Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bit by the SBG bug

Much time passed between my previous post and the one before it. I didn't have a lot of time to post about teaching, because I was too busy learning how to teach all over again. At the beginning of the semester, standards-based grading rolled me over like a double-wide semi: It seemed then (and has since proven to be) powerful both philosophically and pedagogically.

powerful philosophically because, among other things, I can now avoid that squirming-roll-my-eyes-why-don't-you-just-learn-the-stuff-"Is there extra credit?" conversation

powerful pedagogically because, among other things, my students don't think to ask for "extra credit" anymore; they are too busy digesting helpful feedback

In this post I will try to recreate for you, dear reader, that pleasant lightning-bolt which brought standards-based grading to my mind on the back of a sleepless night. Read this story as historical fiction; I cannot now remember the exact order of events.

I had somehow found myself (how much more common is that realization now, with the Internet?) looking through a presentation for new teachers. Then, with a click, came some videos by Rick Wormeli:

Something of a temporal paradox happened around these videos. On the one hand, they total almost an hour in length, but on the other, even though I watched at least some of them more than once, when I was finished it felt like I had been watching for only mere moments.

Next came a Google search for "standards bases grading" and a trip to a compilation-style post on Think Thank Thunk. Pure gold. There I was introduced to MeTA musings and I was eventually pointed by some blessed link to dy/dan.

I was hooked. I decided to make the switch at the beginning of this semester; a somewhat risky move if the students wouldn't go along, but really the only way I could look myself in the mirror. If that sounds dramatic then watch those videos and read over those bogs again. The effect of all that material was so powerful that I cannot see how someone couldn't be thus transformed themselves.

What do you think? If you're a hater, why? If you're a lover, have I presented the best sources?

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