Ah, rubrics. The favored tool for assessment by teachers. Loved for their wonderful detail and their range of performance levels, rubrics are a great way to communicate expectations to students.
Just like other teachers, I love a good rubric. There’s just one problem … I’m really horrible at making them.
I’m so horrible, in fact, that I’ve stopped making them altogether.
Instead, the students create the rubrics. It is one of the best decisions I ever made as a teacher, allowing the students to take control over this piece of their learning. The rubrics they create are more detailed, yet easier to understand, than anything I would make for them. Obviously, I have final approval over anything they create, but for the most part, the end product is way better than I ever could have designed.
I often get a lot of questions about how exactly this works in the classroom. The process itself is pretty simple. I start by putting the standard for the assessment at the top of the page. Then I create a little table underneath that houses the levels and the skills that are being assessed. I make one rubric for each class period, so each class has the opportunity to make their own.
From there, it goes to each class period to analyze. Students work in small groups to propose suggestions to the whole group. We treat it as a working draft, modifying and changing things as we go. Once all class periods have created one, I merge them together to make one rubric for all classes (which also helps fill in the gaps that are bound to occur).
When the students first start creating their own rubrics, it takes a full class period. They debate, change, write, and erase things as they go. They ask each other for input on all kinds of things, like whether bullet points are better than sentences or if things like coloring or neatness should be included. I coach when needed, but for the most part, I am pretty hands off.
As they begin work on their projects, we revisit the rubric constantly, changing things as we need to. Individual students will even rewrite parts on their own (with approval by me) because they find ways to make it stronger for their own personal work.
As we move throughout the year, they use their prior rubrics as starting points to build the next ones. We analyze language patterns and specific skills, looking back on old rubrics for reference. Some classes will identify one or two people as expert rubric builders, and they will then propose the final to the whole group. Students get faster and faster at building them, normally getting down to about fifteen minutes per class period.
As mentioned before, the rubrics the students create are more clear and more detailed than anything I could ever create myself. Even better, since students have been owning the creation of rubrics, I’ve noticed an increase in their investment in them. No longer is it a tool simply handed out by the teacher. Their rubrics becomes their own personalized guide to assist them in their learning. And that’s pretty cool.