Frame of Reference: Fair and Balanced Grades - Part II

GradesRubrics are commonly used grading tools and Google will yield many pre-made versions that you can just download.  DON’T!!!!  Create your own rubric that reflects what you can realistically expect of YOUR students.

The best way I’ve found to introduce rubric grading and communicate the expectations is to let the students help make a rubric.
 
Divide the class into groups. Choose a topic"The highest level of expectations (top grade) must be realistically challenging but achievable by the most competent student and must be based on what you have taught or will teach by the time the project is finished. " such as “a good teacher” or “good person to ask out on a date”.  Choose a topic that will fit the make-up/personality of your class and get them talking easily. Ask them to name orally categories that one would consider. Lead them to broad categories that could be applied to the topic. The most common for a ‘good date’  will might be “Appearance”, “Personality” and perhaps “Popularity” although your students may have others. Who knows what they would say makes a good teacher.  Tell them to write the categories down the side of their page with space between. Make three columns. Name the columns “No way”, “Maybe” and “Wow!”. Then have them fill in specifics under each column for each category, creating a chart.

Point out that a rubric is an attempt to come up with concrete evidence or characteristics for each category and the person using the rubric will base judgment on what he/she has as evidence. Also point out that a person wouldn’t have to be in the excellent column in ALL categories to be considered “good”, but that the overall rating is a combination.

The “Wow!” column (or whatever you call the highest rating) is where you’ll set your expectations and is very important. Expectations are up to YOU and your students. The highest level of expectations (top grade) must be realistically challenging but achievable by the most competent student and must be based on what you have taught or will teach by the time the project is finished.

Now with that overall frame of reference, here are steps to help you create a rubric for judging some aspect of a broadcast journalism class?

Step 1: Mindset

• Realize that a rubric is to be simple and not to cover too many aspects.
• Realize that students can give valuable input in making the rubric which allows you to get everyone on the same page. This process will provide info about what students deem as “excellent” and any misconceptions they may have.  You have an opportunity for review and reteaching.
• Realize that the rubric must be shared with students BEFORE the work begins.
• Realize that once a rubric is in place, you must be consistent for the duration.
• Realize that what you assess is limited to what’s on the rubric.
• Realize that a rubric will measure your teaching as well as their learning.
 
Step 2: Decide what you want to assess with this particular rubric.

Examples of areas that can be assessed using a rubric:
 
• Performance of crew duties
• Skill advancement (in any area you wish)
• Product quality (such as for an edited package)
• Professionalism (with specific descriptors)

Step 3: Develop the descriptors of quality with input from students

Example Aspect: Editing

• Needs Improvement-uses cuts only editing, audio levels uneven
• Meets Standards-uses VO, audio levels acceptable and even
• Exceeds Standards-mixes nat sound with VO, matched cuts, etc.
• NOTE: you may have only two divisions-acceptable or unacceptable-if you wish, or more than three. However, the more complex, the more difficult to construct and use. Attach point values to each division if you wish to use it for a grade.
 
Step 4: Test it with some student work.

• Choose samples that you THINK would probably fall in each division and apply your rubric to them.
• Do they get what you think is a valid evaluation based on the criteria you have in the rubric?
• Does it set challenging yet realistic expectations based on the level of instruction? If not, modify criteria to reflect your expectations.
Step 5: Introduce the students to the rubric and explain how to apply it to a generic sample
• Don’t use recognizable examples from that class--use something from a previous year or student work from the web. Make sure they understand how YOU are going to use the rubric.
 
Step 6: Have students use the rubric for a self-evaluation while you use it for the same piece of work.

• Meet with the student to compare the two evaluations to make sure he/she is not viewing own work through rose-colored glasses.
 
Step 7: Use the rubric consistently for the designated project or time period.

• Don’t make changes too soon. Allow students to rise to your expectations.

End result:  You have a defendable grade that will guide future instruction.

Click here to review part one of Fair and Balanced Grades


Kerby00Janet Kerby is a National Board Certified Teacher in Career and Technical Education specializing in broadcast journalism. Janet’s extensive teaching experience and award-winning program at Roane County High School in West Virginia provide the background for her current work in teacher training.   Janet has developed an online graduate course Teaching Broadcast Journalism and is currently teaching that course as part of Kent State University’s online Master of Arts Degree–Journalism Educator Specialization.