Saturday, October 1, 2011

Collaboration, Critique, and Classroom Culture

Annotation by Melissa Han

Ruff, Juli. (2010). Collaboration, Critique, and Classroom Culture. Unboxed: A Journal of Adult Learning in Schools,4(1),49-57 .

Summary/Analysis

Juli Ruff discusses how she approaches critique to improve the quality of her students’ feedback, student work, and create a culture of collaboration. Students create their own criteria for quality work as they analyze exemplary models. They then would often go back to this criteria to self-assess their own work and their peers’. Ruff then goes on to state that critique “is part of the product, not just something we do to make a product.” (51) Critique needs to be the culture where students are convinced that they can be resources to one another and value mistakes as part of the learning process.

Ruff discovered that student models for exemplar critiques worked better than professional models. When students saw each other’s work, it made it possible for them to believe that they could create this kind of quality work. Originality was still maintained despite arguments that students may copy one another’s work. Ruff also placed three columns on the board and labeled each column with a specific quality that the students should focus on in the models as they critiqued it. This strategy helps the teacher guide the students toward what is important without merely telling them.

Ruff’s study and analysis of critique and collaboration among students gave me insight into how the process in creating a beautiful product enables students to be proud of their own work and take full ownership of it. What message do I send to my students when I am the only one looking at their writing and telling them what to fix? Is it a mere assignment just to get over with? I have at times been too focused on the product outcome that I end up controlling it. As a result, the product’s life takes an abrupt halt. But when my students are invited into each other’s work and enable one another to create quality work, the life of the product actually continues to breathe into other products that follow.

Relevant Quotes/Concepts

~”For collaboration to grow, students must be convinced of three things. First, they must believe that they are true living resources for each other. Second, collaboration must be ingrained in the classroom culture. Lastly, students must learn to see mistakes as natural.” (50-51)

~”Generating their own standards really helped students to internalize them.” (53)

~”…they begin to see learning as a process itself, transforming what they once saw as isolated activities into communal endeavors.” (54)

~”…the perfect product should be a reflection of the students’ thinking process, not just a fine product in itself.” (54)

1 comment:

jaimee said...

I loved that you used another student's research to build upon...I love your authentic questions, Melissa, followed by your honest assessment. I, too, wonder about the teacher as evaluator and think that exhibition is the key to widening the audience. How amazing to see your first graders exhibit work that they helped to create through critique. "What message do I send to my students when I am the only one looking at their writing and telling them what to fix? Is it a mere assignment just to get over with? I have at times been too focused on the product outcome that I end up controlling it. As a result, the product’s life takes an abrupt halt. But when my students are invited into each other’s work and enable one another to create quality work, the life of the product actually continues to breathe into other products that follow." I really understood the dilemma of "controlling" a product and how that can inhibit student voice, choice and purpose in a project...so I am constantly reminded to think of empowerment and ownership...when we control the product, it becomes "our" work and when they are given voice, choice and purpose, it is truly, authentically theirs...I'm still working on this too...we are in this together!

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