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Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Recipe Way of Teaching

I came to it by way of my scientific parents, the idea to set up criteria for grading, and so providing criteria to students comes naturally to me.  I didn't read about it in any teaching theory. I thought it up on my own.

Two problems present themselves with this system. (1) You can't possibly list all criteria.  You have to tell them you are not listing things they were supposed to learn in high school, and (2) You have to let them know that just doing the things on the criteria list is not enough. There are levels of performance.

It's a recipe way of teaching, but at least they have some idea what you want and you can focus on teaching certain skills with each writing assignment in creative writing, or whatever writing class you are teaching.

Yes, you do sometimes get a good piece of work that doesn't meet any or all of the criteria.  What do you you then?  Me, I tend to forget about the criteria, and give the paper the grade it deserves.  I never had a student complain that I gave too high a grade for not meeting the criteria.

Criteria sheets. You get better work, I think, and you don't dread grading so much. Some may argue that it does not belong in "creative writing," but I've found that those students don't really know what creative writing is.  They think of it as "free writing" and have no idea that creative writing is what leads to movies, novels, plays, etc.

I'm lucky to end up with one of those students remain in my class, if I begin the first day by defining what creative writing is. I have had one pretty good writer who resented criteria and made a big point of it in class. He was voted down by all the rest of the class, who like criteria.  I was able to work with him individually in my office.

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