Forty-eight hours away from taking my first writing project in my English 101, fresh college composition class, and those single-point rubrics are coming into play heavily. As my students and I come into the finish line, there are lots of questions:
“Do I need to use dialogue?”
“What should I include in my writing process folder?”
“What’s in the cover letter?”
The easiest thing for me to do is to point students back to the project’s single column rubrics for either process or paper. It’s a quick reminder for students of the qualities that the work should show to be “At Standard.”
For ambitious students, such a rubric provides a clear starting point for how to excel and go beyond the basics to achieve mastery. Furthermore, it prompts students to figure out for themselves independently how to achieve this level.
For struggling and reluctant writers, a teacher no longer needs to enter a debate about the levels necessary to “pass.” Nor do teachers need to enter into a pseudo-debate in an attempt to goad students into writing more.
In both cases, a teacher has a clear, direct rubric to form the foundations of a conversation for improvement.
The last several days before a writing project comes due are given over to “workshop” days. I turn the classroom space and time over to students to finalize projects, collect process materials, reflect on their writing in a cover letter. I don’t teach anything new, and I may only review certain concepts as I move around the class and look over shoulders and see what patterns I see in work. At this stage, it’s more important to just be there as a resource to students.
On a final note, the use of Canvas has been invaluable. While I’ve used the tool the past two years, making use of the “module” function has been essential in keeping this writing project super organized with all of it’s materials, pages, files–and giving students continued access to all of this media. Awesome.