Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Experimenting with Writing Evaluation

I have assigned a Cold War project to my learners, which requires them to know of the major events in the Cold War and demonstrate learning through a major media medium.  Some are choosing to do a podcast, newspapers, news blog, documentary, TV news, short film, etc.  I did not limit them in the media in any way.

I want the learners to write and perform expository writing using many perspectives and angles in order to answer the ultimate question, “How is humanity motivated by fear?”  Every learner is required to be the lead writer for one sub-genre within the chosen media. 

In order to evaluate the expository writing, I am using a new method.  I have printed a rubric for each learner and made the rubric available online for every learner.  As I talk and direct learners one-on-one or in small groups, I will evaluate what they have and let them know how they are doing on the rubric.  While the rubric is not the ultimate goal, it is an understandable continuum with which they are familiar.

I would usually require a rough draft, second draft, and final copy, but this allows me to get dirty in their writings daily and allows them to get the feedback right away.  I am trying to avoid spending hours grading and writing feedback that is never really appreciated or applied.  I want them to have real-time feedback and then get to work.  This takes time in class, but it also shortens the gap between the expectations and the learner’s composition.  Every time I meet with the learner, I will use the same rubric and simply move the line based upon their revisions.

We will see how the compositions turn out, but I am hopeful that more evaluating in class will lead to better writers and a lower stress in grading final essays.  Once the writings are done, the students will put them together to make a production with the media genre chosen.

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