Thursday, July 7, 2011

National Writing Project Day 7: Domain on the Brain

I have a few thoughts elbowing their way around my brain after today's workshop with Dr. Andy Fishman:

Thought(s) 1:
Have you found that you/your colleagues have mashed together the concept assessing/conferring about domains and grading essays with rubrics?  The more I learn the more I think we've come to that--the word "rubric" has found a way to replace the correct terms of more than just "domain."

Conferring about a specific domain is quite different than using a domain chart to stamp a grade on an essay, isn't it?

Is it easy for a teacher to confuse the two...use each incorrectly...and confuse the student writer?
I find that the use of the Pennsylvania Writing Assessment Domain Scoring Guide makes sense when  dealing with formative assessment and conferences.

I'm struggling with the distinction between that guide and a rubric.  Can that guide be a rubric?  Should it be?

I don't like the thought of a number on a guide...or on something which is best promoted (in my opinion) as a formative assessment guide.

It gets gummy when I start thinking about numbers and letters generated from that guide.

Thought(s) 2:
I can't recall if I read it in Study Driven or Teaching Adolescent Writers...or someplace else...but the concept that writing in the real world doesn't supply a rubric before writing kept creeping back into me today (even though today's discussion was domains).

If we are teaching domains (Focus, Content, Organization, Style, and Conventions) and these are best reinforced through rehearsal and conferring and writing and conferring and revision and conferring over and over, then why are we really using rubrics?  To teach to the essay?  To have a piece of paper with a stamp of approval upon it?  To cover our own rear-ends so that we can say "See, I used a rubric, my expectations were clear!"

Can we ever really separate and distinguish the difference?

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