Academic Culture

Introduction to Mastery Based Learning

In the traditional classroom, time is constant and understanding is variable from student to student. The Flipped Mastery model inverts the traditional relationship between time and understanding, letting understanding be the constant and time be variable. All of my students are held to the same high standards, but they master standards at a pace they feel comfortable with and are ready for. Initially, many of my students are confused about what a self-paced mastery-based class is all about, so my co-teacher and I find it helpful to introduce the concept to our students in a very strategic and explicit way at the beginning of each school year. 

Strategy Resources (3)
Poster
 
 
Given that mastery-based learning is a new concept for most students, I hang this poster, explaining the mastery cycle, at the front of my classroom.
Student Handout
 
 
This is the syllabus I send home for parents to sign on the first day of class. Given that mastery- based grading is novel not only for my students, but the parents as well, strong parent communication is essential. The syllabus helps parents understand mastery-based grading and what is expected from my students to pass each trimester.
Poster
 
 
Given that mastery-based learning is a new concept for most students, I hang this poster, explaining the mastery cycle, at the front of my classroom.
Student Handout
 
 
This is the syllabus I send home for parents to sign on the first day of class. Given that mastery- based grading is novel not only for my students, but the parents as well, strong parent communication is essential. The syllabus helps parents understand mastery-based grading and what is expected from my students to pass each trimester.
Benjamin Siegel
New Visions Charter High School for the Humanities II
Bronx, NY


 

About this strategy

Prep Time:
Long
Subject:
Math
Grade:
Tenth grade
Similar Strategies
Independent Student Learning
Mastery Checklist

At the beginning of each trimester students are given a checklist to track their own mastery. As they progress through the lessons, they mark off what they have completed, in addition to the grade they received on each lesson. This acts as planner, letting students know at any given moment what they have completed, and what is left for them to learn to finish the trimester.

 
Academic Culture
Candy Land Path

The Candy Land Path is a Candy Land-style trail that runs across several walls in my classroom. Each tile on the trail represents a lesson my students have to master in order to advance in the course. This strategy allows my students' progress to be seen and followed on a day-to-day basis, ultimately giving transparency to the learning process. This is a powerful visual tool for every student - especially for over- and under-achievers - and allows me to reframe school as a learning journey and progression as opposed to just working for a grade. The Path also brings an element of fun to the classroom while preserving its motivational purpose. 

 
Feedback Systems
Teamwork Evaluation Rubric

At the end of any collaborative activity, each student makes a copy of this Teamwork Evaluation Rubric and fills out the boxes with his/her thoughts on the overall quality of their group's teamwork. The rubric includes multiple indicators of high-quality teamwork and encoruages discussion about how to improve future iterations. Indicators include noise level (framed as concern for other group's ability to work effectively), quality of work produced, overall teamwork, and level of grit. Students assess their own contributions to their collaborative assignment as well as their teammates' contributions. Students can insert glows and grows where they explicitly discuss their feelings regarding their own work and the work of their peers. I frame this activity as a team-building exercise. Evaluating collaborative assignments can be complicated. The Teamwork Evaluation Rubric allows me to collect a good deal of data about individual student's contributions from multiple perspectives, which is both a fair and thorough way to assess individuals and the team as a whole.

 
 
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