The Process Pt. III

Ok, so here’s what’s up – I’ve regrouped my thoughts and laid out all of the “standards” that we cover for the year. I then grouped them into topics, and now I am working on flushing out the specific learning goals for each topic. The first one I started with is “water purification,” where we take a look at water contaminants, laboratory purification methods, and then large-scale purification methods (municipal and natural). So far, here’s the tracking sheet that I’ve come up with:

Water Purification Tracking Sheet

Any feedback you have would be greatly appreciated! I am particularly curious about the overall topic scale (1-4, first page) and the tracking of each specific learning goal. As it is now, I only have a tracking graph for the topic as a whole, but I’m wondering if it may be beneficial to have a graph for each learning goal – especially with the circular curriculum. In this particular case, the book talks about the lab purification methods first and then contaminants and last is the large-scale treatments (with a bunch of other topics sprinkled in between), so can I give them score on the topic as a whole when there is so much time in between learning goals? Perhaps I need to modify the scale, with 1.0 as knowing the lab methods, 2.0 as methods + contaminants, and 3.0 as all 3? Does that make sense? Sorry, I’m rambling a bit. I’ll just leave it to the comments to continue the discussion.






3 thoughts on “The Process Pt. III”

  1. Congrats on your first draft! I’m glad you posted this — it helps me better understand some of your earlier writing.

    I don’t think it’s a problem to leave a topic half-done, go to a different topic, and come back. In fact, “topic separation” may be desirable (see Henry Picciotto’s wonderful essay on course design called “Nothing Works). I also don’t think it necessary to introduce the topics in the order they are listed. (Although it’s probably helpful to list them in the order that it will make most sense for students to earn them).

    Your question about “how do I give an interim grade” is a good one (I think that’s what you’re asking?) but that problem was not caused by SBG and won’t be cured by it. What does it mean to say that a student has 80% when you’re a quarter of the way into the course? It doesn’t mean much. Similarly, saying that a student has a 1/4 in a particular topic doesn’t mean they’re doing poorly — it just exposes what was always true: they’ve only earned a quarter of the credit so far. This will be a tough sales job, though, especially if you send interim reports home.

    I would hesitate to graph progress on each individual task. It would force you to distinguish between “having a 1/4 on level 1, a 2/4 on level 1, a 1/4 on level 2,” etc. I use a binary system: either you know, to my satisfaction, the contaminants that may be found in water, or you don’t. It makes the tracking easy: a date in the box means yes, a blank means no. You could consider requiring each learning goal to be demonstrated 3 times, or something like that.

    Can you give an example of what you would consider a good assessment of one of these?

    1. To answer your question: I think most of the smaller assessments (checks of learning) would come in the form of authentic scenarios, such as “if you were stranded at sea and ran out of water, what would you do?” or “your only source of water is a dirty stream, how would you ensure that you would not get sick from drinking it?” etc. Then at the end of the unit we have a project where students are investigating a fish kill, looking at data and possible causes and then determining what happened.

      I think I’ve figured out the interim grade situation, I’ll have more on that in a post sometime this week!

      And I agree that graphing progress on the topic makes more sense than each individual task – it will (hopefully) help to keep the “big picture” in sight so that they see how the ideas tie together and that they need to perform at standard level on each task to achieve mastery of that topic.

      Thanks again for the helpful feedback!

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