Posted in education, mastery based learning, physical education, standards-based grading, teaching, Uncategorized

“Habits of Scholarship” Rubric: Assessing Physical Education Behaviors

By now, you may be saying to yourself, “but I want my kids to try hard, change, practice good sportsmanship and do PE homework!”… My district most certainly believes that behaviors are just as important as measuring student progress towards mastering the standards. We have a school wide “Habits of Scholarship” (HOS) rubric that assesses work completion, class participation, class conduct and maximizing time on task. The students have the same rubric in every grade and in every class, so they know exactly what to expect in every learning setting. My co-worker and I took the rubric and transformed it into PE words, still using the original document to keep it aligned with the same document. This just allows it to apply to the gymnasium a little easier (as we all know, the gym can be a little different than a classroom setting).

Behaviors should not be a part of a child’s grade. Behaviors do not measure a student’s knowledge of contents and skills as related to the standards. Behaviors are what drive a student to success, which is why it should be a separate report. Standards-Based grading  solely reports a student’s progress towards content knowledge (mastery towards the standards) and the HOS report solely reports out the student’s behaviors that are occurring in the academic setting.

Every 5 weeks, our students receive their school-wide HOS report to let them know how they are doing, however each teacher has a way of giving daily/weekly feedback as well. Goal setting and teacher mentorships are formed with students who are struggling with the behaviors because there is a correlation between good HOS scores and good progress towards mastery. When students can demonstrate good work habits, then tend to do better with their academic habits as well.

In the gym, we use this rubric after each class. The students give themselves a quick rating on each category with evidence as to why. It is very easy for my co-worker and I to check their work as they leave class to go change and it becomes instant feedback for each student on their HOS. You may be thinking that we can’t possibly have time for the students to do this work and give feedback, but it all stems back to classroom management and implementing routines. We take the time in the beginning of the year (in 6th grade) to make sure they can implement our system, since it is different than elementary school. It soon becomes part of the PE routine and the whole process of the end of the class reflection on their learning target and HOS with teacher feedback takes 5 minutes.

This rubric is also a great piece of student evidence for the child to talk about during their student-led conference with their parents/guardians. It allows them to easily explain their HOS behaviors that are occurring in the gym (and the rest of their classes as well).

This rubric is stapled to the inside of their folders, posted on our walls and emailed home to the parents. We want to make sure everyone is onboard and everyone knows the expectations of the gymnasium. Please comment with your email address if you would like an emailed copy.

Google Document Copy:


Posted in education, mastery based learning, physical education, standards-based grading, teaching, Uncategorized

The difference between a traditional curriculum and a standards-based grading curriculum.

If you are new to this concept, there are a lot of questions going through your mind right now. It may take some time, but I will break it down for (in hopefully a simple format to understand). My goal is to keep the posts focused on one or two ideas only, so if there is something that you really want to know and I haven’t gotten to it yet, please contact me!

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The first question to ask yourself is, “Does your curriculum have a clear purpose?” and the second important question to ask yourself is, “Do your students have significant evidence to prove that they have met the purpose of your curriculum?”, and lastly, the third question to ask yourself is, “Do your parents and students know the exact learning expectations for your curriculum?”

These three questions are the biggest difference between a traditional classroom and a mastery-based learning classroom.

What is Standard-Based Grading?

Standard-based grading is grading to a specific standard that both the teacher, the student and the parent know and understand- using benchmarks as indicators (SHAPEAmerica National Standards). Refer to the post about “learning targets” to see a visual.

  • The letter and number grades are removed. Instead of scoring for points correct (100%), teachers look for students demonstration of skills/concepts (ES- exceeds standards, MS- meets standards, PS- progressing towards standards, LP- limited progress), that are clearly aligned with a learning target derived from a PE standard (again, refer to the post about “learning targets” to see a visual of this).
  • There is no failing! Students can keep trying until they master a skill. First Attempt In Learning”. 
  • Students are also provided with different opportunities to demonstration mastery, as teaching should not be a “one size fits all” approach. I will discuss the choice program that my co-worker and I use in a later post (i.e. personalization).
  • SBG allows students to track their growth and then describe their strengths/weaknesses using evidence in their portfolios. Evidence is the main component of SBG. Can your students justify their learning with evidence? Portfolios and trackers will be discussed in a later post.

What is the difference between a traditional curriculum and a standards-based grading curriculum?

** The biggest difference is that the learning is personalized and the students own their learning providing evidence of mastering the standards!**

Traditional Educational System:

  • The grade is cumulative and typically a 60% is all that is needed to pass and move on. Behaviors such as homework, changing for PE, effort (subjective measurement) are measured into the grade. These are behaviors and do not measure the child’s progress towards the Physical Education standards.
  • Traditional PE Curriculum:–  The teacher chooses a variety of activities to teach and then links a standard to the activity. Activities are chosen based on seasons, teacher’s favorite sports or activities they are competent in, gender specific activities, and often times, not all approaches to wellness are included and not all of the benchmarks.

Standard-Based Grading System:

– The student use evidence to support their claims.

– The focus is on mastering skills (standards). The “grade” is reported as “ES, MS, PS, LP” and the only the Physical Education standards are reported out. The behaviors  such as changing, homework, sportsmanship, attitude, behavior, etc are just as important and greatly valued, however, they are reported out separately in what our district calls, “Habits of Scholarship”. Refer to the post “Habits of Scholarship” for details about this.

– Assessments & Feedback helps teachers/students stay focused on the goals of the class, align all parts of the curriculum to the learning target and gives specific, actionable feedback about strengths and weaknesses.

SBG PE Curriculum 

A SBG curriculum is created in reverse from a traditional curriculum. The standards and all of the indicators are the first part of the curriculum map and the activities are the last part of the curriculum map.

This is how you an SBG curriculum is created:

  • 1. Standards; skills and knowledge that students should demonstrate.
  • 2. Performance- Based Assessments/Rubrics/Evidence of Meeting Standards
  • 3. Activities/Learning Outcomes

As you can see, the activities are the last thing to add and the standards are the first thing to write down. This is the opposite of a traditional based curriculum. The most important part of the curriculum is that the standards are measured–the activities are the route to meeting them.

Later posts will show the tracking of student learning through the use of student portfolios in the gym.

Posted in education, mastery based learning, physical education, standards-based grading, teaching, Uncategorized

Three components of Mastery-Based Learning: Learning Targets

The three components of a mastery-based lesson are learning targets, assessment and feedback. In this post, we will discuss “Learning Targets”.

  • Learning targets  focus on content or skills that are derived from the benchmarks and standards that the students must learn.
  • Students must demonstrate mastery of the learning targets before moving on.
  • “I CAN” statements, using a depth of knowledge verb, followed by the indicator that is derived from the standard the lesson is focused around.
  • Students should always know the learning target for the day, as well as the different levels, so they know the next level to strive for, and also you meet the different learning abilities.
    • Again, ES (exceeding), MS (meeting), PS (progressing), LP (limited progress)

For example: The pictures using the word “execute” can be explained as follows:

Grade 7:

Standard/Indicator: Performs the following offensive skills with defensive pressure: pivot, give and go, and fakes. (S1.M7.7)

Learning Target:

MS- I can execute at least two of the following offensive tactics to create open space without the ball: pivots, use a variety of passes, and give-and-go.

ES- (when the meet goal, this is the next step): I can critique my team on our ability to maintain open space.

PS- (still working towards goal): I can create open space by staying spread on offense.


** As you can see, PS is a simple task where you are just looking for the student to stay spread on offense (this would be the beginning step to teaching them to stay away from defense in order to start making offensive moves). MS is the goal and we are looking for the students to be able to make the passes and get away from the defense. Once this is met, they move on to ES where they can now critique their teammates and draw out plays. They may record using an iPad and “coach” their team as an example of evidence. **

Always make sure to discuss the learning target in the beginning of class (have the students discuss with each other first) and then the student’s progress at the end of class. I will show our trackers in a later post.

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Things to think about when creating the lesson or learning target:

Take the standard and create your lesson around the standard. There are no more “Soccer” units- it becomes “Striking” So instead of saying “Today we are going to be playing soccer today…” You would have a student state the learning target which would say “I can demonstrate how to lead my partner with a pass.” You can still play soccer, but the focus becomes the standard or concept it works on, not the actually game.

Thoughts to ask yourself….

  • What are you going to be teaching?
  • How does it align to outcome of your curriculum?
  • What is meaningful and relevant to the lives of students?
  • What standard being measured?

Then create a learning target. Does the learning target align with the standard? Is the learning target followed by a measurable verb (with a depth of knowledge level that challenges your students?)

What will the lesson look like?

– Reinforce prior learning, but the focus is on the new learning.

How will you assess the lesson? Is your assessment aligned with your learning target?

– Take the LT and create a rubric that students can assess their progress on (remember to have the different levels of “ES/MS/PS/LP”).

ShapeAmerica National Standards in “I Can” statements

Standard 1: I can critique my motor skills..

Standard 2: I can create movement strategies.

Standard 3: I can explain how to stay fit, while exercising regularly.

Standard 4: I can demonstrate how to play fairly.

Standard 5: I can show personal value for physical activity, fitness, & health.

Posted in mastery based learning, physical education, standards-based grading

Three components in a Mastery-Based Learning gymnasium: Feedback

The three components of mastery-based learning are learning targets, assessment and feedback. In this post, we will discuss feedback. In my opinion, this may be the most important component, as this is where you can see student progress as students obtain teacher/peer/self feedback to improve their performance.


The cycle of feedback: The students are given a task related to the learning target and they demonstrate the task. They are then provided feedback by the teacher or a peer and they make an adjustment (whether it is an adjustment for improvement or ready to move on to the next level), and the cycle continues.

Demonstrate —> Feedback – > Adjust —> Demonstrate —> Feedback —> Adjust —> Demonstrate

With a clear LT, you can give clear feedback around how well the student is mastering the content. Think of it as “allowing for future learning”. Students make their first attempt at the learning target and then the feedback allows for future learning as they make another attempt (adjustment).

Again, an important thing to remember….

“Time is the variable, learning is constant!”

Give the students as much feedback and as much time as needed to perform mastery of the learning target. Students also may need different activities to meet the same learning target. Not all students learn the same way, so it is up to the teacher to know their students and help them to personalize their learning.

Up next……student portfolios!

Posted in education, mastery based learning, physical education, standards-based grading, teaching, Uncategorized

Components in a Mastery-Based Learning gymnasium: Assessment

The three components of a mastery-based learning gymnasium are learning targets, assessment and feedback. In this post, we will discuss assessment.


  • The assessments are all aligned with the learning targets (LT).
  • Curriculum-Tests-Activities- Projects-Homework must have a purpose and must align with the learning target.
  • The grade is always “active”. It is never a final grade, as a student can always work towards mastery. There is no failing! The saying in our district is “learning is constant, time is the variable”, which means that everyone has the same standards to meet, but everyone meets them at their own pace and in their own way.
  • Assessments are opportunities to learn and then relearn, reassess, and extend learning. In SBG, the assessments are measured as ES (exceeding), MS (mastering), PS (progressing), LP (limited progress). Remember, there are no letter (A, B, C, D, F) or number (90, 80, 75, etc) grades and the grade is not an average or cumulative grade.
  • The students must know the assessment expectations ahead of time. They need to know what ES/MS/PS look like.Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 9.00.08 AM.pngThings to think about when developing an assessment:
  • Tightly aligned to the standards.
  • Students and parents are provided with clear descriptions of proficiency.
  • Grading is based on mastery of the standards.
  • Opportunities to relearn, reassess, and extend learning (remember, time is the variable).
  • Feedback is constant to allow students to progress towards mastery or exceed the target.
  • Student mastery of a standard must be assessed at least 3 times.

Examples of how our reporting looks (powerschool):

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Posted in education, mastery based learning, physical education, standards-based grading, teaching, Uncategorized

What can you expect with this blog?

Thank you for checking out my blog! As I started my summer break of 2017, it came to mind that I should start my first ever blog! I wanted to share the information that I have learned over the past three years teaching in a mastery based learning/standards-based grading middle school gymnasium  environment. It has been a learning process for me (since this was all new to me), but I definitely would not go back to the traditional way of teaching after now fully understanding this system. This style of teaching and grading is so beneficial to all involved. Students’ actual learning (not behaviors) is graded, students are responsible for their learning, teaching is strictly aligned with standards/indicators, and students have multiple attempts and as much time as needed to master the standards.

Whether your school district has already implemented a mastery based learning environment with standards-based grading, is heading in this direction or you just happened to come across this blog, you will leave with plenty of information.

The blog expectations: 

  1. To gain an understanding of a mastery based learning/standards based grading environment.
  2. To learn how to implement a student portfolio in the gymnasium.
  3. To gather curriculum resources

I will provide resources as I put them in digital format and offer my support if you are just beginning the standard-based grading process or want more information to bring back to your district!

I have presented on this topic at the state, regional and national levels, as well as consulted with school districts to help create environments that are suitable to a mastery based learning gymnasium. I am here as a resource for you! Feel free to leave any questions or things you want to see in this blog in the comment section below.