Friday, September 17, 2010

First Test With SBG

I had hoped to have a clever title or some catchy way to start this, but I don't.  I guess that's not really me.  Today I gave my first test to my Math 1 students and my first test since starting SBG.  The test covered 8 skills and I had given 2 non-graded quizzes over 7 of the learning targets prior to the tests.  I only gave written feedback and tried to give some other feedback to the students when I could individually.  As I have previously mentioned, I have not collected or graded homework at all, which is also a pretty big switch for me.  I have given answers with every assignment; yet another change for me  All in all, lots of changes for me in how I assess and give homework.

I was pretty anxious to grade the tests and see how they did as well as how their grades would look in my version of SBG. After hearing about how @druinok really struggled with grading her first set of papers, I was a little nervous about how long it would take.  Since this was Math 1, it wasn't horrendously difficult to grade and I was actually surprised how much easier it was than I thought it would be.  That's not to say that there weren't some scores that I struggled with.  I did end up giving a couple of 4.5's but it made the most sense to me for how those students did.  I can see where a four-point scale may make it a little easier (harder to find middle ground between scores) and I may revise to that for next year, but given that I have only graded one set of tests, it's probably a little premature to say that.  And, to be honest, there were really only a couple of students on a couple of skills where I really waffled on where to rate them.  We'll have to see how that plays out as the grading goes on.

After I put the grades in the grade book, I was pleasantly surprised to see where they fell.  I suspected that there would be much fewer failing grades (and to be honest, that should be the case at the moment even if I had used the old system) and there were.  Actually, there were quite a few B's and C's and I am pleased with that.  I felt that their grades accurately reflect their understanding.  My lowest students actually did some things rather well and I am hoping that maybe they will have some motivation to try to re-assess and improve their grade (and ultimately their understanding).

I have to say that once I finished grading their papers tonight (yes, I actually came home and finished grading papers on a Friday afternoon/evening!), I felt pretty good.  I felt pretty good about how they did.  I felt pretty good about the grading piece of it.  I wasn't ticked off as I have been in the past at how they did and I didn't feel exhausted by the grading process.  It was different and unfamiliar to me.  I like it.  :-)

All in all, I am pretty happy with how things have worked out with my Math 1 class so far.  I was nervous about how they would take to SBG.  I am still a little nervous about it with them - mainly with two issues: first, the not grading homework bit.  I am hopeful they will continue to work at the assignments and practice whether it be in class (if time) or out of class.  Second, I am nervous about the reassessments with them.  I am afraid that they will see their grades, see that they are passing and be satisified with that (or even thrilled).  I don't want them to be satisfied with it. I want them to want to improve their understanding (and actually do it). I want them to continue to be motivated to do the homework problems and practice and continue to make sure they understand what I am asking them to learn.  So, how do I do that?    In all our SBG discussions, we talked about setting it up but I can't seem to recall discussing how to get them to buy into the reassessment part all that much.  My other classess will want to reassess, if only to improve their grades.  These kids, I'm not sure if there will be that motivation.  So how do I get them to buy into that?

I'm looking forward to reading your responses in the comments.  Happy weekend everyone!


Tracie Schroeder said...

Great post, Lisa! I have graded a couple assessments now with SBG and I find fewer kids failing as well. Of course, I also have fewer kids with an A, but that doesn't bother me near as much as it bothers them. Keep up the good work

Michelle Burton said...

Thanks for sharing Lisa! This too is my first foray into SBG with my math 9 adapted class. Our first assessment is on Monday so it will be interesting to see how they react. Just curious, what does you mark book look like? I've contemplated a digital version and a paper version but I'm really not wanting to rework it sometime later if I can avoid it. Thanks :)

Lisa said...

Thanks for the comments Tracie and Michelle. It's nice to know I'm not alone in all this. Michelle - here is a copy of what I created in excel to work with:
I am using the top line for each student to record their absences. The middle line is where I am writing the learning target number. The bottom blocks are for recording their scores. I am recording everything on paper using that and then in our gradebook program. I have always kept a paper copy and digital copy. Hope that helps!

Becky Goerend said...

I usually try not to show kids their grades unless they ask =) I used to put their current grade on the quiz when I returned it, but it did seem to deter them from retaking. Not that I'm hiding their grades, but I want them to focus on the understanding not the grade.

I'm not grading homework this year either, but I still have them turn it in. I am keeping a tally of if it is completed, on time, etc. just as data to share with parents if needed.

Michelle Burton said...

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for sharing your creation. I too was fooling around with excel, but opted for a paper version myself. Nothing fancy, just bigger boxes to put multiple numbers but I like yours much better! From there I am posting the score in our online at for the students to view. The one thing that I've opted to do for at least the first while is to have all my marks weighted to zero so that there is no percentage created. My group of adapted students are quite satisfied with a 50% and not push themselves to do much more. Eventually I'll need to weight things once the report times comes around, but for now they have their mastery scores and have an idea which areas they need to remediate and get more help. Have a great day :)