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Build Interactive Rubrics in Record Time!

Rubrics Made Easy

Why don’t teachers like to make rubrics? Because it’s difficult and time consuming. But that all changes with this tool!

Wow! I am pumped! I just returned from the Google Summit in Lethbridge and couldn’t be more excited about the multitude of new tools available with Google for Education.  At the summit I presented a  session highlighting new way to use Google sheets to lighten your work load when it comes to making rubrics for any classroom activity! Intrigued? Read on!

In my role as Assessment Coach for our school division, it’s my job to help teachers implement best practices when it comes to assessment.  To this end I’ve been using doing a lot of research and having great conversations with teachers about how to involve kids in their own assessment.  Can our students be involved in the process of collecting, organizing and presenting their evidence of learning. Better yet, can they be responsible for it?  Yes. Yes. YES!

How? First of all we have to let them know what their learning goals are. This is where outcome or standards based assessment shines. When we share with our students the targets we want them to hit it gives them confidence to streamline their efforts toward those goals. Clearly identifying those goals and communicating them to your students is the first step to success.

One way to accomplish such a lofty goal is to break open the rubrics! (And yes, it is just one of our goals, but an important one.) Well built rubrics use specific language that allow students to see clearly defined expectations of work quality and depth of understanding.  Rubrics are useful, however, not as an after thought for marking student work. Instead rubrics must be used at the beginning of the learning process as a means to involve the students in identifying their learning goals and being invested in the assessment process.  When used in this way, rubrics provide the road map for learning success.

The challenge?  Designing well built rubrics is downright difficult!  Time and time again, teachers express to me  how difficult  it is to come up with the right wording for their rubric. It’s a time consuming process that must be repeated and tailored to each new activity, project, unit or lesson. My question is… why keep re-inventing the wheel?  What if we could have a bank of rubric descriptors that we could use for a variety of different purposes. What if we could use that descriptor bank in a myriad of combinations to populate and make a custom rubric for each unit or all the performance based activities within a unit.  Yes… what if?  That was my thinking when I decided to make interactive rubrics.

These rubrics are: (use slides)

Interested? Here’s how the interactive rubrics work. Watch this:

Can you see the possibilities? Could this same process be applied to make other useful tools for assessment in the classroom?  Absolutely!

The response from teachers throughout our school division—to this time-saving tool— has been phenomenal. They love it! It’s so good that we can’t keep it to ourselves.  I’ want to pass these helpful tools on to my subscribers.  If you are interested then subscribe here  to my newsletter and I’ll send you a very special access to a pre-built science rubrics for any grade 1 – 9 ( Disclaimer: They are built for the Alberta Curriculum, but I suspect that with some minor tweaking in the wording they can fit your curriculum, too. They are totally editable but not edible.) You’ll also get access to a prebuilt blank rubric, and step by step video instructions on how to use them to make your own interactive rubrics for any subject.

As always, those who sign up will find these language posters included.  

It’s my goal to empower all of you with the tools you need to make it easy to implement best practice assessment in the classroom. I’m here to help anytime. Just email me at sharon@questteaching.com 

Best,

Sharon

P.S. I’d love to hear how you use these rubrics in your classroom. Respond in the comments below or drop me a line!

 

MAKING THE GRADE: Arriving at Quality Level Consensus in Reporting

The move from grade based learning to quality based learning means that we, as educators, need to be consistent in our measures and interpretations of work quality.  A lofty goal for sure, but well worth the undertaking.   Today we’ll explore the challenges and steps to achieving success.

Challenge #1: Experience Needed!

Our curriculum standards tell us what our students need to learn, but provide little guidance as to what the learning should look like.  Perhaps, after many years of teaching the same grade level, a teacher develops a good idea of the appropriate different quality levels of achievement for that grade in any given subject area. The experience of reading many grade three and four narratives over the years, for example, has taught me what to look for, what to expect at this level, and which qualities distinguish good achievement from exemplary. The challenge is , however, that not all teachers have the luxury of remaining in the same grade for several terms in a row.  Teaching assignments are shifted, new teachers are hired, etc. . Let’s be honest. As educators, we come to classrooms with a variety of personalities, experiences and biases. Teachers are as varied at the students they teach.  How, then, can we be sure that we assign quality based grades fairly and consistently?  We definitely need to recognize that we must arrive at consensus about what the “learning should look like” for each subject area and grade level.  If we don’t have a clear picture of what successful learning looks like, how can we ever hope to help our students achieve it? Furthermore, how will we know when they have reached it?

Challenge # 2: Building Bridges of Common Understanding

What do we need to build bridges of understanding so we can arrive at quality level consensus? We need a process; a blueprint for the bridge that will help us all arrive at the same destination.  This process must be actively engaged upon by colleagues with the same intent. Our goal is to provide our students and their parents the assurance that their learning is being evaluated fairly and consistently.  This will give them the confidence to put in the effort that it takes to reach their higher learning goals. We are setting the target before them and letting them know clearly what is expected and exactly how it will be judged. Bridges can’t be built in haphazard ways we must all follow the steps to get the job done so let’s get building.

Step 1: Gather samples of student work in that subject area. Each grade teacher brings several sample of work that they feel best represent quality work. Samples can include any form that shows evidence of learning: journal responses, maps, reports, projects, problem solving, videos of student performances or presentations, computer projects, etc..

Step 2: Dive into the collections! Look at the collections  and work together with colleagues to develop criteria, rubrics with common, yet age appropriate language.  The criteria should provide a clear description of what quality and success look like at each grade level.  How? Try this:

  • Brainstorm
  • Sort the work into categories
  • Make a chart
  • Use it in the classroom. Discuss and revise it. Use again and repeat the process until a consensus is achieved!

Step 3: Create and/or explore the results of common assessments. Using common assessments can also help teachers arrive at consensus of expected levels of quality.  Collecting student work on these tasks then allows teachers to select samples that demonstrate certain aspects of learning in each of the different levels of the rubric. These samples can then be annotated and redistributed to all teachers so they clearly illustrate student capabilities.

Teachers then take the samples and score them on the agreed upon rubrics and then compare their scores to those of other teachers and discuss any discrepancies. If needed, the language of  the rubric can then be adjusted as necessary. This is a process that needs to take place over time to continue to support and develop consistent teacher professional judgement.

To help you get started, pick up these free rubric descriptors and subscribe for more upcoming teacher resources: CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: Analyze the Data! According to our expected levels of quality, how many of our students are achieving success? What does that mean for our instruction?

Now we have a benchmark. If the results of any given assessment in relation to the agreed upon benchmark are surprising we have to ask ourselves important questions that will drive us to improve our instruction and/or assessment tools. What do we need to do more? What do we need to do less? Did we emphasize what we needed to while teaching? Did we clearly communicate the expected levels of learning to our students?  How should we change our approach? In short, we need to use the data to drive our instruction going forward.

Hopefully, these steps have given you food for thought and some practical steps to take in either your school, or at the district level to structure sessions in which you can come together with the common purpose and goal of developing common levels of quality in relation to the expected standards or learning outcomes. Just remember,

Together, Everyone, Achieves, More

Like this post? Sharing is caring. Comment below, tweet, post or have the conversation with your colleagues. We all learn from each other.

Best,

Sharon

 

References:

Herbst, Sandra. “Grading, Reporting, and Professional Judgment in Elementary Classrooms.”Connect2learning. Connect2Learning, n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.

 

 

 

Exploring the Treasure Box – Writing with Self- Assessment

Last newsletter, I gave away  a treasure box (drop box) full of my teaching resources for free! If you missed out on that, I’m sorry, but be sure to subscribe to the newsletter so you never miss out on more fabulous freebies.  This week I wanted to take a few moments to explore some of those resources that I spent time putting together for teachers, and how I use them in the classroom.

Slide14

Take a closer look!

First up?  Let’s talk about a subject I’m passionate about; writing!  For a long time, I’ve wanted a student self-evaluation tool in kid-friendly language to give my students more ownership and focus to improving their writing.  I could never find a commercially made tool that I liked, so I decided to make one myself.  Here it is:

I just run this off on both sides and have my students staple it to their story. Now when they say they are “finished” a piece of writing, I have them go through their story one “box” at a time. By the way, I love the boxes! It makes the evaluation process so flexible, yet target.  Here are just a few ways that I use the boxes:

  • Mini-lessons on each box: e.g., Today we are focusing on Content. Take a look at the content box on your marking guide. What are we looking for? What does that look like in a story? Exemplars are great for this. Now look at your story. Focus only on the Content box.  Does your story have quality content?
  • Have the whole class edit their existing story for one of the boxes one checkbox at a time. Break out your blue crayon for one checkbox, a red for another, and so on.  This works especially well when focused on the conventions box.
  • Conferencing and goal setting with a student.  The boxes really allow you to focus in on one specific area that the student needs to work on to improve his/her writing. I use this along with my writing conference sheets. After reviewing a piece of writing, the student and I will discuss a “next step” goal to improve their writing. I ask them which “box” they think they need to work on most.  The process really helps them take ownership for improving their own writing.
  • You Mark, then I mark.  Finally, I love, love, love, the idea that the students always mark their writing first, before I do. Along with all the checklists, there’s a place for them to assign a mark to their work before I mark it.  This gives them the opportunity to evaluate and improve their writing before they come to me with it. It also gives me the opportunity during conferences to point to the checklist and say can you show me where you found examples of this or that in your story?
  • As an added bonus I included new story planners in the package. I was so tired of students trying to navigate the “rising outline” story planner, so I re-invented it with kids in mind. The result is below.  The kids love it.  They are creating much more detailed plans because the spaces direct and focus their thinking.  Several students have all told me that they like it better. It’s definitely a keeper in my writing program.

Writingprocess&planningpackage2_Page_6

This is just one of the tools I’ll be highlighting  from our treasure box over the next few weeks. Do you have ideas for other teacher resources you’d just love to have?  Subscribe and shoot me an email about it.  It just might become our next fabulous freebie and you’ll get it free!  What could be better than that?

Until next keep teaching and “treasuring” our special young people.

Best,

Sharon

Google Classroom is Calling!

Today we’re going to dive into Google classroom! Let’s take a good look at how to set up your Google classroom and get started with the powerful tools it offers.

What is Google Classroom?  Google Classroom allows you to set up an on-line virtual classroom complete with the ability to set up assignments, grade assignments and provide feedback and send out announcements to your students via the internet.  No more taking home suitcases full of assignments as your students’ work will be literally at your keyboard “fingertips”.

How do you set up your very own Google Class?

  1. Go to classroom.google.com/
  2. Check the upper right-hand corner of your browser to be sure you are signed into google with your school email address (Your tech department will have set this up.)
  3. Now you are ready to set up your first class. I like to set up a class for each subject area even though I have the same students for all classes. To set up a class, just click on the little + sign up by your name. Then type in the name of the class and a descriptor. That’s it! You’ve made your first class.  Want to see it in more detail? Here’s a great tutorial that shows how!

In Google Classroom, you can STREAM announcements, add assignments, give STUDENTS feedback, and set up information ABOUT your class.

4.  Next you can put in some information about your class.  Just go to the ABOUT button and tell your students about your class with information like where the class takes place, a description, etc.

5. Now your ready to add some assignments. It’s easy to do .  Just watch this tutorial to get you started.

6. Finally, Let’s take a look at what your students will get and how they can open and complete assignments.
First they can attach almost any kind of work to hand in: file, google doc, or link to their work on the web. Here’s how:

If they’re working with a google doc or form that was teacher created, then they can simply complete their copy and hit the “turn in” button. Here’s a good student tutorial to show your students how:

So there you have it,  you are ready to set up your google class and get googlin! Have fun, and enjoy the learning journey.

Technology to Save Teachers Time: Part 3

evernoteiconWelcome to the third, in a series of posts, in which I’ll share ways for teachers to work smarter, not harder, using technology tools that will actually “save” time. Today we’re going to take a look at EVERNOTE.

One of our primary challenges as teachers is to provide feedback to our students in a timely, consistent manner. We know that keeping up with marking assignments and then giving the students the feedback they need to grow as learners, is paramount to their success. In fact, in John Haddie’s (http://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/) research on how classroom practices are related to student achievement, he ranks formative evaluation and student feedback as very effective means to increase student learning. The problem, however, is that the mountains of marking quickly add up. How do we keep up, keep our sanity, and get some sleep, too? Have no fear, Evernote can help.

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Technology Tools To Help Teachers Work Smarter

As promised, this is the second in a series of posts in which I’ll share ways for teachers to work smarter, not harder, using technology tools that will actually “save” you time. Today we’re going to take a look at setting up notebooks and tags in EVERNOTE.evernoteicon
First of all, if you haven’t done so, yet, download the Evernote app to your desktop and all your devices. It’s free for the first 60 MB of notes. You can find the various links here: Evernote. Note – I’m using a Mac, so it might look slightly different on a Windows PC, but the same features are in both versions.
Once you have Evernote, it’s time to set it up for your classroom.

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