Not too long ago I wrote a post on rubrics. While at SXSWEdu 2018 last week in Austin, I got an opportunity to attend a session on MetaRubrics presented by a team from the MIT Teaching Systems Lab. This session allowed us to create a project, design a rubric, then evaluate the rubric we designed. It provided lots of discussion on the dynamics, the value of rubrics, and whether or not the rubrics really assess the learning goals. The materials and activities we used are all online and can be downloaded from the MIT Teaching Systems Lab website. It's pretty self-explanatory so check it out! This is a very valuable endeavor that should translate into crafting much better rubrics in the future. Below is a video that describes the procedure; check it out, go through the exercises, then begin to implement more dynamic, on-point rubrics!

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ePortfolios are essential elements of student learning today. They can reflect the depth and breadth of the learning and chronicle the struggles along the way. In our digital world with all of the tools now available, it is important to be able to showcase student work. It tells the student's story in a way nothing else can.

To begin to amass content for an ePortfolio, it is recommended that students create "Showcase" folders in Google Drive for each content area and/or for each grade level. Then as students move through the grade levels, work remains organized and easy to access. This is also a great way to view visible results of growth.

The new Google Sites is now so easy, even the youngest learners can begin to curate their learning especially since most work now is housed in Google Drive. Students can add various pages for each grade level and "nest" under those pages, additional pages for each content area. The new Google Sites makes it easy to showcase whole folders of content with one click. And...changing the view of that display to Grid View makes student work shine! Check out this video to learn how you can add whole folders of work at once and get your students creating ePortfolios today!

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I've been doing a lot of research recently on effective rubrics for grading student work. I was surprised to see so many different types of rubrics measuring different types of results. I love rubrics because they provide students with the details needed to perform/learn as expected. For example, we have processes we want students to learn such as The Four C's (Critical Thinking, Communication , Collaboration, and Creativity) and a rubric is perfect for when purposefully teaching these soft skills. The problem is...I don't see many rubrics for these types of student expectations. I mainly see more task-oriented rubrics.

After beginning the book Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Own Learning by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani, I experienced an 'ahha' moment: we've been designing work to engage students but have we been designing work to EMPOWER them? So you might ask, what does that have to do with rubrics? During our book talk, we were given a sample lesson designed for engagement and asked to redesign for empowerment. I actually selected something that was similar to a lesson I had implemented at one time. In my redesign, I realized the rubric for this project would look VERY different. In fact, I believe the rubric would only contain the standards I wanted my students to learn. Nothing else. How they arrived at an end product was up to them...I would grade ONLY the content and the fact that there was an end product that showed learning.

I recently viewed a four-page rubric that covered every nuance of teacher expectations. This teacher was disappointed that students were missing points...lots of points...for not completing all items listed on this rubric. This teacher developed this extensive rubric to ensure she was covered when grades didn't meet expectations. As we discussed designing for empowerment and experienced the redesign process, I began to realize that rubric was designed for the teacher, not for the student.

3 simple rules as you develop your rubrics:
1. Cover only what you want them to learn or perform
2. Keep it succinct (too many words produces the Charlie Brown Effect)
3. Ask yourself...WHO is this rubric working for?
    Rubric Resources:
    • Fast Facts: Getting Started With Rubrics
    • A Canvas LMS Tour of Rubrics (Create Rubrics directly in Canvas!)

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    Social media is everywhere and as it has developed in an ever-expanding digital world, people have jumped in without much thought to its impact. There is no denying it's here to stay so how can we navigate these waters and make social media work for us? How can we help our students make social media work for them?

    It's time to grow our students' social media skills. It's time to examine what is posted and it's time to have them ask certain questions before posting... questions such as:
    1. Is this post kind, positive?
    2. Is this post about content that should be protected?
    3. Is this post about something you could tell your parents/grandparents face to face?
    4. Is this post about something that has you mad or emotional; is it cryptic?
    5. Is this post bragging or boastful?
    Ask yourself these questions and if the answer is suspect, then don't post...plain and simple. Schooling our students about the "Disinhibition Effect" identifies it for what it is and that it should be avoided at all costs. Sometimes writing through problems is helpful...just don't post it. Social media is not the place to "air your dirty laundry"; it's time to send out goodwill and positivity...we could all use a little!

    But, it's also time to purposefully teach students how to post to social media so before students take it live, them find their voice...teach them to make social media work for them, not against them. I LOVE Google Slides and their versatility! I've created or modified some Google Slide templates that allow students to develop these skills in an academic setting. Learning how to communicate online is going to be a critical skill all students will need as this digital world grows. It's time...

    Here are some of my templates...feel free to make a copy and run with it!

    Fake Twitter template adapted from @TeachingTechNix. Click here to make a copy.

    Way to use this in the classroom: Create a collaborative Google slide deck and have students "tweet" each other. For older students, they can "retweet" by adding Twitter handles of other tweets in their responses and "linking" those Twitter handles back to their slides. 

    Fake Facebook template. Click here to make a copy.

    Way to use this in the classroom: This one has been around for a while. Have students create Facebook profiles and posts reflective of a particular person (or maybe a concept) associated with classroom content.

    Fake Snapchat template. Click here to make a copy.

    Way to use this in the classroom: Have students create short video clips talking about the content just learned. If your class has access to iPads or phones, a free app to use, appropriate for all ages, is Snow. If you only have access to laptops, apps like Photobooth have fun filters. This is an engaging way to get students having content conversations!

    Fake Blog template. Click here to make a copy.

    Way to use in the classroom: Have students create "blog posts" on each slide that are dated and have them push the most recent posts to the top. This is an excellent precursor to taking their voices online for a broader audience. I also love the ability for students to have access to all of the student "blogs" and to use the comment feature in Google slides to develop commenting skills.

    Fake Instagram template. Click here to make a copy.

    Way to use in the classroom: have students create Instagram posts with either photos or video about the content they are learning or about what they have learned. Again, doing this in a collaborative slide deck would allow students to comment on each other's posts.

    Let's change the face of social media and help to develop more responsible social media interactions. It's time...
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