Rubric All the Things!

Every assignment or activity you assign your students should have a DIRECT AND CLEAR link to an expectation listed in the course curriculum. You may be assessing a student’s ability to meet an overall or specific expectation under each strand. This is the basic requirement for all planning we do.

curriculm 1

This will bring us the to next point in our assessment: assessment by expectation. Our mark-books should have clear connections between a student’s success in individual expectations. A parent should be able to see that a student has difficulty with the skills strand History A1 but can meet the criteria to master expectations associated to B1, B2, C2, D2, etc. Some teachers don’t mark like this. But you should. It’s Ministry Guidelines.

Ideally, according to the Ministry of Education, students do not receive a letter or numerical grade for their tasks. Their achievement is based on their ability to meet a series of normative steps representing the ‘typical’ student. Growing Success identifies the following criteria in each level of achievement. These are then tied (in practice) to percentage equivalents (I have added these).

Levels of Achievement
The achievement chart also identifies four levels of achievement, defined as follows:

Level 1 (50 – 59 %) represents achievement that falls much below the provincial standard. The student demonstrates the specified knowledge and skills with limited effectiveness. Students must work at significantly improving learning in specific areas, as necessary, if they are to be successful in the next grade/course

Level 2(60 – 69 %)represents achievement that approaches the provincial standard. The student demonstrates the specified knowledge and skills with some effectiveness. Students performing at this level need to work on identified learning gaps to ensure future success.

Level 3(70 – 79 %) represents the provincial standard for achievement [emphasis added]. The student demonstrates the specified knowledge and skills with considerable effectiveness. Parents of students achieving at level 3 can be confident that their children will be prepared for work in subsequent grades/courses.

Level 4(80 – 100 %) identifies achievement that surpasses the provincial standard. The student demonstrates  the specified knowledge and skills with a high degree of effectiveness. However, achievement at level 4 does not mean that the student has achieved expectations beyond those specified for the grade/course.

Specific “qualifiers” are used with the descriptors in the achievement chart to describe student performance at each of the four levels of achievement – the qualifier limited is used for level 1; some for level 2; considerable for level 3; and a high degree of or thorough for level 4. Hence, achievement at level 3 in the Thinking category for the criterion “use of planning skills” would be described in the achievement chart as “[The student] uses planning skills with considerable effectiveness”. (p 18)

These levels then form the basis of the ALMIGHTY RUBRIC.

According to Growing Success, students are to be assessed on their mastery of a subject through a series of CATEGORIES OF KNOWLEDGE (KITCA – Knowledge, Inquiry & Thinking, Communication, Application).

The categories, defined by clear criteria, represent four broad areas of knowledge and skills within which the expectations for any given subject/course can be organized.  (pg 17)

Your job, as the teacher, is to plan units, activities, and assessments (over the duration of the course) connecting the curricular expectations to these categories of knowledge.

Steps for a good Rubric:

1) Identify your curricular expectations (you would have used these in planning the activity/assessment

2) Decide on how extensive your rubric must be. I consider the time it will take students to do the assessment and make the rubric a relative size (short = small rubric, massive assignment = giant rubric, etc).

3) Understand what skills you will be assessing. Are you using A strand and one of the B-E strands? These must be reflected in your rubric.

You may want to actually embed the KITCA Category which suit the planned activity [Are your students demonstrating mastery of facts (K/U) or are they applying information to new contexts (Application)].

4) Create your table. Play around with its look to maximise student understanding of expectations and criteria. 

5) The language of your rubric should be student friendly – but contain enough ‘meat’ for you to make consistent decisions and give solid feedback.

GD Rubric C1

Rubric with Overall Expectation focus

Rubric by expectation

Rubric by expectation

Rubric with KITCA category focus (B1, A1 expectations as well as Historical perspective)

The rubric above assesses achievement in both Knowledge/Understanding and Application. The author elected to avoid using written descriptions of the levels of achievement and opted for numbers to simply for the visuals for a grade 10 Applied History student.

KITCA categories (A1) focus

The author of the rubric below used words to describe expectations.

Check out the examples in this document. Rubric Examples

Happy Building!

Lesson – Oct 7

Keynotes – Oct 7

Ass & Eval keynote

Literacy in History – keynote

More Quick Literacy Strategies are found here.

Strange and Wonderful Resources

For use with Observations and Inferences

The Question Matrix


The Question Matrix

Today I’m going to try to use a Question Matrix with my gr 10 applied History classes.

I am seeking a way to help them develop their inquiry process skills. Many students have never been pushed to ask questions beyond closed ended ones and certainly most have never been explicitly taught how to create thoughtful inquiry questions.

My own skills in this endeavour are limited – I know I can formulate valid research questions, but I haven’t thought enough about HOW I do this. This requires some meta-cognition my my part. Besides, the best way to learn something is to teach it to others!

I will start with a interactive lesson about questions using Pear Deck (a new tool I picked up this weekend at the GAFE Summit Ottawa). This will stimulate some discussion about what makes a good question. This will lead us to a conversation about the Matrix.

Using a series of paintings (on loan from the Canadian War Museum Supply Line) students will develop questions about what they are seeing. Students will be required to make up a question (and then find answers) for EACH of the matrix boxes.

(Possible extensions – using 2 x 6 sided dice, the matrix becomes a trip-tic of sorts. If the student rolls “1 &1”, they design a question for “What is…” or  a “3 & 4” they get “Which would…”. His/her peers then try to answer the question.)

This is a bit of an adventure. We’ll see how it goes.

I also found this lesson about reading the news and using a matrix.

How NOT to Ask Questions:

Vocabulary Sort

A vocabulary sort provides students with a variety of terms and concepts related to a unit or for a course. You can use them at the beginning of a unit or at the end of a unit. Sometimes I do both as a way to show students what information they’ve learned.

Gr 12s doing a sort. One is even doing additional research!

Gr 12s doing a sort. One is even doing additional research!

Here are some strategies.

Ask Students (usually in small groups) to

  1. Separate terms they know and the terms they don’t. Look up/research the ones with which they aren’t familiar. (then move to the following strategies)
  2. Identify & justify at least 3 categories (student or teacher choice) and sort the words in the appropriate categories. Discuss the similarities and differences of the categories selected by each group
  3. As the teacher, include ‘obvious’ headlines/category subjects, and students sort associated words/terms
  4. Have the students select their “favourite” words and ask them to do a short literacy activity using each of the words in the correct context.

While students work, emphasize there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. Their properly reasoned verbal justification can make any word fit any

I have also made the terms on large sheets of paper. The students then sort the giant words on the floor in a larger group. I then post the words in their selected categories on the wall for a Word Wall.

Here is my Vocabulary sort for The Great War.

Here’s a PDF: CausesofWW1wordsort

Planning a Unit

This can be daunting task. Don’t panic.

Sometimes you have to pick and choose what your students will learn. We don’t have time to do everything. As History teachers, we have a little lee way in what we can focus on as the skill sets are not askeep-calm-and-pretend-it-s-on-the-lesson-plan-44 prescribed as they would be in English or Math. Historical Inquiry can be built into any lesson on any topic.

My school board recently switched to a focus on “assessing by expectation” rather than by Achievement Chart categories. This change means it becomes a lot less complicated to plan and create tasks and tools which allow the student to show their mastery of the expectation.

The “Planning sheets” below allow teachers to list their tasks, the direct curricular links and then (for their own professional information) the achievement category. This can then provide a framework in which to develop lessons to fit the tasks and assessments. Piece of cake!

CGC1P Planning Sheet (2)

CHV2O Planning Sheet (2)

CHC2D Planning Sheet

Once I have the framework for my assessments, I plan the themes of my lessons. This is a typical month for my Canadian History (applied) course. You can see I am constantly making revisions (pencil, people) and the theme is enough for me to remember what we did when a student asks.

There isn’t much in the boxes as I have a pretty clear idea of what activities will go with which themes. I’ve also been at this game long enough that sometimes I just go in and “wing it [not recommended for new teachers].”

You can also see evidence of the problem I face every year: getting to Strand E before the final culminating tasks and the exam.  This year I think I’m on the track to teach about 1982-present. Maybe. CHC2P Lessons

Teaching History through Changing Landscapes

One of the best ways to teach students “Change and Continuity” is to have them walk the streets of their own neighbourhoods. Some may have knowledge of more recent changes, but most would have no idea of what their communities looked like 30, 50 or 100 years ago. Access your local archives and find photos, maps or other primary sources which can trigger student understanding of what has changed around their space and what has stayed the same.

A great Resource for Ottawa’s changing landscape:

I love their “Slide” feature for comparing one location over two moments in history. Students can then discuss continuity (this building is still here, the door is still glass, there are pedestrians), and make inferences about why things have changed (the post office isn’t here because it isn’t as important a service or there are no buggies with horses so the streets needed stop lights etc).

The Ottawa Citizen also created a neat interactive about the memorials and statues in downtown core.


Matt Henderson (winner of the Governor General Award for Excellence in Education) challenges his students to examine “Main Street” Winnipeg in this post. He focuses on the element of the historical concept of Significance. Their task:

 “to create [their] own historical walking tour of Winnipeg. As we walk down Main Street, decide what buildings and location are significant. Using Evernote, jot down notes, capture audio, take photos, shoot some video. Gather us much information as possible about these places and ask yourself what sort of evidence do you need in order to prove that they are significant. As well, try to explain the evolution of this area from 6000 years ago until today.”

Can’t get out into your environment? Try these resources:

The Guardian put together a fantastic series about Dday locations from 1944 and 2014.

Here’s the Guardian’s online gallery comparing images from The Great War and today.

Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking allows an individual (or group) to keep favourite websites in a place stored on the web/cloud. This allows for several advantages:

1) Access your favourites/bookmarks from any device, not just one computer or browser

2) ‘Tags’ (or keywords) allow you to associate your favourite sites to the way you might use them and/or identify the type of resource they are. I organize mine by the courses, units and topics.

3) They are searchable by Tag.

4) You can set some social bookmarking sites to ‘automatically Tweet’ your favourite sites, or, when signed into your Twitter account, ‘favourites’ are automatically indexed in your social bookmarking site.

5) Access  or join other ‘groups’ to allow you to benefit from the knowledge of like-minded folk!

Diigo Education Ideas or Diigo are great places to start.

Check out my Diigo Links on the side bar of this blog.

Diigo has some new pricing options. I paid the $2/$5 ‘social fee’ to allow a for a few more options. I have also applied for a free Educator’s account.

A former PED3183 student created a group for us. Check it out and join. I post there regularly.

What is Social Bookmarking?


But wait! There’s More!

You can always find interesting things on Reddit. The Amazing Internet Hero, CGPGrey explains it below.