Rules of Thumb is a series in which we share best practices for JumpRope and standards-based grading in general. Jesse taught for five years and has helped dozens of schools and thousands of teachers implement standards-based grading, but knows very well that these aren't one-size-fits-all. Take a look, and let us know in the comments if you agree or have other related suggestions!
Over the last five years as JumpRope has grown, I've had the opportunity to speak personally with hundreds of educators about how they use JumpRope and other systems to organize their curriculum and give feedback to students. As you might imagine, there are a wide variety of philosophies and strategies that schools and teachers bring. Despite the rich variety, there are some best practices that have emerged as good guidelines and common elements of successful implementations of standards-based grading. In this series, I'll share these with you in short tidbits along with some reasoning behind them. I'd love any feedback or other ideas that you may have, and certainly don't believe each tip to be perfect or complete!
Rule of Thumb 5: Communicate Targets Daily
Our very first Rule of Thumb focused on writing standards in student-friendly language. Why? Because making sure that your students are literate in their own learning goals is far more important than using research-backed jargon from academia. Furthermore, it allows you to customize standards to fit your specific unit and assessment plans. Writing student-friendly learning goals is just the beginning. We suggest reviewing and/or posting each relevant learning goals in the classroom prior to each lesson or throughout the unit of study. This will help to create the road map your students need to follow. Clearly communicating our expectations of students from each lesson is an important step in achieving mastery.
Rule of Thumb 6: Focus on Standards
Let go of your obsession with final course grades. Teachers, kids, and parents have been conditioned to care only about the final grade, at the end of the day, and this is part of what is broken about traditional grading. Admittedly, external systems (transcripts, graduation requirements, colleges, etc.) still rely on these grades and they are important... but imagine if your students were instead obsessing over showing mastery on the individual standards. These bite-size chunks are far more actionable, and it turns the question “Am I passing?” into the far-more-heartwarming “Can you give me a chance to show mastery on ...?” As a teacher, the latter is nearly impossible to say no to. It’s up to you as a teacher to transform this conversation, and you can begin by letting go of your own obsession with the final grade and shifting your attention to the mastery of standards.
Check out our other blog posts and Help Section where you can find lots of informative tips and articles around the topic of standards.