I’m changing things big-time next year. This is the first in a series of posts, giving an overview of what I’m changing. Other follow-up posts will cover specific parts of the plan. Here are the other posts:
For this overview, I just want to show what motivated me to do such an overhaul of Precalculus. It was motivated by multiple people on the MTBoS, but a few places in particular:
- Dale Ehlert on his new, cool (yet borrowed) grading “program” within Google Sheets. You’ll see that I borrowed heavily from him and those that went before him.
- Jo Boaler’s paper on Complex Instruction (I discovered through Dale Ehlert’s FAQ page).
- Jo Boaler’s article on “memorizers” and the Common Core.
- Sam Shah’s post on Enduring Understanding.
- Michael Pershan’s comments on SBG (or rather, as he puts it, “SBG contrarianism”).
Some goals and inspirational thoughts I got from these articles:
- I need to be grading more than just procedural skills. I can say that “thinking mathematically” and “asking good mathematical questions” are good things, but if I don’t back it up by assessing it, it won’t stick and radically change students the way I want it to.
- Standards Based Grading, as designed, compartmentalizes skills too much. I need to make connections and encourage students to make connections between skills, showing that math is more than a set of individualized skills. Oh, and I need to do this through assessments (see bullet point immediately above).
- I can’t totally abandon procedural skills. I need to find a way to encourage students to practice these outside of class.
My Grading Breakdown
- 40% Skills
- 20% Understanding
- 40% Math Practices
I’ll explain more what each of these mean, and how I plan to assess and teach each of these, but for now here are some comments that I believe are true about my grading system and why I like this breakdown at the moment. Oh, and all 3 of these categories will be graded using SBG.
- A majority of a student’s grade is not be based on procedural skills.
- A student cannot pass my class without focusing on “math practices”–habits of mind which are used by mathematicians.
- In order to get an A in my class, you cannot just show up and take the assessments–you actually have to do something outside of class which goes “above and beyond”.
- In order to get a B in my class, you have to understand the math that you are doing.
- Students can target procedural skills very specifically for both practice and reassessment.
In my next post, I’ll explain more what I mean by “math practices”.