Pretesting and post-testing your students is the easiest way to practice standards based grading. The hardest part for me was figuring out how to TEACH differently. Proficiency Scales are all about helping students show growth in small steps instead of being overwhelmed by a year-end goal that seems way over their head. This video will walk you through one way to get your students understanding a scale. In this eighth grade equations and expressions standard, students must know and apply the properties of integer exponents to generate equivalent numerical expressions. That can be a mouthful for adults as well as eighth graders. Some students at the middle school level start to get lost in the details, especially if they haven’t mastered previous concepts. A well-designed scale is like holding your students’ hands through memory lane; by aligning the current grade level standard with content from previous grade levels. Let’s see how to differentiate eighth grade equations with proficiency scales.

**Level 1**

You’ll see level one I can write the evaluate expressions with exponential notation. Then I’m going to give students an example to remind them of things they’ve already seen that are going to help them this year. At level two I can apply properties of operations to expand expressions and then level three I can use properties of exponent to create equivalent expressions. As we go through each level with some example problems, I make sure that students understand the language and the vocabulary as well.

You can decide if you’re going to use these problems as an introduction to your new standard for the year or if you want to use these problems as a pretest. You can have your students write them on a piece of paper, one at a time, to see how much they can do with the problems and turn them into you at the end so you have an idea of how to plan the rest of your instruction for this standard. At level one, I would give problem students a problem like this, something they would have seen in sixth grade. They have to evaluate the expression. They’re probably going to know what that is. With exponential notation. They’re going to see, five to the power of three and two to the power of four. The use of parentheses, brackets or braces will also tell you if the students remember some of the order of operations skills from fifth and sixth grade and if they can apply them correctly to this problem. Make sure that they’ve identified that there’s four different operations here and that the order matters. You can see if they come up with the right answer. In the description for this youtube video, I have all the answers listed for you, so don’t stress out about that. Just make sure your students don’t see them first. After they have a few minutes to try that problem, you can show them level two.

**Level 2**

Properties of operations to expand or simplify expressions means that students know how to combine or simplify the coefficients for each exponent. Three to the third power times three to the second, power, x to the seventh power divided by x to the fourth power. Give this as a sample problem to your students and see who remembers what to do. This is a little simpler than what they’ll be asked to do this year because at the level three students will show that they’ve mastered every combination of exponents and expressions.

**Level 3**

In this example, students are going to see variables with positive and negative exponents in expressions where they have to multiply and divide. Now I don’t have an example here of dividing with a negative exponent, but that is something else you could throw in the mix. See if your students have mastered this level. If they’re able to do every combination of problems with positive and negative exponents, then your students have really mastered the grade level standard and you can be confident that they’re ready to move on to a challenge.

**Level 4**

Now, level four is not something I give every student. I might give it to my gifted or advanced students, but only after they prove that they’ve mastered grade level skills. As an extension, I might have them use the properties of exponents to create equivalent expressions, maybe coming up with a variety of expressions, maybe applying the expressions to real world problems or coming up with their own problems. There’s a lot of creative and fun things you can do at level four. Here’s an example of a level four problem. Write a paragraph or create a poster that explains how to quickly simplify expressions with exponents. This means students would have identified the rules for multiplying and dividing.

Multiplying with negative exponents and dividing with negative exponents. Basically you’re looking to see if they can minimize the instruction to one sentence, adding positive integers and multiplication, subtracting positive integers in division or figuring out what combination of operations they need for negative exponents. This is a good exercise to extend the thinking of your higher-level students and make sure they can apply this standard at a different level.

Hopefully this has given you some really good ideas about how to use a scale in your classroom and how to introduce a new standard to students so that you can access their background knowledge and help them build some confidence for the expectations of a new year. I would love to hear your ideas, your comments, your questions, or how you use scales in your classroom. If you would like to see more standards, you can go to MrsLsleveledlearning.com I have a freebies tab or you can find links and downloads for free samples of posters and assessments with questions already created for you. My assessments include multiple questions for each level of the scale so that you have documentation that your students have mastered each level. I hope you found this helpful and I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much for your time.

**You can find this resource in
my TpT store. Follow the links to download a FREE Leveled Assessment and FREE
Scales for this math standard and more!**

Thank you to Jodi F. for your feedback!

** “Starting SBG
grading this year, so happy to have a place to start!” **– August
2018

Three Little Monsters from TpT said,

** “This set of assessments are fantastic! I’ve been able to use
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that I will continue to use in the years to come – so happy with my
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]]>Standards based grading means that you can pre-assess and post-assess your students to document their progress; but how do you TEACH differently? Proficiency Scales are all about helping students show growth in small steps instead of being overwhelmed by a year-end goal that seems way over their head. This video will walk you through one way to get your students understanding a scale. In this seventh grade standard for ratios and proportions, students are expected to compute unit rates associated with ratios of fractions including lengths and areas with different measurements. I like to introduce students to my scale starting with level one and then work up to level three which is the grade level expectation. Sometimes up to four, sometimes not depending if they’re ready. In the middle school math grades, there’s a lot of vocabulary that draws on previous knowledge from earlier grade levels. I like to review that with my students or give them a little pretest and see who remembers the vocabulary and the kinds of problems they did before that will help them on this year standard. Let’s see how to differentiate seventh grade ratios with proficiency scales.

**Level 1**

Here’s an example of a level one problem that I would ask my students to see who’s mastered using rates. Your family’s driving to their summer home on a lake, for the first 45 minutes you drive at 60 miles per hour, how far do you travel? For the next hour you drive 47 miles per hour. How far do you travel? For the final two and a half hours, you drive 50 miles per hour. How far do you travel? Calculate the distance of the entire trip.

I’m asking students to solve three different problems using a rate and then to combine their answers. Your students could probably solve this problem without knowing they’re using a rate. One thing you’d want to discuss or ask them is what a rate is. How is this a rate? Which number is the rate? Is it the 45 minutes? Is it 60 miles per hour? Is that the total hours that they’re going to calculate? or the total distance that they’re going to calculate? See if your students remember what our rate is, because in the second level they’ll have to use a unit rate and your want to make sure that they know what that difference is as well. This is a really basic problem that will probably build their confidence to understand what they need to do this year.

**Level 2**

At the second level, we’re still doing problems that are related to mastery, but they’re a little easier than the grade level problems. Again, this is going to build your students confidence and give you a little information about who has the background knowledge to move on and how much reteaching you need to do. At level two students should understand unit rates and solve for them. Again, you want to make sure they know what a unit rate is. What is the key word, the clue and the story problems that tell them they’re working with a unit rate. An example would be, Nadia bikes three kilometers in 45 minutes. What is the unit rate of kilometers per hour? We know that per hour is that clue that their unit rate, the denominator will be in one unit, per hour means one hour.

Make sure your students are going to be able to identify the difference between rates and unit rates because three kilometers in 45 minutes is also a rate, but it’s not a unit rate because the denominator is not one minute or one hour. Doing these kind of problems will help you identify if you need to reteach some of those specific language terms.

Problem B: At this rate, how long will it take her to bike 20 kilometers? The students will use the unit rate for a different distance. If she bikes for three hours, how far will she go? Now the students have to use the same unit rate in a different way to find distance, instead of time. Giving this problem to your students as a pretest, will give you a lot of information about what kind of problems they can do and what kind of problems you’ll need to reteach so they can master level three.

**Level 3**

Level three is the seventh grade expectation. I can compute unit rates with ratios of fractions. What does that mean? If you’re breaking this down and introducing it to your students for the first time, you want to make sure they remember what fractions are about. The tricky thing is fractions are also ratios part to whole ratios, but in this case the fraction is a part, being compared to another part, which makes the total ratio. They want to make, you want to make sure that they remember what unit rates are meaning what ever two quantities they compare, they need to have one in the denominator. Anna babysits for five and a half hours and is paid $33 at the end of the night. How much does she make per hour? You want to make sure that your students understand that per hour is their clue, and connect that language with unit rate. It’s a unit rate because they’re comparing it to a denominator of one unit of time. Also, make sure that your students can work with the fractions and compare it to dollars. You might find them drawing pictures on their paper using different strategies. Converting the five and a half to a decimal in order to multiply it or divide it. Ask your students to do this problem on a piece of paper and turn it in to see who has already mastered this level and who hasn’t. This one way to do a quick pre-assessment.

**Level 4**

I like to extend this problem for my students who are advanced or I know they’re going to need a challenge. Not everybody gets this far, but if students do pass level three, I usually make them try level four. Here’s an example of a level four problem for seventh grade standard. I understand this so well. I can explain how I found my solution. This language is very general because you can have a lot of fun in this level and ask your students to apply it in different ways. Here I created another story problem that’s a little more challenging because I’m asking students to compare a fraction with another fraction or a decimal of dollars. Anna babysits for four and three quarters of an hour and is paid $33 and 25 cents at the end of the night. How much does she make per hour? So again, students are still working with unit rates, but you can see how we made the problem a little more complicated. You could ask your students to come up with a ratio table, that shows how they figured out per hour, to come out with the amount for one hour, two hours, three hours, four hours, five hours. Or You could just ask them to find the exact answer to this problem in fractions of an hour. But either way, you could keep your advanced kids busy for longer while you work with the lower students who really need your attention.

I hope you found some good ideas in this example of a scale. If you would like more examples of math scales or assessments already done for you, please visit my website, misseslleveledlearning.com. I have a freebies tab where you can download samples of posters already made and assessments with problems already done for you at all four levels of the scale.

I would love to hear your comments, questions, or ideas. I hope you found this helpful and have a great year.

**You can find this resource in
my TpT store. Follow the links to download a FREE Leveled Assessment and FREE
Scales for this math standard and more!**

Thank you to Juli F. for your feedback!

** “This
really helped me to effectively explain how students should assess their
mastery.”** – June 2019

and Sonia H. said,

** “The questions were accurate and rigorous. It works very well
for standards-based grading.”** – January 2019

Not sure yet?

*DOWNLOAD the FREE PREVIEW *from each page to try in your classroom
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]]>Kids LOVE origami, at least my students always have. In an effort to get kids working together as a team, here is a fun way to assign groups and ‘solidify’ partnerships using one simple origami fold. Students can leave their group piece in a special place to indicate that they are working together. The pieces can then be gently undone to dissolve or change groups. If the idea intimidates you a little bit, don’t turn away yet, this idea involves only one piece of paper with a few very simple folds! Here goes…

In order to make the directions easy to follow for you and your students, I’ve created a quick video of the one-paper fold, then the assembly for each group size from 1-6. Each student chooses one piece of paper that is perfectly square. You can cut colored paper to size, or use real origami paper. Each student will be represented in their group by their own unique paper, and will join their paper to the other group members to create a new shape – depending on the number of members in their team.

This is what each individual’s completed piece will look like.

And if you’re up to the challenge of creating something that represents every individual in your class, you can try the “star” made from **30** identical pieces of paper, folded the exact same way.

To find some more great Origami videos, and more ideas specifically for Valentines Day, read a previous post here.

Thank you to Brooke R. for her recent comments on Teacherspayteachers.com.

So this cute blue shape is a bell curve. Bell curves are used a lot in statistics. When students take standardized tests at the end of the year, (state tests, national test, or cognitive abilities tests) the bell curve helps to understand how student performance is distributed. This kind of scale is used when you’re looking to compare students to a standard of performance for their age group. When you assess children for special needs based on cognitive deficiencies or giftedness, they are compared to kids their age in the nation or the state. The 50th percentile represents average. Giftedness is usually qualified between the 95^{th} – 97th percentiles, depending on your district. Students who need cognitive modification, may fall far below average, which might be the 10^{th}-15th percentile or lower. When I think about my class distribution on a scale, this model really helps me. My top 10% usually are children who are either very high, maybe qualify as gifted, so they learn really fast. They will always need some kind of extension because they’ll learn everything that you have to teach within the first couple days. The lower 10th percentile are those few kids that need really more intensive interventions. Not just modifications, like helping them focus, keeping them organized, making sure they have supplies ready, giving them visual reminders, or implementing behavior plans. Those things can be small modifications that don’t affect their cognitive ability or potential, but that lower 10th percent are kids who really are below average cognitively, and they will need special intervention. The 50th percentile are your average kids. They will usually start at a 2 or 3 on your proficiency scale.

Some are going to need more repetition and lots of practice opportunities. They might fit in your 2 category. Your 3s are kids who are going to master the grade level content with no extra effort. Your usual lesson plans will do.

In the video I share how I have identified and worked with students at each level. Watch it now or save it in your YouTube Playlist! Please leave a comment and share what approaches you’ve found to be successful.

]]>

The truth is that not all of your standards are equally important. There are some concepts that you work on all year. Some big math concepts are place value, which students apply to multiple operations; or equality, which upper elementary and middle school students apply to converting ratios, measurements, and rational numbers. In Language Arts the biggest lower elementary concepts are decoding graphemes (letters, blends, word parts) to make meaning. Then they put together those graphemes into complete sentences to communicate their own meaning. Upper elementary emphasizes comprehending larger bodies of text (main ideas, text structures, text features) and then apply those organizational structures to communicate more complex meaning. These core skills and concepts make up *huge* portions of your standardized testing objectives. Your students perform best on standardized testing when they can master these big ideas. *Other standards do not deserve equal time in the classroom because you will only teach it for 1-2 weeks, and your students will only encounter 1-2 testing questions about that objective*. When it comes down to it, there are just a few key concepts and skills that you really need to emphasize and master thoroughly.

The key to choosing the most important learning objectives is to think about the big ideas that you use, repeat, and apply all year. Usually these learning standards are applied widely and possibly integrated into multiple units. For example, if you’re an upper elementary **math** teacher chances are your kids are starting to identify different kinds of numbers including whole numbers, decimals and fractions, and understanding how they’re different but also equal. Your students start to understand equality in different forms and there’s probably a lot of different ways they apply this knowledge throughout the year: adding and subtracting decimals, fractions, and percents. They look like different skills, but you’re applying the same concepts every single time you work with these numbers. Your standards related to these objectives are the ones that you want to post proficiency scales for and review all year.

Language arts is such a huge subject category that it would be wise to break this up and combine some domains if possible. Reading Literature and Reading Information are almost exactly the same standards except they’re applied in different contexts. It would be very easy to choose 3 – 6 from those domains that will just go together all year. Writing and Grammar are also huge categories, but may be simplified to some key skills that are applied to every writing genre, like knowing how to create a complete sentence structure and paragraphs. Lower elementary standards emphasize the foundational use of conventions, where as upper grade students are thinking more about organizing their ideas to create more complex meaning and communication.

Group discussion routines are a huge part of the Speaking and Listening standards because you will use them all year in multiple subject areas. Instead of spending one week teaching whole group discussion expectations and routines, post a scale and briefly review it every time you start a new group discussion.

There’s so many things that you could spend time on in the classroom, it is uber important to prioritize! Save your own sanity and stress for your students by choosing the most important content to repeat and review through out the year. You will still have some of those quick 2 week units in your year, but your students will remember the biggest concepts when they get to testing. **You can usually choose 3 – 6 standards for each subject or domain, that you know you’re going to repeat and teach all year.** **Put time into creating really clear and carefully sequenced proficiency scales for those standards first.** Your scale (ideally with examples) will form a picture to help you and your students focus on really mastering that core content. As soon as you feel distracted or overwhelmed, you have a visual reminder of what your priorities are. Of all the many things that you will actually teach throughout the year, your students will benefit the most from being able to focus and repeat those skills. Every time you see the scale you can connect what they already know to their new daily task. You will have a visual reminder for yourself and the students and what your emphasis is and then how they can apply that every day in their new activities.

- Examine your learning standards for your two
**core subjects, usually Math and ELA.** **Then choose one domain you know you will work on all year**. (ELA – Reading Fiction & Nonfiction; Math – Numbers in Base Ten).**Look for references in your strandards documents**(or on your state education department website) that*tell you*which standards are emphasized. Post scales and examples for those learning objectives first.- If you already know which standards are emphasized,
**create proficiency scales and examples**for the ones you will teach most immediately (next week) and start with those. **Plan to incorporate these skills into daily or weekly routines**, such as vocab word games, math fact practice stations, writing checklists, or morning meeting topics. This will ensure that you are following up each major skill with tons of exposure! Routines are the easiest form of repetition!

Hopefully this approach to implementing proficiency scales will feel more manageable. Expecting yourself to use a complete set for every learning standard can be intimidating, and stifle your practice. It’s such a relief to pace yourself and create a solid routine of using scales before you have to worry about all of them!

I would love to hear if these ideas worked for you. I learn so much when teachers share their own classroom practices! Please leave a comment or feedback and share your wisdom.

Sincerely,

“This has been so helpful to help students gain ownership of their learning.” – January 12, 2020

8th Grade ELA Posters with Learning Goals and Scales – Aligned to Common Core

]]>Pre-testing and post-testing is the easy part; but how do you TEACH differently with Standards based grading? Proficiency Scales are all about helping students show growth in small steps instead of being overwhelmed by a year-end goal that seems way over their head. This video will walk you through one way to get your students understanding a scale. In this sixth grade standard, students are going to be asked to show that they understand the concept of a ratio and ratio language to describe ratios, which are relationships between two quantities. We’re going to visually build on last year’s content for student’s to make lasting connections that facilitate progress in the standard. Let’s see how to differentiate sixth grade ratios with proficiency scales!

**Level 1 **

Now when you introduce new vocabulary to students, sometimes they can really get thrown off guard. If you work with a lot of lower level students, title one students, students who don’t feel confident in math, it’s really helpful to identify the things that they’ve already learned. Fifth Grade, fourth grade previously that’s going to help them to understand and master this standard. One thing I like to do is compare ratios to multiplication and division or fractions because what students don’t know is all the time they spent in fourth and fifth grade studying fractions parts to wholes groups of objects in different arrangements is a form of ratios. Once they understand that they already know something about ratios and they’re a little more open to learning something new. I started level one and two, to help students access their background knowledge from fourth and fifth grades.

Level three describes the grade level expectation, which explains that students will be able to use ratio language to describe ratio relationships. They’ll have to understand how to identify the ratio and then put that into a sentence. Level four is a challenge for students who have already mastered grade level skills. Not all of your students will need to go this far, but we’ll get to that later.

At level one I asked students to think about multiplication and division and how to compare amounts in that way. They were asked to do this in fourth grade, so hopefully they’ll feel like this is something pretty manageable. Here’s a story problem to help them demonstrate what they already know.

Pool admission costs a $1.50 per day. A pool pass costs $13.50. How many times more expensive is the pass?

First students have to remember what’s important for them to know. They’re going to have to remember how they worked with money and decimals in the past. They’re going to use multiplication or division and they can make the decision of how to compare these two quantities, $1.50 to $13.50. If you notice they’re struggling, you can tell them how to do it. Say use multiplication, use division, whatever they think is easier. You might find students scribbling pictures on their paper trying to add $1.50 multiple times, whatever they need to do to get through the problem. Seeing how they work out the problem is a great part of the assessment because you can use this as a pre test to determine how much instruction you’ll need to do for them to understand ratios and what kind of background knowledge they may be missing.

**Level 2 **

A level two problem might look like this, I asked students to convert measurements using rates. This was something they were also asked to do in fifth grade. I’m using a similar problem so they can build on what they just did and I can see if they can take the problem one step further. In this problem, pool admission costs a $1.50 a day, a pool pass worth five days cost $6.50.

The students have two questions. They may already be comparing the amounts using multiplication division, which is what we just asked them to do at level one. But now I’m going to ask them to do a little more with it. If you buy a pool pass, how much are you paying per day? We know they’d want to use division to find that out, but they might work backwards and use multiplication. Which option is cheaper? So now they’re comparing amounts and making an evaluation to answer a question with the information.

Why is this a rate? You’re going to want to make sure that your students know the difference between ratios, which is comparing two quantities and rates. See if your students know what the key word is in the problem that identifies that they’re finding a rate. There is a special secret word, a key word, that will tip them off that they’re finding a rate. That word is PER, “Per Day”.

In fifth grade, students were introduced to the concept of rates, that they’re comparing two quantities, but that the denominator’s always one thing. A $1.50 for every one day, and $6.50 for every one pass. So if the denominators, one item that’s a rate they may or may not remember that. So again, this could be a great pretest to see exactly what vocabulary and details you will have to reteach to make sure that your students can describe a ratio and ratio language accurately at the sixth grade level.

**Level 3**

Here’s some example of a problem that they would have to do in sixth grade to show mastery of the standard. There’s three different kinds of chocolates in a box, milk chocolate, mint chocolate, and dark chocolate. There’s different quantities of each one in one box. Boxes of chocolate candy come with the three flavors.

Write one sentence describing the ratio of milk to dark chocolate, Write One sentence describing the ratio of mint to dark chocolate. Now this is also a great pre-assessment to see if your students remember how to reduce fractions and ratios. You’re going want to make sure that they have done that in order to get a completely correct answer. If they don’t, you’ll know something else that you want to include in your instruction. Have them do this on a piece of paper. They can do it alone or with a partner, depending how much information you want for your planning and have them turn it in. It’ll be a quick way for you to assess how many students need some background instruction before they’re ready to master this standard.

**Level 4**

Now if you have students doing really well, there’s a lot of fun ways that you can extend this standard. Have them create their own problems, have them create their own ratios, have them do more complicated ratios in this problem. I’m using the same setup, but I’m going to ask my level four students to create a ratio table listing all of the possibilities.

This is going to be a lot more thinking for them and they’re going to have to make sure that they’re very thorough at finding all the possible combinations of comparison between the three kinds of chocolate and the total amount in each box. Because we can’t have a real ratio without including parts and wholes. Now create three more box sizes with different total amounts using the same ratios. Once your students reduced the ratios, all possible ratios in their table, they can use the same ratios to expand again and make different amounts. They can’t use 1812 and nine again in the same combination, but they might think of a different combination with bigger boxes of chocolates. This could keep your gifted kids busy for a little while in a small group or on their own while you attend to the students who really need your attention in class.

I love planning this way. I love having my scale ready so that if I need to make a quick modification or double check a concept or vocab with a student, I have it right in front of me on a paper on the wall posted in my room and it makes a great pretest post test or a quick reference for me to modify classroom assignments and help my students who really need to fill in some holes.

I hope you found this example helpful. If you would like to see more math scales for sixth grade, please visit my website, Mrslsleveledlearning.com. I have a freebies tab where you can download examples of math and ELA Scales and assessments that are already done for you. The assessments have problems attached to each level of this scale. Just like our examples here, except many more so that you can assess whether or not your students have mastered the grade level standard and which ones need some extra work. I hope you found this example helpful. I’d love to hear any comments or ideas you have. Questions or suggestions. Criticisms are welcome too, and have a great year. Thank you for your time. Yeah.

**You can find this resource in my TpT store. Follow the links to download a FREE Leveled Assessment and FREE Scales for this math standard and more!**

Thank you to Jasmine F. for your feedback!

** “One
of the best purchases. It has every standard and scaffolds all the standards as
far as 4th grade. I use them as quizzes, test, and even pretest or a game.
Totally worth it.” **– September 2019

Tricia W. said;

** “This
resource has taught my students more about themselves as learners**.” – JANUARY 2016

Not sure yet?

*DOWNLOAD the FREE PREVIEW *from each page to try in your classroom
first!

I welcome any feedback for improvements on TpT or comment below.

I’ve gotten great feedback so far and I’d love to see how you’re using these in your classroom! Feel free to post a picture on my Facebook page or Facebook discussion group! (Differentiation with Proficiency Scales)

Follow me on Instagram. to get updates!

I look forward to seeing you around!

]]>How do you differentiate Fifth grade equations with proficiency scales? Proficiency Scales are all about helping students show growth in small steps instead of being overwhelmed by a year-end goal that seems way over their head. Pre-testing and post-testing is the easy part; but how do you TEACH differently with Standards based grading? This video will walk you through one way to get your students understanding a scale. In this fifth grade standard for operations and Algebraic thinking, fifth grade students are asked to use parentheses, brackets and braces in numerical expressions and be able to evaluate the expressions with symbols, which means being able to tell what it equals. They have to know the order of operations. Let’s see how to visually build on last year’s content for student’s to make lasting connections that facilitate progress in the standard.

**Level 1**

They have to understand the order of the different brackets embraces what to do first, second or third. So there are a lot of sub skills involved in this standard. I have the scale posted in my classroom and I start from the bottom up. When I introduce this standard, the first thing I want to do is access the background knowledge of my students from fourth grade, third grade, any levels where they understand grouping objects because that is what the braces, the brackets and the parentheses are all about. I want to help them to know that they already know what the standard is about.

They’re just going to apply it in a new way. So a level one question, students know how to represent groups of objects in different ways. We’re going to start very simple with pictures. So I would ask them to draw a picture to represent six groups of four, three groups of seven. If you want to give them a challenge, you could say also do four groups of six and seven groups of three. Make sure that they know, uh, they can flexibly use groups and understand how they might be different or the same. Very basic. Make a picture on their paper, something they would probably have done in second or third grade.

**Level 2**

At the second level, I would ask students to apply the grouping to a problem or have a little adjustment to the problem. In fourth grade they were asked to solve word problems involving groups in numbers, this is setting them up to understand what steps come first and second. A group of 37 was divided evenly into three groups. The extras were subtracted. If you think about how students will set this up in a number sentence, you want to make sure that the division is first and the subtraction is second. That seems really obvious now. But as soon as you move up to level three where students are adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing within brackets and braces, they’re going to very quickly get confused about what to do first, second, and third. You want to remind them how to pay attention to the order of operations, when it comes to multistep problems. This is an example how many were in each group and how many were subtracted. The two questions below helped students to remember that there is an order of operations in word problems. Then you’re going to help them make the connection from word to number sentences with symbols.

**Level 3**

Let’s take a look at a level three example, which is the grade level expectation for fifth grade. Eight divided by two in parentheses, (that’s one group), times two and a half minus 75 hundredths in parentheses, that’s another group, inside brackets. Now what do they do with that, plus 37. How many operations are in this problem? Your students would identify that there’s four different operations, all four operations, and then they’d have to think about what to do first, second, third, and fourth.

You could use this activity as a pretest for your students to see who’s mastered this or has a good idea of how to do this and who is going to need a lot more instruction. Have them copy the problem on a piece of paper and find a solution.

If you have time, you can go through the problem with students and experiment with the order of operations. You want to make sure they understand that doing it different ways, we’ll get them different answers, hence the importance of knowing the right order. At this point you may have already taught students the order of operations or you might use this problem as an introduction. Let’s explore the different ways to do this problem. How are we going to come up with all the same answer and know that it’s the right answer? Well, that’s what the order of operations our for. I usually have this on a separate poster in my classroom somewhere. As you practice this standard, you’re going to want to take down all the extra hints and make sure students are memorizing the process on their own.

**Level 4**

Once your students have mastered the grade level standard and not everyone will, I have an extension in level four where I asked students to explain situations where the parentheses are needed in any equation, and this is where they can adapt it to real life problems, make their own story problems. You can do a lot of different things in level four. It’s a little fun to be flexible and if you have gifted or advanced students, they may even enjoy coming up with their own problems to give to each other. Here’s an example. Create a story problem that requires parentheses to solve. There must be at least three steps, meaning three operations, show the solution for your gifted or advanced students who’ve already shown mastery of level three. You could easily extend this to doing four or five operations. You could extend it to real world situations and problems. It’s fun to be creative at this level.

Hopefully this has given you a lot of great ideas about how to introduce the scales to your students and how to differentiate your standards for different levels of difficulty. If you’d like an assessment that’s already done for you, you could assess your students on their current level of mastery and use it to plan before you even get started. I find this really helpful so I can cut out things that I don’t need to do and spend more time on the lessons that they really need. Visit my website mrslsleveledlearning.com I have a freebies tab where you can find copies of the scale, these posters and copies of assessments with problems already done for you at all four levels.

Thanks so much for your time and I hope you’ve gotten some great ideas. I’d love to hear your comments, criticisms, or how you use scales in your classroom. Feel free to leave a comment and have a great year.

Thank you to Cain’s Collections for your feedback!

** “This
is amazing. Plus, you giving the portfolio pages for free is wonderful. I know
this will help me out so much next year. We don’t use Marzano’s, but I am
interested in seeing how it helps the students take ownership of their learning
and how it will help me differentiate. Thanks for your hard work!”** – May 2017

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]]>Pre-testing and post-testing is the easy part; but how do you TEACH differently with Standards based grading? Proficiency Scales are all about helping students show growth in small steps instead of being overwhelmed by a year-end goal that seems way over their head. This video will walk you through one way to get your students understanding a scale.

In this fourth grade geometry standard, students will be asked to draw points, lines, line segments, race angles, many aspects that define shapes and angles. At this grade level angles are a very new shape for students. They may have discussed angles a little bit when they are defining the difference between squares and triangles, maybe the special corners that squares have compared to other shapes like triangles or diamonds. But students haven’t really paid a lot of attention to angle sizes yet or the special names for them. There’s a lot of new content in this fourth grade standard, which is why I like to work backwards through my skill and make sure students know what attributes to identify and have all the vocabulary in place. Let’s see how you can differentiate this fourth grade geometry standard with a proficiency scale!

**Level 1**

When I introduced this fourth grade scale, I started with level one and two or back pulling on background knowledge that students have about shapes and lines from previous grade levels working up to level three. Level three is the grade level expectation. I understand that there are different kinds of lines and angles and control them. Level four is for your advanced students and we’ll get to that in a minute. The kind of question I would ask students at level one would be that they could identify different angles by name.

I want to point out just one aspect, some sub-skills of the standard and some vocabulary required for this standard so that I have something small to start with. I would ask students to match the names of these angles with the picture. They can redraw the angles roughly on a piece of paper, match the names to each one, label them any way that you would like them to do it. Just so you have a good idea of who is already familiar with this vocabulary and who isn’t. This is a great pre-assessment for you to plan your lessons and activities and know which students already have a foundation of understanding angles.

**Level 2**

A level two question, I would ask students to define these vocabulary words, identifying different lines and arrangements of lines. You’ll see the line ray, parallel lines, line segments, perpendicular lines, intersecting lines. there is a point there, if you noticed, the point will not matter to any of the words below. So make sure that your students also notice that there’s an extra picture that they don’t need.

I would ask students to maybe draw these again on their paper or maybe print out something with the shapes that they could label, see if they can correctly match each one. Use this as a mini quiz or a pre-assessment to see how much instruction you have to do and what kind of activities you’ll do to reinforce the vocabulary for each shape.

These two activities are a great introduction to the standard and help students become familiar with what the expectation will be. Starting out concretely with pictures of the shapes as much easier for them. Then giving them a bunch of words and asking them to draw the shapes, so now we’re asking them to do something a little harder.

**Level 3**

In this grade level expectation, students would have to know how to draw each shape and identify every vocabulary word. We started simply in level one and two by giving them the picture first and letting them try to match the words that might sound familiar to them. This gives them kind of an easy warm up to build their confidence and give you some important information to plan at level three you’d give them more comprehension. More comprehensive questions about the different kinds of lines and angles. So here again, I have some of those vocabulary words. There’s a lot of vocab in geometry, especially at this grade level and there’s a variety of ways that you’ll be practicing these words throughout your lessons in planning. But if you have any students that have already mastered a lot of this content, you’ll want to be ready to plan some special things just for them or some extension activities. Level Three Represents the grade level standard

**Level 4**

Any of your students that can already pass the grade level standard at level three is ready to do something more challenging. So one way, there’s a lot of ways you could extend these activities, but I asked students to draw multiple geometric figures to create one complex figure at other grade levels they have had to use make composite shapes and do some different things with geometry attributes. So you’re going to ask them to do that again. One thing that I do is ask students to form one picture and you separate colors. So it would be really hard for me to pull out the line and the line segment and the parallel lines and a picture that itself all have different lines. So I asked students to use red to show me their line in their obtuse angle and then they’re going to put the red color together with yellow and make a yellow segment.

Any yellow acute angle, maybe orange, that way I can pull out the shapes and make sure that they did it correctly and it also gives them a chance to be creative and put their pictures together in different ways. They may even have time to do multiple pictures. It depends how you want to extend the activity. The Ray and the intersecting lines, they would draw in green, perpendicular lines and straight angles would be drawn in blue parallel lines and right angles would be drawn in purple. You could use this as a small group activity, a mini guided lesson or an independent activity for your really high students. I always make sure that they’ve mastered the level three grade level standard first.

If you would like an assessment that’s already made for you to double check your student’s mastery, you can visit my website at Mrslsleveledlearning.com I have a freebies tab where you can download this exact scale for fourth grade geometry and also an assessment that you can give your students right away and see whether they’re at level one level two, level three or level four mastery for this standard. I hope you enjoyed this example and it gave you some great ideas to use in your own classroom. Please visit my website and feel free to make any comments or questions that you have. I look forward to hearing from you. Have a great year.

Thank you to J. Burgess for your feedback!

** “This
works well when assessing where students are in their understanding of the
concept. I use this with personalized learning. It allows me to see where my
students’ understanding is with a concept and where they can start on their
pathway. Using this resource makes sure no student has to be taught a lesson
they are already proficient in.”** – August 2018

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]]>Standards based grading means that you can pre-assess and post-assess your elementary students to document their progress; but how do you TEACH differently? Proficiency Scales are all about helping students show growth in small steps instead of being overwhelmed by a year-end goal that seems way over their head.

This video will walk you through one way to get your students understanding a scale. In this third grade standard numbers in base 10, students need to use place value understanding to round whole numbers to the nearest 10 or hundred. When I introduced this standard, I show students the levels of the scale and I always start at the bottom number one and work up through four. One and two help the students to access their background knowledge. Let’s see how you can visually build on last year’s content for student’s to make lasting connections that facilitate progress in the standard.

**Level 1**

Anything they learned about whole numbers, how to compare numbers that would help them understand rounding, which is the third grade expectation at level three. Level fours are for my advanced students who need a challenge or my students who are doing really well who’ve already mastered the grade level expectation. An example of a level one problem would be this, it’s a number seven closer to 10 or five.

This kind of question shows me that my students understand the number line or the space between specific numbers and how to measure that space and differences is the number 25 closer to 15 or 32

They may or may not be able to think of a number line to do this problem. Turn to a friend and tell how you know this could be done very informally just to make sure your students understand how to compare numbers. You could ask them to write the answers on a piece of paper if you want to collect it for planning purposes or they could just share in class.

**Level 2**

This level two question asked them to compare numbers on a number line, so it’s very visual but you’re still accessing their prior knowledge about comparing numbers. Each number on the line where it should go, so they’re going to want to copy this down on a piece of paper. Circle the end of the number line that’s closer to the number. Is 3 closer to 0 or 10? Is 45 closer to 0 or 100? What you’re doing is helping students connect the concept that some numbers are closer to one end point than another and then you’re going to connect that concept to rounding to tens and hundreds. At this point it should seem pretty easy for them to make that jump.

**Level 3**

The level three questions that you’ll be asking over and over are rounding specific numbers to the nearest 10 or hundred. Now you want to make sure that they understand 10 doesn’t mean just 10, 10 could mean 10, 2030, 40, 50 etc. Hundred doesn’t mean just hundred but could be 100, or 200 or 300 so you’ll want to try this pretest with different numbers, but I started simple.

Round three to the nearest 10 or the nearest hundred. Round 114 to the nearest 10 or the nearest hundred. It’ll be interesting to see which of your students understand to look at only the tens place in 114 and not go down to a hundred so see which ones get it right. If you have them, write it down on a piece of paper, you can go over it together or collected at the end of class. This little pretest can help you determine who is going to need the most help mastering this standard and what kind of instruction you’ll have to give them. Level four is for your students who have already mastered level three.

**Level 4**

Maybe they’re going to master it really quickly or you already have some gifted students that you plan extra activities for. An easy way to extend this standard but keep them on the same topic is to have them apply rounding to different place values.

They’ll see this again in higher grades, but there’s no problem in starting it early. You can even challenge all of your students, not just the gifted ones, to go a little further once they understand how rounding works.

Here’s an example problem round 14,378 to four different places.

If your students can do this, then they really have a solid foundation for understanding how to round place value and how to pick out the numbers in each place to pay attention to. It can be very tricky when you have a long five digit number, but you’re asking students to pull out numbers from the middle, like the three hundreds or the seven tens so see who in your class is ready to do this. This will give you an excellent idea of how to plan for the rest of the standard.

I hope you found this example helpful. If you’d like to see more scales or assessments that are already done for you, please visit my website, mrslsleveledlearning.com I have a freebies tab where you can download samples of things to try in your own room. I also have scales and assessments created for you with every math standard at my teachers pay teachers store. You’ll find a link on my website to that as well. Have a great year teaching.

Thank you to Jodi W. for your feedback!

** “Using this to provide a way for
students to self-evaluate and reflect on their learning. Together with your
math assessments the students and I can have meaningful conversations on how
they can better achieve their learning goals and what the next steps will be.”**
– Jan 2017

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]]>Proficiency Scales are all about helping students show growth in small steps instead of being overwhelmed by a year-end goal that seems way over their head. This video will walk you through one way to get your students understanding the scale. In this second grade geometry standard, students are asked to start classifying shapes according to their attributes. They are to put them in different categories by name, and make sure that they can identify the important attributes, which is an extension of the first grade standard. They practice doing this at level one, triangles have three sides, squares and rectangles have four sides. Those are some of the defining attributes of those categories, but not all of them. Let’s see how you can visually build on last year’s content for student’s to make lasting connections that facilitate progress in the standard.

**Level 1**

First, you want to make sure students can identify the most common categories of shapes. I would ask them to draw a rectangle and list the three most important attributes that help define a rectangle. If you have them do this on their paper, they probably won’t have only the defining attributes. They might have several, they might have only two or three. They might not remember all of them. This’ll be something you can look at when you go over their papers again, or when you go through the problem in class.

**Level 2**

At the second level of the scale, you want to look at several different categories of shapes and make sure that they can identify them, describe them or draw them. The four specific categories that they need to know are quadrilaterals, triangles, pentagons and hexagons.

I would ask a question like draw a Pentagon, describe the attributes that make a Pentagon. Again, depending on where your students are at, they might remember what a Pentagon is or not. We’ll give you a little more information than having them point color or circle pictures that are already on their paper. You want to know exactly which categories they already have memorized and which ones they don’t. They may think of a lot of different attributes for their Pentagon color, shape, size, but again, they want to start thinking about which ones matter and which ones don’t have them. Draw a picture, make a list on their paper, maybe circle the most important ones and this’ll give you a great idea of whether or not they’re ready to move on to level three.

**Level 3**

Level three in his scale is always your grade level expectation. Notice there are several specific shapes mentioned in the standard language. They have to identify and describe and draw triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons cubes, and hexagons. I have an example on my scale for second grade students because this goes on a wall and they can reference it all the time. Triangles of three corners or angles, quadrilaterals have four sides and four angles, so some of the defining attributes as an example, if you’re doing these questions as a test or post test, you want to cover that up, not have any clues or hints for your students.

Here’s an example of a level three problem that I might ask students to see where we’re starting this standard. Identify the shapes above. This one is a quadrilateral. They’d have to think about why the others aren’t. Draw another quadrilateral of your own.

This is a little harder because they have to understand the variety of shapes that can go into that category and how they would be different. They are to then describe three attributes of the quadrilateral, which have to be defining attributes because they would be the same for both the quadrilateral and the picture and the quadrilateral that they drew themselves. If your students are able to do this, you have a pretty good idea that they are all set on this standard as far as quadrilaterals. You might want to do this little pretest a couple of different days with a variety of shapes. Maybe make it a small group center activity, a mini lesson, a guided math lesson activity or maybe four or five days in a row. Start each math lesson with a little pretest. Make sure that they can identify the shape and list the defining attributes and draw another one of their own. If your students are able to do this and if you can collect those papers and take a look, you’ll have a great idea of who has already mastered this standard, what aspects they’re still missing and how you can plan the rest of your unit to get through the most important content quickly.

**Level 4**

Any of your students who are having a really easy time with this are ready for level four. That means they’ve mastered the third grade, the second grade standard at level three, and they’re ready for a challenge. One challenge could be asking them to explain and define every attribute that’s important. Asking them to come up with different shapes that fit into the same categories.

You’ll see a couple examples of explanations on the scale poster. I can compare and explain how these shapes are similar and different.

Name the shapes below.

Describe how they are similar.

Describe how they are different.

This is an extension of the same problem because you can start to introduce composite shapes, three dimensional shapes or you could stretch your students to make sure they can identify every quadrilateral that exists. Every type of triangle: equal lateral, isosceles, irregular triangles. Make sure your students have an advance knowledge and application of the standard and they would be functioning at level four.

I hope you found these examples helpful. You can find these posters and free samples of these posters at my website, mrslsleveledlearning.com I have a freebies tab. I also have a tab to my TPT store, so go ahead and check that out. If you would like to download free examples or find a complete set. Thanks so much for your time. Have a great school year.

Thank you to Kerri Z. for your feedback!

*“These
are amazing! I love the pictures to support the I can statements. Thank you.
These have saved me hours and hours of work!”*

** “Great resource for our district’s new
Proficiency Based Grading system**!”

– July 2019

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