Tying it all together

So I have been sitting back quietly thinking about all the SBG posts going on.  Something just wasn’t sitting right with what I know/believe.  Which is interesting really, since I completely abandoned giving marks entirely for a year (That’s right, no marks!  Ever!  In High School!  Oh no!) and ran my own semi-made up version of SBG before I knew SBG existed.  This SBG movement should feel like I’d finally discovered that all along I was adopted and now I had stumbled into my real family – the ones who looked exactly like me.  Then a few folks even started posting warnings and cautions about SBG, all the same things I was thinking as I watched people struggle with their lists and how they would mark the lists and all the other nitty details.  My long lost twins, echoing my concerns!  Yet, still, it just wasn’t feeling right as something I would want to adopt formally for my classroom.

Then, something about this evening’s twitter book talk that I was lurking in on made me realize that while people are talking both philosophy and details, there was very little talk going on about what the students would be responsible for.  SBG does give a far clearer picture of what students know/don’t know in comparison to a standard grading model, but the teacher is still the one who owns the “list.” Something that has been at the forefront of my own professional development has been in regards to outcomes, feedback and evidence and making sure that has been put in the hands of students.  It’s not enough for students to be able to test well through a list of skills you’ve provided for them completing assignments and tests you’ve crafted for them.  They need to be able to prove, using evidence that they select, that they understand the outcomes (and to what degree they understand them).

I suppose this is where I need to pull out my unicorn, as this takes time and practice for students and a little magic certainly wouldn’t hurt.  However, I’ve got a year to think about the details and a whole smorgasbord of things I’ve tried independently in the last 3 years that would be much more beneficial to student learning if I put them together in a more cohesive way.  Also, I am (naively) hoping our new curriculum & resources will be more aligned to supporting students in providing different pieces of evidence.


6 thoughts on “Tying it all together

  1. Do you think that this is a problem with SBG in particular or just in the way people have been implementing the test/remediate cycle?

    Also, do you see this as THE way to gain feedback or as an integrated part of the traditional teacher as evaluator model?

    I’m really interested in how you work out the details here. I’ve gotten stuck on things other than the “Show me what you know” convos and projects. The convos I’ve liked, the projects not as much.

  2. I think it’s likely just where people are in their own implementation. I think it’s really normal when you are first trying something that it’s all about you – there is still a misconception floating around in all of our heads that if we as teachers do everything 100% correct the kids will magically learn.

    THE way. Your’re hilarious. If I’d found THE way I’d be lying on a beach somewhere a millionaire while my & your students wandered around spewing math (and science) brilliance.

  3. I like what you’re getting at here, because secretly the only goal is to get teachers to critically think about their assessment practices. As I wrote, it’s about a philosophical shift, not just retesting (barf).

    I do something that you may like, which is having students identify what standard or knowledge they’ve demonstrated when working on larger projects. They give me the reasoning and the list, then I give feedback. This is a much more intense form of assessment.

    Also, I know the idea of having students generate everything is nice, but at some point I have to ask myself why I’m the expert. It seems to be because I can see the forest for the trees while the students are still walking through the meadows and underbrush. Please don’t write off SBG, become one of us and add your distinctiveness to the collective. We must keep SBG from become and evil watered-down acronym, and having as many flavors as possible coexist peacefully is the best way!

    1. The “tying it all together” bit was how I think I need to do both. I have been “SBG-ing” in a weird sort of way for 3ish years (and the conversations I’ve listened to/participated in have clarified some things I’d like to change, not to mention affirmed my own sense of awesomeness 😉 ), but that particular piece of edu-jargon hasn’t made it across the border (yet).

      For now the only acronym I’m willing to commit to is DMFJ.

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