My Love Affair with Rubrics:

“Using Rubrics to Develop and Apply Grading Criteria” by John Bean

“As teachers, our goal is to maximize the help we give students while keeping our own workloads manageable.” –John Bean 

Professor John Bean provides a comprehensive and balanced analysis of rubrics in Chapter 14 (“Using Rubric to Develop and Apply Grading Criteria”) of his book, Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. Overall, Bean is in favor of using rubrics in the classroom, and he advises teachers to “communicate grading criteria to students at the outset” (267), which is quite valuable advice. No matter what type of grading system you have, it is imperative to communicate that information to students at the beginning of the course. 

He proceeds to explain the controversy about evaluation criteria by acknowledging that is there is a “tangle of uncertainty” surrounding grading essays because teachers do not discuss grading practices with their colleagues (268). One teacher may consider her grading policy as “universal,” while another teacher may consider it as “idiosyncratic” (268). Hence, there is an amount of “subjective judgments” in terms of grading writing since a random set of teachers can assign a paper different grades. As shown in the Paul Diedrich (1974) experiment, where he collected three hundred essays written by first-year students at three different universities and had them graded by fifty-three professionals in six different occupational fields, he concluded that they were a range of grades with “no essay receiving less than five different grades” (268). Five different grades for the same paper is quite a discrepancy. What would have been the results if he had fifty-three English instructors grading the papers? There may have been a narrower range of grades. Nonetheless, Diedrich made an important point: grading essays is not a precise science because there is a “wide disagreement” about constitutes good writing. According to the fifty-three professionals across disciplines, What is good writing? Using factor analysis, Diedrich identifies “five criteria of good writing such as ideas, organization, sentence structure, wording, and flavor (or voice)” and was able to train evaluators to look at writing based on these criteria; his research was instrumental in creating “norming sessions” that helped train teachers departmental or cross-disciplinary to create a “communal standard” of evaluating writing (269). Bean calls this “pro-rubric” strand, which is used to increase reliability in evaluating writing (269).  

While acknowledging that not everyone is pro-rubric, Bean provides an overview of different kinds of rubrics before further explaining the controversy surrounding rubrics.

Different flavors of rubrics such as analytic, holistic, generic, task-specific (or primary trait), grid, or non-grid. It is up to the teacher to decide which rubric she wants to use in her classroom. This freedom of choice is an important buy-in for teachers since they can customize  the rubrics based on their grading philosophies and adjust the rubrics based on the levels of their students. Customized rubrics are crucial when evaluating the writing of Special Education and ESL students’ writings. If a rubric places too much emphasis on grammar and diction, an ESL student may earn a low score. A steady diet of low scores send a demoralizing message to the students that they are not good writers. Therefore, the option of choice is crucial — especially within multicultural classrooms and with diverse writers.

Analytic versus Holistic. In an analytic rubric, there are separate scores for each criterion such as ideas, organization, syntax, diction, and voice. Some instructors prefer analytic rubrics because they are more detailed and concrete — and coupled with the instructor’s comments — provide more substantive feedback. In a holistic rubric, there is one score reflecting all the criteria. Some professors prefer holistic rubrics because “philosophically writing cannot be broken down to components” (270). Overall, analytic rubrics provide more detailed feedback for revisions; whereas, holistic evaluation is faster and more suited for rapidly scoring essays.

Analytic versus Holistic Rubric Chart

Generic Versus Task-Specific. Both analytic and holistic rubrics can be either general or specific. General rubrics can be applied to most writing assignments, while specific rubrics are particular to that one writing assignment. Bean prefers the task-specific rubric. However, the general rubric is useful as a starting point for new writing instructors or for writing tutors since the rubric conveys the department’s general grading expectations. In my English department, we are given a general rubric similar to Figure 14.1 (General Writing Rubric Using Analytic Method) and are encouraged to customize and adjust it based on individual assignments.

Different Methods of Describing Performance Level. Bean recommends “a simplified step-down approach to specify different levels of achievement for each criterion” (276), as shown:   Meets Most Criteria Meets Some Criteria Meets Few Criteria

Grids Versus No Grids. Some rubrics are gridless. Instead of specific descriptors for each criterion, the instructor asks questions such as “Does the introduction effectively present the issue and the thesis, while evoking reader interest (10 points)?” (Figure 14.5) Gridless rubrics are helpful during peer-revision conferences since students can see what the instructor values in their writing. The problem with gridless rubrics is that it is difficult to assign a score within the range of 10 points. Do I give the introduction a 7? An 8? A 5? Scales can be problematic.

After Bean provides an overview of the different types of rubrics, he summarizes the controversies about rubrics; then he provides his own approach to rubrics.

Controversies About Rubrics. Composition researcher Bob Broad raises the concern of the “false notion of the universal reader” in that students believe that there is “agreed-upon standard for writing” (277). Broad argues that students need to grapple with the fact that “readers read in different ways” (277). In response to Broad, instructors need to explain to the students that there is no universal standard for good writing and that there may be a need within a department to achieve reliability in grading by conducting norming sessions so that instructors’ grading of essays is not too strict nor too lenient. Students appreciate consistency in grading essays. Critics also argue that rubrics oversimplify the writing process. In response to this criticism, Crystal Sands in “Rubrics Oversimplify the Writing Process” acknowledges that rubrics may not be able to capture the complexity of writing but does not mean that we should dismiss them (268). She argues that rubrics coupled with the instructor’s written feedback are effective. She makes a valid point by arguing that rubrics should not replace marginal notes, end comments, and other written commentary. 

The Problem of the Generic Rubric. The one-size-fits-all does not work, which was proven in a cross-disciplinary research project conducted by Thaiss and Zawacki (2006), where they studied the criteria when grading students, and they found that “generic rubrics can’t accommodate the rhetorical contexts of different disciplines and genres” (279).  Therefore, generic rubrics need to be revised to meet the rhetorical context of their discipline. To illustrate, a history teacher may be more concerned with historical accuracy than an English teacher. 

The Problem of Implied Precision. Writing is art, and by reducing it to grids, categories, and scales implies a sense of precision. However, that is not the case. Good writing, like beauty, is elusive. We cannot assess writing, art, or beauty with precision based on rubrics, no matter how good they are.

John Bean’s Left-Brain, Right-Brain Approach to Rubrics. Bean selects a task-specific, analytic rubric with a simplified step-down approach. He reads over a small sample of papers to get a range and to assess problems in the students’ writing. Then he gives the paper a holistic letter grade based on overall impression, which is his right brain score.  He writes end comments and then makes recommendations for revisions. Then he staples a copy of the rubric and circles a score based on each criterion. The sum of the score provides him with a left-brain score. This process may seem time-consuming to use both holistic and analytic evaluations; however, Bean asserts that this left brain, right brain approach  leads to a “fairer and more thoughtful grades,” and the payoff is that “students never challenge the numbers” (281). Overall, rubrics need to clearly communicate to the students the instructor’s judgment of their writing and offer recommendations to improve it. Rubrics serve as a bridge between the instructor’s and student’s expectations.

Finding What Works for You –From Simple to Elaborate Rubrics. There is an assumption that elaborate rubrics are more specific and better for providing concrete feedback. To illustrate, the College Board streamlined its original 9-point AP English Language and Composition Holistic Rubric to a simplified 6-point Analytic Rubric. Please see the video on the change to the AP English Language and Composition rubric: https://images.app.goo.gl/g6Z9nfV9wjG158mYA. The shift from an elaborate 9-point rubric to a less elaborate 6-point rubric resulted in a streamlined rubric that is more concrete and more student-friendly. I am a fan of simple rubrics, and in my 10th grade English classes, I use single-point rubrics. Please see figure below:

Conducting a Group Norming Session. After scoring the essays, Bean recommends a norming session where instructors can discuss writing scores and identify problems in students’ papers. Thus, having a conversation about grading writing is an integral part of any English department. It is also important to involve students in this conversation.

My Final Thoughts. With increased class sizes, it is not feasible to provide marginal notes, end comments, and extensive commentary on students’ papers. Therefore, rubrics — along with brief end comments and suggestions for revision — are effective tools in providing students with meaningful feedback and suggestions to help guide them through the revision process. It is also beneficial to involve students in the process of creating rubrics so that their voices and opinions can be heard. 

Questions:

  • Are you always given grading requirements and/or rubrics at the beginning of your graduate courses?
  • Have you ever received a paper with just a grade and minimal comments? Based on  these minimal comments, did you learn how to improve for the next paper?
  • What is the difference between a rubric and a grading guide?
  •  Are you in favor of rubrics? Why or why not?
  • Predict your grade for this course. Provide a rationale for the grade. 

Clarity of purpose for ESL and Rubric Assessments

In all these weeks of reading, I can safely say that practically no matter the topic of the material, it has become increasingly clear that parallels and themes can be drawn and tied together between them. If one were to have asked me some months ago, “What pedagogical trend could you find between, say, theories on rubrics in the classroom and ideas about empathy?” I dare say I wouldn’t have the foggiest. But many of these articles have opened my eyes to a side of education that underlies virtually every facet of it. There is an idea now for me that speaks to a mutuality of objective and subjective for teaching which, if ignored, often leads to confusion and anguish for students and teachers alike, but if acknowledged can lead to a better understanding of material and self. I’m speaking of the feeling of learning that a student has when some of the power is out back in their hands. This could come in the form of free writing activities where they are allowed to write without the boundaries of assessment, or it could come from annotating their own work while drafting so that the teacher but also they themselves can understand better their decisions.

I mention this because “understanding” seemed a theme between these two readings. I work in a school with a special needs student, and act largely as a tutor for him in all subjects as well as an aid for him in the doings of the day. On the subject of ESL, I can only draw some parallels with my own experience as an educator of sorts. That being said, I found a lot of similarities for my student in his issues with structure and flow of ideas in his writing. Over time I have tried to turn from giving him instruction to allowing him his choices and asking why he made them. I have found for him, that explaining the nitty gritty of grammar etc. helps him less than a more holistic style of pushing him based on his knowledge and style towards a higher level.

I was interested in the idea of a “written accent” with regards to ESL students and their writing. It wasn’t something I thought much of before, not because there wouldn’t be a natural primary-languahe tone in secondary-language writing, but unlike the article’s call to attention, I had admittedly thought of it as something to suppress in favor of verisimilitude to a native English speaker’s writing. But there would likely be a lot of power taken from an ESL student in this case. But then there are more objective standards to consider, these being what is termed “lexical rather than grammatical” in the article. This is an “either you know it or you don’t know it” set of concepts such as idioms or prepositions. Assisting growth over time, allowing for mistakes to be made, as well as simple errors to be pointed out within the context of rubrics perhaps? That is a hand-in-hand approach to assisting ESL students which at once allow for their agency in growing to better understand a second language, as well as considering their looking to us as experts who can help them in the immediate.

Speaking of rubrics! I’m used to seeing rubrics in school. I was given rubrics as a kid, throughout various parts of college, and I see it now as a paraprofessional that teachers are still issuing rubrics to today’s students. In the context of our previous conversations, there is something to be said for guidelines. ESL students or students who may require extra assistance with writing may find a lot of assistance in rubrics. That being said, they can of course stifle a student. Good ideas and writing can still earn a student a poorer grade for all of that if the ideas and writing do not specifically answer to the guidelines of the rubric.

I had to laugh when the concept of the fallacy of implied precision was mentioned. It is true that as an educator, when grading, that it is truly organic to think in terms of 8’s and 22’s as opposed to perhaps more colloquial letter grades, but as an acquisition of more specific data, rubric scores may be of use. This is to say, and in reference to the point raised about teachers coming together to mutually score assignments, rubric scoring could be a good way to come together as educators to see what is valued of student writing. These “group norming sessions” do allow for a very subjective (and potentially meaningless) system of assessment to mean a bit more in the context of group fluidity.

I did also appreciate Bean’s acknowledgement of the left and right brain approach, as the holistic and the analytic ought to go together. But it is interesting that he uses rubrics more as a resource to fill the gaps of student comprehension of their outcomes, or alternatively just for himself practically. But there is an openness to his structure, as he allows the student the insight of his rubric-based mechanism of grading, as well as the more personal feel for the writing that he has as an educator.

Freewrite on Final Project

This week we went over some information about the final project, which
is meant to be a group-work type of project. I personally have been
think of something that is both related to the literary and acting
world. Being that this is a group project, a One-Act play would fit
perfectly. Not only will every class member could get a spot to act a
certain character of part of a chosen story, but it will make it
easier for content to be distributed. Some of the plays I was thinking
about are: “A Streetcar Named Desire,” by Tennessee Williams;
“Antigone,” by Sophocles; “The Price,” by Arthur Miller. Of course,
these are just some from a larger list. But it could be an amazing
project. As students of writing, there is a special feeling about
playing a part in some of your favorite books, or books you simply
enjoyed. It may be even more special to play a character in such books
or just o be part of the story. It’s like “experiencing literature
LIVE”. Just being able to dive into a world that only exists in your
mind and one which escapes reality is not something many of us have
the luxury to do everyday. Unless you are writer that is, but even so,
there are writer who don’t get the chance.
This is why I think that selecting something like this as a group
project will be a memorable and enjoyable experience for us students
of writing. I think it is safe to say that writing takes different
shapes and forms, depending on own intent and goal-in-mind. Some of
the best writer don’t just follow rules and pedagogical practices;
they freely use their imagination to work on pieces that touches
people emotionally or intellectually. Just think about it; when was
the last time you read an academic textbook which inspired you or
motivated you, or moved you emotionally? I mean those school textbooks
that are only meant to teach you a certain practice or exercise, or
tests you memory on a topic. Perhaps not many times. Perhaps you only
gained that feeling by reading pieces that you voluntarily selected.
And yet, you learned more about literature and writing from reading
your own chosen pieces of literature than ever before. If lucky, you
not only learned about writing styles, character developments, or
climactic moments in writing, but also how different generations of
writer represented world-like issues of their time through their
writing. Writing is fascinating, and it is hard to argue against this
if you enjoy it as a writer.  And one of the best way to feel
literature is by acting it out, as I have mentioned above. You can
think of it as acting for a movie, but deep inside you still know is
literature.

Writing Through A Colloquial Language

This week’s readings “Tutoring ESL Students: Issues & Options,”
by Muriel Harris, and “Using Rubrics to Develop and Apply Grading
Criteria,” by John Bean, were two that I found interesting because I
was able to connect with the concepts being stressed, due to my own
personal experience as a former ESL student when I was younger. What I
got from the readings was that ESL students need to be taught writing
through a different approach (for them to become more proficient in
writing in English), and that grading in the classroom does indeed
benefit from the use of rubrics.
I think it’s safe to say that writing is not only a process that can
vary with difficulties, depending on the project or task at hand, but
also that it is a skill that many of us struggle with at sometimes.
This goes for both, native speakers of the English language (those who
were introduced to it since birth) or non-native speakers of it (those
who were introduced to it in later years of their life as a second
language). It is perhaps because language is complex to some degree,
and the act of writing draws from such complexity and expands it even
more. In the case of ESL speakers and writers, and speaking from
personal experience, the process of learning a language (in this case
English) and learning how to become a proficient writer in it is a
challenging phenomenon. Not only do we have to first gain some decent
mastery of the language itself (vocabulary, colloquial
everyday-language being used, phrases, slangs, grammar, ect…), but
also have to learn to separate it from the original, since more often
than not, translating from another language into English doesn’t work.
But learning and gaining mastery of the English language, as an ESL
student, is not enough to make you a good in writing. This is perhaps
because writing has its own system and functionality, depending on the
type of writing of course. When I first started to learn English as a
second language, I remember first building my vocabulary and learning
common phrases and slangs from native speakers. In school, I learned
to put together, into a formulated system, everything I was learning
at home and outside in the street. The purpose of this was to build my
language just as other native speakers did. For a while, I fell into
the habit of trying to translate every sentence from my primary
language into English, thinking it would work just fine. But I learned
this wasn’t always the case. Certain words and sentences didn’t
translate properly because the meaning would change when doing so, so
I learned to separate the two languages as individual identities,
which would sometimes interchange. I imagine this being something many
of us go through at first.
And when it came to writing, it was a totally different thing. Surely
in the beginning, I was able to do simplistic forms of writing, such
as writing a 10-words sentence or a short paragraph. But when it came
time to write very large pieces (essays, research essays or papers,
reflections, or even compare and contrast) I would struggles because
my vocabulary was very limited and the flow of my writing would not be
that of native speakers. By “flow” I mean how your overall message is
expressed throughout the writing, or whether or not the reader of your
work will be able to read it with ease. A language is basically a
collection of words, letters, and phrases, among other things like
grammar and syntax. But despite knowing the letters, how they are
pronounced, or how they are written, doesn’t mean you will be
“clearly” understood by others who speak as part of a formed
colloquial language. For example, in the U.S, regardless if is in the
North, South, West, or East, people are used to speaking with certain
types of phrases, words, ect… The pronunciation, or rather accent
given to the words doesn’t really interrupt much the flow of the
language and how others understand you. But if someone not familiar
with such colloquial language speaks around you, you will hear them
use phrases and words that would throw you off in understanding. A
good example of this is the following sentence: “Today I am going to
see my grandparents today” (colloquial language in U.S) vs “To see my
grandparents is where I’ll be going today” (something you normally
will hear from someone who is an ESL speaker of someone not familiar
with the every-day language). Now you may say, they are both correct
ways of saying it, and you may understand the meaning of it. But we
can’t ignore that there something about the second sentence that
leaves you guessing or thinking otherwise. This is what I used to do
when I was first stating to learn English. And it not only affected my
way fo speaking, but also my writing. I think the same goes for
writing, and as an ESL student, you need to always familiarize
yourself with this colloquial language, so that your writing flows
like a native of that language, in that region (in this case the U.S).
And so, this brings me to the question of how tutors help ESL students
with their writing so that they can get better grade in their papers
and become overall better writers of English. Just as it was mentioned
in the article, many tutors are not experienced or trained enough to
tutor ESL students. This is not to say they don’t know how to teach or
how to write in English, but rather that they may not be able to
familiarize themselves with how the ESL speaker is writing. And so,
they focus more on correcting simple grammatical errors, word choice,
or punctuation mistakes to name a few. But what they often forget
about is that the ESL speaker is probably just not familiar enough the
colloquial language, which greatly interferes with how you clearly
express yourself in writing. It may sound funny to say that I think
the best tutors for ESL students would be tutors who once were ESL
students themselves, and later gained sufficient proficiency in the
language to the level of native speakers or beyond. These tutors
already know where the ESL student in coming from, because he or she
was once there too. And they can also help the students advance by
giving advice from their own personal experience.

Teaching ESL Students and Rubrics…AGAIN!

As someone who is admittedly unfamiliar with ESL programs, I found the Harris and Silva article to be fascinating.  Since a language barrier is not something that I needed to deal with, I never have put much thought into ESL programs and how to make them effective for students to learn.  It is an important facet of teaching, and I enjoyed reading about it. One element I particularly liked reading about was how teaching language meshes with teaching proper writing of the language.  For instance, when they start to talk about the different types of errors.This is where teaching writing goes hand in hand with teaching the language itself. The article talks about “global” and “local” errors.  Global errors being errors that will interfere with the readers understanding. The example they used in the text helped me to understand what the role of an ESL program is and what are the types of things that are being taught to the student.  “Those students are bored” is what the student was trying to say, while “Those students are boring” is what they actually said. “Those student are bored” is an example of a local error, as it is incorrect, but the meaning was not lost in the translation.  Teaching with this in mind must be difficult, as the direct translation of certain languages could be difficult to assimilate. The idea behind this is making sure that the student gets the most important information and can relay that information in the form of writing.  As someone who grew up learning the English language and not having to convert my first language into a second one, this explanation does bring home kind of what the purpose of ESL is and how it can and should be used. In the next part of the article, Harris and Silva then go on to talk about research that has gone into refining the process of teaching ESL.  They mention how each student and their needs from ESL can be different and they harp on the importance of ESL instruction being a 1:1 ratio, or at the very least, as small as possible so the student can get the greatest possible benefit. Teaching someone, not only a new language, but also how to use it and operate within a society that speaks, reads and writes it needs as much individualized attention as one could give.  And this is a misconception I had when I would think about ESL. My ill-informed assumption that each student simply does not understand English, and ESL was their way of learning the language. TO what I was saying above, it seems that this idea operates on a spectrum. A spectrum meaning that there is a discernible difference between not having an understanding of a language at all, and having enough of an understanding to communicate, but, rhetorically, has trouble making those thoughts and ideas in a coherent way for all of the readers to understand.  The translations do not always add up, so it falls on the educator to get across linguistics as a foundation before using it in a rhetorical sense. This is why individual instruction is so important, as I mentioned before. Each one of these ESL students could be at different junctures of learning and understanding the language. Finally, just like anything else we may do, Harris and Silva talk about setting goals in teaching and learning a language that isn’t your first. Spoken and written. Like anything else, the goals should be attainable, but should be from a challenging road.  The method described in the text is where I think something like this should be. Worry about what the most prevalent issues are. Not to say that the other, smaller errors are not important, but you need to make sure the student is getting a solid foundation and understanding before you load them up with a ton of work that is already inherently difficult for the student to understand. Teaching ESL is an important cog in the engine that is equitable education. Especially considering the melting pot that the United States has become over it’s history. While I lack the skills necessary to partake in a program such as this, it is interesting to learn about as a part of teaching and there are definitely principles of ESL teaching that I feel can be applied universally for all educational settings.

The second reading on rubrics I found to sort of reiterate what we have already gone over with rubrics and evaluation.  However, we now get to see what goes into creating a rubric and the criteria that governs its use. Again, while I understand the importance of rubrics, (and I am not an educator yet, so I am looking at things from a removed eye of sorts) I do think there is something that can get lost in using rubrics.  In the piece, we go over the technical of “analytical v holistic” and “generic v specific” but I believe writing can be so personal, and can be interpreted in as many ways as there are readers, I find it hard to apply parameters such as rubrics. Through our discussions, I have gained more of an understanding and appreciation for these evaluation methods and also now understand the need and importance of them.  As someone who is coming from a whole different world than most of my colleagues, I am still trying to learn and understand these things, and I am appreciative that I have been surrounded be such good and seasoned educators where I can begin to learn the nuance of teaching and what goes with it, including evaluations.

Multiliteracies and Rubrics

Multiliteracies:

ESL and IEP/Special Education Learners hold a special place in my heart. A lot of emphasis is placed on general education and sometimes learners, such as ESL students, are often times forgotten or left out. They’re given the impression that they need to either get with the program or get lost. Or that their way is flat out wrong, when in reality its not wrong but just different. The tutors and teachers that encounter ESL students are sometimes surprised by the errors that these students make because they do not realize or fully understand how difficulty it is to cross translate different languages. This reminds me of the Syrian article we read and the author was a translator. Her job is extremely complex, not only is she responsible for translating words but also emotions. As an adult who spends her time learning how to do this, translating was still incredibly tough for her, so we must imagine how difficult it would be for a student to do this. When a child is given a writing assignment with all these criteria and stipulations, that is a lot to try and accomplish, especially with little guidance. ESL learners then begin to believe that they are not smart, or they aren’t good students when that could actually be further from the truth, it’s only the language barrier that holds them back. Sylvia and Harris give tutors and teachers tips on how to take away preconceived notions about ESL students, and offer them more guidance by:

  • adjusting expectations
  • setting realistic goals
  • resisting the need to give the answers
  • making hierarchies
  • encouraging proofreading strategies
  • resources for tutors

I think the articles gave great tips and information. For example, having tutors and teachers have an order on what to address when helping students is a good tip. The sentence structures in other languages are so different that students struggle with grammatical correctness when translating. However, just like grading non-ESL student writing, grammatical errors should not be the first priority because after you address the ideas and organization of the paper, many of the sentences that were corrected will probably be removed or rearranged. What is important are the ideas and arguments that the student writes about and how they are organized within the paper.

ESL students have an incredible amount of workload. The 9th graders in my school read a novel by Richard Rodriguez called Hunger of Memory and it truly outlines the struggles of an ESL student from first person experience. ESL students are essentially asked to embrace two different cultures and learn how to switch between them at the drop of a dime, but what this can create is a sense of not truly belonging to either one of the cultures. I believe it was Susan who spoke about similar struggles in class when as a young child she would find herself having to translate complicated conversations for her parents and how much of weight this was on her shoulders. ESL students come form so many different backgrounds

Rubrics:

This reading was based on some research from theorist Deidrich who was able to offer various types of rubrics as well as their uses. Deidrich came up with the balance of assessments over five criteria, (which I found similar to a writing rubric used by a school I use to work in Paterson) and they were:

Image result for 6 writing traits rubric
  • Ideas
  • Organization
  • Sentence Structure
  • Wording
  • Flavor

The reading also outlined the different kinds of Rubrics that could be used which were:

  • Analytic or holistic
  • Generic or task-specific
  • Performance levels
  • Grid or non-grid design

In my opinion some of these rubrics are better than others. For example the generic rubrics come as a one size fits all rubric and I don’t believe one rubric could possibly work for any and every type of writing assignment/assessment. Holistic rubrics can also present a problem because, as we discussed before, students become concerned with only the letter/number grade that they receive and fail to look at and really understand the feedback a teacher gives them so that they can grow into a better writer. Earlier in the course we discussed the importance of involving the students in the process of either creating or fully explaining the rubrics in which students will be graded by. I remember having to abide by rubrics but never really being taught the different criteria or why these rubrics were even used in the first place. I have a difficult time defining if I’m for or against rubrics because I have seen the dangers that rubrics can pose when not used the right way. Students can become confused by the grading and use of rubrics and sometimes lose hope as a writer, rubrics like the generic/one-size fits all become ineffective and don’t really help students. Rubrics can also become limiting becuase there are many different criteria involved in writing that some rubrics do not use. And if a student may be utilizing criteria not found on the rubric but not utilizing the ones on rubrics can be led to believe that they are not good writers simply because a rubric does not show what they are good at when it comes to writing. However, on the other hand, rubrics can be useful if used in the right ways. For example, a struggling writer or even an ESL student can be use a rubric to help guide their writing so that they become better writers and they make teachers job easier when it comes to teaching and grading. All in all, if a rubric is used in the right way with the students in mind, then they can really work. This may take a lot of upfront work on the teacher’s part, but in the end will be useful and effective for both the teacher and the students.

Multiliteracies and Rubrics

Multiliteracies:

ESL and IEP/Special Education Learners hold a special place in my heart. A lot of emphasis is placed on general education and sometimes learners, such as ESL students, are often times forgotten or left out. They’re given the impression that they need to either get with the program or get lost. Or that their way is flat out wrong, when in reality its not wrong but just different. The tutors and teachers that encounter ESL students are sometimes surprised by the errors that these students make because they do not realize or fully understand how difficulty it is to cross translate different languages. This reminds me of the Syrian article we read and the author was a translator. Her job is extremely complex, not only is she responsible for translating words but also emotions. As an adult who spends her time learning how to do this, translating was still incredibly tough for her, so we must imagine how difficult it would be for a student to do this. When a child is given a writing assignment with all these criteria and stipulations, that is a lot to try and accomplish, especially with little guidance. ESL learners then begin to believe that they are not smart, or they aren’t good students when that could actually be further from the truth, it’s only the language barrier that holds them back. Sylvia and Harris give tutors and teachers tips on how to take away preconceived notions about ESL students, and offer them more guidance by:

  • adjusting expectations
  • setting realistic goals
  • resisting the need to give the answers
  • making hierarchies
  • encouraging proofreading strategies
  • resources for tutors

I think the articles gave great tips and information. For example, having tutors and teachers have an order on what to address when helping students is a good tip. The sentence structures in other languages are so different that students struggle with grammatical correctness when translating. However, just like grading non-ESL student writing, grammatical errors should not be the first priority because after you address the ideas and organization of the paper, many of the sentences that were corrected will probably be removed or rearranged. What is important are the ideas and arguments that the student writes about and how they are organized within the paper.

ESL students have an incredible amount of workload. The 9th graders in my school read a novel by Richard Rodriguez called Hunger of Memory and it truly outlines the struggles of an ESL student from first person experience. ESL students are essentially asked to embrace two different cultures and learn how to switch between them at the drop of a dime, but what this can create is a sense of not truly belonging to either one of the cultures. I believe it was Susan who spoke about similar struggles in class when as a young child she would find herself having to translate complicated conversations for her parents and how much of weight this was on her shoulders. ESL students come form so many different backgrounds

Rubrics:

This reading was based on some research from theorist Deidrich who was able to offer various types of rubrics as well as their uses. Deidrich came up with the balance of assessments over five criteria, (which I found similar to a writing rubric used by a school I use to work in Paterson) and they were:

Image result for 6 writing traits rubric
  • Ideas
  • Organization
  • Sentence Structure
  • Wording
  • Flavor

The reading also outlined the different kinds of Rubrics that could be used which were:

  • Analytic or holistic
  • Generic or task-specific
  • Performance levels
  • Grid or non-grid design

In my opinion some of these rubrics are better than others. For example the generic rubrics come as a one size fits all rubric and I don’t believe one rubric could possibly work for any and every type of writing assignment/assessment. Holistic rubrics can also present a problem because, as we discussed before, students become concerned with only the letter/number grade that they receive and fail to look at and really understand the feedback a teacher gives them so that they can grow into a better writer. Earlier in the course we discussed the importance of involving the students in the process of either creating or fully explaining the rubrics in which students will be graded by. I remember having to abide by rubrics but never really being taught the different criteria or why these rubrics were even used in the first place. I have a difficult time defining if I’m for or against rubrics because I have seen the dangers that rubrics can pose when not used the right way. Students can become confused by the grading and use of rubrics and sometimes lose hope as a writer, rubrics like the generic/one-size fits all become ineffective and don’t really help students. Rubrics can also become limiting becuase there are many different criteria involved in writing that some rubrics do not use. And if a student may be utilizing criteria not found on the rubric but not utilizing the ones on rubrics can be led to believe that they are not good writers simply because a rubric does not show what they are good at when it comes to writing. However, on the other hand, rubrics can be useful if used in the right ways. For example, a struggling writer or even an ESL student can be use a rubric to help guide their writing so that they become better writers and they make teachers job easier when it comes to teaching and grading. All in all, if a rubric is used in the right way with the students in mind, then they can really work. This may take a lot of upfront work on the teacher’s part, but in the end will be useful and effective for both the teacher and the students.

Multiliteracies & Writing

Reading “Tutoring ESL Students: Issues & Options” by Muriel Harris and Tony Silva being a substitute in the educational system being with all elementary grades from Pre- K through 8th grade. Personally speaking I have been in a bilingual class understanding a little bit of Spanish but not being so fluent. I’ve had grades: 2nd, 3rd, and 6th having the experience with the kids some have just come to the United States and their peers help them in anyway possible when their teacher isn’t there.

Stating on page 4 explaining how ESL students lack in speaking in English as their second language “For exam-ple, does the thin, undeveloped two-paragraph essay an ESL student brings in indicate the need to talk about how to develop topics or is the student’s lack of language proficiency in English keeping her from expressing a rich internal sense of what she wants to write about?” Being in the classroom and observing some ESL students write in Spanish and read in Spanish and other write in English but not so fluently and read in Spanish. If the students can’t develop or understand English as this being their second language of learning I ask the kids in the classroom to help each other.

“ESL Writers find it helpful: (1) to include more work on planning- to generate ideas, text structure, and language- so as to make the actual writing more manageable; (2) to have their ESL students write in stages; e.g., focusing on content and organization in on draft and focusing on linguistic concerns in another subsequent draft; and (3) to separate their treatment of revising (rhetorical) and editing (linguistic) and provide realistic strategies for each, strategies that do not rely on intuitions ESL writers may not have.”

A very important question come into to play while reading “Confronting Error: Does It Help to categorize sentence – Level Concerns?” Try to help ESL students not only understanding English but also writing in English. Stating “Although tutors do not work primarily on grammar and mechanics, some ESL writers-especially those whose first acquaintance with English was as a foreign language taught in classrooms in other countries-have a tendency to want to know rules. For example, in a tutorial with a native speaker of English or a student born in the United States who spoke another language before entering school, the student might ask “Is this sentence OK?” or “How do I fix this sentence?” From teaching and learning English as an ESL students is are because their adjusting to something that new and out of their culture.

For helpful tips listed for helping students and most teaching Teachers how to excel in helping ESL students.

  1. Ilona Leki’s- Understanding ESL: A Guide for Teachers
  2. Joy M. Reids- Teaching ESL Writing
  3. Barbara Kroll’s- Second Language Writing: Research Insights for the Classroom

Using Rubrics to Develop and Apply Grading Criteria

We all can come to an agreement that in school whether it was elementary of high school when teachers or professors assigned a paper there was a specific type of Rubric handed. When it comes to structured writing teachers want to see if you can follow the rubric letting the students be free in their own creative writing or argumentative paper but also having a flow to it.

In the reading John C. Bean talking about rubric and writings. A casual question comes to mind “What do teachers actually want when they ask students to write?” This brings in gathering thoughts for the students to have general standards when it comes to writing. Stating, “Diederich’s was able to train readers to balance their assessments over the five criteria.” Diederich states “This strand of grading practice – which right be called the pro- rubric” strand -aims to minimize differences among readers in order to achieve interrates reliability in the application of communally determined criteria. I say the “pro-rubric” strand because not everyone values rubrics, although there seems to be a consensus in favor of rubrics within most composition programs and WAC/WID programs.

When students are writing a paper or an argumentative statement paper their are different rubrics given.

  • They can be analytic or holistic
  • They can be generic or task- specific (sometimes called primary trait)
  • They can use different methods of discribing performance levels.
  • They can have a grid or a non-grid design.

Tutoring ESL Students: Issues & Options

Greeting all! We are at the point in the semester where I am presenting the designated reading for the week, rather than just blogging about. So intead of my usual blog, I will be leaving my REACTION PAPER and presentation so that you all (my classmates) can view it in preparation for tomorrows class!

Presentation: https://prezi.com/view/2PZvS6zED7eQy309yOXB/

Reaction Paper: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10UrGQq_sfLQ-lnbohUWM34yAWGtPVlE2Nu6Ry-YikME/edit?usp=sharing