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Chapter 8 Reflection

Filed under: Uncategorized — Crystal Waskey at 10:26 pm on Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How does the term “teaching to the test” make you feel? For many teachers it makes them feel as though state standards and assessments have become to basis for all education. In chapter 8, Bratcher discusses the importance of teachers’ understanding of state standards and their application of the standards in their own instructional and evaluative practices.
The focus of this chapter is how we can make state standards the priority while still using a variety of instructional strategies. “Applying common concepts and language between classroom practices and state tests can help students perform well without directly ‘teaching to the test'”(p. 106). Many teachers feel we are being forced to “teach to the test”, but with the help of this chapter we can learn to help students perform without directly “teaching to the test.

In order to accomplish this task we must first analyze state standards and ask how these relate to the instruction we are working with. We must then compare the state standards with the grading puzzle. We must then move to the grading branch of instruction where we must determine where on the grading puzzle the state assessment falls. We then begin to question our evaluation styles.
Many teachers feel that we are “teaching to the test”, but that belief is based on the fact that they do not know how to incorporate all essentials to help or students be successful without only focusing on state standards and assessments.

Having attended a small private school, I do not have a lot of experience with SOLs personally, but since coming to Longwood I have gained much experience with teaching along side of the Virginia SOLs. I believe it is important to cover the SOLs without “teaching to the test”, because if we teach only to the test our students will not be as successful as they can be. As a future teacher, I plan to apply common concepts and language between classroom instruction and state tests as Bratcher suggests.

Chapter 7: Evaluation Styles

Filed under: Uncategorized — Crystal Waskey at 10:41 pm on Monday, April 1, 2013

Evaluation is critical in education so that we know where our students stand, where they need improvement, and where our instruction can be improved. In chapter 7 of Evaluating Children’s Writing, Bratcher discusses the different styles of evaluation that can take place in education. There are many evaluation styles, and these styles determine where the power for decision-making in grading is held. Forms of evaluation styles include:
1. Teacher-centered Evaluation– teachers set standards, evaluate student work against those standards, and assign grades
2. Self-Evaluation– student makes evaluation decisions
3. Peer-centered Evaluation– students (as a class) set standards, evaluate one another’s work, and assign each other’s grades
4. Teacher/Student Partnerships– student input on evaluation with teacher guidance
5. Outside the Classroom– an outside authority (ex. school, grade-level committee, or district) sets standards and criteria

In my personal experiences, overall I have experienced teacher-centered evaluation most. Although, since coming to college I have come to experience many other forms of evaluation. In a class last semester, I had a professor that let us design the rubric for an assignment as a class. I felt as though I had more input. I also felt that he cared what we thought was important to the assignment rather than him giving us a long checklist that we must cover fully in order to get a decent grade. I think that an effective way of evaluation is an evaluation system that uses all evaluation forms, not just one or two forms.

Chapter 6: Management Systems

Filed under: Uncategorized — Crystal Waskey at 11:10 pm on Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Main Ideas:
*Management systems give teachers options to determine grades over a long range(grading period).
*Four management systems: traditional grade averaging, checklists, contracts, and portfolios.

Prior Concepts:
We talked a lot about rubrics and how they can help by showing the student what is expected and serve as a grading tool for teachers. As teachers we can use rubrics to grade one assignment or to determine an overall grade.

Unit Usage:
In my unit plan, I plan to use a rubric to determine a final grade of the students’ Living Systems Portfolios. My rubric will grade all the different parts of the portfolio while bringing together one solid grade for the whole unit.

Chapter 5: Response Strategies

Filed under: Uncategorized — Crystal Waskey at 11:02 pm on Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Main Ideas:
*The overall main point of chapter 5 is to inform the reader of teacher response strategies to students’ work.
*There are three common ways of responding to students’s writing: oral response, written response, and grades without comments.
*Each form of teacher response has its own time and place.
*Teacher responses should always be positive, focus on the writing, and offer suggestions (not criticisms).

Prior Concepts:
1. I think the first four chapters of this book help to tie into this chapter through explaining approaches to grading. These chapters all explain how we come to the final conclusion of a grade, while this chapter explains how we communicate the process to our students.
2. I think our class discussion about rubrics ties into this chapter, because a rubric is a form of written response. We discussed how we feel about rubrics as students and teachers. Rubrics also have their time and place. We came to the conclusion that a rubric is not always the response to use, but in certain situations it can be completely helpful.

Unit Usage:
In my unit, I will use all three different forms of response throughout, because I feel that each one is important. I feel that oral communication is more personal, while written can help you to see the response more clearly in print. As oral response I will use writing conferences with my students on any pieces that they may want to talk about.

Chapter 4 Summary

Filed under: Uncategorized — Crystal Waskey at 9:11 pm on Monday, March 25, 2013

In chapter four, Bratcher describes the different grading approaches. The classifying of grading approaches can be found on a scale between analytic approaches and holistic approaches. While analytic approaches are based on the assumption that a literary work is equal to its individual parts, holistic approaches look at the literary work as a whole. Between these two forms of grading approaches, fall blended approaches. Blended approaches most often include a criterion list that gives acceptable and unacceptable responses.

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Bratcher says, “While the six traits unquestionably appear in good writing at all levels, it remains for the teacher to prioritize the traits according to instructional goals”.(p. 56) I chose to incorporate this quote, because I think that it is most important for teachers to remember that we must prioritize the traits according to OUR instructional goals. Rubrics change depending on learning goals and student make up of the class.

I found this reading to be slightly confusing. I’m not sure if that was just me, but I had a previous understanding from education classes to get the basis of this chapter. In the past, I had a hard time deciding if a rubric was analytic or holistic. Now I realize that the reason might be due to the fact that there are blended approaches also!

Chapter 4 Summary

Filed under: Uncategorized — Crystal Waskey at 9:10 pm on Monday, March 25, 2013

In chapter four, Bratcher describes the different grading approaches. The classifying of grading approaches can be found on a scale between analytic approaches and holistic approaches. While analytic approaches are based on the assumption that a literary work is equal to its individual parts, holistic approaches look at the literary work as a whole. Between these two forms of grading approaches, fall blended approaches. Blended approaches most often include a criterion list that gives acceptable and unacceptable responses.

I found this reading to be slightly confusing. I’m not sure if that was just me, but I had a previous understanding from education classes to get the basis of this chapter. In the past, I had a hard time deciding if a rubric was analytic or holistic. Now I realize that the reason might be due to the fact that there are blended approaches also!

Pieces of the Puzzle

Filed under: Uncategorized — Crystal Waskey at 11:34 pm on Wednesday, March 20, 2013

According to Bratcher (2004), “to escape teaching/grading schizophrenia, we must delineate for ourselves the objectives we have for student writing” (p. 19).

We must look at writing instruction as a picture puzzle. We need to separate the objectives into categories as we do puzzle pieces. The categories we should separate these objectives into are context, content, structure, mechanics, and process. Context is what controls writing such as reader, purpose, and writer’s stance. The reader makes a differences in how the writing is handled. Like the reader changes the meaning of the writing so does the purpose of the writing. Content is another important aspect of writing, because it is the factual information, interpretations, and ideas a writer uses. This is the idea of determining a main idea. Structure is the organization of a piece of writing. Mechanics is the grammatical correctness in writing. The fifth component of writing is the process used in order to produce a product. This is, in my opinion, the most important part of writing, because knowing how to construct writing properly is the most important thing in being a good writer.

As a teacher, I will make sure to separate each category in order to strengthen my writing instruction. I will put the categories in order of mechanics, process, structure, context, and content. I chose mechanics first, because mechanics of a writing can change the whole meaning of a writing. For example: “Let’s eat Grandma!” and “Let’s eat, Grandma!” have two totally different meanings due to one comma. All of these concepts are equally important, but I feel that mechanics are highly important due to the difference mechanics can make on the whole work.

Specific Situations

Filed under: Uncategorized — Crystal Waskey at 11:03 pm on Monday, March 18, 2013

In chapter two, Bratcher defines grading as, communication between teacher and student that is designed to enhance the student’s writing. The grading triangle is an adaption of the communication triangle.

The official purpose of evaluation is to collect data over time that will justify nine-week grades for the report card. The teacher takes the stance of a judge, trying to fairly and accurately determine quality of student work. (pg. 10) According to Bratcher, “Grading communication winds up looking more like a line than a triangle. The end product of this lopsided triangle is very poor communication at grading time and lots of unhappy feelings for both teachers and students” (pg.10).
I found the statistics from Mrs. Johnson’s writing questionnaire to be very helpful in understanding how our students feel about writing. She found an 88% correlation between students who enjoy writing and students who see themselves as good writers. This shows that comfort, confidence, and competence play a huge role in students enjoyment or lack of writing. She also found that the majority of her students’ writing was school related. We as teachers must increase our students’ comfort, confidence, and competence in writing.

Bratcher views grading as a form of communication between teacher and student. I agree, but I also feel that sometimes in today’s education the true meaning of grades and evaluations are overtaken by SOLs and benchmarks. Students are expected to be at a certain point and teachers are expected to get them there in a measured amount of time. Evalutaion is definitely a form of communication between student and teacher, but we must determine our audience and purpose as if we were writing.

In the Background

Filed under: Uncategorized — Crystal Waskey at 10:07 pm on Monday, March 18, 2013

Why as teachers, do we save grading until the last minute? This question is the basis on which Bratcher wrote this chapter. She answers this question during a conversation with a friend, when her friend talks about how we work so hard to build a non-judging relationship with our students, but we are then turned into a judge when having to grade their writing. Her friend, “Ellen” states, “Almost every one of my kids tries hard at writing. I just to discourage the late bloomers, the slow turtles who will likely win the race one day”. (pg. 3) This quote really hit a personal note with me, because I was held back in first grade for reading which also led to struggling with writing. I was one of those late bloomers or slow turtles that Ellen talks about. When I finally began to catch up in writing, I was discouraged from writing by poor grades that only made me feel more uncomfortable with writing. I never want to discourage my late bloomers in their writing with grades that cannot effectively communicate my response to their work.

As teachers we would love to see grades disappear and more teacher chosen assessments take presence. Today’s society is grade focused, and sadly we will more than likely not see more teacher choice in assessing students’ work. A simple letter grade cannot say what we need to in order to show true accomplishments. A parent sees an A on a report card, and they say good job reward the child and continue about their day. A student brings a C home and stresses all afternoon about how to show their parent and what they will say. The parents get upset and have to schedule a conference in order to get the full effect of the teacher’s response.

Tuning Teaching

Filed under: Uncategorized — Crystal Waskey at 10:29 pm on Wednesday, February 27, 2013

As students, we were taught in a “telling” format rather than by modeling. Through research many have found that students learn best through the “To, With, By” method. We learn best by watching others and how they act. Personally, writing was never my strong suit in school, until I had Mrs. Barnes. She was the first teacher to ever model how to write, and the change in my writing was dramatic! I even won a writing contest while in her classroom. I will always give her credit for why I have made it this far with my writing.

Modeling helps us to talk our students through the writing process of thinking, questioning, and decision making. Through modeling writing for our students, we show them step-by-step how to write. When we ask for their suggestions in our model, they begin to feel accomplishment and take writing seriously. When modeling we need to read our writing slowly and talk our students through the process we used, step by step. After modeling, students should be expected to go through the process we modeled. We should then provide feedback to students, and have students explain the process that they went through during their writing. Modeling is even good for us as writers! Our students provide us with a real audience and purpose. As we model our writing, we establish our own writing voices.
I will definitely be using modeling to teach writing in my future classroom, because I think modeling is the most effective teaching method. Naturally as humans we tend to imitate what we see and hear.

“Learning to write is a lifelong pursuit.” (p. 182)
I chose this quote, because I am still learning to write well in college. No matter how long I am in school or how many English classes I take, I will still be bettering my writing.

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