First I feel like I need to say the beauty of teaching is just like the beauty of learning. Change over time. I learn something new as a teacher and apply it. The process repeats over and over again.
I came to reading journals this way. I find all these cool things that I just love. Things that I know in my big old teacher heart will help students if they utilize them. They will help them to read more deeply to understand more fully and even write in a way that speaks more clearly to their audience. I know this to be true because I have seen it. I have seen it in students that hated reading and read more books last year than they ever had in all their years before. I have seen it is the writing of 11 year olds that sparked emotional responses in me because they had been inspired by the books they had read and the thoughts that grew from that. I have seen it in the conversations we had as a class over friendship, change, sacrifice, loss, hardship, racism, bullying you name it we discussed it and we tied these discussions to what we were reading. It could have been Freak the Mighty or Hatchet, Baseball Saved Us or Not my Girl. My students and the strategies that they learned and utilized created a more thoughtful classroom.
Inevitably we would then come to the question, “How do you grade this?” Immediately the wind leaves my sails. I wish I could just say I don’t. I grade our discussions from meh to great, is there a spot for that on the report card? No? How about I just give everyone 100% because thoughts are not right or wrong they are unique and might need more exploring but that is the fun of it. So I searched for a way that could maybe make me feel ok with a mark attached to thinking because in the end unfortunately until Universities move to accept Outcome based assessment as the superior measure of learning (spoiler alert: it is) we must supply them with what they need to make their judgements.
So I was pointed in the direction of the single point rubric. A tool that tells kids the ideal or proficient performance indicator with room for feedback on either side of the single descriptor column. One side for constructive feedback to improve the other for acknowledgment of achievement beyond expectations. To me this seems like a happy medium. I can tell students these are the points I am looking for. You can attempt to complete these tasks and I will give you feedback to help you get to the desired spot. We work within the students skill level to grow and as they turn in work I can assign a “mark” but also give them a chance to explain their thinking re-evaluate what they need to do and try again.
Assessment is a tricky thing. Different experts have different opinions like pretty much everything else in the world. I said to a friend tonight I am not married to this idea of a rubric for their reflection journals but I am casually dating it. We shall see how it works because in the end learning is growth. I don’t have all the answers but to learn as we grow is the best way to find how to move forward to a better solution.
Teacher friends check out my teacher stuff page for a rubric that I am thinking of using…thanks for the help in developing it.