Next year South Carolina will be transitioning to a new set of Social Studies Standards that will be focused on 6 “deconstructed historical thinking skills”. I decided to use this as an opportunity to transition to Standards Based Grading with one of my major grading categories centered around these 6 skills.

Just as a brief overview, I am using the Power Law Function as the mastery level system. In this system students receive a score between 1-4 with specific feedback instead of a 1-100 percentage score. The 1-4 grade in the skills categories are based on a general rubric that can be applied to a wide variety of activities. This is a bit different in the content acquisition grading but that is a post for another day.

I have been trying to figure out how to use the SBG grading method for my favorite project based learning activity – The National History Day project. This is a massive research based undertaking that I use a culminating activity for my college level History class. Students can work individually or in small groups to create a website, documentary, exhibit, performance or paper based on a topic of their choice that centers along an annual theme; this year’s theme is “Breaking Barriers”. (For more information check out At the end of the year the projects in each category compete with the top projects moving on to the state and possibly national level competitions. During the competition, the judges evaluate the projects using this form.

This is the “evaluation” part of the form”. The longer version includes some rules clarifications and a section for written feedback.

My goal with the project has always been less about the content knowledge acquired and more about demonstrating historical thinking skills. My goal with the new SBG rubric was to merge this evaluation form with the new deconstructed skills. I was able to find a match for 5 of the 6 deconstructed skills with the only one not accounted for being “Comparison”. Click here to download a copy of the this Google Sheets based rubric. Here are some screenshots.

This “radar” style graph updates as the scores on the “overall” tab change and will be the main visual reference for the students. The individual deconstructed skill categories each have a tab that explain the goal of the historical thinking skill, the correlation to the judge’s evaluation form, and where the skill is most often used in the NHD project. In addition to the “score”, students will receive clear feedback in order to improve their work. My goal is to record a screencast of my audio/visual comments and upload this onto the “overall tab”. As students revise the project I will be able to re-enter the spreadsheet and update the scores and it will auto-update from the student’s perspective as well.