As we head into spring break next week, I've been contemplating the changes that I've made this year in chemistry. I started with assignment-based grading (never again) and then moved to purely objectives. After objectives, I went to objectives with graded homework, and now I'm doing objectives with graded quizzes. There has been a lot of change this year, and I'm still searching for that golden egg.
What has really struck me is the fact that I've been able to change so much. My students have been great as I continue to tweak my model, trying to find a good fit. Thinking about the four models I've worked my way though this year, I think the pure objective stands above the others. It still fits a "true" mastery model, where students show that they have a certain skill or ability. I didn't like the quizzes because they were penalized if they didn't get everything right the first time through.
Another thing I've been adding to my lessons is Critical Thinking Questions in which the students are asked to analyze and apply the material from that particular lesson. This has really gotten them thinking and has helped them internalize the material more for each unit.
As I continue to work on the class, I realize more and more that there is no one perfect way to run mastery. The students are stretching themselves regardless of how I structure the unit. Hopefully, I can continue to do that with each unit regardless of how the grade goes into the book.