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Formative Assessment Isn't What You Think

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When planning for a Standards-Based classroom you follow a clear series of steps:

1. Pick your priority standards and rewrite them in student-friendly learning objectives.
2. Unpack those standards to really understand what they are asking students to know and do.
3. Build rubrics or proficiency scales to help make the learning objective accessible for students and to create a clear understanding of how mastery will be measured.
4. Build your assessments using those rubrics.
5. Create your learning path from introducing the learning objective to assessing the standard that includes a lot of feedback and formative assessment.
6. Make a plan for intervention and support.

One of the most daunting elements of a Standards-Based classroom is the idea that feedback needs to happen consistently for students to be able to improve on the learning objective. We know a grade on its own is not enough to help students learn from their mistakes or to understand where they need to improve but the ta…

Lesson Reflection: Peardeck + What is History Class?

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I am a part of a Facebook Group for AP World History teachers that also has a shared Google Drive (that I actually currently manage). It is a collection of amazing resources and one of my favorite lessons that comes from the drive is called "They Thought The Earth Was Flat" by Bill Strickland. It engages students in the common story of Christopher Columbus being one of the few people in the 15th century to believe the earth was round. The students read and analyze a series of 'documents' that seem to support this myth and then shows them the Farnese Atlas which was created in the 2nd century. After a few more pieces of evidence start to poke holes in this longstanding story of Columbus the lesson asks students to consider how historians look for validity in sources and how historians do the work of figuring out our past.

I love this lesson because it really introduces what historians do and how messy history can be. It gets students thinking and talking about how th…

Lesson Reflection: My Day One Lessons

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A goal I have set for myself this year is to reflect on lessons daily. I've been trying to think of the best way to talk about the lessons, what worked and what didn't and for now, I am going to try and use my blog as the platform for how I reflect on my lessons. I want to make sure that I document what I do each day and what I need to change and improve for next year.

To start, here is the lesson I did for the first day of school. I wanted the focus to be on building a class culture and getting to know each other while also starting to introduce classroom procedures and expectations. I want to make sure students leave excited to come back the next day.

I had originally planned to do a station rotation of getting to know you games and I would sit at one station and play with the students at that one station, giving me a chance to really talk to them and get to know them but when I looked at my class lists and saw that my class sizes varied significantly, my brain just wasn…

Standards-Based Learning is Not Standardization

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It is worth mentioning here that standards and standardization are not always the same; the former refers to the quality that the demonstration of learning must exhibit, regardless of format, whereas the latter embeds the quality by making the demonstration of learning universal. - Tom Schimmer

Sometimes when I talk to people about standards-based classrooms the push back I receive is this fear that by basing grading and assessment on standards, we are forcing one-size fits all educational experiences on our students.

This could not be further from the truth. A cornerstone of standards-based learning and grading is that the student is assessed on their skills and knowledge, not the individual projects or tasks completed or graded. As a teacher, this has changed the way I plan to allow students more choice on how they present or prove they have met the standards. No longer am I creating complex tasks full of points for neatness and execution instead, I am able to offer my students a ra…

Presenting on SBG 2019

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I have had some incredible opportunities to present on my grading practices journey this summer and wanted to make a post that puts all my resources in one place.

The main presentation I have given this summer is a review of my journey to SBG, the resources I have developed, created, and that others have shared with me, and a little bit of the reading and research I have completed.



From this presentation, I had always felt like it was clear where someone should start on the journey, but I realized after some feedback that the presentation is often overwhelming that what people really needed was one guiding document that reviewed the steps the presentation spells out for you. From that feedback, I created the document below to help you get started on the path to SBG. This isn't something you can do tomorrow in your classroom. It requires careful planning and reflection so don't feel like you have to make this happen for the 2019-2020 school year.



Additionally, I've thought…

#sblbookclub June 2019 Update

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A few months ago I was starting to reflect on the 2018-2019 school year and starting to think about the changes I needed to make. I had tried going more assessment based with my SBG classroom and wasn't as happy with the results as I had been the previous year when I did reflective SBG. I wanted to be able to discuss grading practices with other teachers at all different places in the process of reforming their grading practices: teachers who had years of experience, teachers who were just starting to consider it, and even teachers who were skeptical.

So I created the #sblbooklcub, I picked three books to explore over three months and created a Google Classroom. I posted to Twitter and it sort of took off from there. We are two weeks into the book club and I have to say, this experience reminds me why teachers are so much better at what we do when we work together.

I feel most like a professional in my field when I can engage in reflection and discussions around practices with te…

Reflecting on the 18-19 School Year: Grading Practices

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If you've read my blog before, you know I mostly write about my experiences trying to reform grading practices in my traditional world history classroom in order to help increase equity and student motivation. Over the past few years, I have tried different formats of Standards-Based or Standards-Referenced learning and grading all within the limitations of a traditional online grade book and strict reporting windows.

When I first started the grade reform journey I did not know I would end up going standards-based and what I eventually settled on was something called Reflective Standards-Based Grading. In this type of grading, you work towards learning objectives and students self-assess on those learning objectives with a clear rubric for each standard. They must provide evidence of mastery when they self assess which is typically classwork, quizzes, tests, essays, or projects. They turn this in for summative assessment and are given feedback if they do not achieve mastery of th…