September 16, 2013

Thinking Through Conceptual Grading

            Wow, it’s been a while.  Not because I’ve been busy, which I have, but because I don’t know where to start or even go with this one-so, I’m just writing to see where it “goes”. 

            All right, I’ve been reflecting more on conceptual development and RTI.  I started to pay attention to what I do while I am grading.  Most of the following will pertain to written response.  First, I noticed that when I am grading a concept, I develop a list of criteria FOR EACH QUESTION!  Yes, each, individual question has it’s own list of correct pieces of information that belong within it.  Maybe that’s why I dread grading this type of question so much.  It takes a lot of work to develop those ideas and to fully be prepared to know what should fit and shouldn’t.  And with concepts, it’s deeper thinking.  Kids can totally surprise you too, providing deep thinking that you may not even have thought about!  That’s when you begin to really wonder if you hit it right.  But, isn’t that the joy of concepts-you can be taken by surprise!  Ok, back on track. 

            Once each question has an answer developed, then I’m ready to grade.  Where did I get the grade?  Do I just give points? Do I base them on a set of criteria from research?  Do I use a national or state standard?  That’s where it becomes difficult.  State standards no longer exist for written response in Florida.   We haven’t transferred totally to Common Core and, frankly, their rubric is poor at best (PARCC).  That led to looking back at the past and combining it with research.

            Let’s start with RESEARCH!  Oh, yes I am!  And, get ready……Marzano!  Oh, I know, his name is the dread of most teachers everywhere!  Can I tell you, that’s a mistake of every inservice given by someone who hasn’t really understood who and what he did-including me. I had to give one of those lovely inservices once, and I thought I knew something.  Then I actually read some of his actual books-not papers someone gave me at that dreaded inservice-but a REAL BOOK!  I must say, I think he jumped in my brain and pulled out information to create THE Marzano Academic Rubric!  Now, the original is found in Classroom Instruction that Works by Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock, and includes the Effort Rubric (5 stars also in my book!)  I will say, I did jazz the original up a little, changing some of the words and using the combination of some of the parts of the Effort Rubric.  This is now a MUST HAVE in my classroom, and I use it for everything!  Since this is a “write it out as I go with no idea of where I was going”, I don’t have a picture.  (I will, however, post it to my Facebook page tomorrow-my shameless plug to push the new, shiny button on the top of the page that says “Like me on Facebook!”)

            Now, let’s look at the old. I must say, the state of Florida did something right a number of years ago.  Back then, students had write to respond answers on their state test that were scored on a 4 or 2 point rubric, depending on the weight of the question.  Here are the two rubrics (Thanks to FCIT for not deleting old material that is still valuable!):

Notice, they are very nonspecific, yet specific! I know that makes no sense. What I mean by that is that they can be applied to any of the conceptual skills that are presented within a written response.  They are, actually, in a format that teachers use within our own thinking!  And, if only I had a picture to compare, they are also very Marzano before Marzano became a thing. These are from the late 90’s, if my memory serves me right!  Once upon a time, long ago, this state did it right. 
At this point, I feel like I have an answer to my question, as strange as that feels.  However, it opens twenty more.  Here are a few:
1.  What does this look like for multiple choice?
2.   If kids can write a response, but not pick the same
      response from a list, why is that?
3.  How do you actually transfer an ideas they can write about
     to finding one in the list?
4.  Which is easier?  Which is harder?
5.  What do we do for kids who are being RTI’d because they
     are behind and can’t conceptualize?
6.  How do we close that gap successfully-to the point that it 
     is REAL and not for a test?

Oh, I could go on.  Isn’t that what this crazy thing we call education is all about? To explore these concepts to better student understanding?  I will continue to keep track in my mind things that I notice.  In the mean time, I tried something out that I wouldn’t mind others trying out too!  I created a multiple choice style test for two articles from Time for Kids.  I’m going to offer it for FREE with the hopes that:

1.     It will work for you
2.     I will create more! 

The articles are “They’re Back” and “What’s for Lunch?”  Both of the links to the articles are found in the document.  It is your job to figure out how to get the articles in the kids’ hands-computer, print and share, project, or any other way you can. (I printed them and, once cut down, they can actually fit on one sheet of copy paper!)  If you use it, let me know what you think! 

Have a great week,

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