Over the last couple of years I have been trying to merge the mastery learning benefits of the Standards Based Grading (SBG) with the simple aggregation of the XP Grading system. I call this Merger Powered Up XP and this post will serve as a window into my planning process.

As I plan for next year here are a few of the guidelines I choose or am required to follow.

Requirements

  1. I am required to provide a letter grade based on a number grade scale.
  2. Graded assignments are are required by my district to fall into one of three weighted categories. (not a fan)
    1. Major – 50%
    2. Mid-level – 30%
    3. Practice – 20%
  3. I teach 5 section of a Semester based class
    1. 80% class average and 20% Final Exam.
  4. I teach 1 section of a Quarter based class
    1. Q1=40% Q2=40% Final Exam=20%
  5. Semester 2 will end with a state mandated End of Course Exam.

Guidelines

  1. Grades should represent academic ability not behaviors.
  2. A grade should represent where the student is in demonstrating mastery of all course expectations.
  3. Teach to Mastery – to me this means that students will work on one activity until they meet the requirements of that assignment.
  4. Because of #1 students must have choices and open ended deadlines
  5. Because of #2 I do not take late penalties
  6. Because of #3 I do take work that demonstrates mastery up to the end of the semester/quarter BUT there is a hard deadline at the end of the semester.
  7. XP Grades Accumulate and do not go down. Students start the semester at 0 and work towards 10,000.
    1. XP is not removed from a student’s score with the only exception being cheating
    2. The XP grade is 80% of the overall grade. The Final Exam is the other 20%.
  8. 9000XP and above is an A, 8000XP-8999XP is a B, 7000XP-7999XP is a C. 6000XP-6999XP is a D, below 5999 is an F
    1. Again, see 5.2
  9. All of the Activities in the classroom will fall into one of the three required categories (See Required #2).
  10. I offer more than 10,000XP
  11. All XP is equal – This means that if a students struggles with one category or assessment they can make up the XP in other categories.
  12. Common Assessments are graded with the Tiered Grading System.
  13. Main and Side Quests tend to fall in the Mid-Level Category
    1. Most of the additional XP offerings will fall in this category.
  14. Formative assessments do not receive XP – For example, a student will not earn XP on a quiz (mini-boss fight) or work that is preparation for a final demonstration of mastery. This prevents students from being punished for not immediately understanding content or skills while also limiting “grinding” of XP.

Expected Semester 1 Category Assignments

Major

Semester 1 will be broken into 2 major units based on the 2020 SC State US History standards. Each unit will have a common assessment that will fall into the “major” category.

Mid-Level

Each unit will have a project/inquiry based activities. These will be offered by the teacher with several options. Some of these will be done as whole group projects others will be offered as part of a choice board. In total each Unit will have 1500XP worth of these “main quest” activities.

Each Unit will have activities in the voluntary “Power Grid” system there will be 200XP for each of the 6 indicators in each unit. A student could earn 1200XP per unit or 2400XP during the semester by completing all assignments. These will factor into the Mid-Level activities.

Practice

Students will be required to complete Summary Statements on notes taken either in class or digitally. The purpose will be to demonstrate an initial understanding of the content. Each unit will have 4-5 sections of notes and these will fall into the Practice Category.

Weekly Challenges. These challenges will be quick little skills based challenges tied to the content of that week.

The categories will look roughly like this.

Expected Semester 1 Daily Flow

  1. Class begins with a review activity like a Minion (Mini-Boss Fight) for about 20 minutes
  2. Transition into a Short In Person lecture. Students will take notes that will eventually lead to the summary statement activity. (20 mins)
  3. Questing activities – sometimes might be individualized through choice boards other times might be teacher directed.
  4. End with reflection activity (reflection pyramid in notes, google form, etc…)

The Rogue Quest Option

In Spring 2021 several students worked on the “Hero’s Journey Quests”. The benefit of these quests was that students could chose to “go quest”, work on the assignments, instead of following the directions for that day. In Fall 2021 I want to bring this option back with a couple of twists. The Hero’s Journey format worked for completing the activities but there are two adjustments that will need to be made. The first was that most of the work stalled when the students got to the boss fight elements because it required me to administer the questions. Another reason was the students not wanting to do this particular assignment. Once I allowed a bypass on these fights the other elements were quite popular. The second issue is that students will to get the notes for the Summary Statements. The lectures are already recorded, so built into this option will be the requirement to complete the recorded notes virtually. This could be done in person or outside of class. Ideally this will allow students to get around listening to my lectures and getting right to the work. Since we are still in a Pandemic it is likely that some students will still be learning virtually or it is possible that we may end up back in a hybrid situation. The recorded lecture/Rogue question options will allow easier transitions to the virtual world.

The Hero’s Journey quests were set up as semester long programs. The quests were broken up into several sections with XP values differing based on the work in the section. A Completed Rogue Quest should total up to roughly 3000XP – the value of the Mid level category. In practice the quest will likely add up to more than the 3000XP with an extension activity at the end.