Friday, November 6, 2009

Co-Create Rubrics with your students (Tony Vincent)

Co-create Rubrics for Projects

I've been in classrooms where students were working on projects and did not know what was expected to be in the final product. It's no wonder these students aren't as engaged in their work because they don't have well-defined standards for what they are creating. Sometimes the evaluation guidelines are a surprise to students--the first time they see a project's scoring guide is when the teacher hands back a rubric with their final grade. I'm not proposing that teachers spell out every little detail of a student's final product; room for variation and originality is a must. Good rubrics can spell out clear product standards while leaving flexibility for creativity and personalization.

I like to do two things before students begin working on a project. First, as a class we evaluate example final products. The Internet is full of examples and I can probably find products similar to the one I'm about to assign. I prefer to use examples from the web so that we can be critical of the product without knowing the person who created it. There are times when I used products from previous classes I taught, but it isn't very nice for the class to be very critical of someone-you-might-know's project. I've also been known to make my own example products. Sometimes I make exceptionally good examples. Other times I create examples that need improvement.


After examining products similar to what I'm assigning, it's time to create a rubric that contains clear standards. My students and I develop the rubric together. I open a template on my computer and throw it on a projector in front of the class. I have a pretty good idea of what the rubric should contain, and I add student suggestions. I especially use student input when deciding how much importance to give each standard. When students help design how they are going to be evaluated, they feel more ownership of the process. They also more clearly understand the the goals of the product since they were a part of creating them.

Once the rubric is finalized, I print it so each student has a copy. I ask students to get out their copies each time we have work time on the project to remind them of the standards we agreed upon. I've also found it useful for students to score their product and a buddy's product a few days before the final product is due. This way they can spot specific areas to improve before I do my final grading using the same rubric.

Here are some websites to help in rubric development: