Evaluation and Assessment

Teaching for Mastery

Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:21 AM

I'm interested in if any teachers teach for mastery, and if so, how you implement this.

I have an idea of how this might work in my classroom, but I am currently at a loss on how to actually make it happen.

First, my idea is to have a set time frame for each unit - unfortunately, with a confined classroom/course time-frame, I still need to have the students get through the content in this time.  However, I would like to implement sliding scale of content that the students will work through to understand the content.

For instance, I have a large variety of student levels in each of my classes.  If I have a unit that has four major areas/stages that the students need to master, I might have some students who master stages 1 and 2 during the first 3 days of the unit (shown through a practice assignment and then a quiz) and are already working on stage 3.  But, I might have some students who are struggling with stage 1 - complete the practice assignment, do not perform proficient on the quiz, and then need to complete some remedial work and another quiz before moving on to stage 2.

A few things I don't have worked out - 
1. How would I manage all of this...  I have 150 students, half in Honors Biology and half in Standard Biology.
2. How might I keep students on Biology once they have completed all the mandatory stages of the unit.  I have an idea of having "Furthering your Thinking" projects, but I just don't know how to get students to buy into those activities - especially when "not everyone is doing the project, why do I have to?" has been what I have seen in the past.  I don't want students to see it as "because I am smart, now I have to do more work..."  but, more like they get more advanced practice because they are smart.  Something that would intrigue them to want to do the extra project, because it is fun and they are learning more.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how I might make this work?  Do you do something similar, or even different to produce the same outcomes - students working at their own pace to gain mastery?

Also, I do have my own YouTube channel for lecture videos AND I ask my students to pre-load information for the content before we discuss in class, either through my videos or through the textbook.  I don't lecture in class, we have discussions, so this is a benefit where I don't need to teach my students to take notes outside of class.

Thank you for any suggestions!

Jaime Jackson
Jaime Jackson
20 Activity Points

Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:09 PM

I'm so glad that you are being creative with ways to ensure that students have mastered the content. We use standards-based grading to try to accomplish the same thing. Students can watch your videos or read the book to prepare for discussions and labs on their specific standards. You can differentiate their in-class practice and labs and provide feed back as needed. Tests are written and graded based on the standards... if your unit has 5 standards, then the test would receive 5 separate grades. Students are expected to show mastery of each standard on the test. If they do not, they are expected to complete review work and re-take the section of the test that they were not proficient in. When the review and re-takes are taking place, students who have mastered all areas could use your "Furthering Your Thinking" projects or independent research on a topic of interest in biology. I hope you take a look at standards-based grading to supplement what you are already doing. I'll bet your students like your YouTube channel!

Susan Farmer
Susan Farmer
1305 Activity Points

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