This is the final installment about a children’s book project in my Introduction to Education class.

First, a Little Review About the Class

Skyline High School is organized into small learning communities.  In the ninth grade, all students are in one of three houses. In their house, they share the same science, history, and English teachers.  These teachers have a collaboration period together to talk about students and their work.

At the end of the freshman year, students choose to enter one of our college and career academies.  We have seven to offer.  My class is the tenth-grade elective for students entering the Education Academy.  In eleventh grade, these students will take Educational Psychology and then Peer Tutoring their senior year.

My class is about allowing students to get their feet wet, so to speak.  They get to look at education as a career and to see many of the behind-the-scenes work that teachers  do.  The class centers on several field trips where my students teach in some of our local elementary schools.

General Thoughts on the Rubrics

When I read the chapter in Ahead of the Curve about student-created or student-involved rubrics, I was impressed.  I was convinced by the research that showed when students had a hand in creating the grading tool their investment in the project would be higher.  I also was convinced that my students would do a good job creating the rubrics.

Perhaps most importantly, in a class like Introduction to Education, creating the rubrics is an authentic project over and above the project that the rubric is intended to grade.  Let me say that again.  In a history or science class, the experiment or research paper is the authentic assignment.  Creating the rubric is merely an added piece to help students understand, before they begin, what an excellent paper or lab write-up will look like.

In my class, the rubric is just as much an authentic experience as the project it is intended to grade.  Creating a rubric, determining how a project should be assessed, and deciding on the criteria that will define the achievement of a learning objective are crucial responsibilities of a teacher.  It’s one of the foundational legs to unit and lesson planning.

Overall, I was thrilled with the quality of the rubrics.  I thought that my students were serious and diligent in analyzing the published children’s books we used as exemplars.  I thought our rubric was ambitious and fair.

Specific Positive Elements to Student-Created Rubrics

My students’ projects were easy to grade.  Instead of having to write extensive comments on each project, I chose the description for each criterion on the rubric that I thought best matched the student’s work.  Then I only needed to add additional comments about what was uniquely wonderful about each book and comments that offered unique advice about what the student might want to change on a next draft.

Students did not complain about their grades.  I never heard once, “Why did you give me a…?”  My students understood exactly why they earned the marks they earned.

Specific Changes I will Make Next Time

I will build specific time in the project for students to analyze their work in progress and identify next steps, using the rubric. I also will build in specific project days for students to analyze a friend’s project using the rubric, and identify the next steps.

Have any of you involved students in creating a grading rubric for an assignment or project? If so, what did you learn?

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