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Power Users' Guide

Instead of using a rubric, Paul Allison, a high school teacher from the New York City Writing Project and one of the founding teachers of the Youth Voices social network, uses this performance-based checklist as one of his assessment tools for students. It illustrates how a teacher can move from the broad learning outcomes statements of the NCTE "21st Century Curriculum and Assessment Framework" to more focused performance outcomes. As the title implies, it is meant to be used as a guide for students as they participate in discussions on Youth Voices blogs, as well as a means of assessment.

The specific assignments included in the grid show the integration of technology skills (e.g. using a Delicious site and Google.docs, participating in an online discussion, inserting a Creative Commons image in a discussion post) with more traditional writing skills as repurposed for an online discussion genre (e.g. draft, revise, and copy-edit; summarize; use quotations from a book and an online discussion to develop a point).

The "Power Users' Guide" is just one of the self-assessments that Allison incorporates into his teaching. Other reflection guides linked to participation on Youth Voices are available on the Youth Voices site under the heading "How Am I Doing?" The "Basic Reflections Questions" encourage students to reflect on what makes a good post, their own posting behavior, and differences between writing on paper and blogging—basic questions for all of us.