This presentation may be downloaded at: http://mciu.org/~spjvweb/changing3.ppt. Research Makeover: Improving and Elevating Student Research. Joyce Kasman Valenza Carol Rohrbach. Workshop goals . Strategies for: Changing the questions—the assignment Organizing for focused research
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Joyce Kasman Valenza
Describe the best (most exciting, pleasurable, useful) learning experience your students find most memorable?
Useful / Applied
Personal / intrinsic motivation
Solves real problems /legitimate useful questions
Life-long relevanceThe experts tell us meaningful learning involves common characteristics:
Research projects are training grounds for adult problem-solving and decision-making
report has already been done (very well) by any number of encyclopedias.
Why should we ask you to waste your time?
Support or reject or critique
InventThoughtful research asks students to:
We are asking for . . . more meaningful, and more interesting research!
Inquiry: Good research begins with good questions!Death to “topical” research!!!(Topical research doesn’t get into their systems!)Death to “so what” questions!!!MAR*TEC Video
History Question Brainstormer
Organizing for inquiry:Role of scaffolds and organizers
It doesn’t come easily!
Current events organizer
Middle East / Middle East WebQuest
Questions for lit crit
2 Simple equations:
Specific topic + Attitude/Angle/Argument = Thesis
(or 3 Ts: Topic + ‘Tude = Thesis)
What you plan to argue
+ How you plan to argue it
= Your thesis
The evidence may lead you to a conclusion you didn't
think you'd reach.
It is perfectly okay to
change your thesis!
As you read look for:
1. Does the thesis inspire a reasonable reader to ask “how?” or “why?”
2. Would a reasonable reader NOT respond with "Duh!" or "So what?" or "Gee, no kidding!" or "Who cares?"
3. Does the thesis avoid general phrasing and/or sweeping words such as "all" or "none" or "every"?
4. Does the thesis lead the reader toward the topic sentences (the subtopics needed to prove the thesis)?
5. Can the thesis be adequately developed in the required length of the paper or project?
If you cannot answer "YES" to these questions, what changes must you make in order for your thesis to pass these tests?
New types of products focus on evaluation
Reflection as part of the product
Pathfinders go online!
They are a cheap and
immediate fix for several
Pathfinder Models and Examples
design a rubric that does its job
write precise criteria and descriptors
make your rubric student-friendly
--Michael Simkins in “Designing Great Rubrics”
Bottom line: Is it working for you and for your students?
Task: Make a chocolate chip cookie that I would want to eat.
Criteria: Texture, Taste, Number of Chocolate Chips, Richness
Range of performance:
HOLISTIC—views product or performance as a whole; describes characteristics of different levels of performance. Criteria are summarized for each score level.
(level=degree of success—e.g., 4,3,2,1 or “Tasty”)
(criteria= what counts, facets of performance—e.g., research or number of chips or presentation)
HOLISTIC—pros and cons
Delicious level (4)
Analytic=Separate facets of performance are defined, independently valued, and scored.
Skill = string improvisation development
Analytic—pros and cons
Don’t make task-specific rubrics.
(See Tip #8)
Don’t use generic or “canned” rubrics without careful consideration of their quality and appropriateness for your project.
Avoid dysfunctional detail.
--Includes wordiness, jargon, negativity
Limit the number of criteria
Use key, teachable “criteria” (What counts)
Key Question to ask yourself:
What does it look like?
Use measurable criteria.
Aim for an even number of levels
“At their very best, rubrics are also teaching tools that support student learning…” (Andrade 13).
Provide models of the different performance levels.
“But the rubric doesn’t say that…”
Use your rubric as a formative assessment to give students feedback about how they are doing.
Usually with a relatively complex assignment, such as a long-term project, and essay, or research-based product.
These are the quick ones.
Fewer criteria and shorter descriptions of quality
Vocabulary Poster Purpose: to inform
Content criterion (50%) 4 3 2 1
____written explanation of denotation—accuracy/thoroughness
____examples in action—accuracy/variety
____visual symbol or cartoon conveys word meaning— accuracy/clarity
____wordplay---weighs synonyms for subtleties of meaning--accuracy/thoroughness
Presentation criterion (50%)
4,3,2,1--clear organizational pattern
4,3,2,1--no error in Conventions
4,3,2,1--uses visual space to catch and hold attention
Score= Content__+Presentation___divided by 2=______GRADE
OR, give a point range (e.g., A=90 (indicates just made category)
BUT A=95 (indicates solid in category
Don’t let the rubric stand alone:
ALWAYS, ALWAYS provide specific “Comments” on your rubric and/or on the student product itself.
To establish 4 levels of performance, try sentence stems.
Content (substance, support, proof, details)
The best rubrics WORK for students and teachers!
Looking at student work collegially
Groups of 8-11
To provide a tool for teachers
A tuning protocol is a “way a teacher presents actual work before a group of thoughtful ‘critical friends’ in a structured reflective discourse aimed at ‘tuning’ the work to higher standards.”
--Joe McDonald, Brown University, 1995
--Little, Gearhart, Curry, and Kafka (2003)
Easton, Lois. Collaboratively Examining Student Work: Why and How. Oct.2, 2003.
Little, Judith Warren,et al. “Looking at Student Work For Teacher Learning, Teacher Community, and School Reform. Phi Delta Kappan. November 2003.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Contact information: citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.