Day 18 – “It’s Not Fair”

Here’s a summary of what we did in preparation for and on Thursday (10/20):

-Remember those assessment readings some of us did early? Those were back! They included NCTE Beliefs on Assessment, selections from Bridging English about assessment on Blackboard, and formative assessment examples (also on Blackboard).

-Because it had been awhile since some of us had read these documents, we spent ten minutes reviewing them on our own, especially the NCTE reading.

-We then divided into groups – Benji/Emily/Cassie, Brittany/Alyssa/Beth, and Liv/Kayla/Rachel (me!). Each group took a set of standards to discuss, and then came back as a large group to share how we’d interpreted them. Benko explained then that she sees the NCTE reading as pillars, as justifications for best practices in assessment.

-STANDARD 1: not rewarding or punishing system, everyone trying to improve somehow; assessment should not harm a student, getting meaningful information that will actually help students (don’t NOT give students a reason for assessment, also make sure to give people feedback — what does a B mean otherwise?, meaningful information to go with grade)

-STANDARD 2: teacher’s the most important agent —> agent implies action and engagement, collecting data in order to change teaching, notion of putting own spin on midterm is this standard —> teacher knows their students best and knows what will push them/etc., don’t just take data from standardized tests

-STANDARD 3: formative (even summative needs to be formative) —> assessment is not to prove teaching and learning have happened, but to improve both teaching and learning

-STANDARD 4: doing things with the information you get, letting the assessment change your teaching, curriculum — don’t boil down one subject to something too small, complexity of literacy, assess what’s hard to assess not just what’s easy to assess (quality of writing, e.g., realistic dialogue, vs. black-and-white grammar — this is not always black and white). A key quote from this standard was the following: “Furthermore, even when the standards come closer to representing these features of complex
literacy, high-stakes assessments rarely address the difficult-to-measure standards, opting
instead to focus on content that is easier and more expedient to assess using inexpensive test

-STANDARD 5: recognize lives of students, what’s important to them — think about culture; related a lot to standard 6; must recognize what students KNOW (issue with nationalized, norm assessments — what if they don’t know the thing? e.g., Benko’s barter system example); one-shot assessments are not representative of real, physical kids; test is only representative of that one day

-STANDARD 6: test biases —> must be multicultural (cultural background, languages, but also SES, etc.), fair AND equitable (Emily’s example — fair by teacher standard, but others didn’t perceive it was fair; Brittany’s daughter held at equal standard even though she’s made tons of growth)

-With Standard 6, Emily gave an example about her sister, how parents told her mom that “It [wasn’t] fair” that she got shorter books for book talks.

-Standard 7 was one we should come back to at a later date!

-STANDARD 8: if you vary your assessment and assess often, you’ll get a better picture of the student

-When Benko said she felt separate from us because she was plugged in, when we started with Standard 8, Benji said that’s what technology does.

-We also talked a lot about AR (don’t get Benko started on it) and how that fits in with assessment.

-We then shifted gears to talk about the formative assessment documents and the Bridging English piece, and that the one of the differences between the final and midterm is including formative assessment. Here‘s an additional page about other examples of formative assessment that you might include in your final! Remember that when we use formative assessment, it’s not just collecting information from students, it’s using that information to make a choice about your teaching (e.g., Benko having us hold up fingers at the beginning of class so she can see how to change her instruction).

-What Benko thinks is most interesting in Bridging English starts on pg. 421 — poles of grading.

-What is also helpful for us is pg. 423 — the difference between formative and summative — not only for final, but for final reflection (this BE piece might be useful for justification).

-Benko also talked about Catherine for awhile and it was SO CUTE.

Thinking ahead:

-Julie is coming on Tuesday, so start thinking about your Northside work!

-Midterms are due then, too!







Day 16: Wilson Vs. Gallagher: Battle of the Rubric

Today in 350:

We began with talking about happy things that happened over Fall Break.

  • Beth didn’t have to drive to Muncie for 2 whole daysScreen Shot 2016-10-14 at 11.26.38 AM.png
  • Cassie picked up her cat from the vet
  • Rachel met the Author of Percy Jackson…and he retweeted her!
  • Dr. Benko had a relaxing/writing weekend, and got to sleep in until 7am.

Everyone turned in their This I Believe Essays and Reflections.

Since we all had many meals and sleeps during Fall Break. Rachel started the class with our conversations from last Thursday (10/6)

Digitally Convenient or Digitally Enhanced?

Here is the Google Doc for our conversation over the TIB podcast and Joel’s Book Trailer.

Is the Podcast convenient or enhanced?

Many said that it was more convenient than enhanced, but knowing that it was going to be recorded had an effect on they way they wrote.

Rachel asked if even though the podcast was considered digitally convenient, does it still have merit?

Cassie said that it depends on how you use it. It does teach inflection, and is more engaging.

Beth said that it would be a good way to introduce students to working with digital media.

This conversation ended with this idea:

Even though the podcast was defined as digitally convenient, it may be used effectively as a scaffold to work students up to creating more digitally enhanced projects. Therefore, digitally convenient and digitally enhanced to not need to work as opposite, they can exist together.

“Now let’s talk about everyone’s favorite thing! Assessment!”

We discussed the positive and negative aspects of using rubrics.


can individualize rubrics

helps grading in a timely manner

clear descriptions of what is expected


Students may write for the rubric, and not for their own purpose

Rubric may not represent the writing

Wilson vs Gallagher 

Maja Wilson argued that using rubrics would take any real human response away. However, Gallagher showed that there are many ways that we can balance rubrics and human response.

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 12.15.28 PM.png

Most agreed that Wilson’s article was solved by Gallagher’s chapter on Assessment in Teaching Adolescent Writers.

Brittany pointed out that Wilson had a very rigid use of rubrics, and fell into the same trap of students who worry about rubrics too much.

As A Side note: Dr. Benko asked us to think about numeric conversion when creating our rubric…

For the midterm, Don’t use numbers like 4, 3, 2, 1.

989e684fa333a4c45968c49854e86994.jpgThey don’t translate correctly, use percentages instead.



If you use a model, say it.

Things Dr. Benko asked us to think about when creating a rubric:

Good writing is good writing. How do you boil that down to a rubric?

“Good writing” as a blanket statement does not exist, but good narrative, good poetry, etc. does. What is my student writing? What makes this kind of piece good?

Rubrics will change with different genres of writing.

After these conversations, we separated into our midterm groups to discuss what we think should go on our rubrics.

For next time:

There is no reading. Just work on your midterm! Drafts are Due Tuesday 10/18, and we’ll be having peer review in class. The finished product is due Thursday. Good luck!

Oh, And a little something extra:

Here is an article from English Journal called “The Infamy of Rubrics” by Michael Livingston. I thought this would be interesting because actually cites and mentions Maja Wilson’s article in his piece. Enjoy!

– Makayla

All About Assessment (Rubrics)

Hey everyone, it’s Jill on the blog! Here’s a recap of what we did in class today, Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Our main focus of the class was rubrics.


To Start:

  • Our readings for today were Maja Wilson’s “Why I Won’t be Using Rubrics to Respond to Students’ Writing,” Kelly Gallagher’s chapter on assessment from “Teaching Adolescent Writers,” and “Assessing Writing” from “Teaching Writing in the 21st
  • Can we email Dr. Benko with questions about our Midterm? Of course we can! Just don’t ask her if your idea is okay-she will not like that.
  • Our TIB essays, short reflection, and podcasts are due this Thursday! We need physical copies of the essay and reflection and podcasts are to be turned in either to the BOX account or Soundcloud (thanks Emilie).
    • The short reflection should talk about the process we went through when writing this essay and completing this project. We were reminded by Dr. Benko to think like a writer by thinking about what we were trying to do with our essays, and to also think like a teacher and consider how to connect what we have done in this assignment to what we have learned so far in this class. Very helpful ways of looking at this!




After announcements and a little bit of hearing what is due next time, Dr. Benko informed us a little bit more on what she is looking for in our final TIB assignments. Her suggestions included to reflect and connect.” We should all be thinking back to our readings from the semester and connect them to this assignment.


Dr. Benko also noted that we all have learned something about teaching writing after going through this assignment as a writer. We’re learning without even realizing it!



Shoutout to Emilie for being awesome and creating a mash-up for us of all of our opening statements, it sounds so professional! Here is the link in case we are struggling to figure out how to upload our own podcasts to our account.

If you really can’t figure out how to do this, it is still okay to upload your podcast to BOX!


We are almost done with this TIB assignment! It’s so exciting for me to see this project we’ve been working on pretty much all semester coming to a close. I know personally, it has helped with my narrative writing and given me insight into my fellow classmates, and I have really enjoyed that. I


We then moved into talking about assessment in the classroom and how different classes in our program may talk about assessment differently and that’s perfectly okay! Many people view and talk about assessment differently and it all depends on what kind of teacher you want to be, what you’re teaching, and the school you are at.


Then we looked at three questions Dr. Benko had for us on the lesson plan for today for thinking about our readings.

  1. What are different ways we can evaluate student work?
  2. Why are rubrics helpful? How can they be harmful?
  3. What do we need to keep in mind when designing our own rubrics?

Something that got me thinking when it came to our discussion on rubrics, was how to make them flexible to meet different students’ writing styles but also have a clear structure to follow? Another question the class thought about was how to make rubrics something our students wanted to do and use?


Lastly, we looked at two rubrics Dr. Benko found and talked in our tables about some positives and negatives of each. A document that was really beneficial for us looking into designing our own rubrics can be found on our Blackboard site, under “Materials from Class Daily” titled “Designing Rubrics.” Here are the two rubrics we looked at in class today, one of them is only partially included!


This class really opened my eyes to all of the possibilities and options we have when creating rubrics. Honestly, it’s still kind of scary to think that in a year and a half I will be creating and modifying rubrics for my own students. I definitely want to do more research on how to balance the strict rules of rubrics with the need for flexibility, because I think they are both important aspects of rubrics overall. There are several things to consider when creating rubrics and even Dr. Benko noted that she is always working to improve her own.

Some classmates talked about their own experiences with rubrics. We talked about a “6 plus 1” style rubric, which Cate said she had some experience with. Dr. Benko pulled up an example of one and showed how limiting these kinds of rubrics can be in a traditional classroom. It also worried a lot of us that we would be forced to use a specific type of rubric once we are teachers. Some of the categories on certain rubrics we looked at made it seem like students had to conform to have certain styles or techniques in their writing, which sometimes can just not happen. We discussed again about finding the balance between too flexible and not flexible enough.

If anyone is looking for extra reading on rubrics, I found a short article, which talks about standardized test and rubrics. I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts while reading this!



For Thursday:

  • Physical copies of the TIB essay and reflection
  • TIB podcasts uploaded to either BOX or Soundcloud
  • No readings!! We will be doing an in class work day


Hope this helps everyone feel more confident in what we discussed today and ready to tackle the rest of the week. We’re almost to Spring Break, we can do this!