Thursday, July 5, 2012

An Assessment Cycle in a Flipped-Mastery(ish) History Class

As I see it right now, my 9th grade modern world history class next year will be self-paced and mastery(ish) based. I’d love to say that I will have time to go through all of my curriculum this summer and map it onto California state content and analysis standards and provide students multiple opportunities to meet each content and analysis standard I am focusing on in a unit, but I’m not going to get there. I’m nervous about trying to do too much this summer: all my flipped classroom thinking, collaboration, and work has been incredibly rewarding but I’m going to need to let next year be a part of the evolution of what I want my class to eventually look like. I’m okay with that. Plus, I’ll enjoy my vacation a lot more! But back to the point: what does assessment in a self-paced, mastery(ish) history class look like?

At the beginning of each unit, students will be given a list of assignment that they are expected to show mastery on as they move through the unit. Students will also receive the short answer questions they must show mastery on at the end of the unit. They will work through these assignments at their own pace and must show mastery of a given topic in order to move on to the next assignment. I will be creating checklists with suggested completion dates on them so that their progress can be tracked throughout the unit.

Upon demonstrating mastery on the classwork for each unit, students will receive an 85% for their classwork grade for that unit. (More about getting that missing 15% in the last paragraph.) If students complete the classwork in a unit early, they may work on the extension activities that are outlined below (that final 15% in their classwork grade) or they may choose to work on homework for other classes.

Once students demonstrate mastery on their classwork for a unit, they are ready to take the short answer section of their unit test. They may take this short answer portion of the test whenever they are ready, and may retake the test as many times as they want. All students must demonstrate mastery (score 75% or higher) on the short answer section of a test before they are allowed to move on to the content of the next unit.

Additionally, all students will take a multiple-choice test covering the content of a unit. This test will be administered on the same day for all students in an attempt to keep the results for this portion of the test as fair as possible. Two things about this: yes, I know that Moodle does some crazy cool stuff with randomizing multiple choice questions for tests, so theoretically I could have thousands of versions of the same multiple choice tests. (Again, I’m worried about biting off more than I can chew next year.) And yes, multiple-choice tests are less than awesome for numerous reasons that I won’t go into. However, given the fact that my students need to pass the CAHSEE (California state high school exit exam) and if I could keep my STAR scores somewhat respectable, well, I’m going to bow to the man on this one. Yes, I never take multiple-choice tests in the real world. It isn’t a life skill. Sorry – no teacher is perfect. I’m working to minimize the impact these multiple-choice tests will have on my students’ grades.

Retakes will not be allowed on the multiple-choice test (again, I don’t want to bite off too much next year). However, multiple-choice questions will only account for 1/3 of the points on any given test. Students will have to show mastery on the short answer section (2/3 of the unit test grade) before they move on to the next unit of a test. Plus, I want students to focus on the short answer questions as they move through the unit: this is why they receive these questions at the beginning of the unit.

All students will complete test corrections on their multiple-choice test. In an attempt to have students evaluate their study habits, they will also reflect on each test (both the short answer and multiple choice section). I got some great ideas from Jen Gray about this at FlipCon12. I will ask students to predict whether they think they got a given question correct before they hand their tests in. Upon receiving the test back, they will classify why they got a question wrong. They will also reflect on which of their study strategies seem to be working and which seem to be less effective through this process by looking at what helped them get answers correct – or partially correct. This will become a blog post, and hopefully over the course of the two years that I have my students, they will become more metacognitive about what test strategies work for them.

Finally, what about that final 15% students will not get credit for when they demonstrate mastery on their assigned classwork for a unit? For some, getting a solid B on their classwork will be satisfactory and they will choose to do no more work. For others, they may have been intrigued by the big ideas from the unit or just want to get more than a B on their classwork. To make up this last 15%, students can do several things, all of which revolve around choice and their interests:
  • dig deeper into the historical content of a unit and create a product to show the understanding they have gained from this work,
  • look into where the big ideas from the unit are currently still appearing in the world today and create a product to show the understanding they have gained from this work,
  • or they work on answering a question from the collaborative Blank White Paper project (outline of the BWP project is located here).

That’s how I see assessment looking in my flipped-mastery(ish) class next year. What am I missing? What should I rethink? Thanks in advance for pushing my thinking on this.