Top Teaching > Megan Power > Behind the Scenes, Part 2 — Creating a Rubric


Behind the Scenes, Part 2 — Creating a Rubric

 “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” This is a common saying about how the acquisition of knowledge is empowering.

One way to empower students is to involve them in the process of analyzing their learning and evaluating their work. When they do, true learning takes place, way beyond the intended curriculum. READ ON to see how you can create rubrics with your students to evaluate student-created videos, writing, or other projects. Included are two examples of rubrics my kindergarten students made to evaluate their digital photo story and our class movie.


Rubrics have been used for years and years in the education field. Take a look at this short video to review rubrics. It does a great job of showing how a rubric helps to evaluate your work.

Most teachers have used rubrics at some point in their teaching careers, but they often forget to share the expectations with the students and ask them to create the rubric used to evaluate their work. Giving students the opportunity to understand and create the exemplars of what is expected will directly impact the quality of the students' work. It makes the rather abstract art of grading more concrete for them. If they see a rubric as a tool to help their work progress and to clarify what excellence is, they will get the true benefit and power of the evaluative tool.

For teachers, giving up a little of that control can be an adjustment. The following steps will get your students thinking about the process of evaluating work and identifying the criteria that makes the work excellent.

Step 1 — Start With the End in Mind

How would you like the end product to look? I usually start by asking my students, “What makes (insert what we are going to evaluate) great?” For example, the other day I asked my students, “What makes a movie great?” You might be surprised at their responses. A kindergarten student replied that great movies have “Music that helps you be excited when something important is going on and really feel sad or scared when something is happening.”

How we came up with the list of criteria that make a movie great:

As a class we continued our discussion and went back to student video links shared on last week’s post "Behind the Scenes, Part 1 — Finding a Topic." I explained that we were not going to watch as multimedia consumers, but as multimedia evaluators. Matthew Needleman has a wonderful graphic to illustrate what he calls “Technology Taxonomy”:


We also watched the beginning of the movie Finding Neverland and analyzed how many different camera shots and types of camera shots there are in the first two minutes of the film. There were 65 different camera shots! By doing this quick activity, students realized that good movies have interesting camera angles and shots to add interest and to allow viewers to see important details. This helped get students looking with a more critical eye.

Step 2 — Discuss and Create the Rating Columns

Once you've determined the categories you will be evaluating, you can create the ratings. Involving the students in this process will help them to better understand the expectations and do better work. For younger grades, I like to use "happy faces," "okay faces," and "how can I make it better? faces" to rate each category. Older kids work well with points or percentages. Talk about each quality and what each rating would look like. I typically tell my students that we now know these qualities make movies great, so let’s look closer at why they do and how they're achieved.

Take a look at one of the rubrics we finished a few days ago for our class movie:


Step 3 — Use the Rubric as a Guideline

It is important not to use rubrics just as a final mark or evaluation. Students should continue to look at the rubric and evaluate their work as they create the project. Rubrics should be used as guidelines to help further your project and to give students a more concrete example of expectations. Let the rubric guide next steps.

Step 4 Evaluate End Products

Once the students' work or project is complete, go over the rubric and ask the students to evaluate their work. You can discuss your marks together and share how knowing the expectations helped the students make a better product.


My students created a rubric last year to guide us in making our photo story "Clifford's Birthday Party Mystery." It is all about prepositions. See the adorable photo story and evaluate it yourself with the students' rubric.

Fabulous Resources to Assist With Creating Rubrics

A number of good sites offer tools or guidelines to help you create rubrics of your own, including RubiStarRegina Public SchoolsTeAchnologyExemplars, and the University of Wisconsin.

Thanks to Linda Foote, our technology trainer, for finding many of these great resources.

Rubrics are a great way to define what is good about student-created movies, projects, or writing. We would love to hear how you are using rubrics in your classroom!


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