Great Example of Writing as an Assessment Tool

How can you tell if your students, and in my case, teachers, understood not only the content you asked them to study and apply, but also your assessment itself?  Our job is really simple when we get responses like the one below.  We asked our new teachers to blog about their use of cooperative learning in the classroom in response to last month’s session on that topic.  But we asked them to do it using the RAFT method where we gave them choices as to their Role, Audience, Format and Topic.  The choices ranged from the traditional to the non traditional, as you will see here.  Without further adieu:

Blackboard Rafting

Cooperative Learning R.A.F.T. – The blackboard speaks

Dear Resistant Teacher,

I know I’m kind of breaking the rules a bit here.

Most of the time you guys write to me. Or to be more accurate, you actually write ON me.

But I just wanted to shoot you a quick letter, and let you know what’s been going on in that idiot Jones’ class lately.

Some of this stuff has to be seen to be believed.

I know that you don’t really like Coop Learning, so I just thought I’d pass on this story to encourage you to keep a closed mind about it and keep all that mumbo jumbo out of your classroom. Believe me, it’s a complete waste of time.

You’re my last best hope. I know you’ve got the hard-headed sense to resist. Not like that damn hippie-wanna-be Mr. Jones. He actually buys into all that crap that Higgins and Sutherland keep pushing on him. What a loser!

So check this out.

Last week Jones is giving a test, right. Normal everyday kind of stuff.

But instead of cracking the whip and getting the kids to sit down, shut up, and work on their own – he’s got this whole touchy feely Cooperative Learning thing going on.

He has the kids playing some kind of review game. There all broken up into groups and coming up with questions to try to stump each other.

Of course, these little brats get all excited and start raising the volume. “Oh, I’ve got a great question!” and “Oooh, they’ll never get this one!”  It’s like a 3-ring circus in here. Everyone talking over eachother, raising their voices, learning on their own! What the hell?

First of all, isn’t it the teacher’s job to come up with questions? And aren’t the students supposed to keep their voices down in a classroom? I mean – really!

What is Jones thinking? That slacker’s working the room, stirring the kids up, letting THEM do all the work, while he sits back and does nothing. And they actually pay him for this.

And here’s the best part of the whole thing: Not a word is written on ME. Not a word!

I mean, hey, I don’t want to sound like a prima donna or something, but everybody knows I’M the star of the show, here. Am I wrong? Did I miss something?

The information is supposed to get written on ME! All eyes are supposed to be on ME, waiting for what I have to offer. But no. Not in Jones’ class. Kids are coming up with their own questions, writing on their own sheets of paper, challenging each other – with Jones sitting off to the side like some high school drop out in need of some direction.

Sure, the kids are excited and engaged – but that’s not what school is supposed to be about. Has everyone forgotten what school is for?

Teachers teach and kids shut up, listen, and take notes. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

And the Blackboard should be filled with notes, not sitting up here empty and out of the loop.

Kids these days! They’ve got no respect. And teachers are the worst of all. Because they should know better.

Anyway, I’m glad to know that you’re not going in for all this crap. It’s good to see that some of you guys still know how to treat a black board.

Times are tougher than ever. The pressure is on from every angle – especially those young rebels Higgins and Sutherland. But I’m here to tell you…don’t give in. Stay strong, man. You’re our last hope.

Yours truly,

Mr. B. Board


4 thoughts on “Great Example of Writing as an Assessment Tool

  1. Watch this guy, he’ll be (or is) someone to turn to. I’d like to see the reaction from his fellow teachers. Do you conceal this new teacher blogs at all, or are they compeltely upen to the public? Do you see other educators outside of the “new teacher” realm from your district chiming in?

  2. Karen,

    Thanks for the vote of confidence.


    You can find all of their blogs at It is a public site, but we haven’t really pushed veteran teachers or even mentors to view and comment on the blogs just yet. This was our first year using the blogs as a means to help them reflect. Next year we are looking at doing something similar to what you suggest using this group of teachers as the readers of the next cohort’s blogs.

    The teacher that wrote this is a keeper. He’s actually a veteran teacher who just started fresh in a new district but he’s fantastic and we are really lucky to have him, especially since he is in this program with brand-spanking new teachers. I hope he rubs off on them.

  3. I’m not a teacher but this sure tickled the heck out of me! Sadly, it occurs to me that I hear a hint of my own sometimes-resistant tone in Mr. B. Board’s rant… Gotta work on that.

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