Standards, learning targets, and scales

I’ve been reading through Jason Buell’s posts on how he actually implements sbg and Frank Noschese’s post (and helpful docs!) along with all the goodness on the sbg-gala. They are very helpful! Here is what I’ve been doing this week:

task thoughts on the task
Match my state standards to my curriculum (modeling physics). This helped me see the bigger picture (and made sure I could justify my approach to anyone who wondered  what, exactly, I am doing)
Create learning targets for each unit. These sort of line up with the old “students will know” and “students will be able to”. In my case, I asked a more experienced modeling/sbg-ing colleague for his learning targets. This is a big step for me. I tend to be a reinvent-the-wheel type; I need to break this habit to be a sustainable and effective teacher.
Organize the learning targets into the learning sequence (basics like vocabulary or simple calculations, then more complex calculations and inferences/applications, then pulling-it-all-together). This step took me a while to understand. I was getting confused about where the scaling score gets applied–I was thinking students get a score of 1-4 (or whatever I choose) on each learning target, but then I realized that looking at which learning targets have been met are what allow me to give the student a score for the unit. I think. This is what I’m understanding from Noschese’s yes/no system.
Finalize my scaling score. I plan to use a 1-4 system. I can already feel the urge to add more levels, but the more I add the more confusing I find it to apply to actual student work. It’s like assigning quarter points on the old grading scheme–there’s just no way that’s going to end well once I go down that road. I am still deciding on some of the details (0-based?).
Write my assessments. In this case, this means tweaking the modeling assessments to make sure they align with my standards (and that I can communicate that alignment).

I am just working on the first two units right now. I can see this is going to be a “just in time” year of teaching. I’m sure that’s always true for a first year teacher, which is part of why I am jumping into this right now. This year is going to be crazy and bumpy and filled with “learning opportunities” (mistakes) no matter what approach I choose, so I might as well pick something I agree with philosophically and which I can defend. I also find that when I think about sbg, I get really excited and motivated to work, whereas when I was trying to come up with a “grading point system” earlier this summer, I could feel my energy draining away from me. No sense swimming upstream by doing something that my inner compass hates. And there’s also no sense using a system I know I’m going to discard soon–why create bad habits I’ll only need to break later?

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About Andrea Grant

I do nerdy things.
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