Our district has chosen to join the current trend in education and adopt a strategy of standards-based grading. It is a radical change from the traditional method of grading using percentages and letter grades. This is the first year that our fourth grade teachers have used these methods, and it is quite an adjustment. However, it is not the first year for our students, who have never experienced regular letter grades.
Though the new system is flawed both in vision and system, the idea behind it is one we can embrace: the idea is for students to improve, realize they are improving, and set goals for themselves. Conceptually, this is great, but realistically it can be cumbersome and misleading.
- Approaching Mastery
- Developing, and
- Insufficient Evidence
- Mastery = Got it!
- Approaching = Almost there!
- Developing = Little understanding
- Insufficient Evidence = No proof of understanding
One of the things I've developed for our Reading lessons is a series of guided universal worksheets. During the last few weeks, as we worked on finding the theme of a text, these worksheets were partially in place. They were:
- Guided: that is, the worksheets were more than a series of blank spaces waiting to be filled. These sheets lead students through the process in much of the same way the teacher taught the lesson.
- Universal: that is, the worksheets may be thrown at students for any text. These sheets allow the teacher to implement Reading lessons within Science or History texts, as well as with stories and novels.
- Cumulative: that is, as we graduate through future lessons, we will continue to work on the skills we have already covered. These sheets will progress through more comprehension skills, but they will ask students to remember past lessons. As an example, we are about to start identifying the main idea of a text. When we do, students will begin to see more involved worksheets asking for both the main idea and the theme.
- Progressive: that is, students will be asked to become more and more independent as the year goes forward. These sheets slowly make students more responsible for the processes they are using.