Yesterday I wrote about a hare-brained scheme designed to get students to do more practice/homework in my Standards-Based Grading (SBG) implementation. Today here’s another one.

Back when I graded homework/practice I felt that I was bad at holding the line in my office hours. What I mean is that students seemed to be pretty good at tricking me into doing their homework for them. I was also getting pretty crabby about trying to figure out if the students were doing their own work. So my solution was to have daily 10 minute quizzes. I would assign four problems per class with the promise that in the next class I would roll a 4-sided die to pick one of the four to use as the quiz. This had a lot of benefits/features/odd-side-effects:

- I was perfectly happy to help students in my office hours
- I would “turn the problem inside out” in the quiz by asking for a different unknown, so the students understood that to study they should solve the problem and make sure they understood all the connections among the various variables.
- I would randomly change the numbers involved by asking the class to shout some out. Before letting them take the quiz I would let them discuss whether they expected a weird answer based on the random numbers they’d thrown out. For example, if they said that a capacitor had 100 Farads, they guessed that the rest of the problem would have answers very different than other problems they’d worked.
- Nearly every class day someone would groan after the die was rolled. Sometimes it was me if I felt it had rolled to one of the easy ones. But I liked that it was truly random so they didn’t spend time the night before trying to guess which problem I was going to pick.
- I liked how they had to work on a problem long enough to have the confidence to pull it off in class in 10 minutes. Often their first pass at the problem the night/day before took much longer than that. Combined with point 2 above, this led to some decent problem solving skills

I felt it worked quite well. Plus it dramatically reduced my grading from 4 problems every day from each student to one.

So I was wondering if this would work in my new SBG implementation where I’m trying to hold the line against giving points for homework. I think it might. Here’s what I’m thinking:

- Assign 4 problems per day just as above. Design them to measure students understanding/mastery of recent standards, not necessarily just the one covered on that day.
- Do the 10 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday even though Friday will still be a review day (there will still only be two standards per week).
- Grade the quiz with standard scores (my 1-4 rubric)
- Continue to allow students to do video reassessments

Content days (Mondays and Wednesdays) would now have 10-15 minutes less per day. I handled that in the past pretty well, but I’ll definitely have to tighten up the activities that we’ll do. I had several sloppy days last year where directions weren’t clear and students spun their wheels quite a bit. I think much better preparation on my part for things like clicker (ok colored cards) questions and white board/group work will pay off huge for this.

Review day will now only have a 10 minute quiz so the rest of the day I can use the awesome nb site from MIT. That’s like google moderator on steroids, as students can ask questions about daily notes and vote each others questions up and down.

I really like point 5 above about students needing to practice enough to get fast at the inside-out problems. That seems to be a good indicator of mastery.

I’m worried that, due to my reassessment policy, students won’t take these quizzes seriously. I’d appreciate any thoughts you might have about that.

Thoughts? Here are some potential comments I’d appreciate:

- I’m going to be in this class and this sounds intriguing. How will ______ work?
- I’m going to be in this class and this sounds terrible. Instead why don’t you . . .
- Why 4? Is it just because you have a 4-sided die?
- Do you like this better than the ticket idea from the last post? What would you miss from that if you didn’t do it?
- Can you give some examples of turning a problem inside out?
- Why do you let them suggest numbers that clearly wouldn’t be physically reasonable?
- Can you say more about how your office hours changed when you switched to this in the past?
- How exactly do you plan to use the nb MIT site?