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


Day 14: Here There Be Technology

Hello everybody,

Today was sort of all over the place. Having finished reading Chapters 3, 5, and 6 of Troy Hicks’ Crafting Digital Writing, we discussed and analyzed the differences of “digitally convenient” and “digitally enhanced” texts here on the Google Doc. Also, with TIB essays in hand, we had planned to expand them to their full podcast glory. However, iCare failed to receive us, but Rachel swooped in and saved the day!

While I struggle to put into words the vast amount of wisdom and learning she bestowed upon us, here are possibly some helpful resources/reminders as we all work on our podcasts:



This one is from Dr. Benko which she tweeted and is a PDF from iCare about creating podcasts:


Some final notes on the podcast (mainly advice from Dr. Benko and Rachel):

If you don’t have GarageBand, you can get it for free at iCare, at Teacher’s College. It might be helpful to record in segments in order to avoid mess ups. Your belief statement should be the title of the piece. The Soundcloud login is the same as the blog login found on the blog assignment. Last, but not least, Dr. Benko needs a break too and will be under radio silence over fall break but gives this final encouragement: MINIMAL TEARS EVERYONE.


Further goings on in the classroom today centered around the idea of an online text being either “digitally convenient” or “digitally enhanced” as defined by Hicks.

According to the Google Doc, most people thought of “digitally convenient” as being the text being put online merely for accessibility. A digitally convenient text for the most part would be just as good in a non-digital form (a sentiment voiced by Emily during discussion). This isn’t to say that there are no digital elements involved in the text. Therein lies the key difference between the two terms. As Liv and Brittany point out, the digital elements of an only digitally convenient rather than enhanced text are superficial. They add no significant meaning or function and are just there because they can be.

A digitally enhanced text will definitely use digital elements, but each time with a purpose in mind. Whether it be a hyperlink or embedded media, it serves a meaningful purpose and the text would be less without it. As another example, Rachel targeted the hashtag as an element of digital craft, with its multiple purposes of  making associating, reflecting, grouping things together, and choosing who sees it because of the tags certain people are known to follow.

Finally, we were all given a chance to deepen our new understandings by applying them to two texts: our choice of a TIB podcast, and Joel’s book trailer for Feed by M. T. Anderson. It seems all groups agreed that Joel’s book trailer was a digitally enhanced text, using various elements such as music, imagery , voice, and text in a way that all fit together and played off of each other well.

On the other hand, groups for the most part considered the TIB podcasts to be more on the convenient end of the spectrum than enhanced, due to the fact that it could have easily been left as an essay on paper. However, with voice recording and underscoring music, there is a tone added which affects the meaning, which can count toward it being an enhanced piece.

To apply our new knowledge to a different situation, I find this potentially helpful resource to be another example of a digitally enhanced text. This kind of text is a prime example of using hyperlinks effectively. Not only is each resource connected for easy access, but the suggested page for each resource helps readers more quickly find what they might be looking for. The links go beyond just shoving a new resource at people and telling them to figure it out, and actually pave the way for exploring them.

Friendly Reminders:

Midterm draft is coming up! By now you probably have set up a time to meet with Rachel. If not, it’s a pretty good idea to do so (and required).

Podcasts must be uploaded to the SoundCloud account by Thursday next week (10/13).

The following 3 articles need to be read as well: 

“Assessing Writing”

(The second two probably need license, so you can find them here!)


Enjoy Fall Break everybody!



Day 13- How Am I Supposed To Breathe With No Air?


Podcasts, This I Believe, Critiques: Today’s To-Do List

Today In ENG 350…

The class began in splitting off into groups to chat about the This I Believe podcast features of Kristin Kelly’s “Books at All Costs” and Brian Grazer’s “Disrupting My Comfort Zone.” Going into the class, we read Hick’s “Chapter 5: Crafting Audio Texts.” The text gave context into examples of audio text craft and what the process looks like for digital writing.

Here is the Google doc link to the break-down groups had when critiquing the podcasts of both TIB essays.

So, what did we hear between the two TIB essays? What did we notice about what they did and what does it mean for us as readers?

  • Benji noticed that “Grazer sounded like he was reading the essay” and Kelly had a “flat line voice” that was emotionless and sounded the same.
  • Kaleb “enjoyed the way that listening to Grazer was more enjoyable.” He also liked that there was more emotion and emphasis put on words; whereas, Kelly’s piece had been “expected to be more passionate, but she seemed to speak neutrally.”
  • Liv was “turned off as a reader” because she “objected to her [Kelly] TIB statement.
  • Brittany found more excitement in reading the pieces than she did in listening to them.
  • Erin mentioned that she “liked Grazer’s more because he seemed like he was reading his own [TIB statement] and believed it himself.”


Main Take-Aways

  • Read your drafts aloud and determine where to pause, stop, and breathe– find spots that make sense to slow down so that the listener can follow along with you.
    • Think “WHERE DO I BREATHE?” (I mean, how am I supposed to breathe with no air?)
  • If it sounded like Kelly and Grazer were reading their pieces, ahem, that’s because they were.
    • Think “I AM READING THIS” (no ad-libbing, no freestyle, no I-forgot-to-add-this)
  • The recording should sound like something you care to be sharing.
  • Make sure that the tone of your voice matches the tone of your writing.

And For Next Class– October 16th

  • Rachel is teaching (class selfie round two?)
  • Bring back your TIB revisions
  • Write your intro and outro for the podcast (this’ll be a rough draft)
  • Read chapters 3 and 6 from Hicks

Keep In Mind…

  • A rubric has been added to the TIB assignment
  • For the podcast, Benko is looking for the sound that you have rehearsed it, that you have paused, and that there are no distractions to the content of the piece due to your reading
  • For the intro and outro…
    • Give relevant background information
    • Don’t have to be too explicit for it– just get the listener in the right frame of mind
      • Maybe there is someone “legally obligated” to read it for you like Beth has– if not, word on the street is that Rachel is easily bribed
    • Keep it third person

A Little Something Extra

Here is a really cool article by The Atlantic that touches base on the medium of the podcast being used to tell stories. This article explores the idea of “Why do audio stories captivate?” Enjoy.


Day Eleven–All about Revision

What We Did to Prepare for Today

For today’s class, we were supposed to read two pieces on revision—one by Elbow and another essay by Straub—both of which can be found on Blackboard under Readings for Week 5. Additionally, we were to provide feedback on our group’s TIB essay, using the concepts from both articles, and post them to our group’s Google docs before the start of class.

Snacks make for a productive (and happy) class!

What Happened in Class

Dr. Benko gently reminded us to set aside time to work on our midterms and to use the suggested schedule on Blackboard as a guide; she suggested we work on the task and the outline and that the rubric would not be as time consuming.

Then we opened today’s google doc and did a quick write reflecting on our feedback and how it related to the readings we did for today’s class. We wrote for about five minutes and then moved on to partner work. We used Google docs to brainstorm the typical words that come to mind when it comes to traditional teacher feedback and then we thought about the kind of feedback that Straub and Elbow advocate for.

Here’s a link to the Google Doc:

Also, here’s the link to the Google folder with our revisions:

Things we noticed about the readings (heavily paraphrased):

  • Benji noted that students should have ownership of their work–teachers should not spell out everything for students when it comes to revising papers, students should learn to revise their own work.
  • Erin agreed with Elbow that teachers should read students’ entire essays before making comments or suggestions–instead of marking as we go.
  • Cassie mentioned that it is up to the teacher to create an easy going environment where students see the teacher as a reader and not just the person determining the grade.
  • There was some disagreement between Brittany and Emily about whether teachers should mark on students’ papers. On one hand, it seems disrespectful to write all over the paper. On the other hand, it is physically easier to mark on the paper when giving feedback.
  • Kayla really liked the point about asking students to interpret the feedback the teacher gives; it helps the teacher improve their feedback.
  • We also noticed that comments written by teachers on papers can be confusing or unclear. Dr. Benko suggested audio feedback as a way to respect students’ work and to make their feedback clear. This approach allows the teacher to speak to students as a reader of their work and to give the students an idea of their thinking process.
  • Finally, Kaleb made the point that revision needs to be a balance of both the facilitative and directive approach, arguing that students need to know about grammar and mechanics.
  • Dr Benko made the point that we need to revise for both grammar and ideas. She argued that there is a big difference between revision and editing. Revision is a way to re-see the content or the ideas in the writing. Editing is all the grammar and mechanics. Editing has no place in first drafts of writing because it may scare away reluctant writers.


Our Wordles

Next up, we discussed the common words we used when describing teacher feedback. Rachel used our words to create a Wordle:

Words associated with traditional teacher feedback


Our other Wordle on what Srauss and Elbow advocate for:

Feedback Straub and Elbow advocate for


Final Tasks

We then talked a little about the word clouds and the differences we noticed between the two. The big difference was the word collaborative: this goes back to the idea in Strauss and Elbow articles that the ownership of the work belongs to the student and it is the teacher and student collaborating. Traditionally, the teacher is usually seen as the person who judges the writing and gives out the grade.

Dr. Benko made a good point about scaffolding and its connection to creating an environment where there is a peer dynamic between the student and the teacher. The teacher should have the right demeanor in order for students to feel comfortable approaching the teacher for feedback and suggestions.

We also had a short discussion on using word clouds (Wordles) in our classrooms. It is easier to see the words and similarities and this is a tool that helps with discussion. They are good for summary or synthesis. There are settings within the tool to correct for different uses of case.

Finally, we got into our writing groups and read our feedback for our This I Believe essays. We then filled out a chart using examples of helpful feedback and then connected that feedback to ideas in the readings for today. We also talked in our groups about our drafts and discussed any questions we had about their feedback.

After we did this, Dr. Benko talked about a few of her observations about our revisions. She noticed that we had some different approaches: some of us made comments at the beginning of the drafts, or the end, some highlighted texts and made comments on the side, while others wrote notes to the authors. Overall, she noticed that our comments were both nice and filled with useful suggestions for the author. On a practical level, it may not be possible to leave detailed feedback on every assignment. Students can help with feedback by working together in groups and the teacher can limit in-depth feedback to one draft.

Additional Revision Information:

Here’s an article I found on Edutopia about “Glossing” which is another revision method for students:

More tips for student revision (also from Edutopia):


Looking Ahead for Next Time:

  • For Day 12, Please read Chapters 1 & 2 in Crafting Digital Writing by Troy Hicks. This is one of our textbooks and won’t be available online!
  • Also read “No longer a luxury: Digital Literacy can’t wait” from Hicks and Turner. This is available on Blackboard under Readings, week 6.
  • This I believe essay and Podcast is due October 6th!
  • Continue to work on Midterm drafts. Please keep in mind that Dr. Benko will be “off the grid” over Fall Break, so go to her early if you have questions!








Day 6: Be like Oprah

Due today 

Make sure you turned in your rough draft for “This I Believe” (hard copy of course)

And don’t forget the resources we were supposed to have for today: School Writing Versus Authentic Writing and Ken Lindeblom’s bomb twitter (He tweets back sometimes!) 

For next class 

  • Benko (2012/2013), “Scaffolding: An Ongoing Process”
  • Smagorinsky, Ch. 2 “A Structured Process Approach” 
  • Be sure to start thinking about your First Twitter reflection assignment, it’s due 9/8 (Day 8)

Before I get started on what we did today, let me just say “Good Job!” Cathy Day observed us having an awesome and engaging conversation! 

So what did we do today? 

Today we started off reflecting on our “This I Believe” rough drafts (Any questions or concerns? Not happy with it yet? Totally thrilled with how it turned out? Let Dr. Benko know if you haven’t done so already!)

We did a lot of work with Mi Casa and had a great discussion on how to create an inclusive classroom culture, so that all students felt welcome and comfortable and really PART of the classroom and their learning.  We also analyzed the assignment and decided wether or not the assignment was Intellectual work, what was its’ purpose, does the student have ownership of the assignment, and who is the audience. We pretty much decided that it wasn’t really intellectual work because it didn’t invoke deeper thinking, the purpose was pretty clear but there were a few discrepancies on what the students needed write/who it was for. It scored high on student ownership, but the audience was unclear. (Google Doc here)

As for the news anchor project (This) it was decided that it was busy work (not intellectual), purpose was semi clear (“Jump from step one to step two is unclear/lacking connection and needs explained more.”), it provided a decent amount of ownership, and the audience is clear. One key note brought up that changed it was “Are they researching a story and then creating their own story, or are they recreating an existing story?” As a teacher, this is a good example of the importance of being super specific in your assignments. 



Food for thought: How does Emilie’s task fit into this analysis? 

Our main focus for our discussions can be summed up in the following points:

  • How do we know it’s authentic?
  • Why do we assign writing in school to begin with?
        • You have two kids: Those who write only in one way or those who don’t write at all. Some kids need structure
        • We also need to model and have them practice or they won’t
        • We have standards 
        • We also need to expose students to different types of writing 
This a standard before you come along.


Shifting gears a bit, how do we get students to think about “Authentic” writing as being academic writing? Can the two even mix? We had a great in-class discussion about how we can engage students to write authentically in the classroom. Traditionally, students see academic writing as just for the grade and don’t really get a lot out of the writing. They ask questions like “Can I do this? Is this wrong? Will this count off? Is it for a grade?” and cater to what the school or teacher want. While students who create authentic writing ask questions like: “Will this relate to my audience? Does this make sense? How can I make my character more dynamic?” 

Alivia brought up an excellent point in our discussion: “Authentic writing is so important because the audience is REAL.” She had a writing prompt in High School:”Write to school officials about your thoughts on getting school uniforms (Do you agree or disagree? Why?)” And Alivia said nobody really cared about the topic because they KNEW they would never get uniforms, so the audience isn’t real. So how do we engage our students and get them to write authentically? Well….



Give students some choice, that’s how! You need to get students to take the information you give them, and do something with it! Don’t let them just repeat it back. 

Tom Forrest helps begin this idea of choice and student involvement by allowing his students to bring in decoration for the classroom in a new way. (Here) From this, we discussed the importance of a “Classroom Culture” where students feel comfortable and can be honest.

Key Notes from class discussion:

Intellectual work: Rigorous! Really make students use that higher level thinking. Don’t let students just regurgitate information. And don’t just give them a bunch of busy work. That isn’t stimulating for the mind and frankly nobody likes it. (Not even teachers, you have to grade it all later). 

Purpose:Do I know what I’m writing about? Why am I writing this?” They need to know how to go about it and what they’re doing it. (Always ask “What are you doing and why?” They need to know what they are doing and why. Be a teacher and question like a 3 year old).

Aim for authentic audiences: More than just the teacher should read it. Some alternatives:


Ownership: Let students have choice over their writing because it helps them care more about the assignment and makes it “real” and take “ownership” of their writing. 

Equitable choice: Don’t let one project/assignment choice be too hard and one too easy.

Food For thought: 

Whenever you can, let students write in a position of power or write over something they know a lot about! Don’t make them feel like they have to write towards what the teacher knows. Let them write about what they know or what they want to know.

“How do you make learning not in hindsight?” 

        • Reflect on what you’ve written while you’re doing it. Write a reflection over a rough draft, for example. What was easy? What was hard? What can improve? 
        • Don’t confuse fun for learning
        • Ask students to think about their thinking
        • Can we get someone else’s hindsight? 
        • Have students write to the next grade/class

“How can I create a more authentic audience for my students?” Well… here are some resources:

  • Tumblr (Troi and Brittany have a tumblr, it’s linked on their Twitter and now here too!)
  • WordPress ( Rachel and Alyssa both have one! Heck, our 350 blog is here too)
  • Iweb 
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • (You can start a petition here and explain it too!)
  • Here’s a neat article about how one teacher got her students to write a little more authentically. Don’t forget that Pinterest is amazing at generating ideas and prompts and just in general teacher stuff!
  • More ideas for encouraging authentic writing 
  • Some cool writing prompts for all tastes!

“Useful” writing resources for those moments when students ask “Why do I need to practice writing?”:

  • Resume writing (complete with the standards that go with it)
  • Email etiquette! (You’d be surprised how many don’t know these things)
  • Sample scholarship questions

And our final thought for class:


Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your students! 

Give students the space to be honest (“Well…I didn’t really like this or this.” or “I realize now that hard work sucks at the time, but it can become meaningful later on.”)

Take criticism about the class and lessons and realize they aren’t about you. Let them be honest. Be careful and intentional or else it may get personal. But just keep in mind the importance of creating an open classroom culture where both students and teachers can get feedback to help them improve. 

Don’t forget to sleep this weekend!

– Cassie 

Day 5 – A Matter of Habit

Homework for Tuesday 9/6: 

Housekeeping for Tuesday 9/6:

  • All the This I Believe emails have been returned to their senders with some notes from Dr. Benko. No further communication about the project is necessary unless you need any extra help or support with your project; don’t hesitate to email or meet with Dr. Benko during office hours if you have any further questions!
  • A hard copy of our first drafts for the This I Believe projects is due tomorrow (Thursday 9/8) in class. Make sure you get them printed off tonight!
  • Next week’s readings (days 7 and 8 on the schedule) are going to be flipped: if you’re working ahead, make sure you’re reading Smagorinksy Chapter 2 and Dr. Benko’s article on Tuesday and Martin’s Not Every Sentence on Thursday.
  • Upcoming Assignment Alert! Twitter reflection papers are due on Thursday 9/15 (day 8).
  • Bonus housekeeping: Ask Dr. Benko why Katherine got in trouble over Labor Day weekend.

Let’s Form Some Good Habits 

In class we discussed the Frameworks for Success reading and broke into partners to discuss and decide which habits of mind (curiosity, openness, engagement, creativity, persistence, responsibility, metacognition, and flexibility) and experiences with reading, writing, and critical analysis we thought were most important for postsecondary writers. Every group chose either flexible writing processes or critical thinking as their most valued experience. Persistence, metacognition, curiosity, and responsibility were all listed as important habits to instill in our students.

During our discussion, we talked about how these were framed as “habits of mind” instead of “skills”. Dr. Benko highlighted how we were teaching our students “ways of being” instead of life skills. Emily loved the article and spoke to how she believed, “writing can be taught, and those skills are important, but more than that, writing is such a creative and personal thing.” Cassie commented that instead of just teaching new habits, we were “breaking bad habits” as well. Beth added that writing through the lends presented in the article provided a way of becoming a more “well rounded” student and adult. Kaleb built off the idea of personal responsibility and stated that “you have to set yourself up to succeed” and coined a solid phrase of using the habits as a way of “mental conditioning” for our students to build off of. We then started a brief conversation on critical thinking, in which Kayla gave a great quote from her COMM220 class. Her professor told her class that, “critical thinking is taking all available evidence from all perspectives and looking at it.”

So How Can We Use This?

“Erin, you’re throwing a lot of information and quotes from class at me right now, but why should I care?” As future teachers, we can use this framework to help our students form good habits to use for the rest of their writing lives. As a class, we discussed the implications for these frameworks in the classroom and what commitments we must make to our future students.
Brittany stated it was important to continue our education as teachers and to make sure that (through scaffolding) we were breaking apart huge projects into “manageable chunks.”
Emily, Alivia, and Kaleb all spoke on their own experiences in the classroom: teachers writing while narrating their writing process highlighted metacognition, peer evaluation using an “I wonder…” model to address areas of writing that could use more development, and teachers letting students write before going through an editing process.

Resources for continued teacher education:

A Standard Fit?

Our last discussion stemmed from our reading on the Indiana State Standards. The class as a whole seemed to have some questions on creating connections between the reading and writing standards as well as knowing exactly what to teach. Alyssa finally spoke up (stop keeping your good ideas quiet) and commented that she viewed the standards as a list of productivity-methodsskills students needed to possess before going into the next grade, but that, as teachers, we should “be slippery” and treat standards as a sugar cookie we can embellish upon.  In this discussion, we hit the important point that the standards are written for teachers, not for our students. As such, we need to look for ways to sell English to our students as relevant, interesting, and important. Dr. Benko then spoke to how the standards give us the “WHAT?“, but not the “WHY?” or “HOW?“. Those questions are open to our own interpretation and decoration using the habits of mind.

Moving Forward and Finishing Up

There have been advances in federal education standards after the repeal and subsequent replacement of No Child Left Behind, but Indiana led the way to creating individual standards in states that adopted the Common Core standards in 2010. While the new standards are still under some scrutiny by some educators and politicians, many agree that the new standards are better suited to educators and student needs. Using these standards in our classrooms clears the way to dispose of the old “cookie cutter” ways of teaching, and to adopt newer, more open models of teaching in our classroom. Remember, using the standards as your code of conduct is a dangerous game – follow them lightly and utilize your own interpretation!

Finally, we had a long and cyclical discussion on students who can’t versus students who won’t. Some key points are as follows:

  • Some students have a lot going on! It’s not our responsibility as teachers, but as human beings to try to find out what they may be and to help.
  • Blame cannot always be placed somewhere. If it’s not you as the teacher, it may not be the parents or the student either. Sometimes it may just be circumstances.

Taking the time to consider and investigate cultural differences in education and the value our global community places on education today can also grant us a more complete and deeper understanding of students who may not be motivated in the classroom. For further reading in this area, I’ve linked to an article on using encouragement in the classroom as a motivator as well as a blog post on how student engagement and motivation has an impact on learning and behavior.

Afterward this last discussion, the class broke the last few minutes of our time together down for individual time to fill out another exit ticket about our future teacher commitments before heading out for the day.

Due for Thursday 9/8:

(If you’d like some bonus reading; Anne Whitney’s essay on the schoolishness of school is not required, but comes highly recommended by our own Dr. Benko.)


Have a great day!

– Erin