After starting to grade the digital essays my student authored (I'd love to share them but...), I realized that it was going to be hard to grade them because the process was so transparent, making it easy to see the challenges each student faced and the ways they negotiated those challenges. Of course, as an English teacher, I've graded piles of essays, according to six-trait rubrics, mode-specific rubrics, holistically, summatively, formatively, insert any assessment tool you like. And in digital essays I'm still trying to accurately assess the effectiveness of communicating ideas and having a voice, but the vehicle drives differently now. So what else could I do but ask the students to help me design a rubric for digital essays, and we're working together on it using a wiki. This activity in addition to the structured reflection I ask them to complete shows me a lot about what they value and what they expect from themselves when it comes to using the digital tools on their iBooks. This could be very valuable for teachers in my school who still aren't sure what they can expect from students with these tools.
The way I started the wiki was to simply list the six-traits of writing, then ask my students what an "A" looks like, what a "B" looks like, and so on for each of the six traits. They've already started to talk about voice, pace, matching pictures to written content, having music in the background to emphasize mood, clearly signposting ideas and using visuals to reinforce. We're not finished yet, but at the end of the week, I'll post the rubric.
The next step will be to compare their rubric to NETS for students and revise accordingly, then consult NETS for teachers and rethink the assignment.
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