Assessing Understanding: Looking for Feedback (Pt. II)

After the first blog post I received some critique from trusted voices (and a wonderful comment) I have gone back to the drawing board and gutted it again. I wonder if is now more conceptual. The last line of inquiry feels out there, but there is a curriculum need to have it in place. Interestingly though, the navigation bit is really interesting, as it is just outside our window down the street, and we can watch and inquire as the boats float by (literally).

It still feels kind of fragmented, but at the same time it feels whole. I like it and I don't like it. I like that it goes into history, geography, cultures, and science (possibly ecology as well, as when we take a walk along the river, they will certainly notice the giant machines dredging). It leaves the door open for some interesting questions. Interestingly, since this is the last unit of the year, I have a pretty good feeling and sense of what type of questions they will ask, and I can predict where they may take it. I wonder if this influences how I build these units? Most definitely.

I am still not sure about this rubric. Is it too driven by knowing things? How do I phrase it so that it is conceptual? I know how to do it when I am conferring with students, and I can spot it in their reflections, how well they understand the Key Concepts. But I am really struggling putting it into words. 

I want to get this right. This year I have been trying to make my assessment much more visible. I am a mental person, I keep everything up in my head, which works great for me, but it helps to get it out there for record keeping and parent conferences and report cards and ......

Please continue to be brutal. I will keep doing this until I get it right.


  1. Hi Craig, here's my two cents:

    (1) Do you need to have the Danube in the central idea? Could you make it about landforms or something similar? This way it would leave it open to explore the impact of the Danube and make a local connection, but also open it up for students to inquire into their own interests in this field. This would require that you make some changes to the wording in the rubric.

    (2) I always try to avoid reporting in the deficit. So, instead of saying what the students cannot do at the 'emerging' stage perhaps consider what they can do.

    (3) I think there's research out there about rubrics that says you should try to avoid using an uneven number of categories because people fall into the trap of assigning most students to the middle one. I guess the idea of an even amount is that it forces us to look more closely at the evidence to decide where a student is achieving.

    I really like your descriptions in the 'established' section - in my opinion they require students to have a clear understanding of cause & effect, connection and change. Good luck with the UOI!


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