Creating a Rubric

Creating a rubric can be overwhelming. Here is one teacher's process.

Creating a rubric for an activity, presentation, or paper? It’s daunting. A dozen years into teaching, and I often stare at the screen, fearful of not getting it right.

Welcome to “This or That,” a monthly chat where the authors of Reading and Writing Haven and Language Arts Classroom cover different ways of approaching common decisions in the ELA classroom.

Today, we’re talking rubrics! Sometimes it helps to look at another teacher’s process. Here’s my method for creating a rubric.

Creating a rubric can be overwhelming. Here is one teacher's process.

Plan Ahead

Plan on creating a rubric as you write the assignment sheet for students. Student should have the rubric as they work so that they understand the assessment. As the teacher, providing the rubric ahead of the due date is a must. Encourage students to consult the rubric when they feel they are finished with that paper or assignment.

I actually think getting the rubric to students and encouraging students to consult it is teaching students life skills. When they are older, they will have expectations, but a boss or college professor may not hand them a “rubric.” Understanding expectations and then designing a project is a common life event. Ask students to consult the rubric! This helps students understand expectations.

Start Simple

You’re getting the rubric done ahead of time… great. Now, don’t stress and keep it simple.

For the first run with students completing an assignment, I find it best to create a simple rubric. My expectation for an ‘A’ assignment will be the main point, sometimes the only point. I then deduct points as necessary.

After the first use with a rubric, I then decide if I want more details. I know I will change a rubric multiple times!

Develop Over Time

I tinker with rubrics, forever. Part of this change is because I experience the strengths and struggles of teaching a concept to a variety of students. Over time, I see the areas where students have opportunities to grow. If I set the bar high and no one reaches it, well, perhaps my expectations are wrong.

So! At first, I have a very simple rubric. Once I am confident in outlining each points column, I do.

For instance, I have taught the research paper countless times. I can provide students an accurate description of each stage of a paper. Still, I leave those writing rubrics editable because I want to reflect and grow as I teach.

Return to the Assignment Sheet

As my rubrics change and grow, I always return to the assignment sheet. Are my directions specific enough? Did I provide students enough background information for students? If I am holding a rubric which outlines my final expectations, then I need to look at the tools I provided for students to reach that ‘A.’

Creating a rubric is part of teaching. Sometimes we teachers don’t have time to reflect on more of the common practices of our jobs. I hope that the insight into my creative method helps you.

Looking for more ideas about rubrics? Melissa at Reading and Writing Haven shares her ways of using them here. You are welcome to download free writing sheets, interactive activities, and more! Sign-up for Language Art Classroom’s library to download it and other freebies.

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