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38. Curriculum Series #2—Developing a Course-Long Rubric

by Lindsay Lyons
July 13th 2021

It’s important to allow students practice skills repeatedly throughout the school year and from grade to grade; Having the same rubric for each project, unit, classroom and grade, creates an unders... More

in episode two of our mini series on curriculum development, I'm going to be talking about rubric design will cover a little bit of a review of why rubrics for mastery are really important and then we're gonna dive into the how and I'm gonna give you some examples of what mastery based rubrics actually look like and the types of specific skills and standards for specific content areas that you might want to include in your mastery based rubric. Here we go, Hi, I'm lindsey Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities, take brave action to make those dreams a reality and sustain an inclusive, anti racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar. If you're a leader in the education world, whether europe principal Superintendent instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about school wide change like I was, you are a leader and if you enjoy nerd ng out about the latest educational books and podcasts, if you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the time for teacher ship podcast, let's dive In last episode, I was talking about my vision for amazing curriculum design and what that looks like in a huge piece of that is, students are allowed to revise and resubmit they're able to have sustained inquiry, they're able to practice the same skills time and time again over the course of a year and even over the course of their academic careers from school year two, school year, I talked a little bit in the last episode about grading bias and the research on how mastery based grading is actually a more equitable practice and traditional grading practices.

So you can feel free to go back and listen to that episode if you want a little bit more context. But here are just a few quick highlights. Mastery based grading has resulted in a 34% gain in student achievement over traditional grading practices. There is an increase in student learning as well as a decrease in the stress level of the class climate. This includes better student and teacher relationships and it has been shown to decrease achievement gaps or quote unquote achievement gaps. That's just a really quick summary. Again, feel free to listen to that previous episode if you want some more detail on that and other equitable practices. But today's episode is really going to take a dive into how do we actually create rubrics? So really quick overview first. I just want to say that rubrics for me as I've seen them developed and refined and utilize in different spaces in schools that use mastery based grading practices and project based learning practices.

It's really beneficial to get that repetition time over time the year to year to be able to have a rubric that you use for every unit for every project throughout your course and what I would highly recommend is to work within your department or your grade team depending on what grade you teach or what educational setting you're in to be able to co create a rubric that has the same priority standards so that students moving class to class or grade two grade, year to year, they see the same language and the same priority standards. And they get further and further opportunities to be able to practice and refine those skills because they've been deemed priority in concert with other teachers. And so there's this collective opportunity throughout the school to really focus and prepare students to demonstrate these core skills. And so I think there's a lot of collaborative effort that goes into creating the kind of school wide culture of master based grading and rubrics that really work here to your grade grade class class.

But it is also completely doable if you are an individual teacher who doesn't have that kind of school wide support yet to do it for your own class with that context, knowing that we want to develop a rubric that we can use for every project throughout your course. Again, that's a huge time saver as well as it offers the benefit of students practicing the same skills over and over and not having to familiarize themselves with a new rubric when you enter a new project or a unit. So there's some benefits, both for the students and for the teachers here. I want to talk to you about what that robert can actually look like. So I think there are two great options here. One is a single point rubric where you have three columns on a piece of paper and you would just go down the middle column and write all of your outcomes. So whatever the skill or standard is, you're going to write it out as kind of a title usual, it's like one or two words for example, analysis might be your skill or your standard and then underneath that you're going to define what master it looks like.

So what is your expectation for a student in your course, given the grade level, given the subject area, what does it look like for you for that student to demonstrate? Mastery and what you'll use the left and right. Most columns for in a single point rubric is to jot notes or even better to have the student and yourself jot notes as you are reviewing the students project that they're submitting for grade. So this is your opportunity. If there are approaching standards, they're not quite meeting the standards in that middle column yet, you can use the left most column to just jot a quick note and say, here's where it's not meeting standards quite yet. You can highlight some things that are maybe missing from that middle definition or if they're above the standards, you can use that right most column to be able to say why they've actually exceeded the standards there, above the standards. And you can highlight the things in again, that central column. That definition of mastery what they went above and beyond for in that project. And I say that students and teachers can both use this because I often in the last few years of teaching high school would have my students actually submit a rubric with their final project for a unit and I would actually sit with them, look through the project that they created and look at their rubric in terms of how they graded themselves and either agree or disagree with each of their grades for each of the skills.

And so we actually have a conversation about that. I got to see their reflective practice and their thoughtfulness in terms of how they graded themselves more often than not, students were very accurate, maybe not the first unit because they're so not used to that flexibility and that freedom to grade themselves, they're typically not asked to provide that kind of feedback. That's something that they see only the teacher is capable of doing. But after that first unit we kind of normed a little bit our grading practices with one another, it was very accurate and students were really thoughtful about this. I think that's a really cool practice that you're able to use. Once you have rubrics that are understandable to students and familiar, you know, project to project unit to unit. And so that's one the single point rubric where you're just typing out the skills or standards in that middle column leaving the left and right. Most columns blank for comments written in. The other option is kind of a three or four column rubric. So on your left most column you have your list of skills and then you're right.

Most columns are either three or four categories for mastery levels. So you might use something like an approaching standard, a meat standard and above standard. Some people have more mastery categories than that. But I would just start with those. Those are pretty basic to have those three and then you're actually going to write out not just what meets standard looks like, which is what you did in the single point rubric, but you'll also define what is approaching standard look like and what is above standard look like. And what's really important to do here is to talk about the skills, not the specific projects. So again, we want to be able to use the same rubric. Minor revisions are definitely possible if that's easier for you. But I would recommend just the same rubric for each project for each unit. And so you're not changing this rubric. This is something students are familiar with, which means we can't talk about specific project details. If I have students creating a project that is a documentary, I might be talking about, you know, evidence as an interview that you did with a person or research that you found online and you have to cite the sources and include a a P a citation or something if you have a completely different project where students are teaching a younger grade level content that they learned that's not relevant when it comes to a evidence.

I might not have them cite their sources in a reference list. I might not have them interview anyone for that project, but I might still talk about evidence in terms of what is quality evidence. Did you get your evidence from a good place? Is your evidence displayed? Clearly. Did you have some sort of reference to where you got it? And so that high level skill description is really important for the continuation of the rubrics use from project to project. Again, you can adapt that core rubric with assessment specific details if you would like. And so then you'll just have your main rubric and then your adapted rubrics for each project. But maybe the main rubric goes up as a poster on your wall or you know, is is somewhere in your learning management system, your google classroom. And that's kind of the reference point for students to come back to. The other piece of this is when you're describing approaching standards or above standards, you want to focus still on what students can do at each level of mastery. This is incredibly challenging. I still struggle with this, but instead of saying for approaching standards because that's usually the one that's that's the challenge.

We're not quite at meeting this standards. And so what we often do is default to, students cannot do whatever master it looks like, right? So students do not have six pieces of evidence. For example, what mastery language would look like at approaching standards on a good rubric would be something like, students have four pieces of evidence were still saying the same thing. They don't have the six that are needed for mastery, but we're doing it in language that is more positive and not negative. So it's not that they don't have this, it's that they only have this and we might not use the word only, but we're really describing what they can do at that level. Another example of this might be, if we are creating definitions of mastery for the skill of analysis, for example, that's a really popular one. I think it pervades grade levels and content areas and students often struggle with it because it is a very high level skill. We can identify maybe additional standards or kind of supporting standards to that high level skill or standard.

So for analysis, the first thing they need to do to be able to analyze is to understand if they're reading a text, what does the text say? They might need to be able to restate or summarize what the text says and then they need to analyze if they can't do those first two supporting standards, they're not going to get to be able to analyze really well. What I might do is define students can at the approaching standards level for analysis, summarize what they have read so they actually can't analyze yet. But I'm not saying that they can't analyze, it's just that they're only regurgitating the information back to me. They're not adding a layer of analysis. So I would just define mastery of a supporting standard versus saying they can't do the standard that we're working on. Another thing that I would recommend when you're creating a rubric is just having 4 to 8 outcomes, eight becomes really unwieldy for is as low as I've seen that still covers all of your bases for priority standards you'll need for a full course.

What I'm gonna do now is that I'm actually going to read to you some of the priority skills and standards from the new york performance standards consortium. I taught at a school that was part of that consortium and they are amazing for really having those collaborative conversations department to department and also between schools, departments between schools. So your social studies rubric is going to be pretty much the same rubric from school to school and all of the social studies departments and each grade within each high school. So that's pretty cool, collaborative effort and since they've already done all that work, I just want to share with you what they've come up with in terms of their priority standards and you can also take a look at, you know, how many are there in a rubric that last them an entire year. And you might be shocked to find that it's not that many. So let's take a look really quickly. You can also google new york performance standards consortium. I know that's a mouthful. I'll link it in the Senate as well and they have a link on their main site to rubrics and so you can check out the language of mastery and how they use.

I think it's a four point rubric. So not the single point but a four point rubric. That second option be discussed and you can look at how they define mastery in each of those categories as well. But here we go. Let's take a look at the skills for each core subject. We'll start with the L. A. In L. A. They have five total skills and that includes a presentation aspect. So whether they're doing a written or a verbal presentation, they have a presentation row or standard for either one. So again depending on the project it's either conventions or kind of verbal presentation skills. There's five including that presentation aspect. The others are organization, analysis and interpretation style and voice connections. And then again the fifth being conventions or presentation. So five total for the entire year. Five priority standards. You'll see two content to content area.

Some of these actually processed. So the idea of organization and analysis and connections some of those are seen in a lot of other subject areas as well. So there's some cool grade level overlap as well as department specific priority standards. Let's take a look at social studies. Next they have six standards. This is the highest number of all the content areas that the consortium puts out. Six plus a presentation format. So again only seven total standards. We think about all the standards that we often try to cover. I really wanna hammer this point that there's only seven that our priority for the entire year and one of those is the presentation format. So same as E. L. A. They have the conventions if it's a written product and then they have a presentation line of the rubric. If it is a verbal presentation. Okay so social studies has viewpoint which they kind of further define as thesis and claim Evidence and sources is the 2nd 1.

Analysis and persuasion is the 3rd effective organization. Understanding of implication and context and voice is the 6th for science. And this is specifically a rubric. For an experiment for science. They have five plus the presentation piece that the others do here are there five contextualized So they need to be able to know the context critique of the experimental design collection curation, organization and presentation of data analysis and interpretation of results and a revision of the original design for math. They have five total they don't have a presentation element like some of the others. But here they're five problem solving Reasoning and proof is the 2nd 1 communication connections and representation. So how they represent the mathematical concept and the fifth that they include here is what they call kind of an engineering or design science.

And there are five including the presentation piece. I could see this mapping onto several different content areas. First we have contextualized the design problem. Right? So I'm already thinking of beyond engineering. This could be humanities class where we're talking about youth action research or a lot of different pieces here. Right. But we have a problem. So we're going to contextualize the design problem. two is critique the design process three is test the prototype which includes a lot of things we heard in the science piece though, collecting, organizing presenting data And then the 4th is evaluating the prototype. So you can see a really a range of 4 to 6 priority skills that each subject area has and so hopefully some of those resonate with you while they are developed for high school grade levels. I think these are really relevant year to year grade to grade across the K 12 continuum. And even into college, if you are ready to design your own mastery based rubric.

Again, keeping all of that research in mind, keeping your different options in mind and keeping those parameters of really 4 to 8 concrete priority standards and defining for mastery what that looks like using one rubric for the whole course. I'm gonna share some free rubric templates with you. There'll be the two templates that I discussed in this episode and I'll add those to the show notes so that you can just grab a copy and make your own rubrics and get started again. This episode was number two in our curriculum design series. If you are interested in a deeper dive of curriculum design, we have our curriculum bootcamp online self paced course for any teacher who wants to enroll, go ahead for any leader who is listening, who wants your department to undertake a curriculum boot camp of their own. There are package options for you to get a discount for group packaging, for a grade team or department and I offer a live coaching component for curriculum boot camp where we design a unit in just two days start to finish.

If you are a teacher who was like Lindsay, I don't have that kind of cash on me right now. I am responding to calls for just the protocols module so one out of the several modules in the curriculum bootcamp course with all of the templates for protocols that I'm going to be selling as an independent standalone option. That is much more affordable for teachers who might be interested. So I'll link to that in the show notes as well. Don't miss the next episode in the series where we have matt Pimentel coming on to talk about project based learning and what they're doing at his school to support students and teachers in a project based learning model and how you can make your class or school a PBL class or school as well. Thanks for listening. Amazing educators. If you loved this episode, you can share it on social media and tag me at lindsey Beth Alliance or Labor review of the show. So leaders like you will be more likely to find it to continue the conversation. You can head over to our time for teacher ship facebook group and join our community of educational visionaries.

Until next time leaders continue to think Big Act brave and be your best self.

38. Curriculum Series #2—Developing a Course-Long Rubric
38. Curriculum Series #2—Developing a Course-Long Rubric
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