SBG Recording Methods: Wants VS Reality

Now that quarter 1 is over and I will be submitting student’s earned grades soon I wanted to give a little update on my SBG progress.

Below is my list of wants that I mentally made at the beginning of the year while getting ready for SBG:

  • Use Blueharvest to keep students/parents updated on students progress towards meeting standards.
  • Use Blueharvest to keep examples of students meeting standards (i.e. notebook pics, conversations, etc)
  • Communicate with parents/students electronically about progress in class.
  • Students specifically aware of standards being taught and assessed (more aware of their learning)
  • Students correct own assessments (@fnoschese’s idea seen here)

Here is my reality check list:

  • Most student’s can’t use Blueharvest because they don’t have email or computers at home.
  • Computers in my classroom are broken and I don’t have enough for students to use within the 50 min time period of lesson/learning
  • Student’s are really keen on taking pictures of their notebooks with an iPad, phone or other electronic device for evidence but I have no system in place in order to upload to Blueharvest or Threering.
  • Parents don’t have email either and they don’t even have phones at home let alone internet to keep in contact about student progress.
  • Students are VERY into their learning and are way more aware of what they are learning and the level at which they are learning a standard or benchmark.
  • No way close to students correcting their own assessments.
  • Not using enough assessments for students to show learning progress.

I feel like a failure!  But seems like I set myself up for that.  Look at that list of WANTS…I mean really!  This is the first year I am doing this and I wanted to accomplish all that.  After reading Frank’s Keep It Simple Post I wish I would have ran into this BEFORE my year started.  So now I am reassessing my list to improve on the failures and I have come up with this:

  • Use some form of progress tracking on paper (because my students don’t have access to technology they need)
  • Give the option for students with technology to use Blueharvest (I have some students that really want to use it)
  • Upload all evidence for students using Blueharvest or  Threering (haven’t decided yet)
  • Give a type of assessment (exit card, quiz, homework) once a week (no more than 3-5 questions) to give students more opportunities to display progress towards meeting standards.
  • Take it one step at a time so I don’t feel like a failure.

Types of SBG – using Marzano’s Format

Before I post any examples of my work on this site, I think it’s important to point out that I am using a format similar to Robert Marzano’s example in his book, “Classroom Assessment & Grading that Work”. After reading the book, I really bought into the idea of using rubrics (as opposed to points) to assess topics. He suggests setting up assessments with varying difficulty (or depths of knowledge). Section 1 is typically recall/simple concepts taught in class. Section 2 is the more complex concepts taught in class. And section 3 should be novel problems, typically requiring application of what was taught. Or as my friend Grant Wiggins has asked, what do you ultimately want the student to do with the content?

This type of assessment has its advantages and disadvantages. The best part is that I can fairly easily use a rubric to determine a score. If the assessment is structured correctly, a student won’t be able to do section 3 if he/she can’t do section 2. Or he/she can’t do section 2 if he/she can’t do section 1.

The disadvantage is that sometimes students do well on the more difficult material, and make mistakes on the easier material. Translating this into a score gets tricky. Marzano suggests that oddities should be resolved by interviewing students, which I think is a great idea, but is not always realistic. Another part of the problem is that I am just figuring out how to structure these assessments. They are not perfect and require constructive criticism. That is why I love the idea of using this site to get feedback from others.

In the future I will be posting study guides that I use to prepare students for an assessment. These study guides are similar to quizzes that I give in class. I won’t be posting any actual quizzes since I know how sophisticated some of my own students are. Any quiz I post would be found, duplicated, and shared the morning of the quiz.

Nathan Kraft

Andrew Stadel’s Farewell Letter to Points

Andrew Stadel has written a very touching, almost eye-watering farewell to points in his classroom.  Who am I kidding?  We both aren’t sad to see points exit our assessment systems, but the metaphor is great.  It is a must read, even for those who are committed to keeping their extra credit assignments (for points of course).  Read his post here: Hey points, meet my new friend SBG

I Heart SBG

I didn’t start this page (Chris Robinson did), but it would appear that I’m the first contributor. I believe the purpose of this site is for math teachers (and possibly others) to share their experiences with SBG and possibly critique each others’ efforts. As I love pointing out what’s wrong with something (according to my wife), I couldn’t resist joining. I also just started SBG this year and I’m feeling like a bit of a noob. I need my wonderful colleagues to provide some constructive criticism as well.

Eventually I will get into the nuts and bolts of how I’m doing SBG. I’ve been helped my many including Shawn Cornally, Fawn Nguyen, Andrew Stadel, and Dan Meyer. Although it’s early in the school year, I’m already in love with it. I’ve gone from mostly summative assessment to mostly formative assessment. Every assessment is an opportunity to fix things. I’m not freaking out any more when somebody fails miserably. I can help them out and give them another try. The students aren’t asking me what their letter grade is, but reading all of the feedback so they know what mistakes they’ve made. How could you not love SBG?

Going back to traditional grading would be painful.

Nathan Kraft

Standards-Based Grading: A Collabrative Effort

After entering my second year of standards-based grading and coming into contact with some great minds through Twitter and the edublogosphere, I thought it would be a great idea to set up a place where we can share and critique all aspects of our standards-based assessment systems. This site will be open to contributors as well as the general readership for comments. I’ve found that most aspects of teaching can be greatly improved when collaboration takes place. And who doesn’t like some constructive feedback, right?

Contributors will be able to post about standards-based assessment in general, and will also be able to upload certain file types (i.e. PDF, doc, etc.) to share their specific standards-based creations.  This will be a work in progress, but the ball has to get rolling before it can pick up its steam.  I look forward to seeing some interesting and innovative ideas to make our assessment practices useful to both our students and ourselves.  As Nathan put it, I heart SBG.