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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