1. Decide how to deal with the grades.

The whole idea of SBG is that a student can try to improve their grade by reassessing a specific topic, rather than a comprehensive assessment. They can target a specific area of weakness to work toward mastery. Most SBG systems grade on a 0-4 scale, with 4 being complete mastery. I use a 0-4 point scale, but I've never actually given a 0 (they always at least attempt every question since they pick the topic to answer), so it's really a 1-4 system. Since you will have students on different topics at different times, many of the topics will be 0's until that student attempts that topic. I don't give a passing grade until they make a 3 (I count a 3 as a 70, not 75, only to encourage kids to make it to a 4). Traditional SBG systems use this 0-4 system as their only (or primary) source of grades. However, I count each grouping of topics (each color group) as a quiz grade. Students receive an "exempt" marking until their first attempt.

2. List out your topics for mastery.

First of all, this is NOT going to be an all-inclusive list. Using your pacing guide for the semester, pick the topics that you believe are most important for students to completely MASTER. I usually limit myself to 30 topics. This process takes a while, but it's worth the reflection. Once you have your topics, group them into 6 topic "groups." These will be your color groups. Then each topic gets a number, so you have Purple 1, Purple 2, and so on. I usually try to keep the group labels pretty vague. My Algebra 1 groups are simplifying and solving, working with functions, quadratics and factoring, non-linear functions, foundations of geometry, and linear functions. Each topic group gets a color, and each color has 5 subtopics.

3. Design a way for your students to literally "pick up" their assessment.

With students working on different levels, there's not an easy way to pass out assessments. I set up an area on my back wall with pockets for each level that contain the questions students will answer. Students walk back to the wall, choose their assessment, and write their work and answers on a separate sheet of paper so that the questions can be reused by another student. It's best to use the actual colors on the wall - so students can look for the red group, then find their number.

4. Create the assessments.

Kuta software is great for this step. For each topic, I made 12 questions and an answer key. I would put 4 random numbers from 1-12 on the board, and students would answer those 4 questions to earn their credit. I also printed the answer key on colored paper, so I could quickly find what level I was grading. They were required to show work and highlight their answers to make this process a little faster. Collecting these, I had the students sort them into color groups, so I could grade all the red levels at once, but I want to come up with a better system for that this year. At this point, I'm thinking that I will use a labeled stacking tray for them to turn in their papers, rather than piles on my desk that I would immediately feel compelled to straighten and put away.

5. Create a tracking system for the grades, and for student use.

Students need a list of the topics, and a way to keep track of their grades. This can be as basic as a list in their notebook with dates and few columns for their attempts. If you are going to want all students to go through the same progression, make sure your list reflects that progression. I allowed my students to complete topics in any order, but often made suggestions of where to go next on an individual basis. (I should clarify - they could go in any order AFTER completing the entire first group, which was simplifying and solving).

That's all, folks! At that point, you're ready to go.

How do you fit this into your daily schedule? Do you have them answer questions once a week? Every other day?

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