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Lesson Plans


Re: assessment good/bad

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
taylorh (taylorh)
Mon, 20 Jul 1998 10:26:54 -0700 (MST)


henry wrote:

>>"..if we assign projects which fall within an established context such
as Impressionism. We can write a rubric which covers the essential
criteria. ... (snip) ... it makes a great deal of sense to work to a
rubric. (snip) ....The thing of it is you assess the qualities you can
specify and that both you and the student can identify. Everyone knows
whats expected."<<

henry also wrote:
>>"A problem [with objective standards] may only arise when..."<<

and:

>>National standards and examinations provide a procrustean filter cutting
off the best just as surely as they identify "the worst"."<<

and, more specifically:

>>"...no matter where I look, something in the institution seems bent
on eliminating the divergent independent individual or bending her closer
to the norm."<<

Leah replied:

>>"I don't know how teaching to objective standards could possibly become
obsolete. "<<

Me neither. We agree.

>>"...students need to be given a baseline guide of what is expected for
any given activity."<<

You bet! We agree.

At the same time, however, exceptional or special students may enter our
classroom and it will be necessary to make exceptions to that baseline to
reflect their special needs.

>>"We can not assume that students have the knowledge the determine their
own direction until we outline expectations and the student addresses
them."<<

What leads us to ASSUME that WE DO have the knowledge to determine the
appropriate direction for this specific student or that a general set of
standards which can be quite specific meets the students unique needs?

It is not appropriate to stand back an default on the role of educator. I
don't wish to suggest that. We don't say, in effect: "You're on your own,
Kid."

> Otherwise, what is our role as teacher?

Good Question! Something to re-explore daily. I don't see myself as a
member of an industrial assembly line "bolting on" knowledge and skill as
the students pass my work station. It is easy to specify that "The student
will..." when its only a formula and not an honest warranty. Someday a
parent with profound integrity will march in and demand that her kid
continue in the class until the warranty specified can be met. There are
days when I'm tempted to be the one. After all WHAT IS our role as
teacher?

For that matter... IF you are the party responsible for "installing the
learning" you are really more deserving of the grade than the student and
the grade the student gets is only a reflection of your own skill as an
instructor.

But, if it is the student who puts in the real effort to develop, then the
teacher is only there in the classroom as a facilitator helping to provide
the opportunity to recognize and confront important issues the student
might otherwise neglect. If the grade belongs to the student in such a
case it isn't as a "paycheck" but simply a formal bit of feedback about
how much could still be gained by continued study. Not the thing of dread
or excitement it seems to have become.

>>"A rubric listing general expectations, does not cancel out creativity
and self expression, it simply, clearly defines what the student must at
least accomplish while expressing themselves."<<

Yes, indeed.

>>"A well written rubric leaves room for personal interpretation in any
assignment."<<

If the assignment is Seurat is there room for me to interpret the
assignment in a manner along the lines of Chuck Close's recent style? (To
elaborate on Seruat by giving "shape" the dots of color and arranging them
in a certain additional pattern) What is your decision based on?

> A well structured class could use objective standards, outlined in rubrics,
> in a number of skill building assignments and exercises, to build up to a
> culminating activity which the student could design. The student would then
> list his/her own standards thereby communicating a clear purpose to their
> work, which I believe is essential.

In an elective class with a specific agenda say Impressionist painting,
Chinese Floral painting, or Mexican Masks this would make a great deal of
sense. Something that has already engaged the student's interests.

>>"It is extremely difficult to create artwork without some sort of skill
and knowledge base."<<

Very true, but even my first graders arrived with "some sort of skill and
knowledge base." I think you might mean something more.

>>"I feel it is my job to provide that skill and knowlege base."<<

For me it seems more a matter pointing out appropriate opportunities and
providing feedback and encouragement.

>>"A student can move in a different direction, or think divergently, in
fact, I encourage it. However, they must intelligently be able to
articulate their purpose (which they can't do if they have no knowledge
base)."<<

We agree. That works for me. I will cut a lot of slack initially in regard
to the ability to articulate. It's another learned skill and ultimately it
is what makes a thing viable in the world. I can imagine making exceptions
to this however. There are times when that articulation is fully present
in the work. Sometimes that can be enough even if MORE would be better.

How would this articulation work for you:

"I did it that way because initially it seemed exciting but I wasn't sure
why. I don't think the experiment worked." and when pressed for more,
prompted a bit: "Now I think it seemed exciting more because of the color
the because of the forms. Next time, I might want to try doing it with
more intense colors and less defined forms."

I love objective standards and rubrics when they are inclusive and
specific enough. I had a prof. once who insisted that we, as a class
define and refine a rubric for every major phase or project in his class.
He'd offer an example and participate in the discussion but not lead it.

it worked.

Cheers
-henry