Summer Faculty Symposium: Day 4.1

Day 4 began with us working independently to develop a rubric for people who come into our classroom for observations to use as a guide for their observations. I decided last night two criteria I wanted to work on were being culturally responsive considering the number of international students at this school and a focus on meaning making over answer seeking. I had also chosen two other things, but forgot them in the morning, so that happened. Guess they weren’t as sticky as these two.

The process started out by scrolling through my Twitter feed, which is a combination of education and social justice. Luckily there were a couple tweets about rubric and assessment that were extremely helpful and introduced me to the idea of the “Single Point Rubric”. I’d only ever heard of one type of rubric, so this piqued my curiosity. After reading through the materials provided by Twitter, I then went to Google and researched single-point rubrics. I really like it. The name of the type of rubric I usually use is the “analytic rubric” where you have a whole bunch of boxes with gradations of scores and each level of accomplishments is clearly spelled out. They’re both annoying to create because you have limited room to encompass all possible outcomes at all levels and a challenge to use because they require so much reading. I like the Single Point style, because you give the criteria for meeting expectation and then space on either side to write comments about areas for growth or areas of excellence.

Once I had decided my rubric style, I then had to figure out what my criteria were to meet basic expectations on these areas where I already know I need to grow, so I started researching the criteria. I looked up what it meant to be a culturally responsive teacher and read a handful of articles and distilled them into what I felt was the basic level of consideration that would be acceptable to me. The criteria I ultimately wrote for being Culturally Responsive were, “Hold high expectations for all students, maintain and tend to the integrity of students’ cultures and identities, cultivate academic excellence and success. Students are able to see themselves or their culture represented frequently in the material.” This is a draft, and much of the wording was copy/pasted from one of the articles, but it works for me as a starting place to build from.

Next was meaning making. This is an idea I got from a colleague who does Modeling Physics. I am not trained as a Modeler, but I like so much of what I learn from modeling colleagues, and this concept struck me deeply the first time I heard it. The goal is for students to make meaning, to develop their own understanding of the material and the concepts, rather than get the right answer. After hearing it, it’s obvious, but having it articulated that way resonated with how I want my students to learn. This year I want to focus specifically on that being the grounding force of my teaching.I tried to research it, but there’s nothing out there, so I worked to develop this based on my understanding. The criteria I developed for that are, “Students are focused on understanding concepts behind the problems to be solved. Questions about ‘the right answer’ are pivoted into exploring the meaning of the content. Instruction is focused on analysis techniques and making the best choices for solving a problem and not the final number answer.”

Then I needed to find a couple more things. I wasn’t sure what else I wanted to work on specifically, and “ALL THE THINGS” is not a helpful goal. To get a little more guidance for the process I looked up other teacher rubrics. Some states or districts have them, and while most articles out there are explaining what a rubric is and how teachers can use them, I did find enough teaching-centered rubrics to drill down and find two more things I want specifically to focus on: formative assessment and academic ownership. Here are my criteria: “Formative Assessment. Frequently checks for student understanding during class and adapts instruction as needed. Uses a variety of methods included student self-evaluation and peer-evaluation” and “Academic Ownership. Students complete an appropriately challenging amount of the cognitive work during the lesson. Students provide meaningful oral or written evidence to support their thinking and respond to peers. Students try hard to complete academic work and answer questions, even if the work is challenging.” Most of the ideas in the second one were taken from a rubric I found and edited for length and added my own tweaks.

Here is the entire rubric if you want to see what the final product looks like. I’ll be taking it in to discuss with my colleagues in an hour, but this whole process was very valuable in terms of really drilling down on what kind of teacher I want to be and what specific areas I want to focus my attention on. No one can do all the things all the time, but I think these are some concrete items that can be addressed.Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 12.04.55 PM

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