SBG: Developing My Standards & My Implementation Timeline

In my last post, I posed a question in regards to my Standards Based Grading study: What are the important “standards” and how do I equitably and accurately assess them? While I have thought a lot about the second half of this question, I realize I’ll be much better at designing appropriate assessments once I answer the first question and decide what it is I’m assessing.  Duh?

Since writing that post, I came across a post on Think, Thank, Thunk by Shawn Cornally that discussed the definition of “standard.”  While I didn’t think I’d just be plugging in my state standards, it was nice to get reinforcement on this issue and it helped to clarify my thinking.  Shawn puts forth that standards are “the ideas you love; the core concepts you know are important” and “Your standards are not the State’s standards, they are skills and ideas that every teacher sees as necessary to the true success of their students.” While history teachers continually disagree on certain aspects of what is important for student success, I feel more confident in pursuing the ideas, skills and concepts that I feel are critical for students.

I’ve also had some good conversations with educators that I trust and looked over different state, national, and organizational standards, my district’s Essential Curriculum, and relevant AP course descriptions while brainstorming.  At this point, I am not concerned so much with historical content standards (the what, when, where, etc. of history), those will be included as appropriate and aren’t overly difficult to design.  Rather, I am concerned with the historical skills higher up on the taxonomy.

For 10th grade U.S. History I intend to focus on reading comprehension skills, scaffolding towards critical analysis of historical reading.  Primary source analysis will fit well here and will be emphasized.  In 11th grade World History, my goal is to focus more on historical writing skills, with an emphasis on persuasive writing.  I am currently working on breaking down these big ideas into their smaller components.  I would appreciate any thoughts you have on this.

I will be honest and say that I know I’m not ready to completely revamp my grading system and dive into the SBG pool head first.  Rather, my goal for the coming semester is to get a better handle on teaching the skills I want to emphasize and to explore more effective ways to assess those skills.  I don’t feel comfortable completely rearranging my grading practices until I feel I’m doing these two things well.  Another consideration is that I will be starting in a new school after being out of the classroom for two years as an instructional facilitator/coach.  During this time, I have learned a LOT about being a better teacher and I have a lot I’m processing.  I know that if I try to change everything I want to about my teaching all at once, my head will explode.  To top that all off, I won’t actually step foot in my classroom until mid-fall due to maternity leave.  I don’t think I can convert to SBG while I have a long-term sub in my room (no matter how good they are).  I also feel that for me, SBG is a process of rethinking the way I teach rather than an event.  I will reassess at the end of the first semester and decide where to go from there.

I’d like to hear from others about their process of incorporating SBG into their classroom.  At what pace did you institute new practices?  What progression worked for you?  I’d also love to hear feedback on the 10th grade reading focus and the 11th grade writing focus.  Do these seem realistic and worthwhile to you?  I would be happy to expand on either if requested.  Thanks!


6 thoughts on “SBG: Developing My Standards & My Implementation Timeline”

  1. I like what you came up for 10th and 11th grade – they’re actually very similar to how my department broke it down. We borrowed our skills for each from the OAH. Here’s what we came up with (Of course, each of these needs to be broken down even more, and supporting skills need to be added in, but in terms of standards, these will be the signposts we build our fence around.):

    -Evidence historical perspectives–the ability (a) to describe the past on its own terms, through the eyes and experiences of those who were there, as revealed through their literature, diaries, letters, debates, arts, artifacts, and the like; and (b) to “present-mindedness,” judging the past solely in terms of present-day norms and values.
    -Draw upon visual, literary, and musical sources including: (a) photographs, paintings, cartoons, and architectural drawings; (b) novels, poetry, and plays; and (c) folk, popular, classical music to clarify, illustrate, or elaborate upon information presented in the historical narrative.
    -Identify the author or source of the historical document or narrative and assess its credibility.
    -Differentiate between historical facts and historical interpretations, but acknowledge also that the two are related: that the facts the historian reports are selected and reflect therefore the historian’s judgment of what is most significant about the past.

    – Challenge arguments of historical inevitability by formulating examples of historical contingency, of how different choices could have led to different consequences.
    – Hypothesize the influence of the past, including both the limitations and the opportunities made possible by past decisions.
    – Formulate historical questions from encounters with historical documents, eyewitness accounts, letters, diaries, artifacts, photos, historical sites, art, architecture, and other records from the past.
    – Obtain historical data from a variety of sources, including: library and museum collections, historic sites, historical photos, journals, diaries, eyewitness accounts, newspapers, and the like; documentary films; and so on.
    – Interrogate historical data by uncovering the social, political, and economic context in which it was created; testing the data source for its credibility, authority, authenticity, internal consistency and completeness; and detecting and evaluating bias, distortion, and propaganda by omission, suppression, or invention of facts.
    – Identify the gaps in the available records and marshal contextual knowledge and perspectives of the time and place in order to elaborate imaginatively upon the evidence, fill in the gaps deductively, and construct a sound historical interpretation.
    – Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances and contemporary factors contributing to problems and alternative courses of action.
    – Identify relevant historical antecedents and differentiate from those that are inappropriate and irrelevant to contemporary issues.

  2. Stephen – Thanks for letting me know what your department is using. I actually went through the OAH guidelines yesterday for the 10th grade reading focus and came up with some of the same things you have listed. It’s nice to think I may be on the right track! I also looked over the Common Core Standards for Literacy in Hisotry/Social Studies ( My state recently agreed to adopt those standards. I’ll be going over the writing sometime soon and it will be nice to have your list for reference. Thank you for sharing it. I’d love to see how you have translated these into standards for grading.

  3. Didn’t realize the Common Core existed for Literacy in History/Social Studies! I’ll have to take a look through. Thanks.

    Still working on putting together a post on SBG in Social Studies class with rubrics and PTALs that show how I’ve done it before. Hopefully I’ll have it by the end of the week (it’s turning into a bit of a manifesto).

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