How to grade a million posters…

June 2, 2010 at 4:28 PM Leave a comment

I’ve got that vaguely nauseous brain-is-full feeling after grading over 40 posters today and yesterday. And I can’t give in to being snippy or impatient because all of them spent what at least felt like their life’s blood on these projects.

The clear rubric helped. Having them NUMBER each section helped and so did having them sit with me as I graded to point to the different sections. Then I didn’t have to write comments down either, just tell them. Made big effort to praise the good stuff first, and to finish with another something I really liked about their project.

Generally, these are things we need to do better next year:

1. Many students need help with writing clear and specific problem statements. (Who, where when, what, why) that do NOT include the solution. Ex. The problem is that there is too much trash in the ocean and we are going to pick up trash on beaches. We are going for something more like “There is a trash island as large as Texas in the Atlantic ocean, and trash in the Pacific too. The plastics are eaten by turtles and fish, marine life gets tangled in the trash and it disrupts the ocean ecosystem. Because trash washes down from creeks and beaches, we are part of the problem.” Or maybe with tighter researched facts in it…

2. We need to make a tighter connection to what they are learning in the rest of the curriculum and, especially, with the science SKILLS they are learning. Many students did not think that skills are part of the science curriculum and left it out. (ex. project management, information literacy and research skills, data interpretation.

3. The data graphics were frequently not captioned and not referred to in their narrative, just slapped on for the points. Even though we emphasized that in their Powerpoint, they did not carry their PowerPoint research over to their project. The general ACADEMIC level of their posters was not as high at the ppt. Sigh.

4. Citing sources properly is STILL an issue. I can’t believe I’m writing that. I think I will bang my head on the table. Okay. Better.

5. We need to specify at least 14pt type and maybe larger.

6. All the stuff our ELA teachers teach them so laboriously RELATES TO SCIENCE WRITING TOO! So for example, paragraphs would be nice to break up a slew of text. Spell checks – a good thing. Brevity also good. We need to have a category for English skills next year I think.

7. Pretty is not always better. More words not always better. Bigger not always better. Next year, was thinking of making a great looking poster full of bs, in a really similar way to a few we saw, and let them grade it. Sometimes silly extremes gets the point home.

An emerging theme is how much they seemed to like ripping out introduced species and planting natives. Hmm, an idea for Taking Action right here on school grounds. Maybe also planting apple trees for healthy, low carbon emission snacks? How about it Mr. Randall? 🙂

IS this project rigorous enough for a science class? What are your thoughts?

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Entry filed under: Assessment and grading, TAP Curriculum. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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