Brian on Standards Based Grading

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8 thoughts on “Brian on Standards Based Grading”

  1. My high school starts working closely with Marzano in January. I too will be paying close attention to this. The scales seem very clear and student friendly. I paticularly like your notes on the fact that students will make errors, etc.

    1. Hi Clarice,
      Those “assumptions” about students making mistakes, etc. come straight from the ACTFL proficiency guidelines. They are not my own ideas. It is clear from those proficiency guidelines that language learners do not pull away from the muddle of mistakes until much further along on their journey. How demeaning it is then for the textbooks to demand accurate output from the get-go. How wrong is the end-of-course exam that has now been “developed” by my district – an exam that completely ignores this issue and demands student preparation on a slew of grammatical nuances of the language…

      1. My 14 year old flunked Spanish last year. My 11 year old now hates French with a D because he refuses to memorize lists of words and fails the vocabulary tests given every Friday. These boys are incredibly curious learners, but, when it’s not real, they shut down. Multiply that by millions of kids, and we can understand the intense quality that sometimes characterizes our discussions here. Yes, Brian, demeaning is the word. That’s exactly the word.

    1. Hi Anne,
      I believe this scale covers all levels, but level 1 the best:
      0 = not attentive, uses English unnecessarily
      1 = fully attentive (Ben’s rules about nothing on desk, laps, clear eyes, etc.), and NO unnecessary use of English
      2 = signals when he/she does not understand (perfect from the first day to the last for all levels)
      3 = able to respond to L2 (NOTE: this does NOT say able to respond IN L2 – again, following Ben’s original ideas, students can always respond with up to 2 words in English. What…they don’t understand? Then that is why level 2 says use the signal…EVERYONE, including language level 1 students, can get to level 3 on this scale, becuase signalling (level 2 on the scale) insures that the teacher never goes out of bounds. Signalling gives them ownership of the pace of the class. From there, level 3 says they ALL can repond. Yes/No answers, Either/Or answers, 2-word English answers, etc.
      4 = this is speaking in L2 that is non-forced, non-reactive (i.e. not an elicited response – student spoke up in L2 becuase they wanted to). This does not imply long strings of L2 – may just be a few words.
      On these types of scales, level 3 is the achieveable goal, level 4 is the advanced one that is there for the taking, but not required of the students.
      Quiz: Are there 2-word English answers at level 4 on this scale?
      No. Becuase this use of English is only allowed as a response to a circling question. That is level 3. Any other use of English is the ultimate no no – level 0.
      More advanced classes:
      My idea is that the same scale is used again. Except many more students could work at level 4. I’d say still keep the same scale – don’t move output down into the required ‘level 3’ of the scale…HOW well they speak at level 4…that’s the PRESENTATIONAL SPEAKING AND WRITING rubric…they way it is now I think is perfect for the novice and intermediate low classes. For a higher level class – since what I called above the “assumptions” about their ACTFL proficiency level are a bit higher, then perhaps that scale could be different.
      Okay, I don’t know if any of that made sense. I currently am teaching all Spanish II classes (which isn’t too much different unfortunately from the level I classes, since those are all taught textbook-style), but the gist of my rambling above is that I think the INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION SCALE above captures what both level I and II classes need to be striving for.

      1. If I could just respond to myself for a moment and laugh…
        I look back at what I wrote and it seems to say: blah blah level 2 blah blah blah level 1 blah level 4…lol
        The gist:
        1. pay attention 2. signal 3. respond (you must.) otherwise there is no quid pro quo back and forth of conversation 4. speak more if you want. not forced.
        I just had to formalize my thinking on it a bit more so that it made logical sense to me. I hate using stuff in my class that I have to use (and scales are a must now in my school) and that I don’t believe in. So I decided to think these out as much as I could, looking for weaknesses in my own logic. At the moment I am happy with what I came up with…Fancy looking but I believe they really translate to ultra-simple.
        Okay, one last thought:
        Here’s what I did with them today, day one of our second quarter, day one of having the above INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION scale up:
        1. I added up the number of students in class, multiplied by 4, and wrote this number on the board to the side. This was the class’s number of ‘points’ they had for the day. Example. 30 students = 120 points.
        1. We modeled and practiced level 1. 5 minutes of absolute attention and no English….and nothing else. Silence. No heads down, No looking around. Just a comfortable, relaxed position. Nothing on the desks. Nothing in the laps (big issue in high school: they love their purses with cell phones right there). I then told them this is our home base. We must be able to come back to this silence at any moment. During the five minutes if there was ANY issue – even the tiniest peep, or eyes closing or any distraction, I started tallying away the class’s points.
        2. They thought the game was over after those five minutes. No. I explained to them that going to level 2 now assumes that they are still meeting level 1. To practice signalling, I just picked out words to say to them. They were to use our signal if they didn’t understand. If they didn’t signal they I could call on them and they should know what the word meant. If they didn’t, I remind them to signal as soon as they do not understand something (no sitting around and guessing…they should not take that approach – get the meaning NOW before the teacher goes too fast and the snowball effect happens). I purposely picked words that I knew we may use later on in class, but that they do not know now…so that they would practice our signal. I really tried to catch them not using the signal so that I could deduct from the class points on the board.
        3. Finally, at level 3 I explained that they ALL are able to respond, since 2-word English answers are always welcome. So we practiced! I used – I think it was Roberts post a week or so ago – the questions that he uses to start the day: what day is it? what is the date? how’s the weather? how are you feeling? who is absent? I calle on many people individually. What they didn’t know what I was saying?? Hey – should have signalled. Otherwise they can’t be at level 3 (being able to respond implies that they understand) and they MUST be at level 3.
        4. In this way we transitioned, through modeling and practice, right up to level 3 and right into our normal CI/PQA stuff. The reality is it wan’t new for my students from the first quarter – except that I put it in scale form. This at least gives them a visual of the MOST IMPORTANT rules first, and then build from there.
        5. What about those class points? I didn’t not use them for a grade. For now it is for simple feedback to me and the students. Honestly – every class today found it fun to focus on how they are doing with the rules (that is essentially all this scale is: how to communicate interpersonally = rules for CI). Perhaps I can continue with this idea and demand that my classes lose less and less points each day. Not fair to grade the class as a whole? Perhaps. But the positive peer pressure today actually inspired many students to level 4 on the scale today. Many students would speak up in L2 to tell their friends to not use English, etc.
        The rambling bug must have bitten me today… 🙂
        ps. my goal now: warm up this way every day. Yes, even the silent few minutes at first. They need to be reminded of that No-English-Silence every day. Many are just not aware of the beauty of silence. Warm-up the signaling stuff. THEN begin our CI.

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