Tuesday, July 10, 2012

All They Wanted

I write this more in shame than anything, but in a hope you can learn from it. This is probably common sense to most of you, but sharing this failure might click with someone.

I was attending the Solution Tree PLC conference in St. Louis earlier this summer. I attended many sessions on assessment because it's something that has been an interest of mine for a while. I have knowledge of many good formative assessment practices. I'm big on the retake and standards-based assessment and reporting.

This past year, and many years before it, students would ask the same old question, "How long does it need to be?" I would come back with the response, "I interpret that question as meaning, 'How short can it be to get by, Mrs. G?'" Sadly, some students caught on to this and would give that response to students before I could even give it. I realized got a big slap in the face after attending a session at the conference (I can't remember which) that all the students wanted were more examples of good writing. They really aren't asking to see how short it can be, well maybe a couple are, but most really want to know so they can do their best!

Writing is not one of my strong suits. I have allowed students to fix things and resubmit their paper, and I blog with my students so they have a larger audience for me. One thing that really hit home with me at the PLC conference was students' needs for many examples of writing that meets, does not meet, exceeds the standard.  I was giving them a rubric with descriptors and sometimes one good and one poor model to look at, but many weren't able to transfer to what that would look like in their own writing. They need more. They need more models posted. I even have a sweet little box called "Mentor Texts," for their writing, but I need to be more explicit with its use.

So, this is one of many improvements I hope to make this year. After 6 years of teaching, there's never been one year where I say, "I hope next year is an exact repeat of this year." I archived all of my students' blog posts from last year and hope to use them as models for this coming year (names omitted of course).

What are some mistakes you've made in your classroom? How can you take a risk and be transparent about those mistakes to help others learn?