Reality of Rubrics

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In today’s educational system, students are very focused on grades.  It’s the system we designed as a culture, so this should not come as a surprise.  In work, school and even social circles, students (all citizens really) are being evaluated and given grades or status based on performance.  But do students really understand how they earned their grade?  Often times, a paper or project will be handed back to the student with instructor comments and a grade.  That’s great.  Students were given a task and consequently received a mark that is supposed to stand for the entirety of their work.  Is it really surprising then that students appear disinterested in what is being assigned?  Imagine spending hours of time on a task or assignment and then having the entirety of your effort relegated to a single letter or number.  Frustrating, no? 

ImageTo combat this problem, a push towards rubrics has been taking place in the classroom.  A key part of students seeking certification for teaching is the EdTPA.  In this evaluation, students must construct a grading rubric for the assignment they are required to design.  While members of the educational community may fall anywhere on the spectrum regarding their approval or disapproval of the Common Core, the benefits of rubrics as a tool of assessment is undeniable.  Rubrics not only allow students to focus on the key elements of the task at hand, they provide students with a wealth of knowledge in regards to the aspects of the assignment in which they struggled or succeeded.  Rather than being given a summative grade, rubrics provide students with a more specific breakdown of their efforts.  That way, students can zero in on their strengths and weaknesses as writers, or better yet, authors.  Summative grades are ambiguous at best and do little to reinforce strengths, but rather highlight deficits. 

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Designing and assembling a rubric can be daunting.  The process requires that a teacher give careful consideration to the elements of the structure that they value most.  That way, students have a much more effective map or guide for the assignment as rubrics should be handed out before students begin the task of completing the assignment.  In order to create a coherent, effective rubric, many teachers may choose to use Microsoft Word or some other word processor.  However, in today’s digital era, there are a plethora of resources available to aspiring and current teachers alike.  Rcampus.com, (the logo  above will take you there) which I briefly mentioned in a previous post, is an incredible resource (FREE!!!!) available online.  Sign-up literally takes under 10 minutes.  As a member of this group, teachers have a variety of rubric designs available to pick and choose from.  The format of a rubric can be frustrating to design as a Word document, yet with this site, all a teacher has to do is type.  That’s right, the format and weighting scales are provided.  To create a rubric, an instructor is required to address and provide the criteria for specific levels of the rubric.  Rubric templates allow for users to expand or shrink the number of criteria, and users can also assign particular weights to each category.  If a certain criteria on the rubric is deemed more important by teacher, they can weight it accordingly.   With the rubric formed, a teacher merely has to assign the particular scores a student receives for each criterion and Rcampus.com will calculate the total score for them!  This is a small sample of how an individual can utilize this site.  There are also portfolio builders, and once the portfolios are built, instructors can submit  and create a digital storage space for student work.

 I could go on and on about the features of this website as you can realistically construct a virtual classroom by utilizing all features of the website.  I will not however as that would diminish the importance of rubrics.  They are essential in a classroom today.  If we want to create a generation of critical readers, then they must be able to critically evaluate their own work.  That is a difficult task when provided with so little feedback.  Thus, the importance of rubrics is greater than ever before.  

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Theorizing Tabloids

For my digital literacy unit overview, I focused on the tabloid as a multimodal construction.  I compared its own genre with that of a broadsheet or more traditional newspaper.  I feel that in analyzing the different stylistic choices made by the editor, students will be able to better conceive the particular ways an author may try to impose a message on viewers.  The class would spend a good deal of time in the computer lab (hopefully, without fighting other teachers for lab time usage).  Students would be able to research material independently, as well as is classroom discussion.

The genre of the tabloid tends to have very discernible, messages and themes.  Therefore, I thought it would be an nice entry point into conceptualizing digital literacy.  As tabloid images are often edited to suit their purpose, students being asked to create their own tabloid cover would need a Web 2,0 Application to assist their photo editing.  To this end, I researched several online photo apps until I discovered FotoFlexer.  This app seemed to have the best variety and ease of access to editing tools.  Therefore, I incorporated it into the unit plan.

While constructing my rubric, I signed up for a free rubric building website.  Rcampus.com is a rubric, template building site available to teachers and students alike.  It was very accessible and an exciting find.  Check out my unit plan overview here!

Multimodality and Multiliteracies Paper

I had to write a paper on what multiliteracies and multi modalities are and how they work in the ELA classroom.  Honestly, I assumed this assignment sounded a bit tedious at first.  I can tell you this much: they are right when it comes to assuming! I liked the project a lot.

I started writing, and the next thing I knew, I was over 5 pages and had to do some editing in order to meet the criteria for this assignment.  It is very interesting to note that much of the language from the two articles we used was eerily similar to the new Common Core Standards for New York ELA.  Much of the work is suggesting that we create more culturally aware and accepting classrooms while at the same time acknowledging that pen and paper, or typewriter if you want, are things of the past.  Our students have the potential to be architects of new modes and forms of communication.  Sign making is no longer limited to the alphabet and that is exciting! I don’t want to give away too much in this blog post, so check out my essay here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/169469296/Multimodality-and-Multiliteracy

Also, from what I saw, I really liked the Scribd site.  I can search anything I want by tags.

My PowerPoint Presentation

I’ve created a narrated powerpoint for my technology class.

This was one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve had in this class.  For either time.  I bought a brand new headset and microphone as the old one was rather beat up.  However, for whatever reason (trust me I messed with my sound settings and microphone drive more than I ever have before) I have white noise in the background of my presentation.  It detracts greatly from the overall quality and presentation of my product.  However, as always I forget how much fun it is to create multimodal products.  I feel that a lot of my graduate work to this point has included a great deal of writing and no other mode of communication.  This was a fun experience up until the recording point.  Signing up and logging into authorstream was a breeze as usual, but I am beyond frustrated that this PPT was not as good as the one I produced last fall.  I will be attempting to locate that project and upload it to this blog for comparison.  The topic I covered was absolutely fascinating to me, and I look forward to the day when this becomes truly feasible.  No SPOILERS though.  Watch to find out!

http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/jbrewer1012-1930042-1234/

Here we go again

Learning about technology and English language isn’t new to me; I am taking a class for the second time because I ended up dropping it when I realized I had had too much on my plate. I am apprehensive about the course because when I use technology, I feel like this:

Much of this week’s assignments were familiar to me.  Obviously, this is my second time at this particular rodeo.  However, I am still shocked at the multitude of tools at my disposal that I all too often neglect.  I’m particularly interested in the Diigo app as I browse and peruse certain websites religiously, and it seems that this particular application can allow me to do that even faster.  It is in essence a much more awesome “favorites” tab from what I can discern at this point.  Finally, I had the worst time finding the “prtsc” button on this Toshiba but with a little help from Yahoo Answers, I finally found that screen capture button.