Last time, I wrote about an innovation that I am using in my Introduction to Education class at Skyline High School in Oakland, California.  My students are doing a project in which they are writing and illustrating a children’s book.

Before we get into the actual writing of the book, my students and I are creating the grading rubric for the project together.  I read about student-involved grading rubrics in the book Ahead of the Curve, edited by Douglas Reeves.  I’m reading this book as a series of five books for my student-assessment book club made up of fellow teachers here at school.

At the end of our first day co-writing a grading rubric for their children’s books, we brainstormed and organized seven criteria by which we wanted our books to be judged.  These included:

  • Plot
  • Setting & Details
  • Lesson & Message
  • Age-Appropriate
  • Illustrations
  • Cover
  • Spelling & Grammar

On the second day, we broke into seven teams.  Each team chose one of the criteria and created a poster describing what a book would look like vis-à-vis this criterion if the book scored like this:

  • 4(A): Wow!  This is perfect!  We could seriously publish this!
  • 3(B):  Great!  We can’t expect more from a mere 10th grader.
  • 2(C): Meh.  It’s okay.
  • 1(D): Seriously?  You’re turning this in?  You’re putting your name on it?
  • 0(F): SMH (text-talk for Shaking My Head)

With these general guidelines, each team had to describe, specifically, what each score would look like in a finished book.  Here are some examples of what they came up with.

In this first poster, we see that “Grammar & Spelling” is pretty straightforward, but we can also see that this poster would not earn a perfect score for spelling!

A score of 4, or an A, looks perfect.  No spelling mistakes and great grammar.  On the first draft of this poster, the students wrote, “Some mistakes need corrections” for a score of 2 (C).  After getting some feedback from their fellow students, this team decided that they needed to be explicit about how many mistakes were permissible for a grade of C.  They decided on 4-5 mistakes for the entire book.

This team impressed me by drawing examples of what an A cover would look like as compared to a B or C.

You can see that a perfect cover has a title, the author’s and illustrator’s names, and the age of the intended reader.  Additionally, the cover is colorful and has some artwork that is relevant to the story.

In this third example, you can see that this group also chose to describe and show how a book’s illustrations would score.

Once all of the posters were completed, I took them home and typed them into a final draft that looked like this:


Click to Enlarge

In my next post, the rubber will hit the road.  Will my students do better on this assignment because they helped create the grading rubric?  Will they complain less about a poor score since they know ahead of time how each criterion will be assessed?  Keep checking back for the exciting conclusion of this assessment saga.



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