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If you're an elementary school teacher, using rubrics to grade all your classroom projects will make your life so much better. A rubric can help you save time and grade according to a standard. They're a great tool for teaching children how to meet your expectations. Best of all, rubrics can be used to score almost anything, from traditional graded assignments to behavior and timeliness. So if you haven't already done so, jump on the rubric bandwagon! They'll make teaching much more fun.
Rubrics help elementary school teachers so much because they can be targeted to meet young children's needs. A six-year-old first grader isn't going to care much about whether he received an 'A' or a 'C' on an assignment; letter grades like these are more effective for older children. However, if you use a rubric with a scale that relates to young kids, they'll be more likely to pay attention and try to perform well. For example, you could use a rubric that rates work with smiley faces or sad faces. Or you could make your rubric compare a student's work to a tasty treat; in this case, the best work would be compared to scrumptious cake, while the poorest would be like moldy bread. Every first-grader will want to be like the cake.
Rubrics can be as general or specific as you need for your project. This makes them extremely versatile. You could use the same basic structure--with different descriptions for each category--to score all kinds of projects in your classroom. If you use rubrics often enough and hand them out before an activity is graded, your students will begin to work toward what you describe as the best example to work. So rubrics can not only make life easier for you, they can also improve student interest and performance.
There are some basic classroom skills that often go unnoticed. A rubric allows you to track progress in these often overlooked areas. For example, you might want to work on your class' listening skills, but can't think of a good way to assess them. A rubric is the solution to your problems! Make a rubric that grades different levels of listening success. You might make one category "ability to follow spoken directions." You could use the smiley face system within this category to rate success, with a full happy face indicating very good performance, a neutral face representing okay listening skills, and a sad face standing for poor work.
Another good thing about rubrics is they can be copied, stored and referred to as the school year progresses. If you have a student who has consistent problems with listening, you might want to sit down with her parents and show them the progression of rubrics over the course of the year. If there has been an improvement, you could indicate that although the student's listening skills are still mediocre, they have gotten better from the time of the first rubric. Similarly, if there has been no change, you could show this with the progression of rubrics.
These are just a few ways that rubrics can improve the quality of elementary teachers' work experiences. Try one out in your classroom and you'll discover many more benefits of rubrics!