The Cylons Are Still Out There; Don’t Frack It Up

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These are slides I used to present an Ignite-style talk at the 2012 New Tech Annual Conference (#NTAC12) on how to avoid FRACK-ing in the classroom. That is creating Formulaic Rubrics and Creativity Killers. For more, visit my blog at http://blog.adambabcock.com/extras/ntac-ignite12

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  • 1. Frack, we live in a fracked up world...What would you think if you heard that word in your classroom?  Would you think: gushing water into the earth to push up fossil fuels?  Or, would you think of it in this context...?----- Meeting Notes (7/15/12 22:24) -----"Talk nerdy to me." ;-)
  • 2. In today’s world with hydraulic fracturing, the acceptable expletive in BattlestarGalactica, OR the fracking facilitated in our classrooms, we have come to an age where we solve the problems on the surface without caring much for what’s underneath.
  • 3. But nothing imperils the human race more than than the FRACK-ing going on in our classrooms. That is, the:a. FORMULAICb. REQUIREMENTS c. ANDd. CREATIVITYe. KILLERS
  • My contention is that FRACK-ing encourages kids to think like mindless frackingCyclons. By asking students to fill-in-the-blanks in writing, we create conflicts of man vs. machine!FRACKed-up rubrics look like these... Stock graduation image from: http://www.sxc.hu/
  • 5. With Common Core in our face, we are temped to FRACK up writing by imposing formats or numbers that don’t value students’ critical thinking during the writing process.
  • Don’t see the new Common Core literacy requirements as a time to let inquiry spin up its FTL and leave the human race behind. With Common Core, writing skills are not English teachers’ burden alone. Stock student image from: http://www.sxc.hu/
  • As a University of IL Writing Project fellow, I studied writing from the perspective The Nine Rights of Every Writer that Vicki Spandell writes about in her recent book. FRACK-ing violates two rights of student writers -- the right to be right to be assessed well and the right to go beyond formula. 
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  • “Rubrics mirror what we value, so it is important that we not leave out what we care about” p.101 Formulas in writing may have an appearance that makes them look human, but the machine driving everything has little connection to what it means to be human, critical thinkers. Amazon.com book image
  • “Counting is simple. Thinking is hard -- hard to achieve and, consequently, hard to assess. Formula lets us off the hook... ‘Let me do the hard thinking for you -- and you just fill in the blanks.’” (p. 121) Counting makes recipes; not good writing.
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  • Bad, FRACK-ed up rubrics take our minds out of the game, too. Don’t see more than two body paragraphs? Unsatisfactory. Bad rubrics make our job more mindless, too, because they make us less reflective readers.
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  • But how to avoid FRACK-ing when so much of our school culture is driven by rubrics? Here’s how to “set condition one” across your Battlestar when FRACK-ing shows up your DRADIS:
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  • 12. In scaffolding, lose the sentence-by-sentence formulas and organizers. The lowest turn-in rate for an essay I’ve ever had was when I tried to drag students through sentence-by-sentence paragraphing. 

  • 13. Over the year, pick only one or two values or areas to really evaluate on the rubric, and put some “discovery” into your rubrics to show you appreciate risk.

  • 14. Provide an open-ended category listing the risks you'd like to see students take (organization, perspective, genre collision). Link examples of these risks into your rubrics.
  • 15. Use a critical thinking score to value student reflection on their writing and risk-taking.  Let students reserve their authorial ownership by having them be the first to critically mark it up either through annotation or comments in Google Docs.
  • Research essay? Instead of limiting students to just one database or website search, use critical thinking models like the CRAAP test to help them evaluate sources. Believe me, they love to sniff out crappy sources.
 Stock crap image from: http://www.sxc.hu/
  • Leave half of your rubric empty... that’s right... leave it EMPTY! Rubrics should be localized to your writing community. After a first draft, have students collaboratively determine the rest based on feedback from first drafts or examining mentor texts.Rubric-making photo from http://bcudl.pbworks.com/
  • Fellow facilitators, we must stop FRACK-ing if we are to let Common Core rebuild what NCLB robots left of us. Guised in state-distributed rubrics, the Cylons may still be loose. Keepin mind: they are still machines. Top: http://www.cyberspace5.net/agentrichard07/bsg-banners4.htmBottom:http://comicon.com/pulse/index.php/2010/03/02/final-five-cylons-make-their-first-joint-convention-appearance/
  • Students have a right to be assessed well and to go beyond the formula, and you, as an audience, have a right to fewer insider nerdy Battlestar jokes in the next talk. But, feel free to continue the conversation with me on Twitter or on my blog.Image from: http://www.neilhillman.com/374/demotivational-posters-geek-humour.html
  • And I’ll leave you just with this: Embrace better rubric practice. Avoid FRACK-ing up this world. Let humanity win. So say we all.Top image from: http://www.ugo.com/tv/battlestar-final-cylon
  • The Cylons Are Still Out There; Don’t Frack It Up

    1. 1. FRACK-INGImages from: http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/
    2. 2. Image from: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlestar_Galactica Image from: http://snake-obsidian.deviantart.com/art/Cylon-Occupied-Caprica-165242103/
    3. 3. F=FORMULAICR=REQUIREMENTSA=ANDC=CREATIVITYK=KILLERS
    4. 4. F=FORMULAICR=REQUIREMENTSA=ANDC=CREATIVITYK=KILLERS Image from: http://www.syfy.com/battlestar/photos/
    5. 5. …and any ”Jane Schaffer Approach”to teaching writing!
    6. 6. Image from: http://www.scifireaders.net/the-top-5-sfr-spaceships/
    7. 7. THE RIGHTS OFSTUDENT WRITERSStudent writershave the right to …1. be ASSSESSED WELL.2. go BEYOND THE FORMULA.
    8. 8. ASSESSED WELL“Rubrics mirror what wevalue, so it is importantthat we not leave outwhat we care about”p.101
    9. 9. GO BEYOND FORMULA“Counting is simple. Thinking ishard -- hard to achieve and,consequently, hard to assess.Formula lets us off the hook...„Let me do the hard thinking foryou -- and you just fill in theblanks.‟”p.121
    10. 10. “ACTION STATIONS!”
    11. 11. “THIS-THEN-THIS”REQUIREMENTS
    12. 12. GROW YOUR RUBRICS OVER THE YEAR 12 3
    13. 13. “DISCOVERY” RUBRICS
    14. 14. STUDENT-INITIATEDMARKUP
    15. 15. “CRAAP” TESTTO SNIFF OUT BAD SOURCESC = CurrencyR = RelevanceA = AuthorityA = AccuracyP = Purpose
    16. 16. COMMUNITY-CONSTRUCTEDRUBRICS
    17. 17. FRACK-ING RUBRICS HIDE IN MANY DISGUISES F=FORMULAIC R=REQUIREMENTSTop image from: http://www.cyberspace5.net/agentrichard07/bsg-banners4.htm A=AND C=CREATIVITY K=KILLERS Bottom image from: http://comicon.com/pulse/index.php/2010/03/02/final-five-cylons-make-their-first-joint-convention-appearance/
    18. 18. TWEET ME@BABSAJ BLOG ADAMBABCOCK.COM Top image from: http://www.neilhillman.com/374/demotivational-posters-geek-humour.html
    19. 19. EMBRACE BETTERRUBRIC PRACTICE.AVOID FRACK-ING UPTHIS WORLD.LET HUMANITY WIN. Image from: http://www.ugo.com/tv/battlestar-final-cylon

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