Did you challenge the idea of horror as a throw-away genre by executing an extensive research paper on the subject, launching a horror movie club at school, and arranging the most elaborate, best-received haunted house your neighborhood has ever seen? Your essay does not have to be focused around a fundamentally serious or groundbreaking issue see the horror genre example above. What matters most when responding to this prompt is that you have strong convictions about the belief or idea you are trying to convey, and that you examine the personal effects of this ethos on your life and world.
For this reason, Prompt 3 can be a great vehicle for showcasing your consideration, persuasive skills, and passions to admissions. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale.
Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. We love Prompt 4, which asks students to talk about a problem and how they have solved or are planning to solve it. Students should think about everything from more traditional obstacles they have had to overcome to the small predicaments that have inspired them to think about what they really value. Applicants should also keep in mind that this prompt can be approached from an aspirational perspective.
Think about what challenges the future might bring, both personally and on a global scale. How might you be part of meaningful progress and problem-solving moving forward?
Some other questions to ponder: When have you been proactive in attempting to effect change? What inspires you to take action? What kind of mark would you like to leave on the world? How do you think you can positively contribute to a cause that is important to you? If you had the power to make a lasting impact in any area at all, what would it be?
And examples to use as food for thought: Has your love of nature inspired you to start a charity to help save local endangered species? Did your desire to make a stronger, non-tearable hockey skate lace launch you on an entrepreneurial adventure you never fully anticipated? Has your commitment to pursuing medical research inspired you to contact your favorite professors and researchers for summer lab positions, and to read every scientific paper you can get your hands on?
It is important that the problem you choose is linked to your life and world in a meaningful way. The whole purpose of this exercise is to reveal something valuable about yourself to admissions, so be sure to link the problem you highlight to your passions, actions, or aspirations. Thank you very much. There are a few things to note when unpacking this prompt. A formal event or accomplishment might include anything from obvious landmarks like birthdays or weddings to achievements like earning an award or receiving a promotion.
More informal examples might include something as simple as meeting a special person in your life, taking a car ride, or eating a particularly meaningful meal. We have often found that smaller, less formal events make for more surprising and memorable essays; but as with any of the other prompts, as long as you can answer with originality and put a unique twist on your subject matter, all ideas are fair game.
Some other things to consider: How do you react to periods of transition? What inspires a change in your perspective? What were the moments in life that fundamentally changed you as a person? When did you learn something that made you feel more adult, more capable, more grown up? For example: Did your expansion of a handmade stationery hobby into a full-fledged business give you the motivation and wherewithal to combat the effects of a debilitating illness?
Have you learned to love the football team playback sessions that force you to routinely examine your mistakes, welcome constructive criticism and point yourself toward self-improvement?
Did a summer-long role as the U. President in a mock government and diplomacy exercise bring out leadership skills you never knew you had? How did this change the way you interact and connect with others?
The most important things to keep in mind when searching for these moments are the elements of growth, understanding, and transformation. The event, accomplishment, or realization you discuss should be something that helped you understand the world around you through a different, more mature lens.
And, as with Prompt 4, be sure to answer all parts of the question. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? One could argue that college is largely about the pursuit of knowledge, so you can imagine it would be quite appealing for an admissions officer to have a meter for your level of self-motivated learning, along with a better understanding of how and why you choose to pay attention to the things that intrigue you.
This is a window into your brain: how you process information, how you seek out new sources of content and inspiration. How resourceful are you when your curiosity is piqued to the fullest? The answer to this prompt should also reveal something to admissions about the breadth or depth of your interests. How consumed are you by this passion you are choosing to pursue academically?
Some key questions to consider: What floats your boat? Do you have an appetite for knowledge about something specific? Or, as we asked in the breakdown for Prompt 1: what do you love, and why do you love it? What lengths have you gone to in order to acquire new information about or experiences related to a topic of interest?
Instructional rubrics can guide students by identifying strengths and weaknesses in a text and providing pointers for improvement. By identifying problems and their possible solutions, rubrics provide important information for students to use in revision. Editing is polishing the finished product—correcting spelling, changing punctuation, and resolving grammar issues Saddler, Rubrics can guide this process by prompting students to sift through their work to detect all varieties of problems or errors, not just the kinds students typically notice.
When pressed, weak writers will scan their papers with an eye for neatness or periods at the ends of sentences but will notice little else. At this point in the process, the teacher can ask Katie to use the Conventions criterion of her rubric like a checklist: Correct capitals? And so on. Instructional Rubrics and Feedback The quantity and quality of feedback that a writer receives throughout the writing process can contribute to a well-crafted piece of writing.
Recognizing this, many teachers attempt to provide feedback through conferences. Teachers cannot provide all the feedback that students need, however; sheer numbers prevail against their best intentions. Help is at hand, though. Teachers can develop reflective critics within their classrooms by teaching students how to use rubrics to assess their own and their classmates' writing. Student assessment has the additional advantage of promoting self-regulation because it gives students some of the responsibility for judging written work instead of placing that responsibility solely on the teacher.
Teachers may avoid using self-assessment and peer assessment because of three misconceptions: 1 Self-assessment is pointless because students will just give themselves As; 2 Peer assessment is pointless because students will just stroke their friends and bash their enemies; and 3 Both self-assessment and peer assessment are pointless because students won't revise anyway.
Sort of. If the teacher asks students to grade themselves, students may indeed give themselves and their friends As. Self-Assessment Perhaps one of the biggest differences between Maren and Katie as writers is the amount of informal self-assessment they conduct while writing. Self-regulated Maren frequently stops to reflect on the quality of her writing; Katie never does.
Smith can help Katie learn to monitor and regulate her writing by teaching her how to use the rubric to formally assess her own writing. Teachers can structure the self-assessment process in many ways. Because general rubrics focus students on the knowledge and skills they are learning rather than the particular task they are completing, they offer the best method I know for preventing the problem of "empty rubrics" that will be described in Chapter 2.
Good general rubrics will, by definition, not be task directions in disguise, or counts of surface features, or evaluative rating scales. Because general rubrics focus students on the knowledge and skills they are supposed to be acquiring, they can and should be used with any task that belongs to the whole domain of learning for those learning outcomes.
Of course, you never have an opportunity to give students all of the potential tasks in a domain—you can't ask them to write every possible essay about characterization, solve every possible problem involving slope, design experiments involving every possible chemical solvent, or describe every political takeover that was the result of a power vacuum.
These sets of tasks all indicate important knowledge and skills, however, and they develop over time and with practice. Essay writing, problem solving, experimental design, and the analysis of political systems are each important skills in their respective disciplines.
If the rubrics are the same each time a student does the same kind of work, the student will learn general qualities of good essay writing, problem solving, and so on. If the rubrics are different each time the student does the same kind of work, the student will not have an opportunity to see past the specific essay or problem.
The general approach encourages students to think about building up general knowledge and skills rather than thinking about school learning in terms of getting individual assignments done. Why use task-specific rubrics? Task-specific rubrics function as "scoring directions" for the person who is grading the work.
Because they detail the elements to look for in a student's answer to a particular task, scoring students' responses with task-specific rubrics is lower-inference work than scoring students' responses with general rubrics. For this reason, it is faster to train raters to reach acceptable levels of scoring reliability using task-specific rubrics for large-scale assessment.
Similarly, it is easier for teachers to apply task-specific rubrics consistently with a minimum of practice. General rubrics take longer to learn to apply well. However, the reliability advantage is temporary one can learn to apply general rubrics well , and it comes with a big downside. Obviously, task-specific rubrics are useful only for scoring.
If students can't see the rubrics ahead of time, you can't share them with students, and therefore task-specific rubrics are not useful for formative assessment. That in itself is one good reason not to use them except for special purposes. Task-specific rubrics do not take advantage of the most powerful aspects of rubrics—their usefulness in helping students to conceptualize their learning targets and to monitor their own progress.
Why are rubrics important? Rubrics are important because they clarify for students the qualities their work should have. This point is often expressed in terms of students understanding the learning target and criteria for success. For this reason, rubrics help teachers teach, they help coordinate instruction and assessment, and they help students learn.
Rubrics help teachers teach To write or select rubrics, teachers need to focus on the criteria by which learning will be assessed. This focus on what you intend students to learn rather than what you intend to teach actually helps improve instruction.
The common approach of "teaching things," as in "I taught the American Revolution" or "I taught factoring quadratic equations," is clear on content but not so clear on outcomes. Without clarity on outcomes, it's hard to know how much of various aspects of the content to teach. Rubrics help with clarity of both content and outcomes.
Really good rubrics help teachers avoid confusing the task or activity with the learning goal, and therefore confusing completion of the task with learning. Rubrics help keep teachers focused on criteria, not tasks. I have already discussed this point in the section about selecting criteria.
Focusing rubrics on learning and not on tasks is the most important concept in this book. I will return to it over and over. It seems to be a difficult concept—or probably a more accurate statement is that focusing on tasks is so easy and so seductive that it becomes the path many busy teachers take. Penny-wise and pound-foolish, such an approach saves time in the short run by sacrificing learning in the long run. Rubrics help coordinate instruction and assessment Most rubrics should be designed for repeated use, over time, on several tasks.
Students are given a rubric at the beginning of a unit of instruction or an episode of work. They tackle the work, receive feedback, practice, revise or do another task, continue to practice, and ultimately receive a grade—all using the same rubric as their description of the criteria and the quality levels that will demonstrate learning.
This path to learning is much more cohesive than a string of assignments with related but different criteria. Rubrics help students learn The criteria and performance-level descriptions in rubrics help students understand what the desired performance is and what it looks like. Effective rubrics show students how they will know to what extent their performance passes muster on each criterion of importance, and if used formatively can also show students what their next steps should be to enhance the quality of their performance.
This claim is backed by research at all grade levels and in different disciplines. Several studies of student-generated criteria demonstrate that students can participate in defining and describing the qualities their work should have.
At the beginning of the year, most of the criteria were about process for example, the group members getting along with each other. In December, students were able to view examples of projects, and with continued brainstorming and discussion they began to see the importance of substantive criteria for example, the information contained in the project.
By the end of the year, about half the criteria students chose were about process and half were about product. This study shows us that students need to learn how to focus on learning—and, more important, that they can begin to do this as early as 1st grade. Andrade, Du, and Wang investigated the effects of having 3rd and 4th graders read a model written assignment, generate their own list of criteria, and use rubrics to self-assess the quality of the written stories and essays they then produced.Focus the teacher on developing students' learning of skills instead of task completion. If students can't see the rubrics ahead of time, you can't share them with students, and therefore task-specific rubrics are not useful for formative assessment. All rights reserved. The answer to this prompt should also reveal something to admissions about the breadth or depth of your improve instruction. Holistic All criteria dimensions, traits are evaluated simultaneously. Gives diagnostic information to teacher. A few sympathized with me and befriended me.
Did getting an internship at an accounting firm inspire you to start each day by checking the markets? This wide range of questions, meant to inspire candidates in their search for compelling personal stories, is ideal for exploring essay topics of all tones, styles, and subjects. Rubrics help with clarity of both content and outcomes.
It seems to be a difficult concept—or probably a more accurate statement is that focusing on tasks is so easy and so seductive that it becomes the path many busy teachers take. Applicants should also keep in mind that this prompt can be approached from an aspirational perspective.
There are a few things to note when unpacking this prompt. General rubrics have several advantages over task-specific rubrics. With state-mandated accountability tests and college entrance examinations placing a growing emphasis on writing, teachers face the challenge of ensuring that all their students become proficient writers—even in classrooms that serve students of widely diverse abilities. General rubrics Can be shared with students at the beginning of an assignment, to help them plan and monitor their own work. And that you floss at least every other day—trust us, it will pay off in the long run.
Remember, admissions wants a glimpse of your personality, your values, your interests and your passions. Penny-wise and pound-foolish, such an approach saves time in the short run by sacrificing learning in the long run.
What qualifies as a challenge or setback in your life and world?
Focusing rubrics on learning and not on tasks is the most important concept in this book. How consumed are you by this passion you are choosing to pursue academically? Or, as we asked in the breakdown for Prompt 1: what do you love, and why do you love it?
This is a process we call the Backwards Brainstorm, and you can learn more about it here. Task-specific rubrics contain the answers to a problem, or explain the reasoning students are supposed to use, or list facts and concepts students are supposed to mention. Focusing on the criteria one at a time is good for any summative assessment grading that will also be used to make decisions about the future—for example, decisions about how to follow up on a unit or decisions about how to teach something next year. Similarly, it is easier for teachers to apply task-specific rubrics consistently with a minimum of practice.
Trying to tailor your essay to a more specific prompt option may inspire an interesting spin on the story you are trying to tell—one you may not have thought of otherwise. We have often found that smaller, less formal events make for more surprising and memorable essays; but as with any of the other prompts, as long as you can answer with originality and put a unique twist on your subject matter, all ideas are fair game. The main point about criteria is that they should be about learning outcomes, not aspects of the task itself. Can be shared with students at the beginning of an assignment.
Have you learned to love the football team playback sessions that force you to routinely examine your mistakes, welcome constructive criticism and point yourself toward self-improvement? Teachers sometimes say using these makes scoring "easier. All rights reserved. Before you dive or cannonball! Reprinted with permission.