Thoughts on Assessment (and Weekend Update)

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about assessment lately, particularly about authentic assessment.  My school district uses the workshop approach to reading and writing, so students are working at their own level.  Daily conferring happens in both reading and writing, so informal assessment comes naturally.  Working individually with students allows teachers to meet individual needs right on the spot and keep track of how they are responding to instruction. The trick is turning all of this into a number to put in the grade book.  At my campus, we are trying something new in writing.  I am working with teachers to create simple rubrics for each curriculum unit.  When I say simple, I mean 8-year-old simple.  We are limiting ourselves to the five most important things we hope they will be able to produce in the writing unit, and we are making the language as kid-friendly as possible, because the whole point is to share the rubrics with the kids.

These rubrics are ideally introduced on Day 2 of the writing unit. (Day 1 is devoted to immersing in the kind of writing kids are about to do.)  On day 2, we want to push kids to reflect on everything they noticed as they were immersing in the genre.  Then they’ll be introduced to the rubric. (I’m including a picture of a 2nd grade rubric (from Mrs. Scott’s class) here, and I am adding more to the anchor charts page.)

The point of this rubric is not just to show kids one time, of course.  The rubrics are being referred to multiple times every single day.  Because we developed the rubric based on our curriculum, every mini-lesson should be connected to one of the rubric goals.  This will help kids add to their vision of where they are going in this unit. (Like Katie Wood Ray says, if we don’t give kids a vision, we can’t expect them to do any revision.)

These rubrics are also referred to in individual conferences.  A conference should include a compliment and a teaching point.  If the teacher is stuck, they can certainly compliment the student on one goal from the rubric they are really working on, and they can choose a teaching point based on a different goal.

 Finally, teachers are referring to these rubrics during the share portion of writing workshop.  I was in a second grade class last week during the share, and one student read her ending. (The mini-lesson that day was about endings.) After she read that part of her piece, the teacher thanked her and publicly praised her realistic solution (one of the rubric goals).  This not only made that student feel like a writing rock star – it made every other kid in the class double-check that the solution in their story was realistic, too.
This is a work in progress for us.  I’ll update as our work evolves.
Happy Saturday!
Julie
P.S. – I added a few other anchor chart pictures as well.  I may add another post about those later.  I also reorganized the anchor chart page for clarity’s sake.

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