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EssayTagger is a web-based tool to help teachers grade essays faster.
But it is not an auto-grader.

This blog will cover EssayTagger's latest feature updates as well as musings on
education, policy, innovation, and preserving teachers' sanity.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Discussing: "The Death of Math" by Gary Rubenstein

Rubenstein bemoans testing culture's effect on Math education and suggests a better way forward. I feel his pain but think he's only half-right.

Gary Rubenstein in his "The Death of math" blog post is spot-on about the short-sighted nature of de-prioritizing away from vital skills like geometric proofs as a result of standardized testing pressures. Proofs are geometry and are by far the most valuable aspect of it. And it ain't about the math, it's about the way of thinking that geometry proofs cultivate (yes, I'm an English teacher that has come to love "ain't"--deal with it!).

But Rubenstein is a bit behind the times in the Khan Academy era. Sal Khan, my former boss and co-worker (a fact that I will brag about until the end of eternity), has worked out a better solution to a lot of the issues that Rubenstein tries to solve.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

K-5 Common Core standards in-progress!

EssayTagger's free Common Core Rubric Creation Tool has been very well received by teachers. But I initially only adapted the 6-12 standards. I'm finally gearing up for K-5!

Our free Common Core Rubric Creation Tool is quite popular. It's been used to create over 7,500 Common Core-aligned rubrics in just its first year! And easily half of our customer support emails are from people who want us to incorporate the K-5 standards.

Well, I hear you and I am working on it!! Check out the work-in-progress.

Want to help? 
I'd love some collaborators! This is difficult! Use the support widget on the website, respond in the comments below, or find me on Twitter (@KeithMukai) if you want to contribute!

Some background
For those of you that don't know, the innovative aspect of the tool is that it breaks down each standard into its assessable sub-components:

This solves the problem that teachers face when they look at the standards; the dang things are just too vague, cover too much ground, or just aren't assessable.

It was also a crap-ton of work for me! Those assessable sub-components aren't part of the official CCSS specification; I had to stare at each standard and find a concise way to translate the standard into its assessable sub-components. That's not easy. And I'm not necessarily going to get everything right.

So I also made the tool flexible so that if you don't like my terminology or the way I've done it, you can edit the labels or even add totally new subcomponents as you see fit.

You then end up with a rubric grid that you can further customize, add additional CCSS-aligned rubric elements, add non-CCSS-aligned rubric elements (e.g. "Class Citizenship" or anything else not captured by the CCSS). You can also add performance descriptors (the traditional rubric text we're used to seeing) in each grid cell. You can share your rubric online (post a link, Twitter, email, etc), print it, or download it as an Excel CSV file.

And, of course, since this tool is part of EssayTagger, you can apply your rubric to an EssayTagger assignment and produce Common Core-aligned results data as you grade!

The Common Core Rubric Creation Tool is free for anyone to try and there's no registration or sign in required.

That being said, I certainly would not be disappointed if you decided to go deeper into the EssayTagger world and create a free trial account in order to see what life is like when you grade essays in our system. And as I always have to point out: EssayTagger is NOT an auto-grader. You make all the evaluations, you provide all the feedback. We just make it easier and more efficient for you to do so!