Reflection: Rigor Graphing Lines and Getting Stuff Done - Section 4: Mastery Quiz: SLT 1.7 or 5.2 Your Choice


Part of what I love about Standards-Based Grading (SBG), is that it helps me to meet kids where they are, and to show (both to students and to their community) that they're improving from their own baseline.  But what happens when a student is clearly moving more slowly than they ought to through the content?  As I delve deeper into the implications of implementing SBG, this problem emerges often enough that it must be addressed.  It is one area where more traditional grading systems might appear to hold the advantage.  In traditional grading, kids have to learn a certain amount by a certain time - the urgency is inherent in the system, and for some students that works.  For others, however, that institutional urgency is exactly what they find disheartening about school, and it can cause them to shut down.

But urgency isn't all bad.  In fact, a little stress can be productive (I'll reference this article again below).  As teachers, we must be able to help students develop time-management skills, a commitment to getting stuff done, and yes, the ability to cope with - or even better, make the most of - appropriate levels of stress.  For me, the two keys to achieving the appropriate levels of urgency and ability to cope with stress are to make it a fun challenge to beat the clock on some task, and to always be gentle about it.

I've reflected previously on my use of timed Powerpoint quizzes for precisely this purpose.  With the same goal in mind, a new and tool that I've discovered, and have used to great success in all classes, is  Kids love this web site, which presents multiple-choice problems in a quiz-show style format.  It's also fun - I recommend checking it out to see what I mean - and built to cultivate the healthy kind of urgency.  The faster a student can answer a question, the more points they'll receive.  

My students and I have really enjoyed using this particular quizizz on graphing systems on linear equations.  I start a lesson by reviewing with students how to use Desmos, then I tell everyone to work in pairs.  I explain that one student can run Desmos on one computer, the other student is in charge of the Quizizz.  The results are fantastic: there's urgency, high spirits, and plenty of conversations about each.  It's been so wonderful to hear how kids explain their reasoning to each other, and when we debrief at the end of class, kids can explain what they learned today that they didn't quite understand before.  Also as part of that debrief, I've been reading students some highlights from that article I linked above about some of the ways that a little stress can be healthy.  It's important to reserve a few minutes for that at the end of class.  I love this time of year: it's when we get to watch ninth-graders grow up so quickly - with new curiosity about how the world works and their relationship to it.

  Part of "Getting Stuff Done" is Building Urgency (Fun + Gentle)
  Rigor: Part of "Getting Stuff Done" is Building Urgency (Fun + Gentle)
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Graphing Lines and Getting Stuff Done

Unit 9: Systems of Equations
Lesson 7 of 20

Objective: SWBAT build their algebraic chops by writing and graphing linear equations.

Big Idea: A little over a week into a systems unit, it's important to take a little time to meet kids where they are and assess where they're at. Today's work will serve as a springboard to the next few days.

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