Yesterday I had midterm grading conferences with my journalists. (Just for the record, I abhor grades, for a list of reasons too long to post here.) It was interesting to me how Web logs have changed the whole process, and it has me thinking more seriously about the assessment issues that come along with this technology.
Most teachers using Web logs on the 9-12 level aren’t using them as online portfolios/filing cabinets for all classwork. As with anything else, there are advantages and disadvantages to doing so. Since I haven’t changed the content of my curriculum much from my pre-Web log days, the way I assess the individual pieces hasn’t changed much. But with such a drastic change in the process, a whole new list of issues has come up.
The biggest advantage I have found is…(more)
Karen McComas says
Wonderfully provocative questions greeted me in your post this morning. Your comments and musings about not being able to respond to all of the postings brings to mind that the same thing happens when teachers begin using a writing across the curriculum approach in their content courses. They are inundated with more to read and more to respond to…and writers like response. In our WAC program we tend to encourage people to think about leveraging the people resources available to them. This leads to having students respond to other students which brings about a number of other interesting things to observe and think about. I love this kind of thinking writing. Thanks for putting it out there for the rest of us to consider.
Barbara Ganley says
In my college writing classes I, too, have students responding to students quite frequently in part becuase it is simply impossible to respond effectively to EVERYTHING they write, and as a means to transform the teacher-student/expert-apprentice dynamic, that seems to run in a single conduit in students arriving at Middlebury, into a real and effective writing community, where everyone apprentices to everyone else. And that’s the beauty of weblogs in the classroom: not only do they hold the student’s work and demonstrate visually the relationships between the writer and the work and the steps in the process, but they facilitate writing for an audience, a responsive audience including, but not limited to the teacher. I wish more high school students wrote for a large audience–it would make the transition to the WAC classroom that much smoother!
Also, I never grade individual pieces on the weblog; I ask the students three times a semester to organize their weblog portfolios and to write a reflective essay (as a hypertext document in which they refer to the actual assignments and their outcomes) on the work and their process. I write them a narrative response with a grade attached and hand them that document rather than posting it to the blog.
But I agree that you have to teach them the process and let them know just how you will evaluate them and why. I background the actual blog design in my class–they are not graded on the whoop-de-do designs they come up with. One you’ve used weblogs for a few terms, you’ll be able to use the work of previous classes as examples, models and inspirations. The class writing truly does become the class subject matter , and the kids find comfort in seeing how other bloggers did it!