Addendum: Possibly fixing my pacing problem

I opened up the paragraphs my students had written and realized that out of 130 students only 42 had completed enough writing to be worthwhile. And many of them were making the same mistakes over and over. I’m pretty tired of repeating myself, and Kaizena is hard to use, so I cast about for other options.

This is what I decided.

  1. The point is to have kids write and revise, and to get them started on leaving feedback for one another.
  2. There wasn’t enough time if I’m going to have them revise their paragraphs AND do a slide show AND start the Japan unit.
  3. It’s (probably) not going to kill the kids to miss Chinese agriculture, urbanization, and technology. That’s why I’m doing this with 7th graders.

So I ditched the slide show.

I decided to use Todd Finley’s Whole Class Evaluation Letter. This allowed me to write down the major strengths and weaknesses in the existing student work and to pick out some of the best student writing from what I have available, all without leaving any feedback.

After that, I generated a Single Point Rubric. I put in most of the points from the assignment, gave it a header, and determined how many I’d need. I would like each of my students to do two rubrics, which means each of my kids who wrote something should get somewhere around 10 sets of eyes on their work. I’ll collect the rubrics, weed out any that are questionable, and hand them back their feedback.

To help students figure out what SPR is, I created a brief Google Slides presentation. I copied the breakfast in bed rubric from the website above, stuck it in the slide, and used textboxes to fill in examples of good and bad feedback. Like, when I click, “The eggs sucked!” shows up in the “concerns” section. I click again and it disappears. I click a third time, and “the eggs were runny” pops up. I did the same on the positive side. “I loved it!” gets replaced with “Toast and jam were just the way I liked them.” We’re working on using concrete words, and this will be further reinforcement. I also have screens that explain what good feedback looks like, how to fill out the rubrics, and why you should be honest but kind. I’m going to spend a long time on that last part.

Students can turn in their finalized paragraphs at the beginning of class on Thursday and we can start the Japan unit like I’d scheduled.

I also have a reflection for them to do about how they think they’re doing in class so far. So I think I have tomorrow sewn up. If we finish early, I can give them more time to work on their paragraphs. And if they complain because I cancelled the “fun” group project, I can point out that they goofed off and didn’t get their work in on time.

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