Apologies to Forrest Gump!
Chocolate cookies were the order of the day when approximately 50 South Australian Matriculation teachers from Taylor’s College got together recently to explore rubrics.
I was inspired by a lesson I saw on teachervision.com and decided to introduce the idea of rubrics, and more importantly, students co-creating rubrics, using this lesson plan and some of my own chocolate chip cookies.
Now this is easier said than done! Not the lesson planning part–but the cookie baking part. It is a long time since I baked chocolate chip cookies! Unfortunately this once weekly ritual when my children were young has long since passed. I am happy to say though that the cookie gods were in my favor the evening I baked cookies for this workshop. My husband of course was the most willing of guinea pigs. On cookie number 5 he asked if I could make them crispier–a question that almost got him banished from the kitchen for good.
So I arrived at the workshop with cookies in tow. Initially the teachers thought I had just baked a treat for them and many had eaten their cookie long before the rubric-making began. Together we gathered suggestions about what some of the qualifiers for ‘the ideal chocolate chip cookie’ would be. Of course in trying to model a 21st century classroom I certainly did not simply ask the question but gave the teachers a mini wipe off board and led them through a Think-Pair-Share before eliciting the qualifiers from the group of them. We then created the rubric together as a whole group before the same pairs used the rubric to assess my chocolate chip cookie.
There are many benefits to co-creating rubrics with students. Students develop a deeper understanding of the criteria and what is expected of them. This goes a long way to teach them to monitor their progress and become independent learners. Often the rubrics that come with a set of curriculum expectations are very generic in nature and not very student friendly. They need to be much more specific so that students can not only relate to them but use them to self-assess and determine their own next steps. Rubrics need to be in a language that is meaningful to students rather than couched in complicated terminology used by policy and curriculum makers.
The rest of our workshop time was spent working in groups to examine some ways we can make rubrics more specific and student-friendly. Teachers were left with the challenge of looking at rubrics they have used in the past to assess a task and consider revisions that make these rubrics more specific and student-friendly.