kitchen table math, the sequel: redkudu on

Friday, June 11, 2010

redkudu on

from Redkudu:
The assigning of art projects is just lazy grading, as far as I'm concerned. You can spot-check for the required elements without the need to analyze whether the student has mastered the material. Plus, it all looks good when admin stops by and they see all this "student engagement" thrown up all over the walls.

At our school, no matter what class they visit, students inevitably have to create a poster about themselves containing descriptive words and pictures. Most of them end up being on the inappropriate side because students are given few guidelines of what to say about themselves, so they generally try to reinforce the more shallow exterior facade they would *like* to represent to their peers. (We live in a tough area.)

Last year one of my students asked if we were going to do an "All About Me" poster project. I said no, and asked if she minded.

She said no. "I'm really tired of having to tell people about myself."
This reminds me of a friend's son who, assigned another memoir in 8th grade, told his mom, "I'm running out of memories."


Catherine Johnson said...

I'm so glad you said this, Redkudu.

For years now, I've thought: How much time does it take to 'grade' a poster as compared to a paper?

I speak as a person who has graded student essays.

Redkudu said...

I'm also tired of being sent to trainings where I am taught to be a lazy grader.

Catherine Johnson said...

Tell us!

CassyT said...

Wait- Did you go to one of the how to fold paper to make a book trainings?

CassyT said...

OK, I'll fess up. Our third grade team had students write a newspaper about themselves when they had their Top Banana week. They could include jokes, a want-ad, travel news, whatever. It was voluntary, but I only had a couple of kids ever choose not to make one. Of course the quantity of writing varied widely, but they seemed to like the want-ads for selling their siblings and dogs.

As a parent, I preferred when my sons did Top Banana over the first grade Rock Star poster and the second grade Big Cheese timeline of their life. None of these were required assignments, though.

Redkudu said...

"Did you go to one of the how to fold paper to make a book trainings?"

What do you mean, *one*? :)

It's almost as if the idea of doing any learning without an artistic aspect is unbearable. What I've observed is that people spend more time thinking of a way for kids to express their understanding through visuals. Sometimes I'm even successful in getting someone, a close colleague usually who knows how I am, to understand that what they have planned does not, in fact, indicate the student has learned anything.

I think students could do a lot less work (because this stuff *is* work - time-consuming and mind-numbing, but work nonethless) and learn more. Better lessons, precise learning goals and what accomplishment and mastery look like...etc.

I was a kid who loved the art projects, to be truthful. Usually because the content I was given was so easy for me to absorb and memorize, I enjoyed doing other things. I was always artistically inclined, and would use whatever I was practicing then (calligraphy, watercolor, weaving) as part of my project.

But when I see high school kids struggling to spell, to write complete sentences, to answer simple understanding questions about short reading passages, the idea of handing out a project and the time it would waste makes me shudder.