Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie

The Pedagogy of a Rural Educator


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30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 24 – Trends

Which learning trend captures your attention the most, and why?

Standards-based grading. I don’t know a lot about it, but it seems to be a really great way of evaluating students.

If you haven’t heard of standards-based grading, here is a short definition of it from The Glossary of Education Reform:

In education, the term standards-based refers to systems of instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting that are based on students demonstrating understanding or mastery of the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn as they progress through their education. In a school that uses standards-based approaches to educating students, learning standards—i.e., concise, written descriptions of what students are expected to know and be able to do at a specific stage of their education—determine the goals of a lesson or course, and teachers then determine how and what to teach students so they achieve the learning expectations described in the standards.

In the United States, most standards-based approaches to educating students use state learning standards to determine academic expectations and define “proficiency” in a given course, subject area, or grade level. The general goal of standards-based learning is to ensure that students are acquiring the knowledge and skills that are deemed to be essential to success in school, higher education, careers, and adult life. If students fail to meet expected learning standards, they typically receive additional instruction, practice time, and academic support to help them achieve proficiency or meet the learning expectations described in the standards. Standards-based learning is common in American elementary schools, but it is becoming more widely used in middle and secondary schools.

If you would like to read more  about this, visit the site by clicking here.

I believe that using standards-based grading in a school would be a great way to show how much students know. I truly believe that numerical and letter grades that we have used for so many years can be misleading. I do not believe that every student who has left my classroom with an “A” knows all the information I expected of them throughout the course. I also do not believe that the students who left with a “C” truly only knew 80% of the material I expected of them. Although I believe my grades are becoming more accurate as I teach, I still don’t think they are a true representation of what skills and knowledge my students have when they leave.

One challenge with standards-based grading is that is usually has to be a school-wide decision. It is very challenging to translate standards-based grades to traditional grading systems. I would love to hear more from people who have used this system in their classroom or school. Please comment below!

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30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 23 – Community

Write about one way that you “meaningfully” involve the community in the learning in your classroom. If you don’t yet do so, discuss one way you could get started.

I definitely don’t do this enough! I have heard of so many educators using community members as experts in the classroom, and I need to do it more. For my first two years, I didn’t live in the community I taught in. This was a big challenge because I didn’t know anyone other than fellow teachers and a few parents of students. Now that I have lived in the community for 3 years, I know more people and need to use them!

One thing I would like to do is invite professionals that use different sciences on a daily basis. Here are some ideas for professions in my small, rural town that use science:

  • Medical personnel – This is obviously the first thing to come to mind. Doctors, nurses, dentists, and other medical professionals use biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, and even some physics every day!
  • Farmers – These guys are using science all day, every day! They use biology, ecology, chemistry (mixing chemicals, pH of soil, etc.), and lots of technology.
  • Conservation Officer – We have the county conservation office in town. The conservation officer utilizes ecology, biology, meteorology, and chemistry.
  • Park Ranger/Game, Fish, and Parks Officer – The amount of ecology these men and women study and apply is phenomenal.
  • Engineer – Although we are a small town, there are a few industrial businesses located here. I’m not sure of it, but I’m guessing there is at least one engineer employed in our town of 1100! Engineers use a lot of physics, some chemistry, and obviously engineering skills!
  • Firefighter – The fire department here is fully volunteer, and they use science in their line of work. They must know about water pressure (physics), the best way to fight fires (related to chemistry), and things like CPR & first aid (biology)!

I think I could go on forever with ideas of people to invite to the classroom. I’m going to make a goal of inviting at least one person to speak in my room by the end of the year!