So far in the year we’ve been rolling along pretty well. Everybody’s German in my advanced and intermediate classes has warmed back up from the summer and people are close to the form that they left off last year with. Some are even better. I could tell it was time to kick things up a notch, however, as people were starting to just get into the lazy groove a bit, work to entertain friends more than invest in the class, etc. You know, Honymoon’s over.
So I decided it was time to go ahead and start back up with free writes. I was really inspired reading through some posts here last summer on standards based grading, and I was absolutely smitten with what Martina Bex does with her free-writes. You can get the link to Martina’s resource page in the upper right corner of this page, but a direct link is right here: http://www.martinabex.com/for-teachers/documents/FreeWriteForm.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1
Basically what I love about this is that there is a very solid rubric built into the bottom right corner of the free write form. I spent a little time reviewing Kelly’s Standards based grading Prezi (also in the upper right) and then quickly went over Martina’s rubric with them.
What I love most about having the rubric right on the sheet is that then the students can start getting involved in the evaluation process. After doing their free-write, I had them circle the boxes in the rubric on how they would rate themselves. Then I’m going through with a blue sharpie and rating where I would put them. Some kids are over-valuing their writing and need a bit of a reality check. Other ones are two hard on themselves and need a bit of a boost. Most are pretty darn accurate. What I like is that this has given me another way to give my students feedback in an interactive manner without becoming a huge time sink.
My plan for my students is that we will do perhaps 4 free writes a semester, but only the top two go in the gradebook. If they aren’t happy with the grades on those, they can always redo it for something better; I want to catch them at their best.
Now I’m starting to look forward to holding writing conferences at the end of the quarter, where I can pull out their freewrites and point out where they improved, as well as give them formative feedback as to where they are rating on the ACTFL proficiency chart. That’s still a month off for me, so I’ll worry about details for that when I get a bit closer, but I love how Martina’s free write sheet is setting all that up.
P.S. I love how the timing of school culture coincides with my big curricular initiatives. Today I dropped out all this high-powered assessment stuff on them, but because it is World Cultures day during homecoming week, I delivered it looking like Bob Marley.
I love high school.