Students in the morning class turned in atrocious essays today, which I was able to preview
via our version of BlackHoleBoard. I distributed questionnaires that forced them to reduce their arguments and findings into the outlines they should have done originally. Then I had the class define all the attributes that should be present in a successful assignment so that they now had a yardstick for evaluating their work.
Then I organized them into groups, had them read their outlines to one another, had them apply the criteria in the checklist, and told them that successful groups would be able to identify numerous ways of improving each outline.
Then the class reassembled and each group reported on the ways that each outline was improved. I told them that I would not grade the draft that was submitted today and gave them a week to revise their essays. Boy were they grateful.
Five years ago, I would have been pissed that they had screwed up their assignments.
Now I'm ecstatic that I came up with a process that allows them to spot their own errors
and correct them without hating my guts or prompting a call from their parents.
By the way, the essay was 500 words long and required them to compare two things and draw conclusions. I don't know how I could have made the assignment clearer or easier.
Which makes me wonder: What happens when these people graduate and get jobs? Does everything they do have to be redone?
Also, who do you tell if anyone when you discover a useful technique. Your significant other?
Your colleagues? No one?