Random thoughts that might come in handy when I have to write the dissertation:
We are 4 weeks away from the end of the term, which means End of Course Testing. At this point I honestly don’t know what to expect. Some days I think SBG is going to shine, other days I just don’t know…
SBG in my class works like this:
I give the students learning targets, and make an effort to limit us to learning no more than 3 targets a week. Some things, like converting a radical to exponential notation are not learning targets, but are built into larger targets, like, “I can solve radical equations”. This keeps us from having a zillion tiny targets and, hopefully, lets the kids focus on the stuff that really matters.
Roughly once a week we assess the targets we have covered, and I try to limit each assessment to 3-4 targets, with 3-4 questions per target. At first I was worried that this wasn’t going to be enough questions, but after the first couple of assessments, I think this is plenty. To demonstrate proficiency, a student must pass two assessment of each learning target. Since they are only completing 3-4 questions, I felt it was important for them to show me on more than one occasion that they knew what they were doing. I guess this is my attempt to minimize the “cramitallinbeforethequizthenforgetitbeforeievenwalkoutthedoor” effect. Grades are on a 10-9-8-7-5 scale, but the students just get letter grades. A-B-C-NY (for not yet). I realize as I write this, that I am rambling. My sincerest apologies, but I told you at the beginning it was a brain dump.) So, Johnny gets two grades for LT #1. In my gradebook they are labelled 1.1 and 1.2. If he is happy with his grades, he can consider the target mastered; otherwise he can choose to take a 3rd assessment on his own time and if the grade is better than one of the other two, I will swap the grades. All NY scores are required to reassess.
Whew. This is harder to explain than I thought. Writing a dissertation is going to prove interesting.
Students in the SBG classes took about 6 weeks to start to get the hang of the process. Since I only have them for 12 weeks I would consider that a bit too late. I’m afraid that I am going to have students in my room every morning and afternoon for the next 4 weeks. I love helping them, but EVERY morning and afternoon????? I’m feeling office hours coming on.
It took the 2 different groups of students 6 weeks to figure out that some of them were on SBG while some of them were on traditional. I’m expected parent complaints and phone calls to start pouring in within the next week…and I’m not really sure how to respond. I want to let the traditional kids have the chance to retest to improve their grades…but I think that would really mess with my data. But I feel bad telling them they can’t retest. We’re talking about GPA’s and scholarship money here.
SBG is taking a lot of time for assessment.
I have actually found grading SBG to be faster and easier than traditional grading. I don’t have to worry about whether or not the mistake is worth one point or two. I don’t have to worry about whether each question should carry the same weight, or if the last one is more important than the first 10 put together. I just have to keep a clearly defined standard of what constitutes A, B, and C work. Which has honestly been easier than I expected.
I can’t wait to see if this has any impact on End of Course testing.