I do believe it is important to use rubrics with a set of criteria for my students. In order to benefit student learning I feel it is necessary to provide students with specific positive and negative feedback. I don’t ever want to assign a grade to a paper and write one word like “great” on it. I also think that providing students with a set of criteria helps them to revise and edit their papers. Students can look at the criteria and then look at their papers to see if their papers satisfy the criteria. This can help students critically analyze their writing for areas of improvement. This is a really important skill to instill in students. I think it is really important for students to have a role in developing the rubrics. They need to know what sets of criteria are necessary to achieve in order to produce well-written papers. I also believe they will feel the rubric is more “fair” if they have a say in it. They will also fully understand the rubric and what is being assessed if they help to create it. I think it is insufficient for a teacher to create a rubric without student input. The students usually know what they struggle with and what they need to work on. The criteria that a paper is graded on should differ based on each class and will change every year depending on the needs of the students. Creating the criteria that a certain genre should be graded on also helps students to better understand the attributes of that genre.
I don’t feel that just creating a set of criteria with students and then grading their writing based on this is enough. If a student gets a 3/5 in a certain category they need specific feedback on why they didn’t get the full points. At the same time, students who do receive full points need to know why as well. I also feel that it is very important that students get a chance to work with the comments they receive on papers and make changes. If I just give them a rubric back with a grade and some comments but do not allow them to work with these comments then they aren't really gaining anything.
One thing I worry about when it comes to rubrics is students becoming dependent on them.I think students are exposed to rubrics so frequently that if they do not receive a rubric they feel lost and are unsure of what to do with an assignment. I also worry that students will feel that they cannot produce creative work if they feel held back by a rubric.
Descriptvie Feedback is amazing. As both a student and teacher, we tend to look for a grade or number first, then go back and look for the comments. I go through and make comments that point out strenghts and open-ended questions for students to guide student thinking. Never do I go through a paper and make every single possible comment I could. Certainly would be crazy and defeat the purpose of conferencing with the student in person.
One of my district tasks has been to create scoring guides/rubrics for grades 3-8 for all three writing genres addressed in our new standards. This has been quite the challenge because there are so many variations. For example, narratives can be personal, memoirs, fables, mysteries, plays, etc., each of which has a few different traits. So after scoring 5th and 6th grade student work using my somewhat generic narrative rubric, I realized that lumping narrative techniques together (as W.3 does) to be ineffective. Instead of revising every rubric, I put together a student checklist/reflection resource that itemizes each skill for every scoring criteria which some teachers are telling me is helpful as students evaluate their skills and conference with their peers/teachers.
The best rubrics, of course, are those the students help create themselves. I am optimistic that will happen but, for the time being, as we are all delving deeply into our new standards, it is more important than ever for teachers to share experiences, ideas, etc.
And what about descriptive feedback! I couldn't agree more that, as Kelsey says, this is essential to student growth as writers. I would love to hear how teachers are accomplishing this.
I have some basic checklists that I start with. This gives students a chamce to check their own work, jsut looking to see if they have included all the things they should have. For example, in a letter, the checlist includes heading, signature, etc. If the piece is to be argumentative, the checklist will include the opinion, a counter arguement, valid reasons, etc. After using the checklists, they can then revise.
After reading about rubrics and writing criteria’s, I think that writing criteria’s can be really beneficial compared to rubrics. I think its important to have some sort of way to grade each student. Rubrics can have disadvantages because it limits student’s creativity. I know that when I am given a rubric, I do exactly as it says. Writing criteria’s can really help both the teacher and the student learn about their progression in the class. Students are able to use the writing criteria as a process where they can write, edit, revise, and self evaluate.
Giving feedback is really important in grading. Grading shouldn’t be just on a number scale. Teachers should give feedback on the positives and what needs to be improved on all students writing. It can be very frustrating when you are given a 3/5 on something and your teacher hasn’t given you feedback on improvements.
I think students should be involved in establishing criteria and rubrics. The students need and want to know what exactly they are being graded on. This way, it can help students know exactly what is expected on them because they helped create the graded criteria.
Whether one chooses to use rubrics or writing criteria (and I believe there are plenty of ways to make both of them more effective and useful in the classroom), I think it's really important that students have at least some voice in helping to establish the criteria. I think it's an investment in their ability to learn to think critically about writing, and what good writing demands, as well as makes it plain for students to see what it will take for them to perform well on an assignment.
I think that Robb has a lot of fair things to point out when it comes to the disadvantages to using rubrics, namely that it becomes difficult to grade students when they go above and beyond the grading set by the rubric (not to mention most kids are not driven to go above and beyond when they see the confines of the rubric). However, if the teacher and the students agree that it is possible to do something really well and unexpected for the rubric, and there's a good conversation about it, that will at least allow students to know that the rubric is not the final word on how an assignment could be graded.
I use rubrics I've created, but I'm shifting towards using rubrics that are a combination of student and teacher. Students need more ownership and responsibility in their writing. If they have no idea of what is expected of them and how they are going to be truly be evaluated, then they will not truly buy into the writing as being authentic.
Having a voice lets both the teacher and student know how the writing will be evaluated. The students will be well aware of the content, style, form, and expectations necessary to complete the task. Its up to the teacher to let go of the control and put the writing, evaluation, and reflection into the hands of the students. Students will be able to become stronger writers when given the opportunity to set writing goals to work towards that are meaningful and tangible to them. One's voice and opinion means alot.
It is very important to scaffold the development of a rubric or checklist with the students in order for them to undertand how it works and applys to their writing.
Message was edited by: Elizabeth Powell
When I was in the classroom, I did use rubrics and felt that the rubrics stated my criteria for whatever piece I was having students write. It wasn’t until I read this chapter that I had to consider how much more flexibility I would have had with certain students if my grading was based on criteria.
We start with KDE or LDC rubrics for authentic writing pieces, on-demands, extended responses, and short answers. Next, we collaborate with our students to develop specific rubrics for the task or prompt. This is very time-consuming, but we have found that it is well worth the investment. After the piece or answer is written, we live-score with students using the spcific rubric we created as a class. For extended responses, students work together to score a piece, and must justify ther score to me or the collaborating teacher (using language from both the rubric and the response). For larger pieces, student highlight both the text and the rubrics to demonstrate areas of strength and weakness. I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Powell's response, that student-created rubrics give students a voice in the process and helps strengthen their writing.
The rubrics that I use are teacher created. In attending the ELA standard meetings, I am seeing now how important it is to allow the students to have say in creating the rubric. It is important that the students know what is expected of them at the beginning of the assignment. This allows them to have a goal to work towards and to become successful.
I start with genre studies where we develop our criteria for the genre of writing we are doing, but I always use a rubric to score. These rubrics in the past have always been based of the Kentucky scoring guide for writing, but now I have noticed the shift is becoming more student generated. I would love to do this and it seems like finding the characteristics of writing pieces during a genre study is the best way to go about this. That way students know exactly what to look for in their writing.
When I was in the classroom, I did use rubrics, but disliked them. I (and the students) felt so constrained by what was on the rubric. I agree that rubrics are not easily adjusted for the struggling student or even for the gifted student for enrichment. Differentiation was difficult. I love the idea of writing criteria and allowing students to have a part in forming that criteria...this empowers the student. Of course middle school students LOVE collaborating with each other. I think the way we pair or group them makes all the difference. Again, I appreciate the tested and reliable lessons that are provided in this chapter. Yay for the "Big Ten" revision strategies!
Short answer - I have been trained to use rubrics. Students are typically not involved in the development of them.
However, I really like the idea of using criteria. As we are quickly moving towards at standard based grading system, the use of criteria makes perfect sense. Rather than trying to look at the entire set of standards, the establishment of criteria breaks down the focus for the activity into a manageable and measurable set of goals. It also allows the student to gain a sense of accomplishment over a smaller part of the big picture rather than being overwhelmed with the sense that writing just has “too many requirements and I’ll never be good at it”.
Furthermore, by involving students with the establishment the criteria, I am once again able to return to the conditions that are going to have the most impact on middle school learning. Students will have to take responsibility for their grade, since they had a part in creating the criteria. Learning to negotiate requires a student to have learned how to build relationships so that trust and confidence are already in place. If the student has had some say in the criteria, then the relevance is already built into the assignment. Certainly, students will need to use inquiry to establish quality criteria that meets the needs of the learner and addresses the most practical parts of the genre. And one can presume that the choice and hope have been given to the student as a part of the process of well.