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Posts Tagged ‘Astronomy’

Once again, students have signed up to take a semester of astronomy with me as their teacher. For several years, I’ve started with a list of things I hope to pass along to the students. Listing these objectives challenges me to include the breadth of a general interest astronomy class while keeping the list concise and manageable. In the end, I always include more than we can get to in our single semester.

Seems like a good idea to put my latest version out in the world, maybe get some feedback:

Astro Learning Outcomes 14-15
(Sorry that the document must be downloaded. I haven’t figured out how to display the document in the post.)

I’ve toyed with adding some kind of learning objective: work done outside of class, reflecting, re-assessing… but it feels like that’s just looking for a stick with which to hit a certain kind of student. If I can hold kids accountable for all the standards I’ve already got on the list, do I really need to assess them on their homework and such? I’m thinking no.

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How am I going to teach my astronomy class to take advantage of Standard Based Grading ?

I’m revising my course over the summer, and I started doing a little research. Turns out one idea I’d had already has a name: Standards-Based Grading (aka SBG, or #sbar on twitter). I believe it was this blog entry from Terie Engelbrecht whose blog  first clued me in. I’ve been reading a bunch about it, and there’s a good description by Jason Buell at his Always Formative blog.

So the grading part seems to make sense to me. I’ve got my objectives for the class already, I’m a big believer in objectives. (“Objectives” is the term I tend to use instead of “standards.”)  Now I’m chugging through my objectives, figuring out what exactly I expect students to be able to do to meet expectations, exceed expectations, and so on. In the process, I cut back on thenumber of standards

The class is an elective, and the students have very diverse prior experience and preparation. I expect some are going to whip through the standards at a high level, others are going to struggle to master a few. This worries me.

My half-baked solution is to add back a few of the objectives/standards, and somehow count those as “exceed expectations.”

So my questions are:

1: Have teachers had issues with running out of standards for their students? Maybe I don’t need to worry.

2: How do teachers using SBG handle extra topics?

While I let those percolate, I’ll be pondering how to actually choreograph the instructional and assessment parts of the class…

And that concludes my very first blog post. Thanks for reading!

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