Ever looked at student work and thought it all looked the same? At some point last year, I remember flipping through something the students had worked on and thinking, “Man, that’s interesting. These are all the same thing”. I immediately went back and looked at the rubric. Of course it all looked the same, the rubric that the students and I had designed (we make all our rubrics together – check out this previous blog post on how!) was one big massive checklist. Students diligently worked their way through it, checking off each box in turn … cranking out 88 nearly identical pieces of work.
So what’s the problem with that? Students were doing exactly what was asked of them. But is that really what we want? We want them to crank out identical products?
Nope, not at all.
We want students that can create, innovate, and design. We want students to take something and make it their own. We want them to show off their individuality while still reaching the end goal.
So how could the students possibly do that if I had limited them to exact specifications? I quickly changed the approach we were taking to rubrics and guided students into making them more open-ended.
Here’s a quick example …
Students loved it. I loved it. The products were suddenly so much cooler. The information was still there, but the variety of expression had totally changed. It was amazing.
My favorite part about the rubrics is that there were now empty sections. Students would fill that section in as they developed their work. It was a blank canvas, free from any outside influence, which would help to cultivate innovative thinking. But the other parts of the rubric also became more broad at the same time. It ended up doing exactly what I had hoped … the work collectively showed their learning, but it was not the same.
Don’t take my word for it. Check out some of their awesome work below!