Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Break a time for reflection

The break in school over the holidays has provided me with a time for reflection.  The school I teach in has block scheduling, and our 2nd quarter will finish up 2 weeks after we get back from vacation.  As the 3rd quarter begins, I will have all new students.  This provides a chance to change some practices and try new ideas on assessment and grading.  My brother, Matt Townsley, (@mctownsley on twitter) utilizes a form of standards based grading in his high school math classes.  It is my goal over the next couple of days to sit down with Matt and set up a plan for the implementation of a standards approach in my classroom.

My concern with this is I'd be starting something new in my school.  No other teachers will be utilizing a standards approach.  I also want to make it very clear to my students and their parents about the expectations and grading practices.  I hope to use this space (the blog) to share joys, frustrations, and gather feedback from you who might have ideas that will provide a better learning experience for my students.  My goal is to post once a week, but our second child is due anytime now, so I may be busy changing diapers instead of blogging.

Anyway, I'd love to hear your responses, insights, and ideas regarding standards based grading.  Please drop a comment or find me on twitter: @EricTownsley  I look forward to learning and sharing!


  1. Nice to see more people looking at a standards based approach to teaching and grading. I can't see any merit in percentage grading, if a student can pass a final, and turn in NO homework the semester, he may have failed the teacher, but he obviously has the benchmarks, standards and essential learnings down.
    We need to get over ourselves as educators, and realize that our lessons are driven by objectives, and objectives are driven by standards and essential learning. Seems like our methods should be to differentiate, assess, and instruct at the point of frustration, while allowing those that "get it" to move forward. Points based grades don't allow for much of that in my opinion.

  2. Michael, thanks for the comment. I agree. Allowing students to demonstrate their understanding in numerous ways is necessary. However, as a math teacher, I look at making sure students can demonstrate their learning multiple ways. Specifically, in Algebra: numerically, algebriacally, and graphically. I've heard this before, it seems that teachers end up teaching (and grading) the way they were taught (and graded). What we need to do now is work on changing the system.