MiddSouth Innovates

Issue #4 2018-2019

But Did You Check The Rubric?

As Educators, we all know the value of having a quality rubric when assessing student work. Whether that be a holistic, analytic, or single point rubric, making sure the students know how they are being assessed is essential to project success and reduction of frustration. As the MP3 projects are rapidly approaching, here are a few tips for designing a quality rubric:

  1. If you are having trouble figuring out exactly what to put in each category, try using a rubric maker like the one from Rubistar. They offer a variety of options to get you started such as project type or subject matter, than have drop down menus of the types of areas that are typically used. For example, if you chose SCIENCE then Lab report, you have options such as Data Collection, Information Gathering, and Scientific Knowledge. Once you select your overall category, the individual indicators pre-populate for you.
  2. Have students use simplified rubrics to track their growth along the project timeline. Instead of having the students submit drafts to you for assessment, give them a rubric and have them assess themselves. Or, have them peer assess another students' work. We are always our worst critics so often the students will be much harder on themselves than you will.
  3. Create the rubric as a class. If you work as a group to create the assessment tool, students you create a common vocabulary about an assignment as well as give the students a stake in how they are being assessed. Also, if the students have an area of the rubric they don't like, they are responsible for finding ways to solve the problem.
  4. Design rubrics for group projects so the grading is equitable. This is harder said than done, however there are several options. First, make sure that each person in the group is contributing something that is quantifiable and defendable (they have to be able to explain the work they added to the project). Second, give each student 2 grades: one for the group and another for the individual. This will require the teacher to observe the groups closely and take note of each student's contribution so that the final grade is easily established. Third, have the students divide the points received among each member of the group based on how they feel each person contributed. This one sounds more complicated than it is. Let's say a project is worth 50 points and there are 4 members in the group. Your assessment for them would be for a maximum of 200 points. If that group earned 180 points (90%) on the assignment, they would then divide those 180 points among the 4 group members. This might mean that two people who did a lot of work earn 50 points, another receives 45 points and another receives 35 points. The key to this one is the submission of the points. The group will complete a form (typically digitally) in which they list each person's assigned points AND the reasoning behind that value.

Also consider ditching the paper for the digital rubric. A personal favorite is using Google Sheets as explained by Alice Keeler on her site. This sheet will add up the points and color code the cells as you grade them. You will spend a lot less time in the copy room and more time giving meaningful feedback.

Mikey, Leo, Raph, and Donnie

While you may be picturing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles right now, this post is actually about their Italian Renaissance namesakes. Teaching a foreign language is more than just explaining preterit vs imperfect tenses and vocabulary. You need to dive into the culture and history of the country where that language is spoken. Mrs. O'Reilly found a way to combine both in a fantastic student-centered learning opportunity.


For their MP1 Quarterly Project, students take on the identity of a Renaissance Italian Artist (such as Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo daVinci), give an autobiography of themselves, and explain their most influential pieces of art to the class. Now, unlike many other languages, Italian has 2 types of past tense: one for something that happened in the past and one that happened in the long ago past. The latter (passato remoto) is a much more difficult form that requires the students to plan well for what they want to say and is the form in which they need to speak for the presentation. Since the students need to be their artist for the day, they are encouraged to wear costumes, bring props, and get the entire class involved in their presentation.


As you can see, this is way more involved than just reading from a Google Slide. Speaking of which, Slides and PowerPoint are forbidden for this project. Students are encouraged to expand their multimedia skill set and challenge themselves to try something new. Students use Flipgrid, Powtoon, Edpuzzle, and even Pear Deck with their classmates to teach them about their artist. Some students even bring in paints and canvases, and conduct a short art lesson.


As you can see below, every group takes their presentation in a different direction due to the loose framework provided. Mrs. O'Reilly said she hated completing cookie-cutter projects when she was a student and refuses to do the same thing to her students. She wants their personality and ingenuity to come through.

Meeting The Newest Eagles

In case you haven't wandered the halls much, there are many new faces among the staff this year. Each of them were asked to share a little about themselves in a Flipgrid and their responses are shared below. They come from a wide range of experiences and backgrounds, and do all sorts of amazing things outside of school. Enjoy!