Saturday, February 13, 2010

Questioning Rubrics

"The grade's validity--or ability to reflect the 'worth' of the paper--relies on the rubric's ability to predict how these factors work together to create good writing." (Wilson, 32)

How many of you remember all the work we put into creating the power standards for writing? I, for one, spent countless hours creating rubrics to go with each of the genres I was teaching my 5th graders. The rubric is based on my instruction of writing, meaning it changes every time I improve my own skillS as a writing teacher. Even though Wilson claims rubrics save time, I still spend many weekends and evenings taking the time to consider how each student applied the skills we learned in class. I certainly wouldn't say it's easier, but it definitely creates a standard (even if it's just a standard that applies to me alone).

Our last writing assignment was a personal narrative that we turned into a VoiceThread. I was troubled by one student in particular because she didn't include a couple of the main revisions we worked on in class (Barry Lane's "Exploding a Moment" and "Adding a Setting"). As a result, I couldn't score ideas any higher than a 2. However, this student used dialogue brilliantly to help me envision what took place in this special moment she shared with her best friend. I didn't have "dialogue" anywhere on my rubric, and the girl was understandably upset when she saw a 2 under the trait of "Ideas". She asked how she could make it better, and I told her. I have to admit that by adding her "Exploding a Moment", it did help me visualize the scene better. However, she added other parts that just took away from the simplicity of having a couple third graders excitedly exploring their newfound spelling oddities, "pugnacious" and "schwa". Meaning, she added these descriptions because I told her to, but it actually made her writing worse.

If rubrics aren't the best summative assessment, then what is? There has to be an end to writing at some point. With 107 students, I can't keep allowing them to revise their writing. There just isn't enough time for one person to assess multiple revisions of one assignment. I am looking for some sort of magical answer here. Someone please...pull that rabbit out of the hat! Given the resources and number of students we have, how can we assess writing in a meaningful way? And how can we motivate students to improve their writing, even if the teacher isn't giving them any more feedback?

No comments:

Post a Comment