I asked my students to enter a blog post reflecting on a game unit with a corresponding Family Game Night that we had just concluded. I often create rubrics, detailed assignment sheets, etc., but I simply requested to students reflect how they wished and to do their best.
I then got the obligatory, “How long does the blog post have to be to get an “A”? I responded by stating that my expectation was that they should do their best work. The student persisted with more inquiries on what he needed to do to “get an A.” Finally, I simply confessed that I wasn’t planning to grade the blog post at all. Instead, I was in the process of finding other classes to exchange blogs with, and that other students from around the state and possibly around the country might be reading their work.
WOW! What a response. They immediately buckled down and were all extremely engaged in the writing process.
I had no grading rubric or sheet; but when I began reading through the posts, I was VERY pleased with the end results.
I do believe we need to explicitly communicate our academic expectations to students. I also know my District is hard at work implementing a system of communicating levels of student success via standards-based report cards. These are all well and good, but nothing seems to trump an authentic audience for motivating students to do well and seek out ways to improve their craft.