The possibilities to engage and challenge kids here is amazing! But - the age-old question must be answered: how do we assess our students? How do we grade them and provide feedback? I've developed a simple rubric, but am looking for other ideas - big or small - to grade students' work and provide feedback to them. Ideas?

Tags: assessment, cards, feedback, grades, grading, report, rubric

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Dean, Problem I have with "extra credit" is that the kids that do it don't need it. I'd make it part of their classroom responsibility or as an option during writing time. Getting 4th-6th grade students to blog (or write anything) is a struggle but I feel like I want to strongly encourage all kids until the "bloggers" rise to the top. My frustration is that kids today are LAZY!! (and I teach gifted kids!!)

Here's our class blog A Really Different Place, start with Recent Posts to get a flavor of the writing.

Thanks for your reply and the link to your great blog. I understand what you are saying (and agree, as well) about making blogging part of their classroom responsibility. It sounds like my student population is at the opposite end of the spectrum as yours. I teach at an alternative school near Chicago where all the kids have been expelled or suspended from their home schools, and this is their last chance. I would estimate - honestly - that probably 75% of my kids' "fathers" are either in prison or have been murdered. The mother of one of my kids was also shot to death, and the brother of another student killed my kid's best friend right in front of him. Sadly, one of my students was elated last week because his father didn't forget his son's birthday - my student received a letter from his dad who is in prison for drug dealing. A very large percentage have grown up where life in a major street gang is the norm, and almost all are at the very bottom in terms of socioeconomics.

Consequently, I am looking for ANYTHING to get my students motivated, as school is not that important to many of them. I allow my kids to blog at school; however, one of my main objectives is to get the kids to do something - anything - education-related after school.

I think I will use your idea of making blogging part of their classroom responsibility. It's a great idea; however, I think I'll still make supplemental postings an option for extra credit. Thanks again,

Dean, I really admire teachers like you who teach in situations most of us would never consider. Technology may be the carrot to engage your kids--I've been successful writing grants and recieving all kinds of technology hardware and software over the years. This year we're using the NXT Lego Robotics with the curriculum from Carnegie Mellon---maybe there are tools out their that would inspire your kids. You certainly have a "grant worthy" bunch. In the past we've studied local history using grant monies to purchase cameras, video, GPS etc. There is millions of grant dollars available each year--you might consider some additional tech options. You can see some of the projects we've done with grant monies here.
I like Fischer and Frey's book Checking for Understanding where they breakdown assessment means into oral language, questioning, writing, projects and performances, tests, and common assessments and consensus scoring. If you want to focus on performance tasks, Wiggins's Educative Assessment provides a great theoretical framework. For implementing technology, I would recommend Learning to solve problems with technology and Multimedia for learning.

I think the key is to provide as much formative assessment as possible, using Popham's definition: Formative assessment is a planned process in which assessment-elicited evidence of students' status is used by teachers to adjust their ongoing instructional procedures or by students to adjust their current learning tactics. Even standardized tests (typically thought of as summative assessments) can be approached in a formative way (aka dynamic assessment). By merging assessment and instruction, the learner gets more timely feedback that provides for revision and practice as opposed to a single shot at exhibiting one's understanding, which is never a good indicator of achievement. Learners should provide a "smorgasbord" of evidence that allows you to determine their level of understanding, and they should also have some input in the way they are being assessed as well. ¡Suerte!
Steve, I keep mentioning this but I like it. Andrew Churches, the guy at Edorigami has rewritten Bloom's Taxonomy and calls it Bloom's Digital Taxonomy. He has created rubrics for all the Web 2.0 applications, we used the one he designed for blogging--not rocket science but adds terminology that I like and kids' blogging improved after we discussed it.
This may be of interest of to some here .... The Kauffman Foundation is funding an assessment infrastructure design project with the purpose of establishing a national "assessment infrastructure" for self assessed web based and virtual world activities (of course designers will have "design" to the infrastructure) - the "birds eye view" chart is here - ... exemplar groups pilot this coming summer - pilot groups the following year... The work is being initiated by Duke University and the Renaissance Computing Institute based in North Carolina.

great ideas and links
Hi Steve,

I teach college freshman, but I think that some of my wiki assessment strategies will work for younger students. Let me know how you would adapt them.

For each writing assignment in my courses, students must develop a page in our wiki.

Before they get each assignment, I develop a correspoding rubric that I save as a wikispaces template. The rubric is specific enough that students can use it to peer edit. After students create their draft wikispace page, a peer or two creates a link at the bottom of the draft for their evaluation and then uses the rubric template to evaluate the draft and make recommendations for edits. The author can make revisions. When the final version is due, I evaluate each page by generating my own rubric page, scoring each element of the rubric, and providing formative feedback where appropriate.

To encourage my freshman peer editors, I allow the authors to "tip" their editor, i.e. turn in a request at the end of the project that an influential editor be awarded a small fraction of the author's final grade as extra credit.

Sometime I allow students to make one more round of revisions after I provide initial feedback. When I do, I can compare earlier and later drafts using the history function so that I don't have re-read the paper, but only focus on my feedback and their revisions.

It is still a lot of reading and commenting, but there are side benefits to this strategy. When I grade each paper, I label it as "Graded" in the page with all of the papers' links. I also label the better papers with a "blue ribbon" icon next to its link. Since I allow students to edit their papers until I grade them, they read the feedback on the early papers and edit their papers based on my comments.

This arrangement only works because everyone is writing their paper on a different topic, e.g. researching and describing a different school in our state. Several students have told me that they benefited from seeing how other papers were assessed, and I see this as a way for many students to benefit from the formative feedback that I provide others and encourage them to refine their writing.
I've started to use voicethread for student self and peer assessment. You can read more here.
There have been lots of good comments hat you might access and how to distinguish beween good and poor performance. BUT the other issue is what are some mechanics of doing the grading and returning meaningful feebdack to students -- if the mechanics are too time consuming even the most dedicated teacher will burn out.

I'vve been using Word's track changes and comments for electroncially submitted assignments. This lets me giive feedbck in the assignments and also create and reuse detailed comments using text, links, images and recorded audio. If the assignment is a Wiki page or set of discussion fourm posts or something else that is online I will often copy the item and paste it into Word and use the same tools. The assessment is then either emailed back to the student or returned via the Learning Managagement System (Moodle in our case).

Below is a list of software that you can use to mark electronic assignments:

If you want you can also look at a demonstration the eMarking Assistant tool that I have developed at:

Peter Evans
I use portfolos in class. students build their portfolios through the semester with assignments, artifacts, formative assessments from each other their learning portfolio.

We all comment on each other's work in the class and students are asked to help each other build each other's portfolios by adding additional content and commentary.

I grade the final portfolio, but also grade several elements of it thru the semester.

I also have students engage in action research projects related to their interests in education. I share these assignments w/ colleagues from outside the class to offer guided inquiry statements. Students then are asked to slect one of the prompts and expend their research in that area. I think it is importnat for students to see areas in their research that need to be expanded.



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