Readers: Please comment with any further questions. I will be updating this occasionally for the next couple weeks and then submitting to the Standards-based grading Gala

What are the different stances on using a 4, 5, or 10 point scale for standards assessment? I'm partial to 4 over 5 but mostly because I'm partial to even numbers over odd. My thinking is:
  • 0 - Nothing right. 
  • 1 - Doesn't know what strategy to use 
  • 2 - Know what strategy to use but doesn't know how to use it  
  • 3 - Knows what strategy to use and uses it with minimal errors  
  • 4 - Perfect
I know some people have mentioned adding scores together and Dan's method is that two 4's equal a 5 but to me that is confusing. I just want to use a 4 point scale every time. Does that make sense? Can I do that? 

How do you manage to assess the same skill more than once? I know when reading Dan Meyer's stuff, he talked about Week 1 assessment being standards 1-3 and then Week 2 would be standards 2-4 so that there was always an overlap and dropping off the oldest one. This confused the crap out of me. How many standards am I teaching per week? How do I assess more than what I taught that week? How do I bring those standards back later in the year?

Answer: druinok @misscalcul8 she said Teach 123, Quiz 123, Teach 456, Quiz 123456, Teach 789, Quiz 456789 - so quiz has mix of old and new stuff on it

What does assessment day look like? Is it weekly? More than once a week? Does it take the entire period? Do we review right before the quiz or is that left up to the students? Is the Warm-Up for that day also the review for the assessment? Do I give written feedback? Can students immediately re-assess on the same day?

When do students achieve mastery? With Dan's method, once you've achieved a perfect 4 twice (which turns into a 5) then you cross that standard off your list and you aren't assessed on it anymore. But wait a minute, aren't we constantly reviewing and bringing standards back to make sure students are retaining information? Does mastery mean getting 4's all the time or just achieving all 4's by the end of the course?

How do we incorporate review and extensions? I like the way Jessica Brtva used the 5 point scale to show that the students have reached mastery and I like the way Persida B uses Review, Focus, and Secondary concepts. Do we review as a class before taking assessments? Should we have to? What should students be using to study? How do I teach them how to study and practice? Or is that something I let them figure out on their own?


What do assessments look like? How many questions per assessment? How many questions per standard? Are you writing the questions by hand or using what program? Are you personally writing these questions or stealing ones from books and worksheets and such (ACT questions for you Illinois people) that pertain to the standards you're teaching? How do you store these questions to use in the future or to randomly sort through when creating assessments and reassessments? Are your questions multiple choice, free response, open-ended, matching, true or false, or a combination of all? Can free response questions/answers work for sbg or should that be a standard of its own?


Random SBG Questions and Thoughts


I read this on a blog somewhere today but can't remember where (going through my Twitter favorites): why would students bother to come in and re-test, if they know they will be tested on it in the future?

For example, Larry gets a  6/10 on adding fractions. He retests and gets an 8/10. Later on, I assess for retention or summative or whatever you want to call it. Now he scores a 4/10. Why bother coming in to get that 8 when he ends up with a 4?


I'm thinking about (as a way of introducing to my students) showing them 'made up' student progress charts and asking them to point out what skills the made-up student is lacking, where they excel, etc to get them acquainted with how it works. Then they will have a concrete example of how to self-assess when they have their own in front of them. Also, it would be a good segue into asking them questions as a way of explaining and modeling how the system works without just giving them a paper to read or a lecture. For example:

  • How could this student improve?
  • How would the teacher know they have improved?
  • How could they prove it?
  • What would happen if they did learn more?
  • What happens if they don't?
  • What happens if they forget?

I teach in a rural school district. If my students stay after school, they stay from 3 to 5 and take the activity bus home. I know someone (sorry I can't remember who) only allows students to come after school for help or to re-test but not both at the same time. I don't think that's practical for me because if they stay, it's not going to take the full 2 hour session to just practice or just re-test. Seems like both could fit in there. My point here is that my students can't just drop in after school. Buuuuuuuut, we have a 40 minute homeroom and my first period is devoted to interventions and working with individual students. So my real question is should I require coming after school for practice and then re-test during homeroom or first hour? Or should I offer after school but not require it since homeroom and first hour are available? I guess no matter what that I should require practice and re-testing on different days, correct?


Should there be a mandatory check-in time? Like once every two weeks students have to meet with me and show me their colored in tracking-progress-graph-chart-thingymabob and identify to me the skills they don't understand and thinking of ways they could improve. I won't require extra practice and re-testing, I can't make them do it, but if I require these types of conferences, then I feel it will show the students (and administrators and parents) that I am doing my part and they are willfully choosing to refuse help. But how to implement?


SBG Beginners Wiki

Ta-da. You asked. I delivered.

I've created the wiki for sbg beginners!

Right now I have the settings where anyone can view but only members can upload/edit.

Go click around, check it out.

If you like, you can join and upload/edit as you please. 

Or if you just want to comment here with your email, I can invite you.

Or if you just want to comment on things I should fix or change, feel free.

Or if you just want to email me cool stuff, I will upload and link to it as well.

I want this to be as easy and hassle-free as possible so we can get on with it already!


SBG: Take 1

So for some reason I have decided right now is the time to start on my plans for implementing SBG.(Part of my whole I-need-to-do-something-schooly-every-single-day-of-summer-so-I-don't-feel-guilty sickness)  I'm kind of a perfectionist, go big or go home type, so I really want to implement this in Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 (which I am teaching for the first time). Here's my plan of attack (I think):

  1. Create scope/sequences of class (topics/units, basically titles)
  2. Create concept lists (specific skills)
  3. Create mid term and final exams (Or maybe just finals?)
  4. Create easy and challenging assessments for each skill
  5. Backwards planning lessons from there?

Does this make sense people? I don't know what I'm doing here! 

In the comments, betweenthenumbers suggested we start a wiki/blog project for first time SBGers. Interested? I'm game.

I'm starting with Algebra 1 because I feel the most comfortable with it. Even though I only have one section of it with 9 students. I have two sections of geometry with 35-40 students so hopefully doing Algebra first will prepare me for tackling that (at least that's what I'm telling myself).

Should I do all 5 steps for Algebra 1 and then move on to the other courses? Or should I do step 1 of all three courses, then step 2, and so on? I'm kind of leaning towards the latter but I'm predicting you guys tell me to do the former. Hm.

Here are the unit/topics and the order I have them in for Algebra 1:

  • Equations
  • Inequalities
  • Functions
  • Linear Functions
  • Systems of Linear Equations
  • Exponents
  • Polynomials
  • Factoring
  • Quadratic Functions and Equations
  • Exponential and Radical Functions
  • Rational Functions and Equations

Does this make sense? Please advise. Last year, I didn't get past Factoring. Part of that was because I waste practically the first two weeks doing nothing because I was scared out of mind and didn't have a clue how to start actually teaching. Also, I spent entirely too long on slope and linear functions and just...screwed that all up. So now that I know that, I can fix that and get farther along. Also, I want to cut out all the beginning of the year review crap. What is the first actual Algebra 1 topic that we should start with? I want to embed review throughout each unit where needed. So I'm asking you, what can I trim off the front end? Where should I start Algebra 1?

Also, I was looking over the table of contents to Algebra 2 and it is almost identical to Algebra 1. What is up with that? Where should Algebra 1 truly end and Algebra 2 actually begin? 

I am struggling to come up with topic lists for Geometry and Algebra 2 before I even break it down into the more specific skill lists. Help?

These are not hypothetical questions people.

I need answers.

It is 8:42 on a Wednesday night and I am ready to get crackin on this stuff!


End of Year Reflection

So. My end of year finals were a little different than at the end of first semester. Last semester, I screwed up the Geometry finals and did okay on Algebra. This time I screwed the Algebra and Geometry was better. The scores for Geometry were much lower but unfortunately, I felt that it was a pretty accurate assessment of what they knew. I just hated finals to death. But I know next year will be better because I am going to make my assessments first and plan accordingly. Go me.

Assessment in General
I started out really well doing weekly quizzes and then kind of fell away from that after Christmas. I hated that and I think the kids did too. They liked the structure. By the end of the year I was assigning homework but not grading anything which I fell in love with but by not modeling and explaining that from the beginning, a lot of my students just ended on a bad note instead. I wasn't satisfied with my teaching most of the time so it was even harder to feel like I could judge what they learned.  And I never really stopped to think, hey, what do I want them to learn? What is the best way to teach that? Did I assess that in a way that they could show what they've learned? Ahh, but now I know and next year: SBG. Ta-da!

Classroom Management
The pits. Sucked. Horrible. Nonexistent. Wimpy. My principal dinged me again and again for lack of procedures. Basically, because I had none. I was a Warm Up Nazi but I never trained them to come in, sit down, and get right to work. I let everyone do what they want and I had favorites. I knew I had favorites so I didn't punish anyone because that would be unfair. I let my students disrespect me and call the shots. I let them set the atmosphere of the room  and decide when class ended and began. I did all the things that Harry Wong said not to do and I didn't do enough of what he said to do. Poor Harry. I let my students' behavior drive me to tears on more than one occasion. I made rules I could not enforce. I made the mistakes that people said I would make and I pridefully thought I wouldn't. I was their friend and that was the only reason I could get any cooperation out of them at all. Oh yeah and because I'm cute and funny. Thank God for laughter or else I definitely could not have made it. The sad thing is, none of this has driven me to the point where I am ready to be Ms. Meany and really put my food down. That scares me. If this wasn't bad enough, what will it take? I know they like me. I know when I punish them, they will stop. For a while. I know I only have to make examples out of a few. I know it will suck at the beginning and get better. I know that it is more important that they respect me. What I don't know, is if I can do it.

My AP gave me the great advice of nailing the kid who thinks he's a bad*** and the kid everyone thinks is my favorite. That sends the message the I'm going to enforce rules and hand out consequences to anyone and everyone. I'm so afraid of being inconsistent and unfair that I choose to do nothing instead. This fear is paralyzing me and holding me back.

  2. Assessment
  3. Creating opportunities for students to think deeply, process, reflect, share learning
  4. Using Technology
  5. Giving students the ability to create
  6. Professionalism
  1. Developing relationship with students
  2. Making the classroom an inviting, home-y place where students wanted to be
  3. Enforcing two nice things for every mean thing
  4. Daily Warm Ups and Powerpoints
  5. Taking an active role in leadership in the school
  6. This one's got me thinking....I wore some super cute outfits. =)

My Abilities
I feel like I am better able to see my own failures. (It helps when other people point them out. Often. Just sayin...) I have direction, which is more than I can say for myself at this time last year. Or anytime previous to May 28, 2010. I have definite procedures I want to put into place: timed warm ups, learning logs/exit slips, standards-based grading, sustained silent reading, reflective writing, game day, stop assigning homework, focus on vocabulary, incorporate ACT prep from the beginning of the year, etc. I think my gift is in being supportive and encouraging. I think I do a good job at treating people based on my relationship with them and not based on how others treat them or what I have heard about them. I think the students know I will go to bat for them and try to make their ideas happen. I am good at explaining things in a simple way without making people feel inferior. I have pretty good question techniques for a first year teacher. I learned to ask them questions about their thinking and process when the answer is right and wrong. (Of course they know they are wrong if you only ask why when they give a wrong answer.)

Abilities that are lacking (but which I can improve): being the authority in the classroom, relinquishing control of where the lesson will go in order to give students more freedom, being consistent, transitions, keeping students on-task, creating activities that engage students at higher levels of thinking, being more organized, backwards planning, unit planning, managing time to keep from getting stressed out, accepting criticism, being professional, and __________________.

Year as a Whole
There were definitely challenging moments: death of a student, death of a staff member, death of a student from neighboring school,  loss of 6 students due to expulsion/drop-out, some things I won't mention but won't forget, days where I cried, first semester finals oh my my, incidents with colleagues, and just normal first year mishaps. But overall, I think it was not as hard as everyone tried to scare me into believing. IT WAS NOT AS BAD AS 'THEY' SAID. I did it. And guess what? I even enjoyed it. Actually, I loved it.

I never wanted to quit. Not once. I never thought I was in over my head. I know without a doubt that teaching is my purpose, that this position is my divine appointment, that I was created for this. I've been discouraged, yes. Disappointed, yes. Angry, yes. Frustrated, yes.

But defeated, no.

Year One: You were a beast.

Year Two: I've always preferred even numbers. =)

Let's get it on.


Next Year's Madness

  1. RTI Intervention Math (as needed)
  2. Geometry (14)
  3. PLAN
  4. Algebra II (9)
  5. Geometry (21)
  6. Business Concepts (Proctor) (17)
  7. Algebra I (9)


Gr8 Blogging: 5 Tips

I am also a follower of Kate and Sam and so I, too, must follow f(t)'s lead and post my advice on starting a blog.

First of all, I agree with everything they both say. Sam's blog was actually the first math blog I ever read. Next came Kate's. They both mentioned dy/dan but the first post I read of his turned me off to his blog for months. Now I am somewhat obsessed. So, don't judge by first appearances. But since people do, I have to say:

  1. A clever name is important. But stressing about it is not. A good strategy is to try to think of your name or nickname or hobby in connection with what you are going to blog about. (dy/dan, Blogush, Sweeney Math) It needs to be memorable. That's it. When you think of the right one, you will just know (kinda how when people tell you that you will just know when you meet 'the one'. Yeah, I haven't fallen for that one either).

  2. Light backgrounds with dark letters. An all black background with red writing looks super edgy, we know, and yes we all agree, but hard to read. Which defeats the point.

  3. Clutter free. Keep things simple and basic. Yes, you can have your blogroll, a picture or two, links, labels, etc. But keep things orderly and not too much. We want to read your writing, not be overwhelmed by billboardmania and flashing glitter graphics. P.S. I heart labels because I heart lists and organization of any kind. But it also gives me a quick summary of what your blog is about and the quickest way to get to what interests me most, which = me coming back. So, use them.

  4. Embrace your nerdiness. God, I was such a blog nerd when I started. I wrote about crap because I wasn't teaching or subbing yet. I just wanted to be in the cool kids club, dang it!! I didn't know anything and I basically was grasping at straws but the important thing is, I started. It's kind of like teaching... I begged, borrowed, and stole anything and everything. As I kept going, I started to figure out what I liked and what I didn't, what was me and what was not. And that's where the beauty lies. In being you and no one else. Speak your words, your way. Don't compare yourself to other bloggers. If God wanted you to be like them he would have made you 6'7". There will be a group of people who love your witty words and wonderful ways and they will become your loyal few. It's not the same few as Kate's or Sam's or Dan's (Notice the one syllable names. Trendy. Hm. E-lis-sa. Doesn't have the same ring to it) but that's the fantastical part: we get to share. If you write it, they will come. Promise.

  5. Blogging is like life. Treat people with respect, like in life. Encourage growth, like in life. Criticize constructively, like in life. Answer questions, respond, give feedback, like in...oh you get it by now. You are creating a family in a new neighborhood. Make it a place where people enjoy to come and will bring others with them. (Aww, can't you just see Danny Tanner waving in a cardigan in the background? Everywhere you look, ba da bu ba ba ba) Be yourself because everyone else is already taken! Learn from others and comment and tweet the crap out of everyone. People will answer your questions and ask their own. Return the favor. When they see you have something to say, they will come looking for more. And ta-da, your blog will appear and be magically delicious!
Now there are countless articles in the googledom and twitterverse on attracting visitors, how to create the perfect name, developing a brand, and so on and so forth. But we are not trying to make a living (if you are please let me know why you are reading this blog and what can you do with this?), we are trying to make a learning. (You like what I did right there?) We want to improve ourselves by learning. By reading. By blogging. By sharing. By reflecting. By experimenting.

And we can't do that if no one writes. So don't let the blogworld down, tweeps.

Be like the Winston and never, never, never, give up. In. Up. In.


Resource: For those looking to update their computers, these Newegg coupons might save some money.

Breaking the Mold Summary

It's been a while since this meeting and since I blogged and so I confess, not a lot left to summarize. I promised I would post the Powerpoints for you to look through at your own leisure.

So the last thing I want to do is to post my favorite quotes from the Powerpoint and see if they stir up any conversation. A lot of this we rushed through at the meeting so I am taking straight from the Powerpoint without having any thoughts or discussion to really add to it.

Here is my hodge-podge:

"The most productive periods are those where the kids are so involved that they are surprised to learn that the period is already over." -Jim Burgett

Challenge them to become thinkers.

Push students to think and tolerate ambiguity.

Give students the big picture first. (How do we do that?)

Allow students time to write things down, then process. They can't do both at the same time.

Involve students in "discovering" properties and processes by staging tasks- don't tell them if they can find if for themselves.

Use writing as a tool to improve memory and learning.

If it does not make sense, they cannot remember it. 

Ok, so that's about it. I've pulled as much as I think  I can out of the conference, my notes, and their resources.

I did forget one activity in my last post that I think is a good one.

Sum Race. Each group gets three problems a, b, c. They each solve their own problem and then add the answers together. Take the sum to the teacher. If they are correct, they move on to the next set of problems. If not they try again and they can switch problems to help get the correct 'sum'. Obviously this couldn't work for every concept, but it would for quite a few.

Last but not least, as a reminder, here is the e-mail: pippenconsulting@aol.com

And ta-da, the Powerpoints:



Told you it wasn't least.