Thursday, August 10, 2017

SBG Score Posters

In the past, I've hung up a "What does my grade mean?" poster, that was too small to be usable.

This year I hung these up instead:

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Some classroom finds

Within the past couple years I've been making an effort to spend less money and time on decorating my classroom. I've accumulated so many things that I really don't need any more. It is hard though when I find pretty things to not buy them all. These are some fun things I've found lately that I wish were going to be in my classroom.

These I was really surprised to find at Ikea. I'm not sure if they're intended to be motivational posters or if they're just playing into the typography trend, but they're perfect for the classroom.

These I came across at HomeGoods and also really wanted, especially the one about staying humble. I advise a group of students where we have a group of officers that we try to develop leadership skills in and I find that I talk about this a lot.

This one I couldn't pass up. A desk calendars is one thing that does run out so I can justify buying and this one is just so much fun. Each page is hand lettered and has fun little sections all around the page. Each page also has a matching page for notes and with a whole bunch of adorable little coupons and notes. (I got excited and started to fill out September before I took the picture).

Amazon Link
ps- mentioning this because people have asked before- I do not just love Rutgers football games (I don't really like sports at all) as a fundraiser I work with a group of kids running a concession stand at every game

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Course Guide

This is a super old post that for some reason I never published. I do still use this as my syllabus posted on my website. I also still use the one black and white version for the kids' notebooks.  So while it's it's an old post it's still relevant. 

Old post:

Last summer I revised my syllabus into this one page course guide which I really like. Well I came across this awesome syllabus on Pinterest and which made me want to revamp mine yet again. 

In the past I've always made different versions for my different courses but really my class policies and information is the same in all my courses so I decided to take that out and just make it a general information sheet on the highlights.

In the tweet below, Rob Patin shares the Photoshop template he used to create his original version.

I discovered this far too late and it could have made my work in recreating this way easier, but oh well. Below is what I came up with. All the information is my own except for the section on Remind101, that is taken from the original. I loved pretty much everything about it so I didn't change all that much.

I also use Photoshop to create almost everything I make but in case you don't have Photoshop, I included a basic template below that I think should be pretty easy to use. It's saved as an image so you can put it into whatever program you use. Easiest I think would be to put it into Powerpoint and then just put text boxes on top of it to type whatever you want. I included one version with the pictures I used and one without if you'd like to add your own.

download here

download here

I don't think that I really want to print color copies of these to put into the kids' notebooks so most likely this will be for my website and possibly one to hang up in the room somewhere. Many thanks to Rob Patin for the awesome idea!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Metric Conversion Posters

These are some other ones from the archives (aka folders I'm cleaning out and forgot I ever made). I know the multiply/divide by 10 is a bit of a trick (I like to convert using proportions), but maybe someone might like them.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hang in there

This is super random, but I came across it while cleaning out an old folder. It was someone else's idea and was intended to be reminiscent of the old kitten poster. I never did print it out but thought maybe someone would like to.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

SBG Updates- Grading

Following along with how I changed the way I write questions, I have made a couple changes to my grading system.

Change #1: Getting a 5
Before:"A 4 means pretty much perfect and the only way to get a 5 is to get two 4's."
When I started including a reach question on each assessment I started letting students get to a 5 right away. I did really like the previous system, but this is just how I'm doing it now and I do really like including more challenging questions. There typically aren't that many students that receive perfect scores so there is still a lot of reassessing that occurs. Also, the difference between a 4 and 5 is only five points (95 vs 100) so I do still feel like it's fair for all students that I'm including a question that might be beyond the reach of some students. I feel that the fact that there are always some students that get the harder questions means that I should be including them.

Change #2: The point system
This one is a seemingly minor change, but had pretty big implications. I use a five point scale where 3 is considered basic proficiency. My school uses a traditional gradebook system so I need to translate the scores into what I call gradebook grades. This is explained fully here. All I changed was the grade translation on a 2. Before it was a 65 which was the lowest passing score. I didn't like that it felt like students could still obtain a passing grade without being proficient so I changed it to a 60. This was a new change for this past school year and especially first marking period it meant that at the halfway marking period point I had way more students with failing grades than before. This was not particularly popular, but ultimately it made the students work harder and learn more than then had before with I do feel good about. I plan to keep this up this year.

Change #2a: Another point system (not mine)

Another idea on the point system is the way that a colleague is doing it. He also was concerned with grade inflation of students that are not yet proficient. The first time around, everything below a 3 receives a gradebook score of 0. It's a bit of a shock for kids who are used to getting credit (and sometimes passing a course) just for trying but it's an excellent way of assuring that anyone not proficient will give it another shot. If they try again and are still not proficient then they receive the 50. 

Change #3: "Buying" notebook use
This one I've played with in prior years but never settled on a policy I really liked until now. I teach special education resource math. The students are absolutely capable of more than most people think which is why I maintain higher standards for them than most. Ultimately though, some do need more accommodations than others. In the past I would allow some of my more struggling periods the use of their notebooks during assessments. None of my questions are ever information that they could just look up and copy so they are really just using them for support on the processes. I was always hesitant on this though because in all my classes there was always a kid or two that could do the work without the support and I would prefer to push them.

What I started this year was letting students "buy" the use of their notebook for 5 quiz points. The idea is that they can sacrifice the five points if it will help them pass, but there will not be any way to get a perfect score with support. I now print each skill on a separate sheet of paper and don't staple them so if they want to use their notebooks they can do so only where they really need it. They first do all that they can do without their notebook, hand those in, and then can use their notebook on the rest. I have a little stamp that I stamp pages with that they had the assistance on. I like it because it allows for different levels of accommodation in the same classroom without me having to be the one that makes the distinction of who is and isn't allowed (which I would never do). I know this one may not be a great option for everyone since the kids won't have this support on standardized assessments, but it's what works for me.

Friday, August 4, 2017

SBG Assessment File Organization

After using standards based grading for five years now I have accumulated quite the bank of assessment questions. I didn't really have a good way of saving/organizing them and it started to get hard to find what I was looking for. I reorganized things and it made things much easier for me this year. Like my last post, I feel that there is a good change everyone has already been doing this and I'm late to the game yet again.

This was what my files looked like:

Each was an assessment I gave. In theory I planned to assess the skills in the same groups but in reality that didn't happen. So every time I gave a new quiz I'd have to look for questions from all over and then piece together a new assessment. Questions started to overlap and it was getting frustrating.

Last summer and throughout this year, I started to open them all up and reorganize them. By the way, this process is incredibly unpleasant. I have SO many assessment files and the questions are ALL over the place. I'm currently in the process of doing this job for my geometry files and it is terrible. However, it's worth it because the results are so neat and organized.

Now they look like this:

Each one contains multiple versions of the same skill. It makes it far easier to see what version 1 looked like when I want to create version 2 (or 3 or 4). It makes it so easy to print out a requiz for a kid. If I am giving a quiz on four skills I do have to open four files but it's not nearly as annoying as I thought it would be (that's what kept me from doing this originally).

Also in case you're wondering why the numbers skip, it's because our scope and sequence includes a skill list and these numbers are aligned with that. I don't assess on every single skill listed because it would be too much.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

SBG Infographic

A couple years ago I found this and thought it was so fantastic:

I modified it for my own use and hand it out now and back to school night and anywhere else I need to explain standards based grading:



I print it double sided and fold it in half, like a pamphlet. On the back I include another page relevant to my class. Unfortunately I do not have editable files to post. Like CVU Learns I used piktochart and then copied it into pieces into Photoshop.

Download (not editable)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

SBG Updates- Student Record Keeping

I don't remember if I ever shared the original, but this is the updated version of the record sheet my kids keep track of their grades on. I used to fill in the skill # and description myself and give them copies of all that filled in but things would sometimes end up changing and it was too much to keep up with. 

Now I use this version which is just general and easy to keep a bunch of on hand.

Basic layout idea from here

Every time I hand back assessments they fill in the skill # and description from the quiz and then record what score they got and color in if they need to. The solid line between 2 and 3 is because that's the proficiency/passing line. If they score lower on a requiz I do not lower their score, but I do want them to record it so they can see that they did go down in understanding. Likewise, I want them to see if they keep scoring the same thing over and over.

Download: doc    pdf

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My take on the growth mindset posters

Over the past few years my classroom hasn't changed all that much, but last year I hopped on the growth mindset trend and added something new. After seeing tons of those "Change your words change your mindset" bulletin boards (originating here it seems) I wanted put my spin on it.

A few years ago when I hung up my simple rules posters I found that I got a lot more use out of them than I'd anticipated. When kids try to give up I point to the wall and tell them that unfortunately it's a rule that they're not allowed to give up. It seems to be lighthearted and they don't get as angry as if I just tell them they have to keep working.

So I liked the growth mindset posters for the same reason. While I really liked them all, for me nine was just too many. I feel like the more stuff that goes up around the room, the less kids are able to focus on it all and it's less meaningful. So I took out the four that I thought I could get the most use out of and made this poster:

I printed it at Staples as a 24"x36" engineering print (under $10). The color ones are more expensive so that's what it's black and white. I did however figure out that those big prints take watercolor paint really nicely so I used watercolors to color in the letters. I'm not in school so I don't have an actual picture, but imagine it something like this.

I also really liked those bulletin boards with the brain and found an image I really liked to do that with. I colored in the left side to be just grey and then colored in the right side. It was like a giant watercolor coloring book, it was great. I don't have a picture of it done, but below is during.


All done, picture something like this.

Before settling on that, I started making something along the lines of all the bulletin boards everyone else has. I didn't end up hanging them up, but this is along the lines of what I had in mind.

fonts for the powerpoint file: The Skinny, KG Empire of Dirt, A Love of Thunder (all free to download)