Do the assignments you design for your students involve multiple steps? For example, do the projects, papers, presentations, etc., in your class expect students to incorporate several different parts into one holistic outcome? Then, when you are grading, or scoring as I prefer to call it, the assignments, are you dismayed that your students did not incorporate all of the parts or take responsibility for proofreading their assignments carefully? Plus, when you score submissions, are you challenged in allotting the number of points to account for each part of the outcome?
If you are nodding your head or saying yes to any or all of these questions, then I highly recommend that you start writing and using rubrics with your students.
Rubrics are graphic organizers that describe both the process and product for a particular assignment by (1) establishing expectations, (2) measuring outcomes, and (3) providing feedback.
When designing your assignments, start by completing a sample assignment. As you are completing your sample, record on a T-chart divided into thirds (shown below) (a) the expectations or steps required to complete the assignment to fulfill your vision; (b) the information, handouts, materials, resources, etc., that you as the teacher must provide your students in order for them to complete the assignment; and (c) the amount of time each expectation or step will necessitate (both in-class and out-of-class) to complete the assignment.
Here a sample T-Chart to help you establish expectations:
By recording these notes while you are completing your sample assignment, you will more clearly understand the specific sequence of events, items you need to prepare/provide/arrange for your students, and a realistic sense of time needed for successful completion both in class and out of class.
Always keep in mind that not all of your students have the same out-of-class environments and support systems for completing assignments.
Once you are fully aware of the expectations, you are ready to write your rubric using a model I have developed call the 3 x 3 x 3 Rubric.
3 x 3 x 3 Rubric
The 3 x 3 x 3 Rubric includes:
- Three outcomes: one outcome relates to knowledge, one outcome relates to skills, and one outcome relates to dispositions integrated into the assignment aligned with the T-chart.
- Three levels of outcomes: one level is the above mid-level expectations, one level is equal to mid-level expectations, and one level is below mid-level expectations.
- Three kinds of data associated with the outcomes: qualitative data corresponds to narrative outcomes; quantitative data corresponds to numerical outcomes; and a kind of data with a title that I have coined, connective data, which corresponds to the individual student showing personalization of the outcome through student choice and voice.
The 3 x 3 x 3 Rubric looks like this:
Notice that one line in the 3x3x3 Rubric is dedicated to the student’s completion of the rubric. This expectation prompts the student to take time to proofread their assignments before submission, to comment on their overall learning, and to score themselves honestly. With the identified criteria and the stipulated allocated points corresponding to the criteria, students will begin to understand the parts of an assignment contribution to the whole outcome.
Based on your sample assignment and your T-chart records, you should be clear on all parts of your assignment leading to the outcome to fulfill your vision. Now you are ready to prepare a detailed description of the knowledge your students are demonstrating with this assignment.
For example, if the assignment is to create a brochure and a map of an imaginary country to illustrate the physical and cultural geography of the country, you might summarize the expectation for Knowledge as: the student describes the geographic characteristics of a self-identified imaginary country on a tri-fold brochure that includes ten (10) physical features and ten (10) cultural features. The student should select physical and cultural geographic features from the lists developed in class, posted on the wall, and distributed to students prior to beginning this assignment.
Prepare a detailed description of the Skills, summarized such as: the student designs and illustrates a map of the self-identified imaginary country that includes a legend with the physical and cultural features described on the tri-fold brochure.
Finally, prepare a detailed description of the Dispositions, summarized such as: the student prepares a five (5) minute presentation to show the brochure and map to a small group of students and answer questions. The student should talk about the brochure and map for 2.5 minutes and answer questions for 2.5 minutes. Each student in the group will be responsible for asking two (2) geographic questions, prepared in a previous lesson.
Measurement of Outcomes
Once all of the outcomes have been identified, you’re ready to insert the descriptions into the left column of 3x3x3 Rubric and add the measurement of the outcomes, as shown here:
Effective teacher feedback must be provided in a timely manner, correspond directly with the criteria, and employ consistent approaches. Above all, your scores and feedback must be objective, fair, and defendable.
Your teacher feedback needs to:
- Personalize messages: use the student’s name and contextualize your feedback based on the student’s submission
- Reinforce achievements: make positive and productive statements about specific outcomes that the student has demonstrated in relationship to the assignment expectations and highlight accomplishments. For example, you might want to use the sentence starter, “I like the way you….”
- Offer motivation: build upon achievements to extend encouragement and advance the learning. For example, you might want to use the sentence start, “You included many interesting (expectations); next time try to include one or two more (expectations).”
- Report scores: insert the earned number of points and the earned total
After writing and using your rubric, take time to reflect upon the process and product to analyze the data. Study the scores on each of part of your students’ rubrics. Then consider your instructions related to each criteria and/or section.
- Was the assignment developmentally appropriate built on prior learning and experiences?
- Did the expectations align with the standards, activities, outcomes, and assessments?
- Was the instruction sequenced, prepared adequately, and clear?
- Could students complete the expectations with the provided information, handouts, materials, resources and within the anticipated time?
- Were students engaged in the learning and did they demonstrate their achievements?
- Did students enjoy the assignment?
After analyzing the data and reflecting on the questions, modify your practices so you are ready to use this instruction again in the future. Time spent now to modify your practices will benefit you greatly throughout your career.