Single-Point Rubrics = My New Obsession

Making a great rubric is hard, which is why I know many educators opt to find something pre-made they can change a bit to suit their needs or just try and use what they find as is. Rubrics require good backwards design skills and demand a teacher plans with intent, keeping the learner and focus of the learning in mind throughout the process. This means good rubric making, even if ripped from the internet, takes time, which can become disheartening the moment a teacher realizes the rubric falls short of his or her needs. Yet, a rubric can and should be a powerful feedback tool for student and teacher alike. The question, sometimes, is the juice worth the squeeze? How much time and energy can a teacher put into making (or finding) a great rubric? Recently, while on a mission to help my district’s career and technical education teachers with their rubric making, I came across the concept of the single-point rubric via Cult of Pedagogy contributor Jennifer Gonzalez while adventuring on Twitter. Truly, you can go to the link above and get all the information you need on what the rubric is and how you use it, so I will encourage you to visit Jennifer’s post directly.

I simply want to expand on its potential and specifically why this approach to making and using rubrics is powerful in our current standards-driven world of education.

Example of a Single-Point Rubric from Jennifer Gonzalez’s post in Cult of Pedagogy

The single-point rubric is particularly powerful for student goal-setting and self-reflection. As Jarene Fluckiger explains, “The single point rubric is an ethical tool to assist students with their responsibilities of goal setting and self-assessment of their own education.” The beauty lies in its simplicity and focus. Whereas holistic and analytical rubrics can be sprawling, jargon-filled, and light in feedback, the single-point rubric brings a student’s attention directly to what is classified as a proficient demonstration of knowledge or skill with room to provide feedback on where there is excellence and areas of growth. In essence this is easy to read and understand by both student and teacher, and more importantly it is a rubric a student can actually help create and self-monitor with.

Student goal setting is a powerful instructional practice that can feel elusive; I know it did for me at times. This style of rubric gives a practical and tangible means to have students set goals and track progress throughout any assignment in a class. For a teacher, it helps focus on the knowledge and skill needing to be assessed. While there is no limit to the number of criteria a teacher can include, the format of a single-point rubric tends to ask a teacher to be discerning about the criteria to be chosen.

The downside? Well, the rubric demands feedback and reflection, which certainly takes time to write and discuss. But really why even use a rubric if not to help aid and monitor the growth of knowledge and skills where feedback is imperative to achievement? Think of the power in students reflecting on their work using this style rubric paired with the regular feedback a teacher could provide leading up to a finished and revised products.

If I’ve piqued your interest and you want to dabble in using the single-point rubric, click on the link at the beginning for Jennifer’s post where she offers a few downloadable templates. This style of rubric is absolutely the one I will be introducing to the teachers I work with going forward. My hope is to write a follow up post with a genuine review of how the use of the single-point rubric has panned out in my teachers’ classrooms. If you decide to use it in your own classroom, share your story and tweet at me (@theprofjones) or comment on the blog!

Happy rubric making!

The Expo

Now that we’ve had time to let all the turkey digest and we look towards the last few weeks of a semester, I wanted to share another technique we use for our PBL classes.

One of the cornerstones of project-based learning is having projects live in the real world. We all know what it is like to spend time constructing a poster board or a tri-fold of information that is called a project, but will be tossed in the trash the moment the semester or year is over. To give our projects life we have students participate in a biannual exposition-style night of presentations for their parents, community, and community leaders. We simple call it, The Expo.

In about a week and a half we will hold the first one of our second year in PBL. This year will show our growth as we will have around 100 students participate. Students will set up expo-style booths that will demonstrate one of their many projects of the semester and give mini-presentations to their community throughout the intriguing night. Students dress professionally and present to their parents and local leaders to demonstrate their knowledge. It is an almost magical night when I usually feel like a proud papa while watching student thrive in front of their elders. Students tend to enjoy the experience too. Its always fun to show off in front of others.

We’ve found that this is a perfect way to make the projects real and tangible to all stakeholders. It makes some of the frustrations of working with PBL in such a large group completely worth the effort. The students always blow me away.

This year we will have several community leaders including our mayor and our principal participate in being guest judges of the night. This will give us some needed community feedback on the event, and give our at times biased view of the students a different view point as well. We’re excited about this new element in this years expo.

The event is open to the community, so if you’re in the area feel free to join us on December 8th!