Monday, June 28, 2010

Every answer leads to more questions...

Last night, I had the chance to chat online with my teacher-next-door buddy. She and I often are partners-in-crime when it comes to trying new things, so I was so eager to share the idea of SBG with her and get her feedback. After chatting some and sending her off to view @k8nowak's Jing video and to view some blogs, she was totally on board with trying it. Today we met for a very long lunch to hammer out some of the details and figure out questions we are still fuzzy on.

Our Plan of Attack
After thinking through some of the articles we had read, we decided to start with our textbook and set up our learning targets for the first few chapters. Our state is adopting brand new textbooks this year and we are pretty limited in terms of the order of topics and sections we have to teach. We started with Chapter 1, and using the objectives for each section and the homework problems as a guide, we came up with the following list. LT = Learning Target, then the numbers represent the Chapter.Section.Objective

Chapter 1: Equations & Inequalities
LT 1.1.1: Use order of operations to evaluate expressions
LT 1.2.1: Simplify expressions using properties of real numbers
LT 1.3.1: Translate verbal expressions & equations to algebraic and vice versa
LT 1.3.2: Solve 1-variable equations
LT 1.3.3: Solve literal equations for a specified variable
**Note: All of the above LT's are going to be assessed using a quiz, but will not be taught - they were covered at the end of Geometry. Students can reassess these LT's if needed. Section 1.4 then, is the first taught lesson.
LT 1.4.1: Solve absolute value equations
LT 1.5.1: Solve and graph 1-variable inequalites (& interval notation)
LT 1.6.1: Solve and graph compound inequalities
LT 1.6.2: Solve and graph 1-variable absolute value inequalities

Then we repeated this for Chapter 2 - and that's as far as we got today :)

It's possible that doing it this way, we may end up wth way too many LT's and that's okay - we recognize this is a work in progress :)

So method wise, we have discussed both Kate's "2 quizzes per goal" method as well as small non-graded assessments, with a traditional quiz after every 2-4 sections with the only difference between this year and last year being the grading breakdown. I see pros and cons in both, especially considering we are doing a "hybrid" model, where we will still have traditional tests at the end of each chapter that are summative.

Ideas we are sold on
  • We both definitely like the idea that students cannot get tutoring and re-assess on the same day. We both agree this feeds into the short term memory issue.
  • We do want kids to have to schedule an appointment for reassessment so we can make sure and have one ready for them - this planning will be necessary so we don't feel so frazzled
  • We both like the idea of some kind of notebook where the kids keep their checklist of skills as well as their scores (I think this is either from Kate or Jason)
  • We do agree that we do not want to give our students permission to forget, so as LT's come up in our previous knowledge sections, student grades can go down (but they can still come in and reassess if that happens)
Issues and questions we still have
  • We aren't sure which rubric we want to use - probably will be 5 pt, simply b/c I like multiples of 5 in my gradebook :)
  • If we do 2 assessments and add them together like some people do, then the student comes in to reassess, which two scores then get added? Like say I got a 3 the first time, a 2 the second time, then reassessed and got a 4 - which ones go into the gradebook?
  • What happens when a student is absent? Our quizzes right now are fairly traditional - and I forsee them staying that way with only big change being at the top where each LT is listed. If a kid is absent on quiz day, do they take it the next day? Take zeros on that quiz and have to do the reassessments for those LTs? Take a makeup quiz? Right now, we give 2 versions of the quiz and we show it to them, but they don't get to keep until everyone has taken it, but that won't work if we are trying to provide the quiz as a study guide.
  • How much proof do we need to require in order to reassess? Obviously for the first reassessment, they have to show they have attempted the assigned practice problems for that LT, but what about after that? Tutoring with a teacher or our peer tutoring lab would work as well.
  • For those that do a hybrid model, what is your percentage breakdown for grading categories?
  • We are thinking of doing away with our warmups - they have ended up more punitive than we meant for them to - what do you guys do at the beginning of the hour instead?
  • AN IMPORTANT ISSUE: How do you grade a problem that addresses multiple LTs?
  • ANOTHER IMPORTANT ISSUE: What do you do with something that is important, but maybe not enough to get it's own LT? Like for example: Function evaluation in function notation - F(3) = ? - This is something the kids need to know but I'm not sure that it's a big enough topic for it's own LT, especially when often it fits under evaluating expressions.

I need to send a HUGE thank you to all of my twitter PLN that have patiently answered TONS of questions, listened to me brainstorm, provided feedback, asked questions to make me think things through, and just in general for being there :) I can never tell you guys how much I appreciate you!

Suggestions and comments welcomed, as always :)


Craig said...

I want to hear the answer to your second issue as well. That is the method I am leaning towards doing next year. I know Kate does this method and gives a 10 if a 5 is earned on the second assessment, but you bring up a good situation. I'm not sure if I am comfortable giving a 10 if only the second question earns a 5, even if it is a harder question.

I guess the way I would answer your question is that it depends on what question was reassessed. If the student reassessed on the first question, then the 4 should replace the 3. If they reassessed on the second question, then the 4 should replace the 2. My preference would be for the student to reassess on both questions to truly show understanding. Hopefully Kate can chime in on this as well.

Matt Townsley said...

Regarding the two assessments and adding them together...I'd like to suggest that this isn't truly in the spirit of standards-based grading. If a student bombs the first assessment (let's she Johnny scores a 1/5) and then aces the second assessment (Johnny scores a 5/5), he has a 6/10 in the grade book. Compare that to Suzie who earns a 3/5 the first time and a 3/5 the second time for a total of 6/10. Do these two students have the same understanding of the learning target? My guess is Johnny knows more, but this grade book setup doesn't reflect it. Does that make sense?

I think it's great that you're allowing students to re-assess and to change the score after the test, but I think it makes sense to do the same during the quiz phase of assessment, too.

Finally, regarding questions with multiple learning targets embedded in them...can you re-write the questions? Another option is just to modify the question. In the volume/surface area chapter in Geometry, I had some composite figures that consisted of half spheres on top of cylinders, but finding they were two separate learning targets. My band-aid fix was to prompt the student to find the surface area of each figure as well as the entire figure (three blanks to fill-in). It's not always this easy, but modifying the question seemed to work from time to time. It also made sense to do so on un-graded assessments so that I could more easily diagnose where the student was having difficulties so that I could help him/her overcome the exact misconception.

Hope this helps...

MizT said...

I agree w/ your comments about the 2 assessments and that's a struggle I keep coming up against. I'm hoping with more research, I'll get it figured out :) Maybe Kate will chime in on it, since I stole that idea from her :)

I'm not sure I understand your 2nd paragraph at all - for what I'm currently thinking, they can reassess the quiz but not the test.

I agree w/ re-writing or modifying the question, but some application problems don't lend themselves to easy re-writing. That's why I wondered what other people did when they run up against that.

Thanks so much!

KFouss said...

I want to read through this more closely (especially once I go retrieve my Alg 2 book from school to see what you used for your LT's), but I did want to let you know that Dave Cox (@dcox21) said on twitter that he doesn't allow for re-assessment of the application-type problems. Said after you've seen it once it's no longer an application problem, it's memorization. Made sense to me at the time. :) Thanks for the post! This will definitely help me get my thoughts straight.


praxisofreflection said...

AN IMPORTANT ISSUE: How do you grade a problem that addresses multiple LTs?

I was figuring I'd just give multiple grades for that sort of problem. I think problems that require use of multiple concept understandings are great, and I was also planning to incorporate some projects for students to do that would hit on multiple LTs.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT ISSUE: What do you do with something that is important, but maybe not enough to get it's own LT? Like for example: Function evaluation in function notation - F(3) = ? - This is something the kids need to know but I'm not sure that it's a big enough topic for it's own LT, especially when often it fits under evaluating expressions.

Just brainstorming here, but maybe you could have "mini-LTs" or "sub-LTs"? You still grade on whatever scale you've decided on (say 5 pt), but then it's weighted less in your gradebook (say actually worth 3 pts).

Another possibility would be just not to give full marks on the bigger LT if they don't have all the sub-concepts. That's one thing I like about Matt's scale; the 3.5/4 score would be appropriate for something like this.

And now, a newbie question: What does PLN stand for?

MizT said...

I look forward to hearing what you think after you look at the book. I agree that I think it will end up being too much, but I never expected to get it right the first time/year, so I'm right on target! :) As for application problems, I'm not sure I agree with that - most concepts can be applied in more than one way and given the tough time so many of them have with app problems :) I know part of this is the reading comprehension skills as well.

PLN = Professional Learning Network
I thought about grading a multi-step problem with multiple grades, but didn't know if that was standard practice or not. I also thought of mini LTs, but kind of decided against that. I agree thatmost of those skills will be covered as part of a bigger LT, so maybe that will take care of itself.

Thanks to both of you for your feedback!!!

teamalzen said...

In Kate's plan you only add together if the student scores less than a 5 the second time around. So in the scenario you presented, that student would get a 5 and then a 7 I believe. I've got just as many learning targets as you do. It's definitely different from what other people around do, but honestly, it wasn't that big of a deal, and I liked having the grades that specific.

If a kid is absent for me, I have them take the assessment the next day. If the kid somehow wiggles through the system and misses a quiz but takes the test, I just give him what he got on the test for both the test and quiz. We grade with 75% assessment 25% everything else.

If a kid comes in for re-assessment but he didn't tutor with me, I give him a practice problem first. If he can do it, then I'll let him re-assess. If students tutor with me, I just keep tutoring them until I think they are ready and then tell them to come in on any other day for the re-assessment.

A suggestion: My department is going to try and write the assessment and re-assessment altogether so no one is scrambling for re-assessments when kids come in for them and we all give the same re-assessments.

Problems that assess multiple LTs are taken into consideration for all the LTs they address. I just look at the components of the problem separately when I do the analysis. Also, those smaller and less significant LTs, for us, are on quizzes and not on tests. This is also somewhere I differ from most of the SBG people. Quizzes are less of an impact on the grade than tests and I quiz some things that I do not intend to test on. Also, you could just assess those things more informally through class activities and such. Something we're introducing this year is also weighing the LTs in light of our state blueprints. ie if a standard is more significant on the blueprint, it is more significant in its impact on the grade.

When you say warm-ups were punitive, do you mean it hurt their grades or were ineffective? I use mine as a daily quiz to see who needs intervention that day. They get a completion grade only, and I look to see who passes and fails and make strategic groups for the day using that information.

MizT said...

Thank you! Your comments made a lot of sense! I really appreciate you taking the time to write all of that out :)

As for the warmups, our kids turned the whole week's worth on Friday. These were "previous knowledge" problems that could be from anything we had already covered. When I say they were punitive, I mean grade wise. Many kids copied from a neighbor and were only concerned about the points, NOT about the review of old material.

Thank you again for your feedback!