Call students together in the gathering area and tell them that they have done excellent work during the course of this unit. It is now their moment to shine. We have also been learning about different forms of poetry and we are going to combine our skills from English Language Arts and Science to show what we know about weathering.
I tell students that they can choose from poetry forms:
I tell them, that in order to get a grade of 'C', they must provide me with one verse. In order to earn a grade higher than a 'C', they must produce more than one poem stanza. Inevitably, students start to ask me how many stanzas will get them a 'B' and how many will get them an 'A'. I tell them that I cannot answer their question as it is not about quantity, it is about quality. Some students will be able to tell me enough in two stanzas of a couplet, some will need three of a quatrain. It depends on writing-style and ability. This can be very annoying to my perfectionists and rule-followers, but it is a good idea to keep the lid off the top of the rubric so that high-achievers are not limited by my conception of an 'A', but reach as far as they can to earn the 'A'.
I run a quick tutorial on poetry and open-book testing for students at this point. It helps stem the panic that some are feeling, who are used to taking a test to show their understanding.
A quatrain is a four-line poem, with a specific rhyming scheme. This rhyming scheme can be chosen by the poet. Some examples are: ABAB, AABB, AAAB, etc.
A couplet is a two-line poem, that rhymes. It also has the same meter throughout. Meter is the rhythm that the poem invokes when the reader reads it aloud. It should be consistent throughout.
Open-book testing occurs when students can access their notes in their interactive science notebook to answer the questions. In this case, students can use their notes to ensure the content of their poems is accurate and includes all necessary information to show their understanding of concepts taught within the unit.
I always note that, open-book testing should offer students the option of being more detailed in their answers as they have the information in front of them. Therefore, I will be expecting more detailed answers than if they have to memorize information.
We talk about the fact that scientists (in real life) do not have to put their notes away. They can use them to answer questions as they study something. I tell them that we will learn to tag our notebooks throughout the year for easy access to information.
I tell students that they cannot pick up their pencils for the first 5 minutes of work time. They need to look over their notes to familiarize themselves with the content again. Since they have their notebooks handy for this assignment, they need to use them. This is hard for some students to do as they think they remember the information and want to get started writing. Usually these are the students who mention, afterwards, that they were surprised to remember something from re-reading their notes.
Students then write a rough draft, self-edit, and write a final draft in their notebooks. I have them follow this process in their notebooks so that I can see the process they followed. I also want them to be able to self-edit and then be happy with their final product, which becomes their final assessment score.
I bring students back to the gathering area and I reiterate what my expectations were. I solicit feedback from students to see where they are in the process and then offer them about 10 more minutes to finish up.
The hardest part of the process is students want my feedback and I don't give it while they are writing their poems. I give the feedback when I use the rubric to assess their poem. I do give opportunities to redo the poem if I feel students have not understood the assignment or have missed too much information in their poems. I am more interested in mastery than in getting it right the first time.