Konrad Glogowski has a post up titled “Grading Conversations” where he writes:
I think that student bloggers should be recognized for writing as part of a larger community of inquirers. Some of my most successful writers are those who are aware of what their friends are writing about and who participate in conversations with other bloggers in their class. This is an important part of knowledge- and community-building, especially when (as in my class) students investigate and write about related ideas. When the whole class is engaged in investigating human rights, for example, the interactions that occur among bloggers can have a strong impact on individual writers and the communal sense of knowledge-building. Students quickly become aware that they are all co-constructing knowledge and begin to spend a lot of time commenting on other blogs and other entries. When I mark their contributions, a part of their grade is given for showing that they are an integral part of the blogosphere and not just an isolated writer.
I just think that is so good, and so different from the ways in which most teachers approach assessment. I mean many of us give grades for something called “class participation,” but that is much, much different from “knowledge construction participation.” We’re saying to our students that while it’s important for them to share their ideas with the rest of us, it’s equally (if not more) important to be willing to contribute and test those ideas in the context of the class community. That they need to stop giving “answers” (which suggest the discussion is over) and start contributing insights and experiences and questions (which suggests the discussion continues.)
We need to stop thinking in terms of assessing answers and start thinking about how we assess the contributions our students make to the conversations about learning that are happening in our classrooms. It’s not going to be an easy shift, because it’s much less concrete compared to what the system now calls for. But it’s great to see that teachers are starting to move in that direction, and that they’re willing to enter the conversation for themselves.