Next year I am going to implement Standards Based Grading and over the last few weeks I have written a few posts about my steps along the way. (Power Law, Power Law and Baseball, Redos, Masterly Level Calculation Methods) It felt like drinking from a firehose the first few weeks but with some time to reflect and process a lot of what I had been previously doing is based on similar beliefs. Here are some similarities I noticed between previous and future practice.

  • Behaviors should not factor into an Academic Grade
  • Late Penalties are a Behavior penalty. If a student demonstrates mastery then the student deserves credit for the mastery.
  • Traditional Grading with weighted categories tends to obfuscate rather than illuminate a student’s progress.
  • (in my subject Historical Thinking) Skills should be the central focus upon which content revolves.
  • Students should have choice in demonstration product.
  • Feedback is the key to improving student outcomes.

I am reaching the point where next year is coming into focus but the attempt to blend Game Inspired Designs and Standards Based Grading needs some guiding parameters. I have spent a few planning periods thinking and staring at a blank page (and nothing is more intimidating than that blank page!) and decided this first draft of my core principles would get the ball rolling.


  1. Each activity should revolve around major skill(s) component(s).
  2. There are 6 major skill components.
  3. There are 5 major content standards broken- each broken into 6 substandards.
  4. Activities may combine multiple skills and/or content demonstrations.
    1. each entered into gradebook in separate category.
  5. Student Choice is important (choice will be meaningful but not unlimited).
  6. Each Unit will have a whole group “quest”, guild quests, and indy side quests in each unit.
    1. whole group will be a discussion based activity (socrative, philosophical chairs, etc,).
    2. guild quests will be have several options based on main skills.
    3. side quests will have several options based on secondary skills (cartoon analysis, etc).
  7. SBG 4 point scale will be translated into the 100 point scale
    1. 4 point scale will translate to 1=50% 2=70% 3=85% 4=100%
    2. each category will be weighted equally for a final overall score
  8. Late Work accepted without Penalty. Redos and Retakes will be allowed without penalty.
  9. Rapid Feedback Loop with conferencing will be implemented along with 4 point grade.
  10. Unit starts with a gamified pre-assessment. Ends with district mandated “common assessment”. Both will be broken down by substandard and used for the content standard mastery level calculation.
  11. Power Law will be used for the Mastery Level Calculation
  12. Each semester will culminate in a “Masterpiece” Project that demonstrates several skills centered on a topic of the student’s choice.

Things still under consideration

  • Guilds
    • How will guilds be formed? Are they semester long? Will there be a leaderboard?
  • XP
    • SBG allows me to decouple the XP from the grade which allows for more flexibility when it comes to game elements. My question is how motivating will XP be for students if it is just “Extra”.
  • Items
    • similar to XP. Items can now get really funky and weird with the XP no longer tied to a grade. Same question though – how motivating will items be without an impact on grades? My most popular items had always helped with grading.
  • Narrative
    • The narrative always starts off strong but then withers a bit in second semester as the students get more familiar with me and the class experience.
  • Flipped Style
    • I am seriously considering using the pre-assessment to develop individualized video playlists. This needs more consideration but the basic thought is that if a student scores a 90%+ on a substandard pre assessment they will not need to complete any additional notes on that substandard. Below a 90% and the student will need to watch some refresher videos or complete a reading.
    • The refresher videos/readings would need to be accounted for. Perhaps this would count towards Guild XP leaderboard? Maybe it would be similar to a test retake and the student would earn a 3 or 4 in the substandard grade column? both?
  • Grade Manipulators and Zeros
    • I don’t like giving zeros but what happens if a student demonstrates mastery of something in unit 1 but then refuses to attempt that skill again? Part of showing mastery of a skill is repeatability. Should a zero be added to the gradebook after certain time period?
    • Given that students will have several options in a given unit it is unlikely that a student could avoid a skill demonstration for a whole semester.