Friday, November 5, 2010

Tips & Tricks: The Check List

You know what's immensely satisfying? Marking things off of a to do list. It's even better if you keep a long to do list and you can look back on all of the wonderful things you've accomplished.

We have district assessments every six weeks. They include an Open Response Question (ORQ) that is scored from 0 (lowest) to 4 (highest). We're given a rubric and told what makes a 4 ORQ answer. We don't get to make the rubric. Sometimes the 4 answer includes things that the students are meant to infer are being asked. It can be very frustrating as a teacher.

Another teacher and I got together and decided to show students how the rubric works. It was then that she said "I don't know. Why don't we just give them a check list?" Genius. Pure, unadulterated genius. It's not something new. I provide a check list for students when they do portfolio writing. Why wouldn't it work for an ORQ? So I made one and put it in the district assessment I gave today.

The result? Fantastic. Generally, over half of my students fall in the 2-3 range. A 2 is where they kind of understand it, but don't connect all of the dots. A 3 is where everything is technically right, but they're missing that something extra. So 4 is usually students who have developed a skill for guessing what that something extra is for ORQs. With the check list? Of the 86 students who took the assessment to day, FORTY FIVE scored a 4. The average score on this ORQ last year was just under a 2. The average score this year for all of my classes? 3.25. It worked. It worked well.

What was best was that students could use the rubric to check their own answer. When they asked me to quickly check their ORQ answer, I could point to the check list. I didn't have a single 0 or 1 today. I was literally blown away.

So that's your super trick for the day. If you have something you want your students to answer completely, give them a check list. If you make it nice and generic, you can use it all year long!

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