Monday, September 22, 2014

Creating rubrics with students

In 2012, representatives from the International Baccalaureate evaluated our Primary Years Program. Among the 52 recommendations that came from that report was the following:

"The school provides further opportunities for students to participate in the assessment of their work, help develop assessment tools, and reflect on the assessment of their work. The school continues to support students in documenting peer/self-assessment activities to enable them to reflect on these over a period of time."

When our school’s staff had a chance to reflect on the recommendations contained in the report, one staff member commented: “I know we can create a rubric with the students, but I struggle with the ‘how’.”

Assessment in the classroom will include, among other things, developing clear rubrics, (Making the PYP Happenp. 45). In that document, a rubric is defined as, "an established set of criteria for rating students in all areas. The descriptors tell the assessor what characteristics or signs to look for in students' work and then how to rate that work on a predetermined scale. Rubrics can be developed by students as well as by teachers," (p. 49). 

Developing a rubric with students is important because they deserve to know the criteria on which their behavior, creations, performance, and thinking will be judged. When students have a hand in creating rubrics together with their teacher, they have a better understanding of what is expected of them and they also feel included.

One third grade teacher recently created a rubric with her students, outlining the expectations that they have for each other during "work time".

To begin, the teacher asked students to give her examples of "work time" that they had already experienced in third grade. Responses given included:
  • Morning work
  • Personal histories (unit of inquiry)
  • Grit reading (independent work time)
  • Portfolios
Next, the teacher set the purpose and explained what a rubric was with the following slides: 

To help guide their rubric creation, the teacher gave the students the criteria (focus & commitment, independent work/reading, small/guided reading group) and the predetermined scale (zones 1, 3, & 5). 

To create the descriptors for each zone, the teacher first asked students to identify exemplar behaviors for each category (Zone 5). Students were instructed to turn and talk with a neighbor to discuss ideas before sharing with the whole class.

Once students had collectively identified the behaviors that were favorable, students worked together to fill in descriptors for Zone 1, the behaviors to avoid. Again, students were invited to talk with a neighbor before a whole-class discussion ensued.

Finally students collaboratively thought about the kinds of behavior that one would exhibit to be in Zone 3.

Next, the teacher showed pictures of the students that she had previously taken during work time and asked the kids to place the students in the pictures in a particular zone, according to the criteria that they had just discussed. This practice allowed the teacher to formatively assess the students' understanding of the descriptors they had just created and would eventually be judged against.

Rubrics are important assessment tools and involving students in the creation of rubrics helps them better understand what is expected of them. After reading about how one third grade teacher created a rubric with her students, how could you or have you created a rubric with your students in your classroom?

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