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6 Articles to Get You Thinking About Grade Reform

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I've spent the past few years reading everything I could about grading practices. I have been so lucky to be supported by my admin team as I have tried new things in my classroom and now that I have a few years under my belt I have even had the chance to start helping others find the best practices for them. 
When I help teachers who are considering new practices, I always start with a list of favorite books but the reality is most of us don't have the time or energy to dive into a book unless we know it is really going to help us. With grading practices that means knowing enough about grade reform practices to know if it is the right time for you to make a change and little of what those changes might look like.  Because of this, I decided to put together a list of some of my favorite articles that might help you determine if it's time to dig deeper and learn more.  Articles on why teachers have changed their practices and how to determine if you are ready to change your…

Digital Citizenship Week 2018: Classroom Twitter Account

Right now on Twitter, you can follow my student-led classroom account @TweetsfromB210 to see students using Social Media in positive ways. It is important to me to meet students where they are at while also teaching them and modeling for them positive digital footprints.
Hey guys it’s me Migs taking over! We’re doing something super exciting today. Stay tuned! #ERHSTweets#ByarsMeetsWorldpic.twitter.com/HAD8X9Ctjh — 🌍👨‍🎓👩‍🎓B210 Tweets👩‍🎓👨‍🎓🌎 (@tweetsfromB210) October 16, 2018
I pick one student each class to host the account by sending them this link via Remind.

It's an easy way to teach digital citizenship, give students voice, engage with an authentic audience, and build your class culture.

All week I am going to share some of my favorite ways to bring social media into the classroom to help create Social Media Leaders and change the conversation around digital citizenship from a list of "don't" to a list of "do."

- Mrs. Kathryn Byars

My First EF Tour: 9 Days in Japan with 14 Students

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Last year, a colleague of mine convinced me to take students on a tour with EF Tours. I had the travel bug but didn't know how or where to make it happen and she suggested starting with guided tours with students. I loved the idea of seeing the world with students of history, watching them make real connections between what they had learned and the world around them but I was completely unprepared for what the experience actually was. While I may be one for hyperbole when talking about my love for edtech, in this case when I say it was life changing for me and my students, I mean every word.


Students Will Step Out Of Their Comfort Zone and Gain Confidence
EF had told me this one but it is hard to believe until you see it. I had students traveling with me who had never been on an airplane, they were terrified they would be homesick or anxious and both they and their parents were in constant contact with me before the trip. They were concerned that maybe signing up had been a mistak…

Where to Start on Standards Based Grading: Step 5 or Stop Grading Everything

I've talked about creating learning objectives from the standard. I've talked about starting with what evidence of learning you'll accept for each objective. I've talked about aligning your lessons. And I have talked about formative assessment and why it should not go in the grade book.

Today I am going to explain how I don't grade anything. Kind of. 

Grading for compliance hurts our most in need students and creates a game of points instead of a focus on learning. To be completely candid and honest: if you make this shift in isolation (as I have) you will still be fighting the culture of points with many students until the very end of the semester. But I cannot stress enough how much the benefits of a standards-based classroom outweigh the challenges.

When we assign points to every single worksheet, activity, bathroom pass, kleenex boxes, etc, we make the culture about how many points you can earn, not how much you have learned. I know it may seem impossible to mot…

Where to Start with Standards-Based Grading: Step 4

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It's time to talk about formative assessment. I might write some things that you totally disagree with and that is okay, I am not 100% sold that grading practices are one size fits all. In fact, this next year my AP World History course and my course for English Learners are following two slightly different grading formats based on the pacing, content, skills, and needs of the students. Sometimes it makes sense for me to assess the two classes in slightly different ways. That being said, I am going to make one of my most controversial statements yet. So far, everything has been pretty straightforward, but now it's time to really question the way we've always done it. 



What no longer makes any sense to me is putting formative assessments in the grade book. When I give quizzes students find out their score immediately, they find out what they got right and what they got wrong and what the correct answer is but that score never goes in the grade book. I usually ask them to tak…

Where to Start With Standards Based Grading: Step 3

Yesterday I wrote about how I start planning for a standards-based classroom. Most of it is just good teaching and while you may be doing a lot of the work already, the process asks you to be more intentional and more deliberate. Today, I am going to share with you the third step I take: planning instruction.

Here is the standard I am going to focus on: 
10.2.1 Compare the major ideas of philosophers and their effects on the democratic revolutions in England, the United States, France, and Latin America Here is the student-friendly version: 10.2.1.A: I can compare the ideas of 3 philosophers from 1600-1800.10.2.1.B: I can describe the major democratic revolutions in France, Haiti, the United States, England, and Latin America.10.2.1.C: I can explain how the ideas of at least 3 major philosophers influenced the democratic revolutions in England, the US, France, and Latin America. Why break one standard down into three different objectives? The standard is really asking students to know an…

Where To Start with Standards Based Grading: Steps 1 and 2

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I've talked about what I do in my classroom here and here but as I prepare for the new school year I have decided to take some time to share with you all how I prepare my history and social studies content for a standards-based approach. It makes sense to share this now because even though I have done this for four semesters already, I still have changes I need to make and in doing so I plan to share some of my lessons learned and mistakes made with you all in the hopes of making this process easier for you.

Before You Get Started It is important to first explore the terminology and determine what you believe. You can look at this grading terminology cheat sheet I created and before doing anything else I highly suggest you complete this grading philosophy form that I adapted from the work of Rick Wormeli. Changing your grading practices is not something you should do because you want to follow the trends or because it looks interesting: the amount of work and thought that goes into…