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Why do you grade different?

Digital Arts in the Mac Lab is about learning, not grading. But since many students and families seem to be more focused on the latter, let’s get grades out of the way. The short version is, if your student does not earn an A in Digital Arts, it’s because your student chose not to earn an A. I can say that with certainty because this is my rubric:

  • Try your best
  • Don’t give up
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Play by the rules

That’s it. No tests. No homework. No loopholes. I don’t grade individual assignments; I provide feedback. Once grades are no longer an issue, we can focus on the joy of learning and begin to do amazing things.

I came to Valhalla in January 2002 after 20+ years as a graphic and fine artist. Students produce work like this in our hands-on, self-paced, video-driven learning environment. Among other honors, the Mac Lab has earned an INSPIRE Award from the Classroom of the Future Foundation (for our gameful learning system) and a Global Impact Award from Adobe Systems, Inc (for sharing our innovative methods and strategies).

I’m not the teacher in the Mac Lab; I’m the lead learner. I lead by example and produce digital media each and every day. So we—the students and I—learn and grow together. Students are encouraged to help each other. Asking for or offering help isn’t cheating; it’s collaborating.

You’ll receive a Family Update each month this year, covering a wide range of classroom-related topics. Each video update will be initially featured at the top of this page then archived in the monthly list below. If you’d like to learn more, The Mac Lab Way tells the story of how students have shaped our learning environment, and my edu-philosophy is explained in (re)Imagine.

See the nav bar at the top of the page for more information:


For grammar nazis (and I’m one too sometimes), grade different is an homage to think different.