Curriculum, instruction, and technology seem to change constantly to meet the needs of students, but grading practices have largely remained the same for the last 50 years. Standards-based grading is not a new idea, but over the past few years, it has come out of the shadows and has taken center stage under the spotlight. Ultimately, standards-based grading ensures that thoughtful practices are in place that allow student achievement, connected to content standards, to be accurately calculated and reported, so teachers can target their instruction and interventions. Most districts want an accurate and effective grading system, but the task to move towards standards-based grading is quite daunting.
The purpose of this post is to offer you some suggestions on where to begin if you are interested in adopting standards-based grading practices. When it comes to standards-based grading, two roads diverge, as Robert Frost once said. Some educators are more interested in developing standards-based report cards, while others are more interested in updating their grading practices. Therefore, you will need to choose your own adventure as you continue reading this post. Whichever road is less traveled for you, it’s important to know, though, that standards-based grading is most effective when grading practices and report cards both adopt current best practices.
Section A: Standards-Based Report Cards
Section B: Standards-Based Grading Practices
Developing a standards-based grading system does not occur over night, but with thoughtful implementation and a commitment to best practice, students can be a part of a fair grading system that accurately reports on their ability and achievement.
Note: On March 9th, we will be having another workshop on standards-based grading. This would be a great opportunity to connect with other districts who are currently exploring and/or implementing standards-based grading practices. Click here for more information: http://register.caboces.org/seminar/view/324?workshop_id=100
By: Brenden Keiser, CA BOCES Professional Development
This past November was an exciting month where teachers from Cuba-Rushford and CABOCES, Linda Botens and Justine Lombardi respectively, alongside Betsy Hardy, Staff Specialist for Distance Learning at CABOCES and this year’s presenter at iNACOL, delivered a gripping presentation about developing digital portfolios in the classroom. The room was filled to capacity and the audience was spilling out into the hallway to hear about the possibilities for using digital portfolios in the classroom.
In their presentation, “The Paper Extinction and the Rise of the ePortfolio,” Linda, Justine, and Betsy showed multiple examples of students’ work throughout the years that allowed students to show off their talents to prospective colleges and employers and explore new talents that some students might have otherwise been too shy to share.
Linda Botens shared one of her public speaking student’s forays into product endorsement and advertising. Normally, this student is shy, but when given the option to express herself on video, her dramatic personality had the opportunity to be shared with her teacher and peers.
Justine shared her uses of e-portfolios in her online Mythology and Folklore class and World Religions class that she teaches every year as elective options. In her classes, students share papers and projects, alongside art and presentations and have a way to group them all together and share with both teachers and peers. Justine also shared the uses of e-portfolios in the CTE classroom where students working on welding projects can photograph their talents and share them along with pictures of their earned certifications and share with their future employers.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Advancing STEM Challenges are designed to bring engineering and design to your classroom in a simple, easy-to-implement, challenge-based way. Modify our Advancing STEM Challenges for your classroom.
Did you know snowflakes generally are hexagonal structures because of the chemical bonding that occurs within the water as it freezes? or that each snowflake is unique? Do you know what kind of snowflake falls the fastest or slowest through the air? Your job is to find out this last question! The task is to design a prototype snowflake using paper and scissors. Once you've built your snowflake prototype, you can test it out by dropping it from different heights and using a stopwatch to time which design falls the fastest or slowest.
Your snowflake design does have some criteria and constraints. Every snowflake created has to be from the same origami template (see step-by-step instructions with pictures here: http://www.origamiway.com/how-to-make-paper-snowflakes.shtml). There has to be a 1cm border on the top and bottom that cannot be cut. At least three areas have to be cut out from the template. The snowflake should be dropped from the same height every time, held open with two hands, and held horizontal (flat) to the floor for fair trials. You and your group should try to design a snowflake following these guidelines that falls the fastest or slowest.
Hints and Tips for Success
"Breakout EDU games teach critical thinking, teamwork, complex problem solving, and can be used in all content areas."
Working on a team of about 15 people, students work to find clues and solve puzzles in an effort to “breakout” of a locked box during the 45-minute challenge. The clues came in many forms: digitally with QR codes and email, entangled in art, knotted ropes, videos, and some even hidden under black light. One clue leads to another and the excitement in the room is tangible as participants try to make sense of what information they uncover. And then, they beak out. Along the way, students learn about the history of communication.
Inspired by this though-provoking approach to teaching and learning, regional educators were introduced to the game-based learning approach at the second session of New Teacher Academy on December 1st.
Considering the application of BreakoutEDU in the classroom, teachers were excited about how well it promotes cooperative learning and students working together towards a common goal. Within the challenges, students can take roles that suit their learning styles. The most exciting part is that through the studying of clues and trying to figure out the puzzle, learning happens organically, without teacher led discussion.
BreakoutEDU is an excellent way to generate student interest and knowledge about a topic or to demonstrate and apply skills they’ve just learned in the classroom. There are hundreds of game options available across every content area.
Video on BreakoutEDU
For more information about BreakoutEDU, please visit their website. Want to see if your students can breakout? Contact Learning Resources today! CA BOCES has 5 BreakoutEDU kits available.
By: Sarah Wittmeyer and Shannon Dodson, CA BOCES Professional Development
Cattaraugus and Allegany County classrooms have reached an all-time high traveling virtually across the globe. Since the start of school 2,592 students have experienced opportunities to gain real world knowledge of various cultures from around the world. Historically, December Virtual Field Trips average 20 connections, but this year, Santa came to our region and brought our total to 103 trips in 3 weeks!
CA BOCES sends monthly trip highlights out to your Curriculum Coordinators, Tech Integrators, and Principals, so keep an eye out for these exciting opportunities. Some of these opportunities included National Distance Learning Week that was held November 7-11 in conjunction with the NYS Distance Learning Consortium. National DL Week allowed districts across the region to experience fee-based trips for free so that districts who had never seen a virtual field trip before could take part in this event. We expanded on these meaningful experiences at the NYS Middle School Association by showing districts how easy it was to connect to Ghana, Africa.
What better way to develop communication skills with students helping them to express their ideas culturally and academically through media sources. Students have opportunities to engage in collaborative discussions on curriculum topics, contrast cultural differences, and build language and logic to address details in directions. Below are some examples of content based trips:
Let CABOCES help you and your students take your next field trip virtually. All you need to do is click on the link below to see what’s on the calendar for upcoming trips:
Or to search for your own classroom topic, you can do a keyword search and see the hundreds of trips available by clicking on this link:
Or, to let us search for a trip for you! All you have to do is click on this link, and we will take of the rest. You will just need to fill out the request form and we will arrange to take your students around the world, into space, or even back in time!
If you would like to learn more about virtual learning experiences, please contact Carrie Oliver at 716-376-8270 or Betsy Hardy at 716-376-8281 for more information. The opportunities are endless.
By: Betsy Hardy, CA BOCES Learning Resources
3,853 Overdrive eBooks checked out
1657 resources shared through interlibrary loan
22 workshops to support professional development for school librarians
405 Library System deliveries each month
229 databases purchased managed
Filled 33 requests for 1 Foundation (American Museum of Natural History), 1 State Library (New Jersey), 2 major academic research libraries, 6 academic libraries, and 15 public libraries
Requests from 16 states to borrow library resources
2,592 miles of postal service to lend 1 book
“Enough students are suspended every year to fill forty-five Super Bowl stadiums.”