Monday, March 18, 2013

Which Rubric Rocks?

Goodbye March Break, hello final third of the school year! There were several things I intended to do over the week away, like marking the MediaSmarts Reality Check independent unit the intermediate division students submitted before the break - but I didn't. (Sorry, Grade 7s and 8s!) However, my time off was not just spent sleeping in and eating out. I conducted some Forest of Reading e-chats and prepared some lessons and assignments to use in the next few weeks.

If my plans go accordingly, the intermediate students are going to re-visit blogging. There may be fancier programs or methods out there (e.g. Moodle, D2L, etc.) but there's something immediate and powerful about blogs that keep them going alongside much newer innovations in communication. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I researched different assessment tools educators have developed to assess blogging in their classes. I found a plethora of thorough evaluation tools. How do I know which one will work best for us?

I've made copies for the teachers to get their opinions, but I also want the students' point of view. There are just a few snags I can see with collecting all these judgments.

  • time = how long will it take for the students to read through them all and make a decision?
  • enthusiasm = if they don't care, will they prefer to just leave it up to the teachers to choose?
  • ownership = if they don't create it themselves, do they really care which pre-made one we use?
  • uncertainty = how do students know what the final product should look like at the beginning of a unit?
Heidi Siwak mentioned on her blog regarding self-assessment that it makes more sense to develop success criteria for a task two-thirds into the unit. Like Aviva Dunsiger's reflections in the comment section of that post, there's the flip side: some students like knowing up-front what is expected of them and may struggle without clear guidelines in place at the beginning. 

I also realize that time is ticking for me - I can't agonize over every word on a rubric for too long because by the time I develop something satisfactory, the unit will be over. Maybe I could use this device that Praxismaxis built on our Minecraft server: a time manipulation device (it can turn day into night and vice versa). Until I get the real-world version of this going, I guess I'll think, collect data, weigh the evidence and decide on a course of action.

Yes, this is just an excuse to share a Minecraft screenshot!

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