By Mary Buckelew
“Rubrics make powerful promises. They promise to save time. They promise to boil a messy process down to four to six rows of nice neat, organized little boxes. Who can resist their wiles? They seduce us with their appearance of simplicity and objectivity and then secure their place in our repertoire of assessment techniques with their claim to help us to clarify our goals and guide students through the difficult and complex task of writing” (2). Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Assessment (2007), by Maja Wilson
How many points is this assignment worth? How many lines do I need to write? How many pages? Where’s the rubric? Why did I get a 3 in organization? Why didn’t I get full credit? How do I get an A?
Students enter my college freshman writing classes with the above litany of questions, sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken, but ever present. These questions are as natural as breathing and begin early in students’ K-12 school careers. Read more
by Mary Buckelew
“Before choosing The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney for my self-selected book, I figured that I’d be reading aesthetically as I wanted to read for entertainment. After reading, I can say I read mostly with an aesthetic lens, but I did read efferently at times to soak in new information regarding my major.” (Ethan, undergraduate criminal justice major)
“I wish I’d known about the different stances of reading long before this, and I wish my high school teachers hadn’t focused solely on the efferent aspects of reading and books. I only read books in high school to pass tests, write required papers, and other test oriented stuff . . . I don’t think my teachers knew that the aesthetic stance existed. Even summer reading was always selected for us and then we were tested – efferent all the way.” (Sarah, undergraduate biology pre-med major)
“I now like to think about how I am reading, why I am reading, and I even apply efferent and aesthetic to other classes and life in general.” (“Honest Anonymous Feedback” from the end of the semester evaluations, Lit. 165 2:00)
Sarah, Ethan, and the anonymous student were enrolled in my Literature 165 classes this past spring semester. They shared these ideas in their final reflections and in final evaluations.
Here is our truth. Students need our help. We need help. We need each another--everyone in the classroom and everyone in our buildings. And we need the humility to know that our best teaching years may never be realized because of the hundreds and thousands of unreported moments that matter to the young people we mentor.
by Meg Clementi
Is reabhloideach mise. I am a revolutionary.
As a math teacher, I am questioned by peers as to why I have my students write. What is
my purpose in asking students to explain their thinking? Why have I attended conferences, courses and programs whose attendees are comprised of 99% English teachers and Elementary reading and writing teachers? I stand at the edges, accepting the shaken heads and wonderings of my peers.
Is reabhloideach mise. I am a revolutionary.
I have my students write because their ability to explain their thinking is important to me. Their ability to justify their processes and answers is critical. Their depth of knowledge is essential. My students write because as their teacher, I demand this level of participation, performance and comprehension from them. I am not satisfied with them simply renting knowledge and discarding what they have learned as they place their hands on the doorknob and walk out of my classroom for the last time. I want them to own knowledge.
Is reabhloideach mise. I am a revolutionary. Read more
A few years ago, I started to rethink my classroom space. I wondered, What does this room say about me as a teacher, or my students as learners? Is the space working in the best ways it can? Here are 16 ways we can reimagine our learning spaces - with pictures!
By Janice Ewing
My grad class is small this term, a seminar-like community with lots of conversation and sharing of ideas and experiences. The comfort level among the group is a welcome respite at a time when everyone is striving to fulfill end-of-year requirements and scrambling to reach unmet goals, while keeping up with grad school and family obligations.
Recently, a few of the teachers shared experiences that were unexpectedly positive and rewarding. For example, Anne (names have been changed) teaches in an alternative high school for students who have previously dropped out or taken other detours from the traditional path to graduation. Most, if not all, have had struggles and negative experiences with reading, robbing them of the pleasurable experience of getting caught up in a book. By chance, Anne acquired a large enough collection of Walter Dean Myers’ Monster to accommodate her small class. She had not read the book, but had read reviews and commentaries and it seemed like a great fit for her students. She decided to jump in without reading it ahead, which was not her usual practice. Next issue: a well-meaning colleague pointed out that there were related “packets’ available, which would provide questions, prompts, discussion points, etc. An inner voice told her to forgo the packets, and she listened to it. Read more