Saturday, March 17, 2007

Doing report cards, 2.0

I don't know a single teacher who enjoys doing report cards. Matter of fact, most teachers dread doing them. It's one of the most unpleasant things I have to tackle, and of course I have left the task for the weekend before they are due to go home. Grrr...

Report cards, 2.0Today I sat down to go through the motions of "providing feedback". Bailing me out of this cynical mood was the realization that I have a new way to evaluate my kids. A new way that just might be a little more meaningful- and definitely more fun - and undoubtedly more long-lasting. So I pulled out my laptop and jammed it in there with all the other papers, forms, gradebook, etc. On our little kitchen table that knows the drill...


21st century evidenceI took great pleasure in writing in "blog" on the "Other" line for measures used to evaluate student progress. No more flipping through a big stack of manila file folders for the "choice" pieces of I had selected to save - to maybe send home at the end of the year (ultimately relegated to a box in an attic) - or to pass on to next year's teacher (to be buried, if lucky, in a file cabinet for who knows how long). I have student files from nearly ten years ago taking up space here and there in my classroom... really.

Evaluating writingSo when I got to the Writing section of the report card, I simply went to my third graders' blogs. There is all kinds of writing there. Some assigned, some written because the spirit moved these young scholars. It's funny. When I started this process, I was thinking that I knew and remembered my kids' writing so well that I probably didn't really need to look. Big surprise. They have written so much, that I often had to shake my head as I went through their blogs. I had forgotten much of what they wrote, even though I had read oh so carefully every single word appearing there (publishing on the Internet makes you do that). What is also there for me is their work behind the scenes. I can browse through the database on my Classblogmeister account and look at many pending pieces, comments I had left for them in the publishing process, and so much more. It is a literal gold mine of information for following the development of the writing skills of these 8 and 9 year olds. Rather than being on the refigerator for a short time at home, buried in a teacher's file cabinet, or recycled immediately, these pieces of writing can be there forever. For the world to see.

Now if I can get us using the classroom wiki soon, I'll be able to look at math in a 2.0 way as well in the next round of report cards.

3 comments:

Monica Edinger said...

I've only been doing student blogs since January, but I too used them when writing report cards --- basically all their writing since then was on their blogs and it was such a good way to assess and comment in those reports to parents.

So they become electronic portfolios too.

I started my kids' blogs after having them write to the class and then comment to each other in their composition book journals. The one downside to moving to blogs, I've realized, is that we've lost the privacy those composition books provided. That is, they could write to just me things they might not have said to me for one reason or another.

Mark Ahlness said...

Monica, don't get the idea we don't use paper and pencil anymore. The kids all have two writing notebooks, one of them used primarily for the personal writing you mention. It is often an interesting dance we do, deciding what writing goes where...

Konrad Glogowski said...

Mark,

Congratulations on boldly incorporating new technologies into what still remains for all teachers a very traditional system of evaluating progress.

I really like the idea that the children have left a cognitive trail on their blogs "for the world to see." Imagine the potential here: if we could only get everyone at school on board so that the children's blogs stay with them until grade 8 or even end of high school. They really would become portfolios then, portfolios that would very effectively track the development of writing and cognitive skills.

(http://www.teachandlearn.ca/blog/2005/06/28/report-cards/)