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Reflecting on CBE, Mastery and Pacing

Reflecting on CBE, Mastery and Pacing

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, students will apply the 5 essential learning questions in a reflection on CBE, mastery and pacing.

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In this tutorial, I will model how to use the five essential learning questions to reflect on the connections between CBE, and mastery and pacing. Let's begin with a review of the five essential learning questions. You can use these questions to guide your reflections on your teaching practices.

Question number one, what do students need to know and be able to do? Question two, how will I help them get there? Question three, how will I know if they are there? Question four, what will I do if they are not there? And question five, what will I do if they are already there?

As we go through each of these essential learning questions in turn, I'll reflect based on my experiences as an educator, teaching both mathematics and French at the high school level. But I encourage you to think about the essential learning questions based on your experiences in the classroom as well.

Let's start with question one. What do students need to know and be able to do? In terms of CBE, and mastery and pacing, consider how the development of objectives can help you in defining what students should know, and what students should be able to do. For me, the experience of writing my objectives as "I can" statements, really helped me to pinpoint the specific skills that I would be focusing on in each lesson with my students. I posted the "I can" statements in my classroom, and I found myself referring to the overall list of "I can" statements very frequently, as I was planning my lessons.

Remember, in a competency-based education environment, students advance upon mastery of the current topic, so student progress in this environment can be largely self-paced. Having clearly defined objectives that are aligned with content standards, practice standards, and technology standards, and then making those objectives available to students, can be a powerful tool in helping students track their own progress throughout the course of the school year.

Let's look next, at question two. How will I help them get there? Again, I found it really helpful to refer back to my list of "I can" statements that I had created for students. Not that I didn't also find it helpful to look at the original content standards themselves. But since I had written the "I can" statements myself, and in that process I had selected the really important skills that I wanted my students to focus on, I found the list of "I can" statements to be more streamlined, and really more aligned with what it was that I wanted to focus on in my instruction each day.

In a CBE environment, you may also want to consider the use of adaptive technology. By implementing adaptive technology that is also aligned with your content standards, you can help to really create an environment for your students that is conducive to competency-based learning.

Next, question three. How will I know if they are there? Having clearly defined outcomes and objectives, and developing rubrics or proficiency scales that measure progress towards those goals, can make it easier for you to track each student's progress. In my classroom, we are still using a points-based grade book, not a standards-based grade book, so I know it's sometimes really easy to get wrapped up in just looking at letter grades or percentages. Moving some of the focus back on to the standards can help us to keep better track of students' progress towards the learning goals that we want them to meet by the end of the lesson, unit, or the end of the school year.

Question four. What will I do if they are not there? This is another situation in which adaptive technology can really help. The particular software application that I use in my classroom allows me to actually administer a pre-assessment to my students, and then the software will generate an assignment for students based on their results. The generated assignment focuses on the specific skills that each student needs to practice. You might consider finding some supplementary resources that support the standards that you are working towards in your classroom, so you have resources ready if students are not making adequate progress.

And finally, question five. What will I do if they are already there? Well once again, having clearly defined standards, outcomes, and objectives available to your students, help students understand where they're going next. You might consider the use of technology tools that can enhance students' learning and provide enrichment opportunities. Or in a true CBE environment, students who have mastered the current skill will be able to move on immediately to the next skill on their learning path.

While I hope that you have found my reflections helpful, again, I strongly encourage you to reflect on these five essential learning questions, in terms of your own experiences in the classroom.

So here's your chance to stop and reflect. You might even consider printing out the list of the five essential learning questions and keeping it handy so that when you have a few spare moment, you can reflect on the current day's lesson, or the current unit, in order to further improve your practice. As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the Additional Resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning, and explore ways to apply your newly-acquired skill set.

Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Reflecting on CBE, Mastery and Pacing"

(00:00 - 00:10) Introduction

(00:11 - 00:55) 5 Essential Learning Questions

(00:56 - 01:59) Question 1

(02:00 - 02:49) Question 2

(02:50 - 03:28) Question 3

(03:29 - 04:03) Question 4

(04:04 - 04:41) Question 5

(04:42 - 05:17) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

Learning Design and Technology: Design for Adult Learning, Teaching and Learning Theory, Feedback

Scroll down to the bottom of this page from Michigan State University to see how to connect pedagogical theories to considerations for reflection and feedback.

Mastery Learning Resources

In this blog post, Laura Candler explains why she values mastery learning and teaching. In addition, she provides resources with links for teachers considering using mastery teaching and learning in their practice. Check out her infographic on the mastery learning model for a quick visual of the process.