How long do the quizzes take?
Some quizzes take a full 50 minute class period and others take about half that time. It can vary from class to class. Because of this, I block off a whole class period for each quiz and assume I won’t be able to get to any other material on quiz days. Also, I like doing Minute To Win It challenges after quizzes in order to lighten the mood and tension if classes finish early.
What do daily grades look like?
I give a weekly daily grade each Friday based on work ethic and teamwork, and I use a similar rating scale to the one I use for grading quizzes. Throughout the week, I take notes on a clipboard of what I’m seeing in class. If a student is working well with others and giving their best effort, then they get a 100 for the week. However, if a student isn’t focused the way he or she is capable of, on the phone too much, sleeping, etc., then I make notes on the clipboard and give a rating at the end of the week. I prefer not to grade for accuracy on daily grades because I want the kids to have freedom to learn and explore without the pressure of a grade. In the meantime, I try to use as much formative assessment as possible to determine where students are and how we can improve.
What does your online gradebook look like? How do you record grades?
There is one daily grade a week based on the description in the question above. In addition, there is an individual major grade for each concept that is quizzed over during the nine weeks. So, during the first nine weeks in Geometry, I have an individual major grade for distance formula, midpoint formula, angle pairs, and parallel lines & transversals. The grades for these quizzes are based on the rating scale of 5-10 (50% – 100%).
Do you score each question on a concept quiz with the scale of 5 -10 or give a score of 5 – 10 for the entire concept quiz?
I bundle the questions based on the concept they represent. From there, I give a rating based on each concept. For example, if we have a quiz with 2 solving equations questions and 2 domain and range questions, I’ll give a solving equations 5-10 rating based on those 2 questions and a domain and range 5-10 rating based on that set of questions. The hope is to get a holistic picture of student understanding from the set of questions for each concept.
What happens if a student scores lower on a retake?
I still honor the highest score no matter when it was achieved. This definitely happens, and it’s not ideal. However, I’ve learned that the message that mistakes are a good thing in math can be compromised if I don’t honor the highest score. I’d rather be lenient in order to improve student mindsets and build trust.
When do students retake quizzes? Before or after school? On specified days?
I offer one retake per quiz in class. This usually happens the next time we take a quiz. So, if quiz 1 over distance formula is given on September 1st, then I’ll offer a retake of that quiz when we take our angle pairs quiz on September 18th (quizzes aren’t always that spaced out).
Students are also allowed to come in before school, after school, or during lunch. There are no specified days for which they’re allowed to retake. If a student is willing, then I want to accommodate his or her schedule in any way I can.
Do retakes become increasingly more difficult?
I try to keep retakes at the same difficulty level in order not to discourage kids from attempting retakes. I could see some kids electing not to retake if they knew it would be more difficult the second time around.
How do you do your letter grades? Is it just a straight average with standard cutoffs (e.g. A = 90-100, B=80-89, etc.)?
The rating scale is from 5-10 which matches with 50% – 100%. Letter grades are just a straight average with standard cutoffs.
How many quizzes do you have students take per unit?
This will vary, but there are usually 3-5 quiz days per nine weeks. I try to space out quizzes as much as possible in order to allow more time for learning and prevent kids from feeling over-quizzed.
You allow students to retake a quiz as many times as he or she wants until the end of the grading period. How do you manage this?
I’ve surprisingly found that students don’t utilize the retake option that often. Very few students ask to retake, so there hasn’t been much to manage. One of the reasons why I think this happens is because I give at least one retake in class at some point. Therefore, I think the students don’t worry about it as much. For the kids that do ask to retake, I make sure to only allow them to do so once per day. Also, if I can tell a student isn’t really making an effort to improve learning but just trying to retake until they get a score they like, then I try to slow them down a bit and tutor them first. I think it’s fair to not allow a retake in that situation in order to get the student back in focus on trying to learn. Once they show they’re serious about learning again, then retakes are back on the table.
Do you have an endless supply of retake quizzes?
Most of the time, students will not retake more than once. Therefore, not many retake quizzes are needed. However, many times I’ll just make up some problems on the spot if a student comes in outside of class. From there, I’ll have him or her work these problems on a whiteboard. After they work it out, I have them explain their thought process. Through all of this, I’m usually able to get a feel for their level of understanding and in turn provide a rating.
How do you get parent buy-in?
Being very transparent is key. Since the system is different from what most people are used to, it’s important not to hide anything and be willing to answer any questions parents may have. One thing that may be helpful is to send an email at the beginning of the year breaking down the system and making yourself available to answer any questions or concerns.
Also, communicating the vision behind the system is the most important aspect in my opinion. There will be parents who are initially skeptical or even strongly against SBG. However, once they hear the vision and have some time to see it work its way out in the classroom for a while, I’ve seen that most, if not all, will buy-in and respect your effort to create a positive learning environment for the students.
How do you handle eligibility?
The deadline for retakes is the end of the grading period. Therefore, students cannot retake a quiz that is from a previous grading period. For example, solving equations occurs in the first nine weeks of Algebra 1. As soon as the first nine weeks is over, a student cannot retake a solving equations quiz anymore. This prevents difficult eligibility situations from occurring. Also, I try to not quiz within the last 2 weeks of a grading period in order to allow enough time for relearning and retakes. If I do give a quiz in the last 2 weeks, then the grade will just be applied to the next grading period.
What research do you have to support SBG for administration?
Honestly, I haven’t looked into the research (nothing against it…just haven’t taken the time to do it), so there is probably a lot more out there. Feel free to share research you have found!