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I spent the summer researching proficiency-based learning and the integration of Transferable skills into the classroom.
The most important discovery for me was how to break Educational Standards down into useful curriculum tools. It is about the unpacking process.   How deep do you unpack in order to provide a degree of specificity on what it is you want students to learn?

Here is a video I made of the unpacking process:

This is a chart that breaks it all down:

First attempt at breaking my courses down into proficiencies:
Here is an example of a proficiency broken down further into a learning scale:


I have a traditional paper and pencil journal that I am using for my thinking and research. It is not something designed for public consumption. I am planning on using this site as a tool to display my work if requested. I hope that works. PD is an ongoing process for me. I understand the need to create systems for the entire faculty and will do my best to continue my own personal growth within this structure.


  • Does the activity, strategy, task, or idea allow for the student to personalize his or her response? Can they bring their life experiences into the activity and make it their own?

  • Are there clear and modeled expectations?

  • Is there a sense of audience above and beyond the teacher and the test? Does the activity have value to someone else?

  • Is there social interaction? Do students have an opportunity to talk about the learning and interact?

  • Is there a culture of emotional safety? Are mistakes valued because they are an opportunity to learn?

  • Do students have opportunities to choose within the activity?

  • Is it an authentic activity? This doesn’t mean it always must connect directly to the student’s world, but it should connect to reality.

  • Is the task new and novel? If kids are bored, it’s hard to see engagement

I have organized all the units of my music studio courses to align with the proficiencies I have identified.
Several units have been designed into learning scales in order for students to be able to progress at flexible rates.
During this process, I have discovered a few challenges... should the curriculum be vertical or horizontal? Let me illustrate:


Challenge: If mastery were the objective for each topic of study, each student would eventually get 100% if allowed the time to do so. The implications in our current system of GPA, Class Rank, etc. make this quite problematic.

This begs the question of what the purpose of grading is and does the current practice have to continue? Grades have served as an extrinsic motivator for a very long time. The solution may lie in altering the meaning of grades.

Example: A student is working on their 3rd unit within the asynchronous model. Assessments take place and the student masters only 85% of the material. The objective is to meet 100%. The student will need to continue to study and then be reassessed until the last 15% is mastered. The motivation of grades is based on an additive mindset. “You know 85%, let’s keep going and figure out what you missed.”

A report card would show Unit 1 and 2 as being 100%, Unit 3 at 85%, Unit 4, empty, etc.
Averaging the grade for a midterm report makes little sense. Reports should become narrative regarding the level achieved, and the habits of learning.

In the Synchronous model, there would be a level of complexity that would need to be worked out. Our software would need a function where the level of achievement could be indicated. Unit 1, Level 2 = 100%, Level 3 = 85%. If time runs out for the unit
the general level would be awarded for that unit. This is more complex which leads me to the thought that the asynchronous model is desired.

Another Challenge:
Some courses are already tracked by level. Credit level variability would not work in the same manner. There would need to be the option to change the level if a student did not meet the 
proficiency level rrequired of that course.
Example: Student takes AP Calculus. They fall behind in the asynchronous model but are doing excellent work. Remove the AP level and allow the course to be honors or CP based on their level of achievement. The tracking up front during the scheduling process groups students together.

It seems to me that allowing students flexible pace while monitoring the habits of learning closely allows for the greatest amount of growth. The sacrifice comes in the loss of full class dialogues and presentations, however, students tend to become grouped by pace and dialogues can occur in smaller groups or all together if the topic is relevant.




The objective is to shift student paradigm towards an additive mindset on assessment. In addition to providing a higher degree of clarity on my assessment practices.

  • Grades are no longer permanent until the end of the course.

  • All assignments can be improved upon at any time.

  • A grading scheme has been created so that "Proficient" work is "A" work.

  • Students must go deeper on topics if they wish to become exemplary. " You could teach this stuff you know it so well."

  • Proficiencies have been created for each course and are used to guide unit exploration. At the end of the class, I will assess their level of competency once again on each proficiency.

Habits of learning: I have broken these into levels that I will teach over the first three units. Each habit is attainable and aligned with a student's IEP. Numerical assessment of Habits will occur during the first Term.

Curricular Modification to potentially increase ENGAGEMENT:

In my Electronic Music Course, I altered the format of the second half of the course in order to offer a greater degree of choice.

Having completed half of the course in Electronic Music, you now have enough skill and understanding of the compositional process and the use of the Logic D.A.W. In an effort to find a way to give you more ownership over your experience in this class, I offer a system where you will have a degree of choice over the type of study you will engage in moving forward.

Here is how it will work:

1. By the end of the term, complete a minimum of 4 of the application projects. That is roughly 2 weeks per project. Projects will be described below.
2. In addition, you will need to learn, document and apply a minimum of 4 Technical Skills. Technical Skills will be described below.
3. A timeline will be generated in the grade book with a specific date for each project to be due in order to help you stay on track. If you fall behind, it will most likely because of your Learning Habits.
4. Weekly grades on your Habits of Learning will be added to the grade book. This will allow us to monitor your progress and help determine how you can improve as a learner.

RECAP: For the most part this worked well for some students. The timeline was lost as kids went deeper at times. My philosophy began to shift along the way and I became more interested in the student's "engagement" rather than their content acquisition. I need to rethink this a bit.

ANOTHER ENGAGEMENT TOOL TEST: "Progress and Growth Videos"
I have integrated the use of Quicktime screen recording for students to provide me with an update on their progress each unit. I was planning on doing this every week, but am finding a challenge with balancing documentation of learning with a creative study. I hope to dialogue with the students at length on this topic.

Here is an example of a student self-reflection video.
The challenge is that the video occurs in our learning environment and it can get a bit noisy.

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