I use rubrics to help students understand projects, my expectations, and their capacity as artists.
This works when rubrics are
•created with students
•based on observation of exemplar models
•used throughout the project timeline
•scaffolded for students
RUBRICS CREATED WITH STUDENTS WHILE OBSERVING EXEMPLAR MODELS
Before we start a project my students and I usually create the project’s criteria together. I show them exemplary models of finished art pieces and ask them to describe what makes it good.
For instance, by looking at John James Audubon’s work, my 2nd graders came up with a list of what makes a good naturalistic bird painting :
real life color
darks and lights in bird
not a cartoon or a fairy-tale bird with clothes on
lines show the shapes of the bird
lots of detail
careful , slow drawing
I take their list and frame it in a rubric under four categories:
I can use formal art techniques with care and intention.
o I can draw careful details.
o I can draw the shapes that I see.
o I can mix and add layers of colors that I see.
I can use ideas that are complex and rich in my work.
o I can use my knowledge and research about birds to help me look carefully at details.
I can combine studio skills and ideas to transform art materials into something new and full of wonder
o I put all the bird parts together in ways to make it look real.
I can use models, instruction, rubrics, and critique to guide my work towards quality.
o I can erase a lot and make better lines.
o I can listen to my critique buddy and use their feedback.
Rubrics aren’t just for the end of the project. Final, summative assessments of learning are important, but they are very anti-climatic after students wrestle with rubric criteria throughout an entire project’s length. Rubrics exist to guide the project. This doesn’t happen naturally. If I hand students a rubric and expect them to use it well, it won’t happen because they can’t see it.
HELPING STUDENTS REALLY SEE THE RUBRIC FOR THE FIRST TIME
When the rubric is presented to students, they can use it right away to assess past projects from other classes. When they use it, they will see it.
BREAKING THE RUBRIC INTO CHUNKS
A mini lesson per session can focus on one learning target.
“I can keep my eyes off my paper and on my subject when I contour draw.”
MIDWAY ASSESSMENTS- PEER DRIVEN
After students work a session, they can use the rubric to critique one another’s work
in pairs with a critique buddy
or with a small group.
MIDWAY ASSESSMENTS – TEACHER DRIVEN
Teachers conferring with a student one on one with the rubric or filling out a rubric half way through a project gives students direction and encouragement.
ASSESSING NOTICEABLE WEAKNESSES TOGETHER
If it seems like a lot of students need more help on one area, I will create a poor model or find an old work from an anonymous student that is especially weak in that one area and ask students to assess it using the rubric. For example the following product could be used to help students focus on these learning targets:
“I can leave breathing space between my text and illustration.”
“I can print neatly in straight lines with no cross outs.”
Students also need scaffolding on how to critique. Here are two rubrics made for 1st and 2nd graders that give guidelines for critiquing one another. The first rubric is for the person giving the critique. The other is for the person receiving the critique.
(assessment buddy rubrics created with Lori Edwards, Marcia Fulton, and Liza Eaton 2006)
These critique rules created by educator, Ron Berger, are effective and sustainable. Ask yourself and have your students ask themselves before they give feedback:
Is it kind?
Is it specific?
Is it helpful?
Middle school students can handle a rubric with many learning targets. As the grades decrease, I decrease the amount of targets and I add pictures. Here are two rubrics. One is an assessment of studio work habits for middle school students. The second is a rubric for 2nd graders’ Native American research illustrations.
FINAL ASSESSMENT AND PROGRESS REPORTS
4th and 8th graders receive a studio grade on their progress report (like a report card but more detailed) once or twice a year. I look over their major projects and the assessed rubric. I look for patterns in craftsmanship, enchantment, idea, and resources and assess each student accordingly.
Berger, R. Gardner, H, Mejer, D, Montgomery, H, (2003) An Ethic of Excellence : Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students, Portsmouth,NH, Heinemann.
Stiggins, R. (2004). Classroom assessment for student learning. Portland, OR: Assessment Training Institute.