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Relinquishing Control With Student-Created Rubrics

I absolutely love talking to my friend/mentor, Cinda.

She has been such a blessing to me these last two and a half years.  She always stops what she’s doing to listen to my various ramblings.

She’s great about asking thought-provoking questions that ALWAYS leave me with something to chew on.

Such was the case on Monday when I ran by her office at school.

Now, let me first say that my lesson plans for this week have been finished since the middle of last week.

I was all set to go…

Until she asked me one question…

“Have you thought about the students creating their own rubrics for the assignment?”

Why no, I hadn’t.

My district requires teachers to complete a Self Assessment as part of the yearly IPDP (Individual Professional Development Plan) process.

We are supposed to honestly evaluate ourselves with regard to various things we do in our classrooms.

It’s a humbling experience but very revealing.

One of my goals for this year has been to work my way toward having students create their own assessments.  One step toward this goal is to have them create their own rubrics.

A rubric is what we teachers use (or should use) to grade certain types of assignments.  Any time I give a writing assessment or other project-based task, I provide a rubric ahead of time.

It lists each criterion and the requirements for mastery.

In a nutshell, students can grade themselves ahead of time because they understand the expectations.  There are no surprises, unlike when I was growing up and these things didn’t exist (or nobody used them).

During my first year of teaching, I allowed students to create their own rubrics for one assignment.  It was an interesting experience, but one I have not repeated since then.

Enter in Cinda’s question…

Which got me thinking…

Which I do best in the shower.

I emerged refreshed and ready.

Despite the stress I’m feeling about getting everything taught before FCAT, I decided to stretch my current unit out a bit, temporarily take a break from what we are doing, and use two days (or so…I haven’t fully planned it out yet) to help my students become more metacognitive (thinking about the thinking process).

You’ll see that the standard is the one we’re currently working to master…text structures.  I will have students reflect on the Essential Question when we finish.

The first task will be to analyze components of a couple of rubrics.  These are rubrics that I have used to grade various assignments, so they are familiar with them already.

If I were to be honest, which I always am here on this blog, I’d have to admit that most students barely look at the rubrics despite my going over them in class.  I know that a lot of my words go in one ear and out the other.

By analyzing the rubrics, they have to create their own understanding.

Students will do a lot of brainstorming with those sitting at their tables.  Assigning roles is imperative to student engagement and accountability.  It also prevents students from shirking their responsibilities and hiding.

Next, students will analyze the assignment the rubric will be used to grade (detailed in the shot below) as well as the steps required to complete the assignment.  My thinking is that breaking the task into its various parts will help them create the rubric.

That’s what I have planned for Friday.

I’m not sure how Monday will play out.  I haven’t quite planned out that far yet (as of this writing…which is being done ahead of time).

What I envision is having my students organize the tasks required for the assignment into criteria for the rubric.  I’ll present them with the following example to learn how to weigh each task based on importance.

Each table will then create a rubric for the paragraph they’ll be writing.  Before they write the paragraph, we’ll do a Carousel Feedback activity where I post their rubrics and have them cycle around the room, providing feedback on a form I’ll create.  They’ll share their thoughts, and we will come to an agreement on ONE rubric (made up of different tables’ criteria, if need-be).

I’ll produce that rubric for each respective class.

The final step will be to have students grade their peers’ paragraphs, using the rubrics they created.

I’m kicking myself for not doing this earlier in the year, but I was overwhelmed with the classes I was taking.  Based on how things go and my own reflections, I’ll probably plan this activity for October or November of next school year…after I’ve had a chance to grade them using rubrics I’ve created.

Ultimately, I want this rubric-creation activity to lead into students designing their own assessments.

It’s a scary thing to relinquish control in my room, but it places students in the center of their own learning, which is the main point of Common Core.

One Response

  1. My students rarely used the rubric and then complained because they missed points or failed the assignment. When they wrote a rubric it started to sink in that they were in control of the grades they received. Some still didn’t care and still did their own thing.

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