How to Use Rubrics with High School Students

On the surface it seems as though the high school curriculum is too diverse for the use of rubrics. How could, after all, something that is helpful in English class be just as useful in Theater or Physical Education or Social Studies? The possibility seems illogical, but the flexibility and nature of rubrics help to make that impossibility a reality. Try using rubrics for many of your activities and watch your students gain a deeper understanding of your subject.

Create internet based research rubrics.

High school students today are more technically savvy than teens of the past. Teenagers now can hold a complete conversation with you while text messaging their friends and listening to their I Pods. In a positive sense, their use of the internet has allowed students to gain a little knowledge about a lot of topics. This, however, often lulls them into believing that everything they read online is true. Unfortunately, much of the information gained on the internet is from less than credible sources. Create evaluation rubrics for web-based sources to help students understand how to find useful information online that can be trusted. This type of rubric can be used in almost every high school classroom, and can be tailored for each particular subject matter.

Have students join in rubric creation.

As many of us have come to learn the hard way, students are more apt to learn different material when they have buy-in into the process. It just makes sense. Students will have a meaningful experience with material if they have a hand in creating the guidelines for evaluation. This does not mean that the class is left to total anarchy. The teacher serves as the facilitator in the process, and can guide students to include the most important aspects to be included on the rubric.

Create task-oriented group rubrics.

Group-work can be a powerful learning tool, but without proper guidance can instead turn into student gossip and free time. Putting rubrics together that outline specific responsibilities for each member of a group will help to keep students on task and focused. Have one student act as a facilitator, one a scribe, one a reporter, and one a timekeeper. Giving each group member a specific responsibility will help to keep all students involved in the learning process.

Give a choice in assignments.

When creating learning goals, think about a variety of ways students may show those goals. Form rubrics that give students a choice in how to show what they learned in the unit. Perhaps have them make a film about global warming they can then upload on YouTube. Help them to create a website on the 2008 Election and Candidates and link it to your high school website. Let them perform for the class a scene of their creation about the importance of the Pythagorean Theorem.

By tailoring rubric creation to our students and their lives, we will be able to help them reach higher levels of learning, and produce better work than ever before.

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