Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My first ever conference presentation & more on SBG

Today was the first time that I presented at a conference.  I love conferences; I usually spend a good chunk of my summer break to attend them.  This year, I thought I'd get a little more involved.  It is certainly different presenting to adults than to teenagers.  Especially because many of the adults are more experienced and higher ranking than I am.  I don't think I did a great job, but it could have been worse.  The best part is that I presenting on the same topic in August, so I'll have time to revamp, just like I do with classroom lessons.  In a later post, I'll share some of what I learned at the sessions I attended.  For now, here is my next post about SBG.

How is objectives-based grading different from traditional grading?  In a traditional classroom students’ grades based on all of the work assigned.  This includes classwork, homework, projects, quizzes, tests, effort, attitude, etc.  The teacher records a score for each assignment.  When a student, parent, or educator looks at the grades they may see something like: Chapter 3 test = 75%.  But what does that mean?  Does it mean that the student answered 75 % of the questions perfectly and knew nothing about the other questions?  Does it mean that a student was able to get a good start on every question, but was unable to fully solve any individual question?  In SBG, the 'grades' are much more meaningful. 
In a SBG classroom, I would still give a chapter 3 test, but it would show up in the gradebook as a list of skills.  Each skill would get its own 'grade.'  This way, anyone reading the gradebook would have a list of skills and a score that reflects how well the student could do each of those skills.  When the same skill is reassessed, there would not be a new entry in the gradebook, but the old grade might be replaced by a higher grade if the student performed better.  The hardcore SBGers would allow a student's grade to drop of they do worse on a new assessment.  I always keep the higher grade.  Mainly because I know I can get those kids back to mastery with a little review. 

Also, a true SBG classroom would only track student progress on standards.  I still track some traditional things.  The main reason for this is that I feel SBG can not accurately measure complex tasks that combine multiple skills.  So, I have my gradebook weighted 80% SBG and 20% traditional assignments.    In the traditional section, I include projects, non-routine problems, homework completion and other typical assignments.  I'm fortunate in that I don't work in a SBG school and I can do whatever I want, like use a blended version of SBG.

One final thought for today:  Here is why your should use SBG if you are not already doing so.  SBG grades are accurate.  A student’s grade is based on academic factors.  Factors such as effort and attitude are communicated separately.  SBG is consistent.  Using rubrics & objectives establishes clear expectations for mastery.  SBG is meaningful.  Grades clearly communicates what learning has taken place.  Objectives make it easier to identify areas of strength and to address areas of concern.  SBG is supportive of learning.  It allows the teacher focuses on material that has or has not been learned.  There is no more accumulating points to reach a certain total.  That means teachers don't need to argue with honors kids over fractions of points :).  Finally, reassessment allows new levels of mastery to replace the lower ones when a student shows improvement, so students are motivated to keep working.  This is the growth mindset in full effect!

I had some questions today about how to use weighted grades, so I'll be sure to follow up with that in a later post.  My school uses Sapphire.  I'll share some screenshots and walk you through the weighting and grade mapping.  If your not using Sapphire, I'm sure your gradebook has similar capabilities too.

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