Students Make for Tough Teachers

It’s early in the year, and I am trying to get most of my students up to speed to where I think they should be as writers and readers, and part of that is giving them an opportunity to switch gears. The other day, we used a non-fiction text as a source for a writing response, but I told them to leave their names off of it. Today, we took those out (and mixed up the responses with other classes responses), and I had them (students) become me (the teacher).

They used our sixth grade writing rubric to evaluate the writing in front of them. We reviewed  the elements of the rubric, what they should be looking for and how to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of what they were seeing. And of course, they had to write their own post-grading reflection on how they will use the experience of “being the teacher” to inform their own writing.

I was interested in seeing how tough they would be on their peers. So, for all four classes, I collected data on the assessments they gave to the writing in front of them. We’re in a standards-based system (no more A, B, Cs) and so the rubric is all about M (meeting grade level expectations), P (progressing towards expectations), B (beginning to meet those expectations) and N (not meeting expectations). These assessments are tied directly to our progress reports (formally known as report cards).
reading response rubric
I decided to compare their overall assessment with my own assessment of some other writing response work done last week, just to see if we were following a similar pattern. Here’s how it looks:
Writing Assessment Chart student v teacher
One thing I noticed right away is that I gave out more Ms and Ps, while they were more apt to give out Bs to their peers. (Note: An N is pretty rare because the writing would have to be off-topic and show no signs of structure.) There are all sorts of variables here, of course, including a different writing assignment (the one I graded was in response to a novel); no exemplars for this particular assignment (it was a news story from Time for Kids); and a lack of knowing what to look for. But still… I find it interesting how tough they were.

As an aside, they kept asking for red pens. Now, I only use green pens, but they really wanted the red ink. (I declined to pull out any red pens). I find that … intriguing, I guess, and wonder how much of that red ink has been spilled on their papers in the past and what it represents to them.

One student said firmly, though: “Oh, I would never use red. It looks like blood on the page.”

Peace (in the teacher-mode),




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  1. Pingback: Things I am Reading Online 10/15/2011

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