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Best Practices From the Field

This is a collection of best MyLC and Competency-Based-Learning practices used by some of our power-user schools. Check back for more ideas or contact us if you want to share some of your own great solutions.

It is important to note that few schools implement all of these practices, and that there are not right and wrong ways to design a pedagogy. Most schools are on a very personal journey from standards to competency-based practices.

Assignments For The Long Term

Since MyLC tasks (our name for assignments) can be searched, copied, and reused, designing your tasks with a strategy in mind can be huge time saver. 

Things to consider when building a task:

  • The longevity in a name. Will it still make sense if a teacher or student is searching for it later?
  • Does the name make sense for parents looking at the student ‘to-do’ list?
  • The ease of figuring out which competencies are included or which workshops it would enhance.
  • How modular is your task? Is it overly specific to an activity and not transferable to a skill?

Design your tasks with the intention that you will use them again.

Designing and Naming Learning Experiences

Just like in naming assignments or tasks, having naming conventions for your learning experiences (Seminars, Workshops, Expeditions, etc)  can save you some time down the road.

Things to Consider

  • The ease of figuring out which class the learning experience applies to (math, English, choir, etc.)
  • The longevity in a name. (Will it still make sense if a teacher or student is searching for it later?)
  • Does the name make sense for parents?
  • The ease of understanding which competencies will be included. This is easy for a subject like English 1,  a little harder if you designed a cool seminar around English and science competencies called “Foraging for a Feast."   (Yes, this is a real seminar from a school) 
  • Don't embed additional information in the title. For example, leave off the period, hour, or teacher as this information appears in critical menus so including them in the title just creates confusion when these show up with
  • DO NOT reuse experiences by deleting students and adding the new ones. You are deleting the seminar history and therefore the record of where learning happened). Instead, simply copy the experience and add the new students. 

It should be noted that many MyLC users design the tool to make their learning experiences just traditional classes - like Algebra I, or English II.  This works just fine, but our bias is that learning should be organized under experiences, and the software is tuned to support this. So instead of “Algebra I" where all the competencies for Algebra I are there. we hope you consider using MyLC to organized  exciting, dynamic, relevant learning experiences and embed the relevant competencies. These experiences can then be copied and reused later. 

After all, which would you rather take:


Grading questions to answer before you implement

Here are some discussion to have with your team to think about before customizing MyLC for your pedagogy.

  • Is the final competency score an average of the evidence or is the highest grade used?
  • Can any teacher give feedback on evidence for all competencies? (Our bias is Yes).
  • Who gives the final score? The teacher who last evaluated the last evidence? An assigned teacher-of-record?   
  • How many artifacts are required for each competency? (this is customizable for each competency).

Like many other components of MyLC, you can do whatever you want to do. Our bias however is or whole number scoring for both your evidence scores and final scores.  Why?

  • We want to move students out of the mindset of “average of all your work” to a continuum of growth.  When we start averaging, we reinforce the idea that grades are the number of things you did wrong on each test. 
  • Averaging evidence and then averaging a final score based on those averages can create an unintentional average of averages for each competency. Then often final grades for a course are designed as an average of those averages!  Yikes.
  • We are in favor of eliminating noise in the data. Assume an average of averages comes out to 4.36 (on a 5 point scale). Are we suggesting that we know within six one-hundredths the accuracy of the proficiency level of the competency?  That is A LOT of noise in the data. We suggest your descriptors speak for themselves.  If a descriptor of a 3 is “in progress” then there is not really a 3.2.   
  • For simplicity, imagine a scenario where a course has 2 competencies.  For competency 1, the final score is given after 1 strong evidence artifact. For competency 2, a final score is awarded after a student submits 5 evidence artifacts.  In this case we may have unintentionally weighted  competency 2.  This may be ok, but when we mix this with  averages it can skew the intent of the grade. 

Opportunity Not Taken

Instead of giving “0s” for assignments, many schools have adopted a technique of giving grade codes that are more neutral for incomplete tasks. For instance “ONT” can be used to indicate “Opportunity Not Taken."  In a pure CBE environment, it may be that this assignment isn't actually needed to show competency.  

Making simple changes such as adding neutral feedback options can be a good step in moving your standards-based curriculum towards CBE. This can begin to foster a culture of “feedback” vs “grading” even if it is put in to practice in just a few places. 

In MyLC, you can set special scores and indicate whether these scores move the goal progress forward. On the student side (and in the parent report) students see the textual explanation and not the special score. For example, “S” could be mapped to a label of “Submitted” where there is no evaluative score, but does move their goal progress forward. “ONT” could be mapped to the label of “Opportunity Not Taken” where the score doesn't move the progress bar forward or backward, but it does give the neutral feedback to the learner.

Parent Reports

Students in KM Perform (School for Arts and Performance in Wales,WI - are given a weekly assignment to email their progress reports to their parent or guardian.  They can do this directly from MyLC with our gmail integration, but this concept can be applied regardless of tool you use.  In MyLC the student advisor is automatically copied, creating a conversation thread that has been powerful. Because the email comes directly from the student (and from their own email account - not the tool), KM Perform has seen engagement like never before. An Important step was to give students a template to explain the data for the first time. This is helpful since progress monitoring in CBE still can be a challenge or parents. 

Transcripting at full credit

A key strategy in the Kettle Moraine School District was to change grading policy so that courses are transcripted upon completion of the course. (similar to how they are transcripted in college) This means there is no partial credit or report card.  In a CBE course this is critical if the student is earning credit based on master earning credit based on master and not time.   In a time-based model, credit is assumed to be symmetrical (i.e. the amount of credit in term one is the same as the amount in term two).  But in a CBE model a student may complete 4 competencies in term one and 6 in term two. Transcripting grades mid-term means you are weighting the grade - traditionally this is not an issue, but in a CBE environment this defeats the intent. Waiting until the end of course also makes sense if students are given the opportunity to improve final scores on competencies. 

In Kettle Moraine simple change was made for all courses to make the transition to CBE down the road more seamless.  The connection to college-practices makes logical sense to stakeholders. 

Using Activities as Resources Banks

Many people forget that MyLC an be used to track other things than competencies or evidence. Start by having a “School Resource” activity to serve as a resource bank or repository for your school or program. This card will appear on the student home screen and you can use it to organized your most common forms or handouts. You can also use this activity card as a communication tool to post and email announcements. And whenever you place a new item in the resource card, students will see notification in their activity feed.  The more you invest in putting needed and wanted information in your tools, the better your adoption rate will be. 

We have even seen a school that has membership in national music honor society use an activity to track service points for their membership requirement. The ˆ is then responsible for submitting all evidence of their volunteer work. The teacher validates the experience by using the task score field to capture how many points the activity is worth. Since the task score field doesn't automatically map to competencies (unless you tell it to) 

This is a great step towards anytime/anywhere learning. Because after-all, you can tag ANYTHING in MyLC to a competency.  So volunteer evidence could also be evidence of an academic competency. You may not be ready for this now, but using resource and experience activities in MyLC is a step towards getting you there. 

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