I remember creating my first lesson, incorporating standards-based grading, so many moons ago in Mississippi. I glanced back and forth between my computer screen and my content notes in overwhelming anxiety and frustrated confusion. Where do I even start? What did it mean to scaffold questions to track and target a specific standard? I had so many questions around simply writing assessments on a single topic to fit this framework. I needed a standards-based grading (SBG) fairy to sit on my shoulder and walk me through this new, seemingly complicated, method of teaching.
Fast forward to today; now I work with Kiddom. My first memories are examples of the blockage and doubt that can occur when trying something new, making a switch to a model that is different from what we are used to. Feeling unsure and uncomfortable when taking a risk is completely normal and is shared by so many educators making the switch to SBG. I know the stakes feel even higher, your daily work influencing the minds of young learners. The good news is, you’re not alone, neither in the way you may be feeling, nor in learning the ins and outs of SBG. My priority at Kiddom is to make this process seamless for teachers, bringing all of the data and content involved with SBG to one place. If you need assistance, we’re here. And, the risks you’ll take with SBG will pay off, they will motivate your students to own their learning, and they will save you time in the long run.
When I began teaching in Nashville, my fellow educators were also making the switch, most new to SBG. Beginning that transition was met with hesitation and skepticism because its importance wasn’t explained and much-needed guidance was barely accessible. Many were concerned this would limit their teaching freedoms, that student learning would be restricted, and love of learning would cease.
While the hesitant feelings are valid, the actual outcomes are so beneficial for students and teachers. SBG actually frees us from the structured I do-We do-You do mentality and from having to keep your classes all on the same schedule in time for a chapter test. If someone falls behind when taught traditionally, there is the lingering fear, how will they catch up? In an SBG classroom, students work on different, intentional paces. SBG helps guide the educator (or facilitator) to pinpoint where to spend their time and energy, remediating and enriching on an individual basis.
With Kiddom, so many of my co-teachers’ concerns could’ve been alleviated, guidance and resources to SBG at their fingertips, making tracking and targeting instruction so much easier. Having the ability to do all of the steps called for in SBG by yourself is impressive, but we know it’s not sustainable. Teachers are leaving the classroom, and without support, who’s to blame them? SBG is game-changing, but only when teachers are supported through the transition process. My commitment through Kiddom is to bring this safety net to you, helping teachers like you navigate through the initial hesitations to the day students are coming to you, asking how they can master those last remaining skills.
You may be wondering how this looks for your subject. Introducing SBG opens up new doors and ignites newfound gaps to conquer in student learning for all areas. Let’s take a quick look.
In math and science, SBG gives teachers the opportunity to have a laser focus on which part of skill students are having misconceptions. Then, a teacher won’t need to reteach the entire unit or struggle blindly wondering why students still aren’t understanding how to calculate slope or how to explain mitosis.
Humanities classes typically assess students on specific content or ever-developing skills, such as the WWII or the writing process. SBG can be complex here with so many categories of performance (e.g. drafting, revision, publishing), but can be beneficial in understanding gaps in performance.
For artistic classes, students can sometimes feel discouraged when they are assessed on one final project. SBG opens a window for students to be assessed on artistic processes, such as neatness, craftsmanship, technique, and originality. In addition to artistic proficiency, students can be assessed on other skills that would mirror their progress and mastery.
I’ve seen students learn more with SBG, more motivated and driven by SBG. Students who understand a skill get to move on and expand their thinking, while students who need more one-on-one intervention are identified. Students in the middle no longer miss opportunities to grow, because we know where they are, too. The opportunities with SBG and Kiddom are limitless here, and the time saved aimlessly throwing darts in the dark, will be a substantial shift in your classroom, for you and your kids.
Adopting SBG leads teachers to understand their content as experts, knowing each intricate portion of a skill. Leading up to calculating slope, students will need to have mastered the skills that contribute to slope. As teachers are tracking past and future skills in their subject, the “end goal” mindset is replaced with a lifelong learning mindset. I never loved math more than when I could show my inner nerd, breaking down a skill to its complex core.