Asset-Building Assessment: From Degrading Rubrics to Actionable Feedback Guides

When I was a junior in college, I did some part time work tutoring students in writing through my university’s literacy center. I was working with a ninth grade student, Allan, and he was concerned about how his writing ability was affecting his grade. As we we were getting to know one another, many of my questions focused on what his teacher expected from Allan and his classmates when it came to writing.

Me: So, your classmates are getting high marks, but you’re struggling. Does your teacher go over what he expects on your papers?

Allan: Well, he goes over the rubric and . . .

Me: Hang on. Rubric? What’s that?

Allan: It’s like, a thing… a paper my teacher gives us to tell us how we’re doing with our writing, what he expects, you know?

Me: . . .

That’s right, as a junior in college, this was the first time I was becoming aware of this measuring tool. Now, to be fair to my teachers up until that time, they were using clear assessment tools to evaluate my writing and give me feedback–I remember checklists full of writing features that my teachers would tick off as they each on in my papers, and at the end I would get a certain amount of points based on my performance. But this was the first time I had to pay attention because my student’s grade depended to what extent he could calibrate his writing to the rubric.

I helped Allan work his way to receiving top marks in his class according to the scoring guide his teacher gave the class. It was very satisfying to watch him succeed because of our collaboration, and one of the many formative experiences that lead me to pursuing a career in teaching ELA at the high school level. But, soon after I started teaching, assessing student writing according to rubrics nearly caused me to leave the profession.

Continue reading “Asset-Building Assessment: From Degrading Rubrics to Actionable Feedback Guides”

“Don’t You Trust Me?” with Nancy Erwin — Episode 2

 

 

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Dear Teacher, 

When it comes to what you believe is the in the best interest of the students enrolled in your class, have you ever asked this question: “Don’t you trust me?”

Nancy ErwinIn today’s episode of Dear Teacher, Don’t Give Up! we are going to hear Nancy Erwin’s story about the first few years of her teaching career. As a first grade teacher, when her district made Nancy and her colleagues administer assessment after assessment (which included a lot of hand scoring), she wondered if this is really all there was to teaching, or if there was something more.

At one point, she stepped away from the classroom, and Nancy took the time to reflect, “Should I keep going?”

Hear the rest of Nancy’s story HERE.


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Start Grading Papers Online Right Away: Part 1

After misplacing another student assignment, I was at my wits’ end. I work on a high school campus where teachers don’t have an assigned classroom. That means we move from room to room. Last year, I taught in two different rooms (Some of my colleagues taught in three!). Let me give you a snapshot of what it was like.

I would bring my load with me to each place. In classroom # 1, I would set up and teach for three periods. Then I would strike my workstation, and move it all to a common office all the English teachers shared, and set it up again to work on my prep period. Then I would strike it, move it, and set it up in Classroom # 2. Then I would strike it all and go home, usually setting up again to work on some open items left over from the day.

This was Monday through Friday. No wonder I lost papers! Midyear, I started getting desperate. I had to find a way to collect papers, keep a hold of them, and get the back to the students, all while on the move. I was past the point where I would let my skepticism keep me from trying online grading. So I started looking around. And what I found has forever changed how I will collect and grade essays.

This is a layered process that seems complex from the outside looking in. So I will post it in two parts. Continue reading “Start Grading Papers Online Right Away: Part 1”