The What is Clear, but the How. . .

Clarence Fisher, responding to a post by David Jakes, talks about the challenges of assessing contributions in a networked classroom.  It made me sit up and take stock of the way I assess this in my classroom.  My students are not at the Wikipedia editing stage, but can blog and comment, as well as add to primary oriented wikis.   

I allow my classroom blog to be a showcase of my students’ emergent writing.  From their first post to their last, I do not edit or revise their work, although I am constantly encouraging them to do this themselves.   Instead, if I think that the student’s spelling might not be understood by the reader, I will add a note in brackets to indicate what the student intended to say.  (I have been reading emergent writer for a long time, and so I need to remember that what is clear to me might not be clear to someone else who does not read six-year-old writing every day.  I have been called on this.)  At the end of the year, the students and I can look back at all of their posts and clearly see the improvement in their writing abilities, as can their parents.  Assessing their blog entries is the easy part. 

By this time of the year, most of the students’ writing can be understood by the uninitiated, and I encourage them to comment on the posts of their friends, and other primary classes that we have as blogging buddies.  Aside from the fact that their writing in general improves every time they write, how can I assess the comments that are sent to other blogs?   

Last Friday was a school holiday, and one of Mark Ahlness’ students, Alec, took the time to send seven thoughtful and encouraging comments to my children.  I did email Mark to tell him about it, but otherwise, how would Mark even know that this out-of-school interaction took place? 

I have way more questions than answers.  Maybe I need to add to that self-assessment tool