by Harry and Rosemary
Bite Out of Assessment
—Using Scoring Guides
you saw a picture of us playing Mexican Train. This month
we’re eating hamburgers…and scoring them!
We’re using a rubric or scoring guide to rate the quality
of the hamburgers.
As a birthday gift, we received an invitation to go to three
restaurants that had reputations for serving good hamburgers.
A scoring guide had to be devised so we could score each hamburger
fairly. Click here
to see the hamburger scoring guide.
Scoring guides are familiar to students, as they use scoring
guides in the many games they play. By developing
their own scoring guides, your students will see the value of
having a scoring guide to assess their work.
Students can be involved in developing their own scoring guides.
They will see that a scoring guide
- specifies the level of performance achieved for a specific
category or task.
- can help them and their teachers define “quality.”
- can help them judge and revise their own work before handing
- communicates to them and their parents what is expected of
- is focused on producing good work, not on grading.
Picture your students with a study guideline in one hand with
the objectives for the lesson. With objectives, they know
what they are responsible for learning. For information
on structuring a lesson with objectives, see The First
Days of School, Unit D and our August 2003 column,
to Start a Lesson Plan.”
Now picture your students with a scoring guide in the other hand
that spells out how their assignment will be scored, graded, or
Just think. Yes, just think what
would happen to student learning
if the students knew what they were to learn,
and how they would be scored or graded?
They would know how to reach success and achievement.
Students fail when some teachers cover chapters, do activities
to entertain the students, or show videos that have no purpose
to a lesson. These teachers are more concerned with what
they put into a lesson, rather than what learning outcomes result
from the students. The students, thus, have no idea
what they are responsible for learning and how they will be assessed
for the quality of their work.
Scoring Guide for Listening
In our February 2007 column, “Students
Want a Sense of Direction,” we shared a scoring guide
used by Karen Rogers for determining how well students listen
in class to a presentation.
Just think how much more students will listen to a presentation
if they had a role in helping to develop this scoring guide?
Multimedia Is Everywhere
Starting in the fall of 2007, the University of Chicago’s
School of Business will begin requiring prospective students to
submit four pages of PowerPoint-like slides with their applications.
The purpose is to allow students to show off a creative side that
might not reveal itself in test scores, recommendations, and even
Rather than having the university dictate what is to be said
with a set of questions or outline, the applicant is given four
blank sheets of paper to be creative—a fact needed for success
Undergraduates already submit art work and videos with their
applications. Why not allow graduates the same latitude
to better identify the students with a creative spark.
First graders are more often computer savvy and are helping
to solve the high tech glitches in the classroom.
Children are brought up and surrounded by various forms of media.
They are motivated by and learn from media. Thus, teachers
must have knowledge of the use of media to be able to teach specific
The Etiwanda School District in Southern California has a set
of technology standards for its classes. The basic standard
is as follows:
Presentation provides students with an understanding of how
effectively use information technology tools to communicate
and information using a variety of media.
To meet this standard, objectives have been formulated for each
Kindergarten and Grade 1
|The students will
- present ideas using electronic documents.
|Grades 2 and 3
|The students will
- present ideas using a variety of information technology
- describe the components of electronic presentations.
|The students will
- apply information technology to present information
to intended audiences.
- create multimedia documents.
- demonstrate their knowledge of the protocol for crediting
sources of information.
|The students will
- demonstrate an understanding of how special effects
can be used to influence messages.
- create and present multimedia documents.
- use a variety of information technology tools in presentation.
demonstrate an understanding of how hypertext can enhance
|The students will
- demonstrate an understanding of how information technology
tools can be used to influence presentations.
- create and present multimedia documents for intended
|The students will
- synthesize information from a variety of electronic
sources for their presentations.
- apply the principles of good design when developing
- develop interactive hypertext documents for presentation.
- produce multimedia presentation.
- analyze the impact of presentations on the intended
|The students will
- identify and consider ethical and legal issues when
- use a variety of software to present messages.
- demonstrate the ability to arrange information in different
forms to create new meaning.
- analyze the effects of information technology on presentations.
- describe the effect of multimedia presentations on intended
Scoring Guide for a Multimedia Presentation
We have shared Norm Dannen in past columns.
The most recent was in October 2006, “Assessing
Student Progress With a Rubric.”
Norm designed a lesson to teach some short stories by Ernest
Hemingway. To see his lesson plan, click here.
In the story, The Snows of Kilimanjaro,
he had his students prepare a multimedia presentation.
The small group projects had the following structure all centered
around developing and marketing a vacation package to Africa:
|Students could select from these ideas for presenting the
- a brochure (2-4 pages)
- a booklet (2-4 pages)
- a PowerPoint presentation (2-6 slides)
|Other criteria included the following:
- Students will work in groups with four or five people.
- All will receive the same grade.
- Projects will be presented to the class.
|Students will consider the following in preparing their
- How long will the trip last?
- What is the order of the sites visited?
- What is the cost of your trip?
- What is the name of the tour?
- What is the geography/history of the site?
- What is the climate?
- What are the local customs?
- Why are you going to each of those places? (i.e., location’s
relationship to the short stories read).
To guide the students in their preparation of their multimedia
presentations, he gave them each a scoring guide. To see this
scoring guide, click here.
Both Karen Rogers’ guide for listening and Norm
Dannen’s scoring guide on multimedia presentations can be
applied to all classes.
To see the multimedia presentation a group of his students prepared,
A Career Choice He Would Not Hesitate to Make
Norm Dannen just started his third year as a teacher.
He worked for AT&T for 25 years and when they downsized, he
decided that he needed a new direction in his life.
Earlier in his career, he had taught high school English as a
way to pay for graduate school. He liked it so much that
he resolved to return to it one day. So, with this juncture
in his life, he enrolled in an alternative certification program,
New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey (NPTNJ).
His first job was as a maternity leave replacement at Southern
Regional High School in Manahawkin, New Jersey. While he
was there, Norm attended an Alternative Path conference where
we (Harry) spoke. Norm shared his work with us. Norm
credits Dr. Tom Vona of the Alternate Path Program for teaching
him this work. What he shared became the subject of two
related articles on teachers.net dealing with lesson plans and
assessment strategies. (May
2006 and October
At the end of his first year of teaching, Norm was named the
2005-2006 First Year Teacher of the Year by the Southern Regional
High School District. He returned to Southern for the 2006-2007
school year. In the spring of 2007, a tenure-track teaching
position much closer to home became available and he applied for
Within a month, he was offered a position teaching freshman English
at a newly opened career academy called Biotechnology High School,
run by the Monmouth County Vocational School District, which is
where he is now.
The reason the brief teaching career of Norm Dannen has been
shared with you is to show that new teachers can succeed rather
quickly. Our teachers.net articles are full of examples
of first year teachers who succeeded, literally, on their first
day as teachers. They began by knowing what to do.
Check the archive in the latest June column and scroll through
to read about these teachers. Use them as examples for your
As Norm says, “Although my return to the classroom has
not been without hurdles, it has provided me with some of the
most rewarding experiences of my life. It has been a career
choice I would not hesitate to make again.”
The Taste of Success
Whether you are scoring hamburgers or multimedia presentations,
a guide to how content will be rated is essential.
While we did not share our scoring guide with the cook at our
burger joints, the restaurant was blind in knowing what we deemed
to be a good hamburger.
Students, on the other hand, need to know before the assignment
begins what is quality and what is not quality. Does the
bun matter or not? What demonstrates mastery of an objective—achievement
of the goal?
Students can’t be working without the ability to
To introduce your class to a scoring guide, select something
appropriate for the ages of students and do an assignment with
them. For instance, ask the question who makes the best
bubble gum, brand A or brand B? Have input as to what constitutes
good bubble gum. Taste, quality of bubbles, chewiness, and
so on. Assign values to the degree of each quality.
(Of course, if chewing bubble gum for 15 minutes as a class project
is not going to work in your setting, select something to suit
your students and their limitations.)
Distribute the gum and let them chew away and assess the outcome.
They will come to understand how they can apply this to their
own assignments by looking at the quality of their work and knowing
where they need to improve. In their bubble gum ratings,
all criteria will not get the highest mark, but in a simple glance
of the scoring guide, students, teachers, and parents can easily
identity where the need for improvement lies.
As for our hamburger quest, we have one more to score.
If you want to know our winner for the best hamburger in the San
Francisco bay area, write and ask us at the end of the month.
We’ll be happy to let you know.
With a scoring guide, assessing for achievement becomes a palatable
task for all. No more heartburn and indigestion waiting
for grades. A scoring guide lists all the ingredients for
student success. Invite your students to taste achievement.
Bon appétit and Happy Halloween!
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