Standards Based Grading is intended to get kids thinking about their strengths and building confidence that can help them through their weaknesses. Rather than reference obscure sections of the textbook, you get them talking about topics. I learned out of a textbook, so I always filed my math learning away under whatever chapter it had been filed under in the textbook. When I started teaching I taught this way, using a textbook for reference and even titling my tests based on whatever chapter we were on. In my second year I started organizing my planning a little bit and used a long form calendar to map out my thoughts. A sample:


Notice my references to textbook sections. Now if you were someone making use of this, would you have any idea what Section 1.8 was? Why does Section 2.2 need two days? Is it especially hard? Wait, what is it again? This particular calendar was from my first full year of SBG, so I had the tests broken out into topic numbers. Separately I kept a list of what they were and I had this complicated mix of planning with textbook sections, identifying the topics, and then molding the textbook content to that topic. After running through Pre-Cal and Algebra II in SBG form, I now have a much deeper sense of the content because I think it terms of topics, not chapters. These days the calendar looks like this:


Much easier for an outside observer to determine what's going on. More importantly, I'm making myself think the way I want the kids to think. Who cares if they know anything about Section 4-2? In college their math class will be organized completely different from mine, and if a professor starts talking about "matrix multiplication" it doesn't serve them well to sit there and think "now was that Chapter 4 or Chapter 5?" Math is supposed to be universal, the mechanics work the same no matter where you go to school. So why not think more universally?

Don't let the textbook own you.

AuthorJonathan Claydon