What’s standards-based grading? Why does it matter?

If you’ve had a performance evaluation at work, the most valuable part of an evaluation is not a ranking or score. We want to hear what our supervisor says about how we’re doing our work: What we did well and what we could do to improve. It’s constructive feedback that helps us learn and grow. We know this as adults. Yet school systems have focused almost exclusively on grading systems that relied on accumulations of points and calculations of percentages. As a result many students become adept at “playing school.” They figure out for each teacher exactly how much work to do to get the grade they want. This puts all the emphasis on the points, not on the learning. Like a good job evaluation, a good grading system should give students constructive feedback about learning. In Eastern Carver County Schools, we are improving the feedback teachers provide to students. Students should know clearly if they have mastered a learning target or if they need more practice. Elementary gradebooks... Continue reading What’s standards-based grading? Why does it matter?

Understanding standards in learning

Have you ever been given a task but you were unsure of why you were doing it or its purpose? Even if you were successful, there was probably a level of frustration or anxiety. When we are learning something, we are more likely to be successful when we know what needs to be done and understand what a successful outcome looks like. Being as clear as possible about learning goals is essential to a high-quality education and a hallmark of exceptional, personalized learning in Eastern Carver County Schools. This is why our educators are putting academic standards front and center in the teaching and learning process. You may have heard of “standards-based learning” or “standards-based grading.” It may sound like something new, but standards have always been foundational to the learning process. An educator must know what a learner should know and be able to do. Everyone involved in education from preschool through doctorate-level programs uses something like standards, whether they are... Continue reading Understanding standards in learning

“Learning with” vs. “teaching to”

If you ask individuals if they like to learn new things, the common reply is “yes!” However, if you ask the same group if they liked school, the answers may diverge and involve stories about their specific school-based experiences. Eastern Carver County Schools continue to change the paradigm of school and think about how learning experiences can be engaging and relevant for each student. “Purposeful Learning” is the pillar of personalized learning that helps ensure that learning is meaningful to the student and carries a framework for success beyond the classroom. Teachers and mentors in Eastern Carver County Schools approach learning as something we do with students, rather that something we do to them. Teachers and students often co-design learning experiences and pathways that ensure relevance and meaning. Learners have opportunities to make responsible choices to contextualize and show evidence of their learning. Given opportunities to co-design, learning is indeed enjoyable and... Continue reading “Learning with” vs. “teaching to”

Jake Jauert inspires children through innovative instruction

Jauert has an interesting mix of educational degrees. He has a B.A. in Elementary Ed, a Masters degree in Exercise Science, and a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction. The secret to his success as an elementary teacher is his ability to take all his knowledge about brain development and the positive effects of movement, and to apply it everyday in his classroom. When you visit his classroom, you’ll notice there are no neat rows of desks or assigned seats. He has designed and built furniture for his room so that it can be moved around and used in different ways. And it allows for open spaces to be used for an “instructional brain break” in the middle of class.  Kids may not even realize they are learning math concepts as they use specially designed floor mats to “hop” their way through multiplication tables. Jake Jauert’s 1st grade students love to learn, and they give their teacher a lot of the credit for why.  “He makes learning math fun,” one young learner said. “He is just... Continue reading Jake Jauert inspires children through innovative instruction