Using backward planning to create rubrics with students that better assess their learning needs.

“Instead of a traditional approach in which I might hand out rubrics at the middle or the end of a project, I work backwards through the process:

“–First, I introduce model student work at the same time as the rubric. I present the indicators and explain the expectations for the project. When children understand things in concrete, logical, sequential settings, they can produce. This step is similar to having a set of group norms that present expectations for interpersonal interactions, except here I clarify the expectations for the students’ interaction with their rubrics and what they’ll need to do to be successful with the project.

“–Next, I modify the rubric according to the needs of the students. Together as a class, we assess what the work should look like and why. The original rubric is in a draft form until the students have talked about it.  This way, I’m never using the same rubric twice. As a teacher, I don’t need to be the one who figures out exactly what the rubric will be, I just need to facilitate the environment to create the understanding of what the rubric will be for that exact project for the students. The students become the guide to building up the rubric.

“–Then, as a class we refer to the rubrics every day. This becomes the guide for the entire unit, for the month. By the time the students hand in their projects, they know the grade they’re going to get because we’ve been working off of it every day.

“With this approach I’m better able to teach students how to think. Not what to think. If we look at rubrics as an opportunity for students to become invested in learning and understanding, rubrics become a powerful way to understand how kids learn and who they are.

“I’ll be introducing this strategy at our first TeachingPartners Live Workshop session. I hope by the time our second session concludes you’ll have both the understanding and the resources you need to introduce this practice with your own students.”

Barry Saide

Barry Saide has been in education for 15 years, the past 13 in Bernards Township, New Jersey. He has taught 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade. Barry has built curriculum in all subjects, created and led programming, served on steering committees, and aligne... Full Bio