Saturday, August 28, 2010

SBG: The Actual Implementation

For those of you who have read back a few posts, you know that my summer was spent researching Standards Based Grading (SBG). After lots of thought-provoking discussions both here and via my Twitter PLN, I kept creeping closer and closer to the final plan that I would actually implement once students arrived.

On the first day of school, I avoided any serious talk of syllabi, grading, etc, and instead chose to do some math. In Algebra, this was a "Graphing Stories" activity, while in Statistics, we looked at the court case of Kristen Gilbert, an "Angel of Death" nurse. The next day, though, it was time to get to the district required stuff - syllabus, pre-test, handing out textbooks, etc. In Algebra 2, I discussed SBG, but they really didn't get it much then. I told the Alg2 kiddos that we would have a quiz on Monday and it was material they would be held accountable for, even though I did not teach it. I handed each student an Assignment Sheet that listed Chapter 1's objectives and practice problems for each objective. I told them the quiz on Monday would cover Lessons 1.1-1.3 (a total of 5 objectives), so I would suggest they look over those practice problems over the weekend for those objectives.

The, Monday came... I gave my Alg2 classes a quiz over 1.1-1.3 and also went into more detail on how SBG worked. Each objective had it's own section on the quiz and had 3 problems of varying degrees of difficulty. I explained that if there was a section they struggled on, they could remediate and reassess. That night was a shock to my system though! It took me 5 hours to grade 58 quizzes!!! I went through first and marked all of the perfectly correct problems with a C and then then back through the others with more detail. It was a time consuming process to say the least! One thing I discovered was that either their arithmetic skills are lacking or they are very careless, because there were a LOT of minor errors! On Tuesday, I handed back the quizzes and explained to the students what the scale (0-4) meant and how it would show up on the online gradebook. Pretty much, here's an idea of how the scale works:

4 = 100% correct on all three questions = 10/10 in GB
3.5 = all three correct, but with single minor error = 9/10 in GB
3 = two questions correct, or all three w/ multiple minor errors = 8.5/10 in GB
0.5 = no questions correct, but valid attempt made = 5/10 in GB
0 = no attempt at all = 0/10 in GB

When I handed them back, I had the students write their scores on their assignment sheet, and then went over this scale, I explained that they could reassess any skill they wanted to, BUT, they had to show proof of remediation first. They could bring in their completed practice problems, they could go to a tutor and bring back proof, they could do a variety of things, but they had to show me that they worked on that objective before I would allow them to reassess.

Thankfully, my "Partner in Crime" - the teacher next door that is just an amazing person to work with - is trying SBG with me, so we sat down and ironed out some more details after seeing how long this process had taken. We recognized right away that we would need to have some rules in place to keep ourselves sane if we were to do this all year. Here's some of the guidelines we came up with:
  • Show remediation/HW when you appear for reassessment. If seeing a tutor, the tutor must sign off (with date) on your remediation work/notes.
  • Students can’t get tutoring and reassessment during the same session. (We don't want students storing info into short term memory)
  • Reassessment days are limited to Mondays and Wednesdays before and after school and during Homeroom period, all by appointment.
  • Appointments must be made 24 hours in advance, and you must let us know which LT's you plan to reassess.
  • In one session, only LTs from the same quiz may be reassessed.
  • LTs should be reassessed in a timely manner, typically within one or two weeks of original quiz return.

After handing back their quizzes, I taught the first official lesson of Alg2 - solving absolute value equations. The next day, I gave a "Checkpoint" of 2 abs value equation questions. When students completed the Checkpoint, they raised their hand and I picked up their paper. As a class, we then worked the problems together so kids would immediately know how well they did. We also talked about if they struggled on the checkpoint, that was a key indicator to them that they needed to make sure and practice on that objective. Then, that night, I looked over the Checkpoints and wrote feedback on them (not a grade) so that students would have a permanent record to refer back to. This process continued for several days and then it was time for another quiz. The quiz over Lessons 1.4-1.6 had 4 objectives plus a Previous Knowledge section. Each of the 4 objectives had 3 questions each and graded by the above scale. The PK section also had 3 questions, one each from 3 separate objectives from the previous quiz. The PK section is not reported in the gradebook, it is only for information. After quizzing, we continued on to Chapter 2 and instead of giving traditional tests per chapter, we plan to test periodically over a chunk of learning targets. We want the studets to get away from the idea of "this chapter is over, we tested on it, now we can forget it".

That brings us to now - this week we will be testing for the first time and as part of that, will be teaching the students HOW to study for a math test. Overall, this process has been rewarding, but a lot more time-consuming than I had anticipated. I have really liked being able to see where students have struggled specifically, and it's been interesting that almost every student has had at least one objective that they did very well in. Before, that success would have been hidden in the overall score. I've also appreciated the feedback from the parents and students when they see their scores and knowing what exactly it is they need to work on. There are still a few kinks to work out (especially in terms of time needed to grade), but I'm getting there :)

Now, off for a pedi and relaxation time! Have a great day :)


Matt Townsley said...

"One thing I discovered was that either their arithmetic skills are lacking or they are very careless, because there were a LOT of minor errors!" Did your students realize this, too?

I think you're off to a great start! Continue to explain to students why you're using this system. Pose scenarios such as..."If Johnny learns XYZ by Thursday's test, but Suzy learns XYZ the day after the test, who usually gets the better grade? How is our system different?"
I found that reminding students early and often about the reassessments opportunities until it becomes the "norm" was very beneficial. You've already put some thought into your reassessment scheme - nice job!

msgajda said...

Thanks for sharing the experience of your first few weeks with SBG. It gives me a hint of what I can expect in a couple weeks :-)

I imagine that as you get used to your new grading system that the time component will be reduced. However, it is great that the students (and parents) are already seeing the benefits of the new system.

Why did you decide to not talk about about the syllabus or grading on the first day?

Lisa said...

Nice to know what is ahead. Tuesday is day one and I am NOT planning on talking about grades until Wednesday. 4 of my 6 classes I will only have for 30 minutes and there won't be enough time.

Looks good so far - enjoy your pedi!

misscalcul8 said...

When giving feedback did you also write the correct answers? What kind of feedback did you write?

It seems like figuring out the grades out of 10 is a lot of work. And confusing.

And for me, asking more than one per question is confusing as well.


MizT said...

@Matt - I circled missing negative signs or wrote in the right arithmetic, so I'm hoping they catch on :) I did also tell them verbally as a class that a C- (Correct with a minor error) is due mostly to those issues, so to check work, etc. My kids are adapting well to the system, and definitely understand that their grade is up to them :) This week I will focus on pulling kids aside that need to reassess but haven't yet and talking to them about it

@msgajada - I'm glad you found my post useful :) I'm certainly hopeful that the time component gets better! As for the first day decision, I wanted my class to stick in their memory - not just another class where the teacher droned on about the rules :)

MizT said...

@Lisa - Thanks! And I totally *love* my pedi place... an hour of being pampered for $20 - can't beat it! :)

@misscalcul8 - On the checkpoints, we went over the correct answers in class, so I tend to write about errors in processing. I don't want to overwhelm them with too much writing. On the checkpoints this week, I also had them do the Red/Green/Yellow from Matt's blog. As for the grades - I had no choice. I could not put a 3 in the gradebook b/c that counts as a 75%, even though that is "meets standards" and 2 is 50%, even though that is "can do basic problem", so I had to come up with a conversion scale to 10. I also did not feel that asking one question only would give me the information I needed to evaluate them effectively. The three questions are basic, average, and advanced, so it fits well with our Depth of Knowledge questions, etc.

Jennifer said...

Wow, sounds like your hard work is starting to pay off!

I love the list you & your neighbor teacher came up with. I already had the rule about "no tutoring & reassessment in the same day" but I want to add "must show evidence of remediation before reassessment". I'd also like to encourage them to reassess "in a timely manner" rather than waiting until it's almost report card time & then panicking :( I hate that.

I'm also going to copy your idea of having a previous knowledge section on each quiz! Love it!

Mr. Smith said...

As far as the gradebook goes, have you thought about using Shawn Cornally's SBG gradebook? I don't know if that would cause too much hassle since you probably have to use your own school's grading system.

On another note, are you using SBG with Stats? I have sold myself on the benefits of SBG and planned on implementing it in all of my courses (thinking I would be teaching Geometry, Algebra 2, and Precalculus). However, I just found out that I'm teaching Stats - starting this Friday - which I have never taught and had my last Stats class 15 years ago. I would still like to use SBG, but it's really overwhelming trying to think about what measurement topics need to be covered in the course. Any help would be much appreciated.

Keep up the good start to the year!

MizT said...

I would love to be able to use Shawn's gradebook, but I am required to use our district's online GB :(

As for stats, I chose to do SBG with only 1 prep for this year so that I don't get as overwhelmed. I do plan to do some elements of SBG with Stats, but not as full force :) Good luck with your first year!