Saturday, January 16, 2010

Scoring for Dummies

I know you came to school looking for me on Friday, Spot. I really, really (well...fingers crossed a little bit here in truth) didn't want to be out of the classroom. I had one of those mandatory professional development days. My professional undevelopment must've been showing.

Seriously, us big doggies were re-learning the way we used to score all your writing about ten years ago...holistically. Then for a very dark, dark time...we went into the analytical rubric phase. If I showed you all those boxes we had to check off? You'd probably have to go to the nurse. I always left school with major headache on scoring days. At one point, we had to COUNT the number of actual details in a prompt. If you didn't scratch out 40-60 significant words or phrases, sorry Spot. (Above standard was 90!) You were not meeting standard. When I moved up to sixth grade and saw that, I almost turned and walked away.

What writer counts his or her details in a forty-five minute writing experience? Isn't the point of writing to communicate a few well-crafted ideas to a reader? Where and how could creativity enter the mind in this kind of brain-numbing activity. I took every opportunity I could to raise that issue. Fluent writing requires an undisturbed quiet mind. If my brain is screaming "details", "anecdotes/quotes", "golden bricks", or any of the other tricks of the teaching trade, I'm not writing and neither are you. I am a dog on a leash, getting tugged at every corner. Sorry for the analogy, Spot...but it might even be a shock collar.

Now I'm much happier. I think that we might just be walking away from the era of the tight-minded rubric. We'll look at idea development and execution. Which is really how all writing is viewed in this 21st century world. Less is more when it comes to critique. And in the end, Spot? If the rubric drives the's all about simplifying, so teachers and kids can see it as a doable thing. I'll see you on Tuesday, Spot. Hooray for those three day weekends! Get out there and wag that tail!


  1. I sometimes find myself wondering how some of my blog posts would stand up to the standards expected of today's students. I fear not too well. But I keep doing it anyway because I enjoy it. I wonder if there's room for that!

  2. Your blogs are the best, George! Keep up the great work! :)