Sunday, September 13, 2015

Standards Based Grading continues to evolve

This is my third time through the Common Core Algebra 1 curriculum with Standards Based Grading and the online book based on ck-12 modules.  Our school is moving towards proficiency based grading, so I've made some changes to line up with that.

My course has used 30-ish standards for the entire year and I've been using a version of quizzing based on Dan Meyers' blog post from forever ago.  I think students benefit from more summative assessments than this rotating quiz schedule allows, so I've grouped my 38 standards ("learning targets", in other systems) into 10 units (also called "proficiencies" in other systems) so they can have unit tests along with the standards based quizzes.  I still rotate all the standards through the quizzes, they see them twice in class and can retake twice with me, but there is now a summative unit test about once a month that can't be retaken.  Right now I'm averaging all these scores to make a traditional number grade, but when our school moves over to proficiency based report cards, the grade will most likely be reported based on mastery of each proficiency.

I have also created a library of videos (screencasts of me teaching each standard) and practice problems that are posted on the class website.  The students can access these for extra practice for the assessments.  I have also reorganized the book and all of the classwork so it is very obvious which standard they connect to.  This should make it easier for a student to see how they are doing on each standard prior to the unit test.

If a student wants to retake a standard, they have to show the homework and classwork from that standard, plus show some extra work they did from the online resources.  I have a Google form they fill out to check off that they've done that, plus the form emails me to give me some warning that I need to have a quiz ready.  Our school has just moved over to one 30 min advisory period in the middle of every day that we manage with Enriching Students software.  This will make it easier for students to schedule time to retake quizzes.

I also have an extensive collection of classroom activities that I've collected from years of following people's blogs and Twitter feeds.  This makes it fairly straightforward to have a variety of interesting things to do in an 80 minute block.  I would like to use more of the clever problem solving activities that I have found online, but the Algebra 1 Common Core curriculum still has a lot of individual skills in it, so I don't have as much time for that as I'd like.

I am happy with how this is going so far, I think everything is organized in a way that makes it straightforward for the students to know what is expected of them.  I think that education is moving towards students taking more control of their learning, information is so readily available that it seems reasonable to give them the ability to pick what they want and learn the way that they want.  There are many ways to meet proficiencies and I believe schools will be offering students more independence in the ways that they get there.  I have structured this course so that a student can get what they need in several different ways and they get experience in looking online for the materials that they need to be successful.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Proficiences, Blended Learning, Personalized Learning, STEM and Technology

These are the things I have been working with all year.  Standards Based Grading is going just fine and I am developing ways to use online resources in a personalized way with my Algebra 1 students.  I am hopefully training the students to use online resources in a professional way to further their own learning goals by creating a well organized database of videos, self paced problems and class resources.  I liked this blog post about MOOC's (Massive Open Online Courses), I believe that being able to learn from others effectively on the web is becoming more and more important and I'd like to train my students to do that.  Our entire school is going toward Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements and I believe that web based resources can be very useful in personalized and self paced learning.  Most of my innovative efforts in algebra this year have been around this topic.

I teach in our math computer lab, so I have access to computers while students are in class.  I am working on a blended approach to personalized learning where I set some time aside during the regular class for students to work on material that their standards based tests have indicated some shortcomings in.  One of the resources I use is videos that I have made with Explain Everything.  This is a fantastic iPad app (also available for Android recently) that allows you to make videos explaining a topic.  Something I would like to do is use EdPuzzle to embed quizzes in the YouTube videos, but it just hasn't happened yet.

I would like for the students to have tablets so they could access this material any time they have a web connection, but this isn't cheap and my school isn't jumping right into one to one for all students.  The tablets I am interested in are the Galaxy Note and the Surface Pro.  I would like the students to be able to write math problems with a stylus and keep it all their work in a OneNote notebook.

As our entire school goes towards Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements, I have been considering a change from SBG to another method of learning that uses my standards as learning targets and uses the standards based quizzes more as a formative assessment.  The actual grades would be more connected to summative assessments (ie unit tests).  I understand that some folks have been using Schoology for this sort of thing, I will be looking into this further.

Along with the algebra 1 work, I am in my second year as our STEM Academy leader.  There are 55 students in the Academy and I am very busy developing a program that allows them to pursue their interests in science by participating in a STEM Advisory, Internships and doing a capstone project.  The state of VT has mandated Personalized Learning Plans for all students beginning in fall 2015 for our freshmen.  This Academy approach is one possible way for students to receive a personalized learning pathway, there are many exciting things developing at our school right now as we try to figure out how to make learning more meaningful for all of our students.