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Full draft of the syllabus, finally. I won't be teaching this until January, so there are still some blanks and things I don't know yet. Many of you will see versions of your ideas and verbiage here. I'll try to do better about giving credit. In fact, I'll add a section to the fine print on the last page.

In my eagerness to get everything in the syllabus and to keep things logically together on as few pages as possible, I think it's turned out overwhelmingly dense. I was hoping for it to come out like +Kyle James Matthews gorgeous Spanish 305 syllabus, and I completely failed!

So I guess my question here is: what should be in the syllabus, what should be saved for separate packets? My impulse was, I think, to go as far as possible down the line of "you're getting all the information you need right up front to decide what path to take through the course." But it feels like TOO MUCH, especially since I'll be handing them the Picky Writing Rules, too.

And, of course, any other advice or comments are welcome.



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Okay! Here's a draft of a bunch of this. It's got the course goals, and the first draft of the three bundles. There are first draft specs here for all the assignments except for those in one category (maybe I'll get to those tomorrow). You'll see some explanations and rationales as well. It's long because Google docs are crap at tables.

I'm particularly interested in what you think of the writing parts of things.

I'll take any advice as I try this for the first time.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lxDX2UmNA_S_eeTJlYDa9GFBMVGpjlYBzNy-xtYarbQ/edit?usp=sharing


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Okay, first attempts here, and I could use feedback!

These are assignments for my Classical Mythology course. I've started with the assignments that are (in my old way of grading) generally impossible to get a bad grade on if you just do the work. That is, for instance, for the dressing up as a Bacchant assignment, I would start with an A, which would become an A- if you had a properly Greek outfit, but didn't also have some ivy or other Dionysian attribute. I'm trying to think through what my assignments actually ask for and what my grading tends to expect and lay out those things in the checklists.

I haven't gotten to suggested amounts of time (which seems like a good thing to do, but they'll take a while to come up with).

Thinking ahead to bundles: all students must do Bacchant and Troy to pass, B students must do one more, and A students must do all four.

Am I on my way? What should I be thinking about as I tackle the next category of assignments?


Quick query: anyone have any experience and/or advice with using SBSG in an Abstract Algebra course? I think I've got a pretty good idea how to handle my Stats, Precalc, and Discrete courses for the fall, but I'm thinking that Abstract will require a little different approach.

Next question: how to handle the final exam, when there's no chance to revise or resubmit.

TLDR: how do you handle cumulative exams in specs grading?

This is for the Classical Mythology class I'm revamping. I'm thinking of the exam as part of the same category of assignments as the one other test they have: in both instances, it's when they have to know who Oedipus is and what Dido did. Objective, get-it-right or not. Generally, I try to make both tests easy, although students do much more poorly on the exam.

I'm working on setting the course up as a combination of more hurdles and higher hurdles. The way I'm thinking now, both test and exam will be required in all grade bundles. It seems easy enough to set up the first test as a something you have to pass at a high standard, and then give them a chance to retake by use of a token. But that's not possible with the exam.

1) I could make the exam required for only the higher bundles, but that's problematic to me for two reasons: 1) our wonderful self-scheduled exam system is flummoxed by non-takers; 2) the exam assesses the lower-level learning goals of the class (knowledge and comprehension) that I want even less talented and less diligent students to achieve.

2) I can imagine setting it up that the C-bundle students achieve 70% or better on the exam, B-bundle achieve 80% or better, and A-bundle 90% or better. But I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around failing students who score less than 70% or having an A-bundle student, who has succeeded in every other respect, suddenly get a C because of a 78 on the exam. Am I just being timid about the shift to specs and its high standards? Or am I thinking wrong about how to organize it?

3) I could also see truly thinking of the exam as a second test and scheduling it before classes end. That might make a retake possible (and it might allow some flexibility with the writing assignments). But I don't know if that's advisable.



I'm starting to look back through the posts in order to keep from asking questions that have been answered, and I saw an "introduce yourself" question, which seems like a good idea.

First, thank you for welcoming me into the group. I'm grateful to find you and the wealth of information here.

I'm a Classics professor: I teach ancient Greek, mythology, rhetoric, and Greek drama at tiny Randolph College. I went to a roundtable on Specs grading at the big Classics conference in January, and it seemed so perfect for solving some of the problems I've had over the years in my mythology class that it was all I could do not to try to change my syllabus right there and then...a week before the class started.

But the idea hasn't left me all semester, and I had SBSG in mind as I was teaching the course in the latest iteration. Now that the class is over, I've finally actually read Linda Nilson's book, and I'm setting about to redesign. The course will be one of the ones designated "writing intensive" in our new gen ed arrangement, so I'll be looking to this group for wisdom about humanities classes and writing with SBSG.

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Maybe I'll expand on this later, but really quickly one thing I've been thinking a lot about is how to take advantage of all of this data and track student growth. Here are a couple of charts I produced. One has a "cumulative standard curve" for every student, counting the number of standards they had mastered by a given class day. The second is the median number of standards mastered by students who would go on to get a particular letter grade. I'm still brainstorming how to use/interpret this data to inform my teaching going forward.
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I have one more thing to report about this year: inspired by +Drew Lewis, I wrote a Python script that automatically sends out progress reports via email to the students. I started off sending them weekly updates, but I switched it to daily reports by the end of the semester.

This was huge for me, since it dropped the number clerical errors down to zero, since students could see if I made a mistake. I had used an LMS (Canvas) to report this before, but Canvas was so limited that it could not give a full report. I am extremely happy with this program (thanks, +Drew Lewis!).

See https://symmetricblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/reporting-grades-in-sbg/ for more details.

Here is my summary for 2016--2017: my main problem with SBSG has been about perception---both the students' perceptions and the faculty's perceptions. Some of my colleagues have been skeptical of my use of SBSG largely because of student complaints, so these are related.

My discovery this year is that I figured out exactly where SBSG is working and where it is not. I found out that my pre-service elementary education majors really, really do not like SBSG, but my students in all of my other classes mostly do like it. This is still a bit of a problem because I love teaching pre-service teachers, and I am working on fixing it. However, I am very relieved, since I had thought that this was a problem with all of my classes.

I found this out by looking over my student surveys from previous years more carefully. In fact, I found that 14% of my students this semester love SBSG, 56% like it, 14% don't like it, and 7% hate it (the rest are neutral). I think that this is a reasonable breakdown.

So: I now know where to direct my energies.
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