So many rubrics, so little time…

Dec 20, 2006 by

David Warlick posted today about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, but haven’t had the opportunity to write about in a while. Perhaps it’s the fact that my pre-service college years were spent in the late 1990s at the height of the “Rubric Boom”, but even after the heavy shift to formalized assessments (thanks NCLB), I’m still a huge fan of rubric-based assessment. Each of my major Social Studies projects last year involved some type of rubric assessment, whether it was a rubric I had developed, borrow from a source online, or a student-created rubric.

My favorite rubrics by far are student-generated, as I notice that they tend to create a more critical point scale and extra requirements into their rubrics. While I might just be concerned about the level of content presented, the quality of their citations, and the overall creativity, students will often break down a single performance indicator into spelling, punctuation, audience engagement, or readability (does it make sense or not). I’m not an English teacher, so while the structure of students’ writing is important to me, I’m more focused on the connections between what we’re studying and their real lives. Still, it’s always nice to see that students are willing to give themselves a much more stringent set of requirements, as that’s one sign that they’re taking greater ownership of their work. Which lead me to the next few sites. While creating rubrics with students I typically just use MS Word or Open Office Writer, whichever is at hand, and use a simple table with rows and columns. I’ve tried online rubric generators or makers before, but haven’t found what I would call a “killer application” when it comes to creating rubrics online. That’s not to say there aren’t some terrific tools. There are a few that I’ve used both by myself and with my students that definitely have their merits.

I used a much earlier form of Rubistar for Teachers while in college, and it’s nice to see that they’ve added more customizable templates. What used to be more general rubrics (multimedia, work skills, products, etc.) is now a list that includes assessments for grading a written musical, web site designs, puppet shows, and more. I hadn’t visited the site in awhile so it was amazing to see that I could create so many more content specific rubrics. It’s a fairly simple process too, however after 40 minutes the page times out and you lose any changes you’ve made before printing or saving. That means creating a highly customized rubric throughout the day during mini-breaks won’t work too well. I’d probably use this with middle or high schoolers, or as a way to transition elementary students from pre-made rubrics to self-made and customizable rubrics.

Enter Mr. Warlick’s Rubric Builder site. I have tremendous respect for educators that are passionate enough about their craft in order to add completely new subsets to their skills, and thus I was impressed with David’s self-coded rubric builder site. It’s currently a work in progress, but it’s a great bare-bones rubric builder for teachers or students that want to build something from scratch. His site also has the ability to display your rubric in HTML on any other website, but my guess is that’s still under construction as it wouldn’t allow me to generate the code to copy and paste. It was also nice to see that he included a way to search all of the other rubrics that users have generated, including Creative Commons copyright licenses, so everything created is free to share for non-commercial purposes. Unfortunately, I had a few more problems (my rubric was eaten while trying to delete one of the performance indicators), but with the great work he’s done with other Landmark Project sites, I’m sure David will have it cleaned up before too long. While it didn’t “time me out” like the Rubistar page does, I’d probably be using this tool with middle school or high school students.

Which just leaves the Teachnology Rubric Maker page. The Teachnology approach is the complete opposite of David’s Rubric Builder site. It takes all of the guess work, customization, and features out, and gives users the same vanilla rubric for each category. For example, after clicking on the Homework Rubric Generator, I had the opportunity to give the rubric a name, put my name on it, and then choose a “fun” picture to put at the topic of the rubric. I choose the monkey on the telephone (gotta love monkeys). After clicking the “GENERATE RUBRIC” button I was presented with a pre-made, NON-customizable rubric all ready to print out. Not terribly exciting, but pretty darn quick if you’re in a hurry. Great for very Early Elementary students and teachers that need something right now (which is often the case).

Anyone else have a rubric maker site that they enjoy using?

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1 Comment

  1. George S.

    I too, incorporate numerous project-based learning activities in my courses. I find the rubric an invaluable tool to allow the students to have a clear understanding of the expectations and the assessments of the activity. I like the usage of the student-developed rubric because I concur that the students will more times than not, push the envelope on the demands they place on each other. They take this very seriously, which is not what many would expect!

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