In his writing class, a middle school teacher asks the student to come up with ideas about rubrics. Students together made a rubric to check their writing. Then, the teacher takes the rubric and hangs it on to the wall. He says "This is your permanent Rubric- From now on you are going to follow this rubric."
What is the teacher trying to accomplish by asking student to make their rubric by themselves rather than using any standardizied or district provided or state provided rubric?
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I would not ask students to make a rubric. Most students are confused by rubrics when they first learn to use them. They need to be carefully taught how they work. I do ask students to use the rubric to score their own work or a classmate's though.
Believe it or not, those involved in the learning process know exactly what an A level looks like--reading, writing, oral. If they create the rubrics themselves then they are able to transform their knowledge into their own language. This will enable them to assess their own work against what they already know is the upper level standard with more accuracy. They are more likely then to create work that meets that standard.
Teachers should ensure that they are providing and influencing the process though. This can be done by providing samples of the different levels and to ensure students are recalling all components that do meet district standards.
For more on the use of rubrics and the benefits of creating rubrics with students can be found at the provided link. Faye Brownlie is considered an authority on this subject.
On the most elemental of levels, the teacher is trying to compel students to develop their own method of assessment. This allows them the opportunity to take a more focused role in producing quality work because, the thinking goes, students have a stake in the assessment process. It becomes more of "their" work because they develop the means of assessing. Additionally, in the writing process, teachers strive to have students inject their own voice in the composition of writing samples. In developing their own rubric, this personalized notion of voice can be more present as they feel more empowered about what is being composed and how it is being read. All of these being said, I think that there might be some logistical and pedagogical problems in the manner of the hypothetical situation posed. Initially, the rubric for one child's writing assessments might not fit another child's. Writing is such a multi- layered endeavor that the rubric which one child develops might not be fully applicable to another child. When the students develop their own rubric, it might not encompass all that assessing of student writing might need to entail. Additionally, I would suggest that while students can advocate for their needs in assessing writing, in the end, the teacher should be the primary voice in guiding student writing. Writing is a process and students are localized in one phase of this process, while the teacher should be the guide who is farther along the path of dialectics in writing. To simply relinquish their role as guide might be more endangering to student needs in writing more than anything else. The risk of abandonment might not be worth the reward of temporary empowerment.
This teacher is trying to promote self assessment. A crucial part of learning is reflecting. If the students create their own high expectations, then they will know what is expected of their work. Furthermore, the students can use this information to reflect back on their work. A rubric gives a clear guideline of what is expected and how it is scored. However, the teacher should assess the completeness of the rubric before the students are to use it.
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