          How David Buck uses @kwiens62‘s graphic about Growth Mindset Self-talk —

00:18:14         Paolo Freire


00:19:08        John Hurst


00:20:15         Pink Floyd: The Wall (album and movie)


00:21:07        John Shoup


00:21:20         Madonna


00:21:35         bell hooks


00:21:46         Martin Bickman & R L Widmann

00:22:17         Asao B. Inouye


[in chat]         Labor Based Grading Contracts: Building Equity & Inclusion in the Compassionate Writing Classroom


00:22:25         Cathy Davidson


00:22:32         Sean Michael Morris


00:22:24         An Urgency of Teachers


00:24:33         David Buck on Twitter


00:25:07         Lewis Terman


[in chat]          Cathy Davidson has a great chapter on Crowdsourcing Ungrading open Pressbook


00:25:10         Alfred Binet


00:25:15         History of standardized testing in the U.S. military & higher education


00:25:24         Biological determinism


00:25:47         David Graeber & Bullshit Jobs


00:26:55         Capitalist system


[in chat]          Spencer Bagley’s presentation on assessment and learning / talk on ungrading




00:32:36         Pressbooks


00:34:48         Primacy and recency


00:35:13         Engaging with traumatic responses to the word “essay”


00:36:52         Orbiting the Giant Hairball


00:37:47         “Why most schools won’t ‘reinvent’ themselves after the pandemic” by Scott McLeod


00:38:54         Jessie: “You can’t kick ass by yourself.” [NOTE: There is no link for this. It’s just true.]


00:39:59         Jessie: “I don’t want to use the learning management system because the learning management system is all roads lead to the grade book.” [Ibid.]


00:41:06         Aaron: “The kids who were disengaged and disenfranchised during online learning were just as disengaged and disenfranchised before online learning.” [Ibid.]


00:43:02         Laura: The use of grades instead of Pass/ No Pass favored by students and professors, but admin feared the bureaucratic load and the impact on GPA. [Ibid.]


00:46:12         Textual analysis of student Google Doc


00:48:14         AARON’S SLIDES


00:48:42         Spectrum Life Magazine


[in chat]          Colin Madland’s dissertation overview on the impact of online assessment practices and lit review


[in chat]          David Buck’s crowdsourced #ungrading presentations chapter


[in chat]          The single-point rubric


[in chat]          Structured observed learning outcomes


[in chat]          Unilateral grading contract to improve learning and teaching


[in chat]          Specifications grading


01:14:54 has the content from Laura’s “unpresentation” and features randomized student comments


01:17:24         University of Mary Washington course evaluations


01:19:53         JESSE’S SLIDES


01:21:16         #fourwordpedagogy


01:22:47         Washington Post article about online education and cheating


01:23:29         “Cheating in Academic Institutions: A Decade of Research” (McCabe, 2001); CHEATING IN COLLEGE (2012)


01:27:24         Cortisol


01:35:35         LoJack


[in chat]         Ghost 


01:41:14         getting students to give feedback to one another and helping model what that looks like for them


01:41:59         Peter Elbow on ranking, evaluating, and liking


[in chat]         On peer feedback


[in chat]         Students learn more from giving feedback than receiving feedback


[in chat]         The meaningful writing project


01:47:53         Banksy


01:48:04         Graffiti


01:54:52         Can you help me understand why you’re not using capitalization?




01:58:41         Meeting needs for fun and joy – and even play – through teaching


For more about ungrading and teaching, Contact me, or our panelists – here, via their websites, or on Twitter:


David: @prestonlearning

Aaron: @AaronSBlackwel1

Laura: @OnlineCrsLady

Jesse: @jessifer