How do we create guidelines and rubrics that allow flexibility for student-selected demonstrations of learning?
Recently, we have been working with middle school technology teachers to develop a DDM (District Determined Measure – more on those here, better get some coffee first). Once we selected the standard* we wanted to use, we started in on the rubric. Drafting the rubric–what we wanted students to be able to do, demonstrate, understand, and apply–wasn’t so difficult. The challenge came in creating the prompt (activity, assessment) that would give the teachers enough information to identify if students got it or where they needed more practice and instruction.
These are technology teachers and while we want students writing across the curriculum, we also needed to embed technology use throughout the prompt. This was simple to do in the process as the assignment was on internet research. It became more and more complicated as we considered how students would demonstrate their learning.
Challenge: Plagiarism was rampant. This is not malicious plagiarism of high-stakes variety. It revealed a limited understanding of information use strategies.
Solution: Build in lessons that focus on ownership of information and the related ethical and legal restrictions. Provide explicit opportunities to practice using information use strategies. Information use strategies include the use of citations and references; choice of paraphrasing, summary, or quoting; using info in ways that is true to original context; distinguishing between common knowledge and ideas requiring citation.
Challenge: The assignment had to be flexible enough to work in many types of technology classrooms and needed to be interesting enough for students to want to research it.
Solution: Present students with a controversy and let them decide what’s true. This provided a nice opportunity to evaluate website validity and with a robust enough controversy, buckets of resources to comb through.
Challenge: The final and biggest challenge of all was deciding how much independence students would have in demonstrating their learning. Could they make a video or website? Would we accept a poster or presentation? Would everyone be forced to write a report? And then, if we did allow students to choose their product, would we need a rubric for each medium?!
Solution: We decided, based partially on time constraints, to have students write their short essay in Google Docs and submit it electronically along with a reflection on their process.
Regarding the single rubric for any product, we’re working on it. This excellent blogpost from Amy Burvall outlines some high-level specifications that we can use for any project. The next layer of this question is how to do this in an online environment – maybe it’s easier? I am going to keep researching this one – I’ll keep you posted.
We can discuss on Twitter using #CliponTIE.
*The standard we selected was the ISTE NETS-S 3. Research and Information Fluency in which “students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.”