One of the teaching tools I tried for the first time this year is Rubistar, a website that is part of the 4 Teachers group of websites, developed by The Advanced Learning Technologies project at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning (a mouthful, I know). I had mixed success, but I think there’s more potential there than I have yet uncovered.
So far, I have found it most helpful while creating rubrics for unconventional projects, like digital storytelling and response blogs (document), where the students have no expectations of grading because they’ve never done a project like this before. There’s also a good amount of customizable rubrics for different subjects and skills, but I haven’t used many, and I’m looking forward to digging deeper into their “Inspiration Page”.
One aspect I don’t like: there’s a weird time limit on some pages and functions. So while you’re creating your rubric, you have this ticking clock and have to keep saving to make sure it remains “Active” while you’re editing. I don’t really see this point of this feature, other than making me anxious that I’m about to lose my work! There’s also a way to make them interactive, but it seems to require a site license. If your school uses Blackboard or Moodle, it seems it would synchronize well. I would consider the site license if I end up using the site frequently, because it might help cut down on grading time and make the experience of being graded more consistent for my students. In English classes, I find one pitfall to be that students often feel that the grading experience is a very subjective one, and therefore inevitably unfair. Right now, I usually copy the rubric I’ve created there into a word document, then ink it with my stylus for each of my students. I like to add space for “teacher comments,” so I can add encouraging or positive feedback, and also to add point values in each row box.
My goal is to have the rubrics available as each project is assigned so that students can use them as a guide while completing the work, as part of my overall goal to incorporate more scaffolding in my course. I’d like to have some kind of way for the students to use them as checklists before they submit the work, even, somehow. But this year, I sometimes developed projects and assigned them without taking the time to think about the rubric, which made me dread grading them because while the work was exciting, I was unsure about how to assess it. That was my own fault, so I’m not blaming Rubistar, but I think that did hinder me in experiencing the full potential of the site.
If you’re a teacher, do you use rubrics? How do you create them? I’d love to hear from anyone who has used the site or something similar as a rubric creation tool.