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When building a sustainable classroom community of higher order thinkers try releasing some formative assessing to them by them.

Formative Assessment and Student Thinking

Rubrics and Peer Evaluation

Rubrics and peer evaluation are two essential elements of performance-based instruction and formative assessment. Both support Charlotte Danielson’s constructivist view of teaching and learning: Domains 2 and 3. If they are already embedded in your instructional delivery system, I send a huge shout-out your way. If you have not yet embraced the rubric as a road map to your students’ performance destination, read on.

My second and third grade students embraced public speaking and regularly shared draft versions of their writing assignments with the entire class and learned to apply rubric standards to their own writing several times weekly. When asked to present their crafted response to a text-dependent question the entire community of learners engaged in a collaborative conversation as peer evaluators of each other’s work. All students were anxious to play their flexible roles of presenter, evaluator (two students evaluated the piece orally), or good listener and all students would have an opportunity to score, give and listen to feedback advice, and publicly read their own piece of writing when their name was chosen randomly from the can of “Go Around Sticks.”


All learners

Time recommendation:

35 to 60 minutes would allow four to six students to present individual writing orally to a whole group audience. At least 20 minutes of thinking/working time is part of that and should be given to students to revise their writing based on the feedback of the evaluators. Students not yet selected to present their rubric-guided writing are encouraged to think about the feedback provided to others and add to or strengthen their own work based on other students’ writing and feedback.


  • Go Around Sticks (a can containing Popsicle sticks with a 1001945_1434785823435460_1877404295_nstudent’s name printed on each)
  • Rubric with required elements of the specific student work product prominently displayed. I generally limit a rubric to 4 or 5 elements of a performance standard that I expect to see in the work. All five elements present earn a score of “5”. When an element is missing, the score is “4”, and so on.
  • Student work products


Engaging in a rubric application and oral peer review as a daily reading, writing, thinking activity builds a classroom community of thinkers and improves student performance in several ways. A rubric that you create contains your expectations for all students’ performance on a specific piece of work. When evaluating this work each student is given the opportunity to engage in flexible roles as reader, listener, and as a provider of feedback. Each student presents a draft copy of a written assignment. The randomly selected and/or volunteer students become evaluators within a setting that accentuates the positive and provides recommendations to improve underdeveloped elements in the work.IMG_0923

Using the Go Around Sticks two students, the evaluators, are selected to assess the work orally referring to the rubric. The evaluators indicate where an element is not yet present or is underdeveloped in the presenter’s work. Each group of two student evaluators listens to three readings before handing their responsibility over to two new randomly selected students. The creator of the piece has the opportunity to consider and apply the feedback, to revise the work, and then to resubmit it for a better performance grade. On rare occasions the feedback partners have strayed from the rubric when assessing. When this happened I as teacher/leader provided my input. An added benefit of peer rubric application is that students are able to hear helpful and non-threatening advice and can clarify their own thinking while listening to the thinking of others.

IMG_0907The flexible and expandable nature of a rubric allows a teacher to delete the mastered elements of a desired performance and to add more complex elements to it as students are expected to produce more rigorous work. The collaborative conversations all students have about the work add to the “helping” culture of your community of learners.

Rolak-Sieracki: (2014).

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