I’ve been doing a lot with short constructed writing response. Part of this is due to trainings I’m going to on Common Core for my district. The standards emphasize a written response that
sites the information from the text the question is based on. I’m not in love with the standards, but feel I can live with the upper-elementary level ones (mostly because as Tom Hoffman points out, it’s not like their worse than what was here before). I make no claims about their appropriateness for primary (the fact that NO early childhood educators or experts were included in their development is appalling), and high school (where the discussions of implementation have degenerated into a ridiculous metrics like “50% of text reading should be informational” – like you don’t get information from reading Moby Dick?).
I’ll be writing a post soon on the results of this exploration of writing I’ve been doing (two thumbs up, IMHO) for those who prefer action in the classroom to my gassing on about policy, etc. which I’ll continue to do in here in the remainder of this post.
Why am I doing this? Frankly, Common Core is a convenient excuse, and not my main reason. I love having students write. To make it manageable level of grading, I prefer the short answer for formative assessment (weekly – or thereabouts). I’m not doing this to prepare them for the “next generation” assessments coming to us in 2015, as I do not believe that the assessments or systems will be ready. I fully expect the assessment end of Common Core will implode under its own weight. My own proposal is that we move to teacher-based assessments, that (get ready for a shocking idea folks) teachers grade themselves. That would of course involve trusting us and treating educators as professionals, but I’m kind of radical that way. If SBAC does not oblige me by dying an untimely death, I’ll be happy to take action, and suggest it to others to help it on its way. Until then, I’m having my kids write…for me…for themselves…for their peers…and for their parents.
Whether the standards survive is anyone’s guess, but I’m sure as the Sun is coming up over the Sierra Mountains to the east of me, that we will have new standards some time between now and the next 15 years. This is because that’s the life-cycle of these things, and to pretend that Common Core is immune, or has the educational equivalent of papal infallibility is just ridiculous. But not all who write comedy do with intention, and as I’ve pointed out before, Americans are master of irony of the unintentional variety (No Child Left Behind, Michelle Rhee naming her organization Students First, etc.) I’m picking and choosing what to use from Common Core in my classroom, and so far they’re letting me do this. Until that changes, I’m going to enjoy it. When it changes (as I’m sure it will), I’m prepared to raise holy heck. As my sister once advised, I’m keeping my expectations tiny, so I won’t be so whiny, and my options open.