Something’s missing…

//Something’s missing…

Something’s missing…

Something’s missing…do you ever get that feeling? You can’t put your finger on it right away, but something is just not quite right. When I think about some classrooms, I get this feeling. The student hands are up as a teacher explains an assignment. Kids are persistently asking whether it will be collected or graded, how many points it is worth, how they can ‘earn’ a grade, is there an opportunity for extra credit…

Something’s missing…

Do these students know what they are learning and how it is relevant? What skills they are working to develop? What key understandings they must take forward to demonstrate proficiency? With all the time spent on those other questions and discussions, the focus on learning gets lost in the mix.

Something’s missing…

In traditional classrooms with traditional grading practices, students rely on compliance, assignment completion, and point collection to ‘achieve’ and/or ‘prove’ learning. Because so many of us (students, parents, and educators alike) have been immersed in this type of culture for so long, it may feel as though all the puzzle pieces are in place, the classroom is running well, and learning is happening because of this.

But something’s missing…

In standards based classrooms and culture, something is missing as well, actually several things. Percentages are missing, points are missing, frequent grades in general are missing.  Averaging is a practice of the past. Behavioral grading has been replaced with relationships based on trust that garner positive behaviors and intrinsic motivation. Students and parents may miss the percentages and points, especially at the beginning of the move toward standards based grading. Students who play the game of school well will also miss these and need reassurance along the way that when the learning happens, the grades will follow.

The missing pieces in standards based culture don’t need to return for our students to learn. They don’t carry a meaningful place in the journey of learning. Instead of missing pieces to the puzzle, they can become roadblocks that are at the very best cumbersome for our students and at the worst insurmountable. Even without them, the feeling of something lacking disappears and all the pieces fit together. Students are developing skills and understandings to be lifelong learners.

This newly constructed puzzle will transform education for our students. It will remove obstacles to learning that eat up those all important instructional minutes and opportunities to practice crucial skills and understandings.

At last, nothing is missing.

By |2014-11-05T17:35:28+00:00November 5th, 2014|Uncategorized|3 Comments

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  1. Adam Moreno November 5, 2014 at 9:34 PM - Reply

    I am a believer in SBG, but there is something missing when you just talk about SBG, and that is the non-cognitive skills that need to be developed. Now I’m not saying that skills like focus, enthusiasm, creativity, and effort should be included in a “grade”, in fact, grading these skills can actually be counterproductive. However, in SBG the grade is only based in content and the meeting of standards. If the true purpose of school is learning, we need to remember that content will be forgotten. The non-cognitive skills developed in our classes will lead to success outside the walls of out school. Clear grades, not muddied-up with a bunch of different stuff…yes. But let’s make sure we are not missing the purpose behind the grades:

    • Garnet Hillman November 6, 2014 at 7:45 AM - Reply

      Non-cognitive skills are very much a part of a Standards Based learning environment. They are simply not included in a letter grade for a class or content area. These skills are reported separately which is powerful for students and parents alike rather than lumping them in with academic achievement. As far as content with Standards Based Grading, unless your standards are only content based (which I would not recommend at all), the essential skills used to apply the content that students take forward are developed and demonstrated. The purpose of grading is to communicate where a student is in relation to the standard(s) at a given moment in time.

  2. Ian November 5, 2014 at 9:07 PM - Reply

    great illustration of what ‘needs’ to go miss into return (start?) our focus on the Learning of the studies learning journey. Avoid the distractions (tellers, neatness, extra work) and “see” what the learner is doing. Kinda like the difference between hearing & listening….
    Thanks for the sharing!

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