And it comes back around to SBG . . . again


My standards-based grading journey thus far has been far from linear.

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I began by jumping in with both feet (& hands & torso & head-under-water & gradebook) and forged ahead with no training and not much research. I tried to separate every single assignment I gave into a specific standard category & place all grades (yes, including homework & notebooks and all that, mock if you must) into the magical electronic “standards-based” gradebook. And here’s what I learned: DON’T DO IT THIS WAY!! Just because your gradebook is standards-based doesn’t mean that your teaching or basic philosophy is standards-based.

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The next phase was a bit more refined. I realized the error or my ways after reading brilliant posts from superstars like Dan Meyers and Kate Nowak and many others. I subscribed to the philosophy of “re-doing until mastery” over “try it once or twice,  pass or fail, and them move on to the next topic”. I remediated with those who needed it, I allowed re-quizzing as needed, I gave students standards checklists that they had to keep up with. I separated quizzes into standards but lumped them in with end-of-unit tests and kept separate categories for homework (OK, I still graded hw, rant away), projects, and computer lab work.  Most importantly, I think, my ultimate goal was for every student to master every standard, no matter WHEN and no matter WHAT.

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So now I’ve been following the #SBG chats in twitter over the summer months and I’m feeling the push to take it to the next level.  The problem:  What does “the next level” look like? I’m currently wrestling with these questions and I’d love to hear your feedback (even if you have more questions and not answers for mine!):

  1. How should I weight my grade book now? I’m required by the county to keep a “normal” electronic gradebook that parents & students can see to keep up with progress. What percent should the standards quizzes weigh? What other categories are necessary? (I’m thinking projects, computer lab work, and unit tests–although can I lump in unit tests with the standards quizzes?).
  2. Once I figure our how to weigh the grade book, how can I “sell” it to my administration (and co-teachers, and parents . . .) I fear that if I don’t have support then I’ll be pressured to change it. “What?!  You teach 7th grade and quizzes are 60% of their grade?  Are you insane?”
  3. How do I “sell” SBG to my students? How do I motivate them to do non-graded practice, such as class work and homework? They have been inculcated by previous teachers to be grubby little point-mongers rather than focused learners!
  4. I think “Process Standards” are really important in every unit (problem solving, reasoning/ justification, communicating mathematically, making connections, multiple representations). How do I assess them? How do they factor into a standards-based gradebook?
  5. OK, there are really several other questions, but they may be best saved for a separate post.

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So, as Dan would say, “What Can  You Do With This?”