Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Stage 2 Summary

After reading through the additional examples in the workbook, I believe I have come up with an effective rubric for my Amazon Basin Brochure. The students will be graded on two separate scales:

Understanding (65%):

4 - The brochure clearly and accurately identifies all of the major reasons why slash-and-burn agriculture is destructive and ultimately counterproductive. The brochure shows sensitivity to the Amazonian farmers' difficult situation and clearly presents the benefits of shade-grown crops as an alternative. There are no misunderstandings of key concepts.

3 - The brochure correctly identifies at least two of the major reasons why slash-and-burn agriculture is destructive and counterproductive. The benefits of shade-grown crops may be presented somewhat glibly, without full acknowledgment of the farmers' concerns. Any misunderstandings are minor and do not affect the central argument.

2 - The brochure only correctly identifies one of the major reasons why slash-and-burn agriculture is destructive or counterproductive. The concerns of the Amazonian farmers are not explicitly addressed and/or the reasons for switching to shade-grown crops are not properly explained. There may be evidence of misunderstandings that affect the central argument.

1 - The brochure shows little apparent understanding of the relevant ideas and issues. Phrases may be repeated verbatim from reference materials without proper understanding of their meaning or their relationship to each other. The arguments used against slash-and-burn agriculture and in favor of shade-grown crops are inadequate and do not address either the lasting effects of deforestation and/or the benefits of shade-grown alternatives. The document reveals major misunderstandings of key ideas.

0 - Assignment was not completed; no assessment can be made.

Performance (35%):

4 - The brochure is presented eloquently and powerfully. It is well-organized and lays out its argument in a logical, engaging and persuasive way, mindful of the audience, context, and purpose. There is unusual craftsmanship in the final product.

3 - The brochure is presented effectively. The argument is presented in a clear and thorough manner, showing awareness of the audience, context and purpose.

2 - The brochure is presented in a somewhat effective manner. There are problems with organization, clarity, thoroughness, and polish. It is unclear whether the audience, context and purpose of the project have been considered.

1 - The brochure is presented ineffectively. It is unpolished, with little evidence of prior planning or consideration of its purpose and audience, OR it is so unclear and confusing that it is difficult to determine whether the key points have been covered.

0 - Assignment was not completed; no assessment can be made.
On the whole, I think this stage has been very helpful in sharpening my ideas about how to assess understanding of the ideas and concepts established in Stage 1. My conversation with Page yesterday was particularly helpful; it got me thinking about all of the tangential skills and abilities that are necessary for students to successfully complete the tasks we give them, and the importance of making sure that the students are prepared to use those skills as well as the explicit content that we want them to learn. Even when we're not "teaching the test," we never quite escape the challenge of teaching students how to perform the assessments we intend to use.

In any event, all of this work on assessments has made me eager to get into the question of how to present the material we're going to be assessing. It's time for Stage 3: planning the lessons and activities that I'll be using to help the students learn about ecology.

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