reThink ELA #006: Interview with Marisa Thompson

reThink ELA Podcast
reThink ELA Podcast
reThink ELA #006: Interview with Marisa Thompson

Marisa Thompson Interview

How would your students react if you didn’t give them any parameters for a project and simply told them to “figure it out”? Is this asking for trouble by putting the kids in charge of the classroom or is it an exercise in critical thinking and collaboration?

In traditional classrooms, students are often given a very detailed rubric with instructions for completing a project. At the very least, teachers will include what components should be included while other teachers will give even more details about specific themes or examples they want included. What does this type of project really teach the students? Yes, they will learn to follow detailed instructions but is this format teaching them critical thinking or problem solving skills? Are future employers going to give such detailed instructions for work projects? Guaranteed, they will not.

My guest today is Marisa Thompson, an English teacher at Carlsbad High School in California. Marisa has 12+ years of experience and has taught every level, from remedial to AP English. She develops curricula on many vertical teams and is an online instructor and guest collaborator at several universities. Marisa has implemented “instructionless” lessons in her curriculum which the kids have embraced positively. While the parents may be harder to convince of these benefits, many often come around when they realize Marisa is grading based on SKILLS learned instead of focusing on tests and quizzes that require rote memory.

Resources mentioned in today’s episode

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

  1. I loved the “figure it out” podcast. I have been (slowly) reading Starr Sackstein’s Hacking Assessment and leaning heavily toward going gradeless in my classroom and joining the #ttog movement. But like anything new, I am nervous about it.

    This podcast tipped me over the edge in my thinking. I am going to do it. I don’t know what it will look like, and I know that I have a lot of planning ahead of me, but thank you Michelle and Marissa! This was inspiring!

    1. I’m glad we can help, and I’d love to hear how your journey is going!

      1. On hold for the moment, but looking to ramp back up really soon. I’m holding for now while I sort out my next moves, but I have another book idea and I am thinking through opening up my platform to move beyond just me, and include others who want to post about their experiences making student-owned learning a reality in their classrooms.

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