Yesterday I was so disappointed. Our system met as a K-2 team to look at a set of rubrics for scoring writing. These rubrics were written by professionals. They have been used across the country with success. They are detailed and yet generic enough to use for any type of writing (although many of the teachers in the room could not see that). They are not perfect but they are better than anything we have ever created. The rubrics were rejected.
The rejection of the rubric was not what upset me. The reasons for the rejection were very upsetting. The reasons make me wonder, how many of these people write with their kids each day? How many of these people are writer's themselves? How many of these people have educated themselves in latest research, techniques, and author craft? They think writing is formulaic. They want to score with something short, concise, and requiring little thought. They want black and white...child can/child cannot. They think as long as the writing has the components of the formula, it is writing. They think ideas and conventions are the most important. How can one not reflect upon word choice or organization or voice? They think that the kids should be able to score their own writing. I agree but not with a teacher's rubric that should dig deep looking for the next teaching moment. If I limit my conferences to "I Can" statements that children understand, I am limiting my teaching. I am looking for basics...teaching to the test I am not thinking about stretching and opening my student's minds. I am not stretching and opening my mind to the many ways writers can touch their audience.
When I read all of your posts, I am in awe of the creativity, the effective use of breaking conventions, word choice, and structure. I CAN write following a rubric to get a 4 or I CAN write from the heart and reach an audience much larger than one scoring teacher. I wonder if Hemingway or Fitzgerald had all their success because they were taught to write with I CAN statements. I wonder if they got 4's on their writing prompts. I wonder if their teacher's focus on upper and lower case letters, periods, or starting a sentence with a capital is what they thought about when they sat down to write their masterpieces. We are losing creativity to black and white simplistic thinking.