I was sitting in class today, listening to the sixth of seventeen group presentations I will hear in the next three days. They were pretty much bad. Not bad in the inarticulate way, but bad in the ‘we’re going through the motions but we haven’t really thought about what we are doing’ way. There were gestures towards some key vocabulary, there was some use of terms, there was a little sense of organization. But not much.
I was taking notes on the rubric that is the instrument for assessing these presentations (this is an IB class- this was a preparation for an IB assessment). Each group will get feedback on the rubric as well as a narrative from me. And I was keeping a page of general class notes of issues I could address in the group as a whole.
But to be honest I was having trouble paying attention. And so was the rest of the class. Because these presentations had very little real effort or energy in them. So part of my mind was working on where to go next. If it was a piece of writing, I’d just return the draft and have them keep working on it. But these are presentations, about fifteen minutes each.
And then it hit me. These are first drafts. Of course they suck. I would never assess a first draft of writing. I’m going to make them do the exact same presentations again. When we’ve made it through this round, which will be Monday, I’ll return each group’s individual feedback, give the whole class the general notes (I’m working on slides right now- see here), then give them two prep days, and have them give the same presentation again.
Will this burn a lot of class time. Yes. Will I have to move content. Definitely. But I’ve noticed the same problem with presentations that we used to have with writing. Feedback that isn’t immediately applicable to the work the students are doing is wasted. Completely wasted. We changed our writing instruction when we moved to a more organic model of how writers actually write. Presentation is essentially the same thing. I’m going to give them the feedback, and let them do it again.
So we are going to try drafting. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Z has been burning things up with her series on grading, you should read it. It’s awesome. I have been struggling to write. I have three or four posts started but languishing. So I was talking through this with Z (we’re in the doldrums of the last night of parent teacher conferences), and she said ‘write that.’ So I did. Which is good, but a lot of my writing energy is sidetracked by my secret other life as a rock star right now (that’s not a joke actually). So I’ll report back in on this little experiment in a few weeks.
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