Wacky Wednesday

So it’s the third day of March and no one in my family is sick, though the Snork Maiden is finishing up a course of antibiotics for a nasty skin infection, and I’m due to go back to the ENT next week. February was a rough month; my motto for March is Health for Everybody!

Today I asked two of my classes to work together to create a rubric for their next assignment. They have seen multiple versions of my writing rubric, which I tweak from one assignment to the next, but which is always three major categories: content, organization, and mechanics. I know that not everyone is a fan of rubrics, but I believe that they help my ninth-graders perceive their own strengths and weaknesses and track their own progress. 

This current assignment is a prepared speech from a Shakespeare play they’re studying, so it’s more of a performance, and I had sat down to craft the rubric myself (in part because I wanted to reassure the students who don’t believe they have any native acting ability–and if they don’t think they do, then they probably don’t!–that there were many variables they could control).  Then it occurred to me that this might be a good opportunity to ask them to think about what constitutes a good performance on this assignment and to tell me how they hoped to be evaluated. 

We brainstormed some line items and combined them into categories–four in one class, three in another, though the rubrics did not differ much otherwise.  The speech is worth 20 points, so then they haggled over the distribution of points.  In both cases, the classes came up with very reasonable rubrics, not that different from what I would have designed myself, covering general quality of preparation (as evinced in delivery, pronunciation, and ease with the language), tonal choices, and physical choices, which I typed up and copied while they were watching part of the film of the play we’re studying.  The whole exercise took 20-25 minutes.

Now I’m thinking that I might have them test their rubrics by asking them to evaluate one another, which I often did when I taught public speaking at 2YC.  What do you think?


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