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 At this point, I am not concerned so much with historical content standards (the what, when, where, etc.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!