Another school year is wrapping up, and I’m already reflecting on how to get better for next year. This was my 2nd year to implement Standards-Based Grading, and I tried some new things. For one, I didn’t put grades on the concept quizzes I handed back in class. This was intended to reduce classroom status issues that result from students inevitably comparing grades on each other’s papers. However, one challenge arose with this new technique. My students had trouble determining their current understanding of each topic. Many of them wanted a grade in order to know how they were doing.
My purpose for using SBG is to promote growth mindset and constant pursuit of learning. Therefore, I do whatever I can to avoid talk about grades and instead try to focus on how to improve and deepen understanding. However, with all of the student feedback, I decided that I have to find a way to show their progress in a way that promotes the message I want while still allowing the kids to know where they are.
In my last post, I wrote about using Personal Growth Reports in order to respond to student progress. I’m excited about the results and potential for using that approach once or twice a grading period throughout the year. But, I also want a more instant, ongoing student growth report that allows students to constantly pursue learning and find direction for improvement.
Thankfully, Jon Orr and Kyle Pearce found an answer. They created, along with some tips from Alice Keeler and David Griswold, a Gamified Google Sheet to allow students to constantly see where they are and how they can grow. Here are the links to their work.
This is incredible, and I think it can have great results with my students. Therefore, I slightly tweaked the aesthetics a bit to create my own version. Check it out here. Also, watch Kyle’s tutorial video below for an overview of some of the features.
Since Jon and Kyle did such an awesome job, there really wasn’t much to do. I just wanted to customize it a bit to meet my minimalist preferences. So, the first thing I did was hide some columns and rows to form a very simple student template.
As you can see, I only have columns for current progress, feedback, and links to tutorial videos, extra practice and challenges. My goal is for the students to easily determine where they currently are and find next steps for improvement.
I really like this sheet because as I enter the students’ progress and feedback comments into the master, it automatically appears on the student sheet and updates when changes are made. Another great feature is the fact that all of the links on the student page will update based on master changes. Just go to the master sheet and edit the links for each concept.
However, my favorite customization is the actual gamification feature on the student template. Instead of badges, I decided to use celebrity pictures (Creative Commons). So, each time a student reaches the next “Growth Level,” a new celebrity appears on his or her sheet. I think this will be fun because my students have enjoyed celebrity-related activities in the past, and I think there will be intrigue with the mystery of which celebrity is next in line.
But, the most important part about the gamification is the route to achieving new growth levels. I originally was going to base the system solely on the number of concepts mastered. Basically, if you reach the highest level of progress (10 in my class), then you receive a concept mastery point, and a new celebrity appears. However, I realized that this puts too much emphasis on performance and not enough on work ethic and perseverance. Carol S. Dweck has written about this, and I want to make sure to hold true to the growth mindset values I talk about with the kids.
Therefore, instead of concepts mastered, I changed the title to “Growth Level.”
I decided that a student will not only earn a growth point when he or she masters a concept, but I’ll also award a point every time the student improves his or her progress level on a concept. For example, if a student makes a 6 on his or her first assessment but later re-assesses and receives a 7 or above, then that student will receive a growth point. I’m really excited about this because it encourages perseverance. Now, a student who never masters a concept can theoretically receive more points than the student who gets each concept right away. It’s all about growth and development!
Here’s where I’ll input the growth points in the sheet.
Another feature that I’ll emphasize much more next year is the submit work link.
This idea came from Matthew Switzer a few months ago. I set up a link to a Google Form where students can submit something they create in order to demonstrate learning of a concept. It can be a video, Desmos graph, worksheet, or whatever they can come up with. I think it’s important to emphasize this more because it opens up the door for more students to succeed. Some kids need different avenues besides quizzes in order to show what they’ve learned. In addition, the form encourages and rewards creativity which is something I want all of my students to aspire towards.
Finally, the coolest part about this amazing tool is the fact that you can share a link to each student page.
The students can then go to their individual link at any point during the year, see progress, receive feedback, and get direction for next steps.
A New Syllabus:
Besides the gamified sheet, I’m also going to change how I prepare students and parents for SBG and other strategies I use. I started by creating a syllabus with Google Docs.
I know it’s not the most glamorous thing, but I want the students and parents to have a resource to go to in order to learn more about why I use SBG, inquiry-based learning and other methods. The document has links to many helpful items that hopefully answer a lot of questions surrounding the system. I’d really like your feedback on the wording and content in order to make it as clear as possible.
In addition to the syllabus, I made another Google Doc to describe, in detail, my grading system and assessment practices.
Again, I’d appreciate your feedback on how to make this better!