Tag Archives: Rubrics

Thinking About Ongoing Assessment

In Data Driven Differentiation in the Standards Based Classroom (2004) G. H. Gregory and L. Kuzmuch identify three questions that help planning assessment:

1. What do I know about my students now?

2. What is the nature and content of the final assessment for this unit or period of time?

3. What don’t I know about the content knowledge, the critical thinking, and the process or skill demonstration of my students?

Early in the school year, parents are requesting grades while I am working on building skills and learning more about my students strengths and weaknesses. This past week for example, after reading through the summer reading assessments (which I do not grade), I did a teach back of the introductory paragraph and claim and students revised their writing. Instead of a grade, I used a rubric that offered three responses in regards to meeting the learning target rather than a grade of 1, 2, or 3: “Nailed It!” “Almost There” and “Keep Trying.”

For me, assessment informs instruction much more than it informs student learning. Here are some assessment strategies I use in my classroom to support student success:

1. Whip Around: Teacher poses a question, students write response, students read written responses rapidly, in specified order. This develops closure, clarification, and summary.

2. Status Checks: This can be a thumbs up/thumbs down, students can use colored cards (red, green, yellow) to show their understanding.

3. Quartet Quiz: Teacher poses question, students write a response, students meet in quads and check answers, the summarizer reports, “We know . . .” The teacher can record responses on the board. This allows for closure and clarification.

4. Jigsaw Check: Teacher assigns students to groups of 5-6. The teacher gives each student a question card, posing a key understanding question, students read their question to the group. The scorecard keeper records the number of students for each question who are: really sure, pretty sure, foggy, and clueless. The students then scramble to groups with the same questions they have to prepare a solid answer. Students then report back to their original groups to share answers and re-do scoreboard.

5. Squaring Off: Teacher places a card in each corner of the room with one of the following words or phrases that are effective ways to group according to learner knowledge: Rarely ever, Sometimes, Often, I have it! or Dirt Road, Paved Road, Highway, Yellow Brick Road. Tell the student to go to the corner of the room that matches their place in the learning journey. Participants go to the corner that most closely matches their own learning status and discuss what they know about the topic and why they chose to go there.

6. Yes/No Cards: Using a 4X6 index card the student writes YES on one side and NO on the other. When a question is asked by the teacher, the students holds  up YES or NO. This can be used with vocabulary words, true/false questions, or conceptual ideas.

7. Thumb It: Have students respond with the position of their thumb to get an assessment of what their current understanding of a topic being studied. Where I am now in my understanding of ______________? Thumb Up = full speed ahead (I get it), Thumb Sideways = Slow down, I’m getting confused, Thumb Down = Stop! I’m lost.

8. Journal Prompts for Ongoing Assessment: Choice A – Write a step by step set of directions, including diagrams and computations, to show someone who has been absent how to do the kind of problem we’ve worked with this week. OR Choice B – Write a set of directions for someone who is going to solve a problem in their life by using the kind of math problem we’ve studied this week. Explain the problem first. Be sure the directions address their problem, not just the computations.

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Tackling Bullying: Spring Debates

For two weeks my middle school students have been learning about and engaging in heated discussions debates on all different controversial topics. For our first formal debate students will tackle bullying.

Bullying is an epidemic in many schools and with the documentary Bully, many schools are holding a mirror to their policies and procedures address bullying, bystanders, and victims and focusing on how to teach students to be upstanders and compassionate.  The tragic events in South Hadley, Massachusetts and at Rutgers University in New Jersey that led to Phoebe Prince and Tyler Clementi taking their own lives (among the countless others) have only brought the issue of bullying to the forefront of education.

Why not have my students research and discuss the politics around bullying, figure possible solutions for schools and communities, and engage in intellectual conversations as cyber bullying seems to be on the rise.  Below is the actual assignment and rubrics that will be used to evaluate my students’ debates and evidence files.  If you are looking for resources or lesson ideas on bullying, The New York Time’s The Learning Network has great information for teachers and students.

bullying thinglink

This Thinglink gives my students a jump start finding information on bullying for their evidence files.

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Evaluating Participation in the Classroom

Participation is such an integral part of my classroom. My students learn by doing. But what do teachers mean when they require active participation? What does exemplary participation look like and do teachers articulate this to students clearly?

A number of years ago I was teaching a middle school drama class and one of the students who sat quietly in the back all year long, not an active participant in class, broke down in tears when she did not earn an A for the marking period. A meeting was called by her parents, myself, and the principal to address why this student, who was an A student in all her other classes, did not earn an A in Drama. Her parents told me that she should not be penalized for being shy and since she was not a disruptive student she should earn a higher grade.

It was after this meeting that I decided I needed to articulate to my students (and parents) what is expected and what I define by active participation. Is active participation about answering the teachers questions? Or is there more involved such as attitude and behavior? After a number of years of editing and trying out different rubrics, I have come to trust the latest version I created which I have shared below.

Please share your own versions of participation rubrics or feel free to offer some suggestions how I can improve upon my own.

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