Sunday, June 21, 2009
Alan Weintraut is money
The 2006 Dow Jones teacher of the year, Alan Weintraut (seen right), from Annandale High School in Virginia took over last Friday. We ended the day getting our feet wet in InDesign, creating basic layout and taking strides against the program's intimidating front. While this session was fascinating on its own, the real education was the earlier session in which Weintraut lectured on grading and assessment.
Beyond stepping into a field I have no prior experience in, beyond the nuts and bolts of advising a student-run publication, I worried about grading my journalism students. I knew rubrics would be involved, and let's face it, as teachers we know who deserves good grades and who doesn't. But how do we consistently measure the work of our students? What is the best way to measure, not only the final product, but the process?
It's important that students know up front what they need to do to excel. And it's the teachers job to consistent in communicating expectations. Because Weintraut shared his success in the classroom, I feel one step closer to my own success. What impressed me most is the responsibility he gives his editors. They have a real job to do, and above the publication, his students walk away with experience in communicating expectations, leadership and motivation. Self-reflection and conferencing (immediate feedback) also plays a major role in assessment.
Weintraut is also liberal with the sharing of resources, and in my experience, sharing and teamwork among teachers only serves to benefit students. If something works, no matter what our students look like, no matter what part of the country we come from, we can apply it and make it work.
Northwestern High School