Monday, August 31, 2015

Backwards Bike and Remodeling Houses

My favorite metaphors for the development of a Proficiency Based Education model are the backwards bike and house remodeling. In the video the bike is the same in every respect to the bikes we grew up riding except for one key difference, the steering mechanism is "backwards".  It still looks like and rides like a bike, but learning how to use the new steering is going to take some deliberate practice. 
When you set out to remodel a house it does not mean you are going to gut it. Some rooms will need only a coat of paint, some might need new fixtures and others you may need to go right down to the studs. Some rooms you work on on the weekends  when you have time and other rooms will take much more time and disrupt your life a bit.
In PBE what we do as teachers will look and feel the same in most respects. We are still going to work from the standards, develop lessons, give feedback, assess learning, and report the outcomes.  However, the key change for work is evidence. They way we define, elicit, evaluate and report on that evidence may be where we focus our remodeling efforts.

I want to start out trying to get to the big picture with this graphic. This simplifies a complex and at this point very messy system. The three components in bold down the middle of the triangle are key to understanding how PBE is an evolution from standards based education.

The easiest place to start is in the middle of the graphic at the level of the Performance Indicator (PI). The Performance Indicators are derived from the standards. The derivation can take on several forms; some PI's are simply the anchor standards (math), some are closely aligned to the standards and the anchor standard (ELA), some are just the standards (science). The reasons for this are that when the AOE put the PBGR's together they allowed each content team to work independently and gave them very little guidance. Hence we have differing interpretations of what a performance indicator is. If you want to take a closer look at the performance indicators for your content area you can download them here.

This is a sample from the ELA document from the state. You can see the performance indicators for research writing spelled out for three distinct points; end of 5th, end of 8th and end of 12th. In PBE we, as a system are going to be much more intentional about defining what it means to be successful on any one indicator and much more consistent in developing assessments that elicit evidence of success.  So the way the bike looks the same is that teachers will still develop and give students assessments. We will still score those assessments. The steering mechanism will look different in how we determine what is in those assessments and the criteria we use for success.

The Graduation Proficiencies are something like a box students will put evidence in. If we stick with this ELA Research Writing Proficiency a student would have to have at least one opportunity to gather evidence that they are proficient in research writing. For students they know that they have four boxes to fill with evidence of proficiency in ELA, one in reading, two kinds in writing and one in speaking an listening. Some of the opportunities are designed by the teacher, but some could be selected or designed by the student. The bike looks the same in that most of the opportunities students will have to provide evidence will come through their classes some might come from independent studies or internships.

This room may take the most remodeling.  Our grading will look different in that classes are going to move away from a single comprehensive grade. We are going to need to decide how much evidence is enough and how many opportunities students can have. I expect that this will be one of the hardest adjustments to make and it is going to take time and patients to come to some agreements on how to remodel this room.

This is why the AOE is suggesting that we do all of our work in pencil, because our understanding of this system going to evolve. 

Working down the triangle Learning Targets are the specific skills, knowledge and understandings that teachers need their students to have to work independently on the summative assessments. Much of this work is done through formative assessment, which means looking closely at the student work and giving them feedback that will hopefully move them towards being able to complete a summative assessment. Under PBE formative assessment will take a more central and visible role in classroom instruction. I imagine this looks and rides very much like the bike you are used to. The use of single point rubrics is more like switching to a new kind of bike than changing the way it steers. 

If much of this feels like stuff you already do then good, because this is just an evolution of the work we have been engaged in for over a decade and you may only have to put a coat of paint on most of your walls. 

1 comment:

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