Re: 3 solutions for school game???/jan

Claudine Keenan (cgk4@PSU.EDU)
Thu, 15 Aug 1996 14:14:10 -0400

At 13:03 15.08.96 -0500, Eric Crump wrote:
<all the great crumpean philosophy snipped here for brevity's sake>
>How do we know they are learning and growing? This is the part I haven't
>done so well, so far. According to the plan, assessment is collaborative.
>We talk about what they've learned. There's really no other way to get at
>it. Tests are worthless. Timed writing and essays don't cut it. They
>initiate the discussion with their comments assessing the benefit of what
>they've done. I add my perception about the value of their work. We are
>supposed to talk until we reach some kind of agreement or compromise if
>necessary, and that is the basis by which they choose their grades.

> The really able thinkers in our class turn out to be, without
> exception, children who don't feel so strongly the need to
> please grownups. Some of them are good students, some not so
> good; but good or not, they don't work to please us, but to
> please themselves. (Holt _How Children Fail_ 18)
This is where I'd like to share something I learned this summer about
collaboration and assessment.

I gave a collaborative "final" essay to my summer session fyc class, and
during the three hours they had to complete the assignment, I watched as they:
1) organized the task into smaller sections and made writing teams
2) drafted each section in their small teams
3) pasted all the sections together and reorganized their order
4) worked together on writing smooth transitions between each piece
5) argued through revisions that deleted or rearranged whole pgraphs
6) tinkered together on sentences to sharpen their collective style

They did all of this without any prompting from me, and they continued to
work at it because they all wanted an "A" on the final to boost their
averages. They figured, going in, that this was an easy way to achieve
that. By the time they were done, they all agreed that this was maybe not
so easy as they had first assumed, and looked at me suspiciously. I asked
them, "well, do you think you earned the A?" After ten minutes of
discussion, most decided grudgingly that the essay was only worth a B or a
B+ because they recognized places where, if they had more time, they ought
to develop it further. The others said that they'd give the essay an A- to
allow for the timed constraint. But they earned the A from me, for knowing
the difference.

If you're interested, the final essay is up at

Claudine Keenan
Teacher/Perpetual Learner of RhetComp