Lesson Reflection: Teaching Students Reflective Standards Based Grading

Like most teachers, I spend the first few weeks establishing class culture, routines, and procedures with my students. This is also when I try and give my students some lessons and activities around how I grade since I am one of the few teachers they will encounter on our campus doing Reflective Standards-Based Grading. 

I don't go over the syllabus or rules the first few days but I used the Fast and Curious EduProtocol to help introduce those things to students and as situations or transitions came up I explained how things worked in my classroom and then we practiced them. This isn't groundbreaking stuff, each time a new transition or procedure was introduced I'd paused class, teach it, we'd try it, we'd try it again, and then we'd move on. 

To teach students how I grade, I kept my learning objective for the week prominently displayed: 

LO#1: I can explain in my own words the classroom procedures, expectations, grading policies, and classroom rules for AP World History with Mrs. Kathryn Byars. 

Continually referencing the LO whenever we did something in class that was a part of reaching this goal. So students were quizzing on these things regularly, learning by doing, and then, just like with a normal Learning Objective in my class, it came time to review and assess.

I started the day with a set of review notes. Now, up to this point we had not taken notes in my class before so that became the last classroom procedure I really had to teach them. I showed them how I lecture with short breaks for reviewing your notes and talking with your partners and I explained the research behind notetaking.

We then moved onto a review of my classroom rules, procedures, expectations, and grading policies in detail. I lectured, took questions, and reviewed the things they had mostly already learned in class through experience.

They were then asked to create an AdobeSpark video explaining all of these things to their parents or guardian. They would need to email the video link to me and their parent/guardian once done. I picked AdobeSpark because it allows them to create a visually engaging presentation while also forcing them to chunk information into small parts. I like that AdobeSpark video has short time limits and small word counts.

As students worked, the rubric for the LO was on the board. I consistently reminded them that the project was one way they could show they had met this LO so they wanted to make sure they used the rubric to guide their work.

When they were done, they were told to immediately go ahead and start on this next assignment.

The next assignment was an Objective Reflection, this is where students self-assess and show evidence of work they have done that shows they have met the objective. For my students who have never been with a Standards-Based teacher before this is often the hardest thing for them to learn because it requires them to look back on the work they have done in class, assess where they are at, and explain how the work aligns with the standard.

I like doing this work initially with something non-content related because it takes the pressure off the students about having to really learn and know new information. Classroom procedures may differ from teacher to teacher but the concepts aren't new to students so what I am asking them to reflect on is of a low cognitive load.

I read their reflections over the weekend and took time to give specific feedback on how to improve their reflections, the level of detail I expect, how students need to use examples and evidence, and more. We then started class this week by opening this assignment up and reading through and responding to all the comments before talking through this process one more time.

I know once we have skills and content in front of us there will still be students who struggle with this grading paradigm shift but by taking the time to teach them how it works using something less-threatening then writing a thesis statement or explaining the influence of Confucian thought on Asia from 1200-450, students are better prepared to move forward in my classroom. They have a better grasp of what to expect from me and from themselves. 


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