Thursday, 11 August 2016

Student empowerment through their own E-asttle rubric!

This term as part of our cycle of inquiry, Archana and I have been discussing with our students how they are assessed and what this means for them - trying to make everything explicit.

The biggest example is how we mark E-asttle. 
Within the first two weeks of this term, we had gone through the National Standard illustration for year 4 writing and marked it against the E-asttle rubric with the students helping us. As we went, we explained WHY we would give each section that particular score, and then gave examples of the other scores for comparison. 
For example, if we gave R4, we would then look at exemplars for what R3 and R5 looked like, so students could see the difference.

It really was a PD for them.

Next, Archana and I developed our own version of the rubric for students to use. We had a Tamaki Primary School version, but the language was (in some places) beyond the language use of our young students. 

For example, we changed 


We also added where they should be aiming for - note the below, at, above to indicate that if they achieve R4's, they will be writing 'at' the national standard for year 4's. 

There were also minor things we had to change in the language, so there was some familiarity for our students. For example, where the rubric said 'elaboration', we would say 'with detail', as that is the words we have used with them all year, so they are more familiar with it. 

I printed out the rubric, laminated them and put them on ring clips. That way, small groups of students could use one rubric together to evaluate a piece of writing. They wrote a narrative using a picture prompt yesterday. Today, Archana and I again went through a piece of writing (this time, one actually from our class) and explained how we would grade it and why - and what this meant in terms of next steps for this person and wether they were below/at/above national standards. 

I videoed some of the small groups discussing their piece of writing (which belonged to someone within the group)...

Considering it was their first time EVER using the rubric to mark writing 'with their teacher hats on' so to speak, they did a great job! (Some needed teacher support, but it was their first time!) They were very fair, and respectfully would say to the person whose writing it was what they thought of it and gave constructive feedback. 

It was exciting for Archana and myself, as it was just another way that the students reflected the positive and supportive class culture we have worked so hard to build. None of the students teased each other or laughed at the mistakes that person had made, but recognised these as next steps in their learning and some even offered advise on how to achieve those next learning steps. Once they had marked one of the group's writing, they then fought over whose they would do next!

It was a positive step towards the students being aware of what they write and what we are looking for. These things are not surprises or mysteries to students, as they are things we are teaching them all the time (e.g. this term, how to plan using a brainstorm and write in 3 paragraphs). For a lot of the students as they marked, they would realise they had forgotten to use paragraphs, add in a metaphor (etc) and have a Homer Simpson doh! moment. So next time, they will really remember to use what they know and put it all in!

We truly have a fantastic bunch of kids and some very talented writers in our class. It was awesome to see them empowered and taking ownership and control over their own writing, working well in a group, being honest and fair and looking forward to trying again! 

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