Rubric on the Wall Assessment

wall assessment

Participatory Drama Rubric, aka “Rubric on the Wall Assessment”

Assessment in the arts can be spontaneous and interactive while providing the teacher or leader with clear collectable data. One of my favorite formative assessment strategies that challenges students to self-assess, gets participants moving in many directions, and sparks discussion is the Rubric on the Wall assessment which I developed in the late 1980’s.  Because I have seen this assessment process having great impact on student achievement, it is my hope you will try it not just in drama but in other subjects as well. I will break it down into steps.

  • 1. CATEGORY SHEETS

Make four large sheets of paper with the headings of your Rubric Categories in the middle of each sheet. I use large post it paper. My standard rubric categories for drama are:

  1. Academy Award
  2. Leading Actor
  3. Understudy
  4. Back to Acting School

There are many categories that you can use, including the standards: Exceeds, Meets, Does Not Meet, and No Attempt.  If the students are not readers, I often add illustrations for the categories on the poster.  NOTE: I don’t write anything else on these sheets (posters) so that I can use them over and over again.  I often laminate them if I am using smaller posters – but I prefer the large paper.

  • 2. DETERMINE WHAT YOU WANT TO ASSESS

If the students are readers, determine ONE skill or criteria that you want to assess during or following the lesson.  Tape the corresponding rubric descriptor to the appropriate category sheet. (I have many rubrics on line at onestopdramashop.com that you can download for use.)  If students are NOT readers, present the content to them orally or through physical demonstration.  NOTE: Sometimes I skip this step and just put up the blank category sheets and hand out the entire rubric, with all descriptors to the participants. See step 9 below.

  • 3. HANG THE POSTERS

Put one poster on each wall of the room or as far apart as possible.

  • 4. REVIEW

At some point during or at the end of the lesson (formative or summative assessment) review the categories and the criteria descriptors (the rubric) with the students.

  • 5. MOVING TO THE POSTERS

En masse, have the participants select and stand by the poster they believe exemplifies their work in applying the criteria/trait to the drama activity or story.

  • 6. DISCUSSION

Have the students at each poster discuss with each other why they chose that poster.

  • 7. REREAD THE DESCRIPTORS

Reread the descriptors of each poster, having the students listen carefully to determine if they are at the correct poster. Give the students time to switch positions if they feel they should have made a different choice.

  • 9. PERSONAL TESTIMONIES

When students have stopped moving and have made their final poster choice, I then call on one or two students by each poster to share aloud why they chose that poster.  Often there will be additional switching happening as students listen to each other describing how their work matched or did not match the criteria descriptor.  NOTE: I don’t correct the students or tell them where they should stand, but I do note the choices they make to see who incorrectly believes they were demonstrating mastery of a skill and perhaps needs more metacognition about their own work.  This allows me to plan strategies to assist the student in their metacognitive work.

AN ALTERNATE PLAN

An alternate plan to taping descriptors on the posters: Hand out and review a printed rubric with the students at the beginning of class.  This printed rubric might include several skills with the descriptors for each.  Then students, with rubric in hand, can self-assess any criteria you select on the rubric at any point during the lesson using the posters to share their self-assessment.

© 2012, Karen L. Erickson, All Rights Reserved


Members can find many assessments on OneStopDRAMAShop.com written for each grade level and aligned to National Standards.

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The Art of Words in Crafting Assessments

crafting assessments

As artists we know words can be very powerful.  They move us to tears, bring us a smile or two, and paint vivid pictures in our minds.  We labor over the right adverb, the right character name, the right phrase that completes a lyrical line, the right dialogue to enhance a mood, the right word to make an audience gasp.  It is this same care that dominates our work when we set about writing assessments.

Assessment & Evaluation

Speaking of words, I want to begin by defining two important words, assessment and evaluation.  Often assessment and evaluation are used interchangeably and in some venues this makes perfect sense.  In the world of education, however, which is dominated by the need for accountability and rigor, assessment and evaluation have distinct connotations.

Assessment comes from the Latin “assidere” meaning to “sit by” or “sit beside.” Imagine a master teacher of long ago sitting beside a student learning to play an undocumented song being handed down from one generation to the next.  The teacher would be right there listening and watching. When the student had accomplished the piece and was ready to move on to the next, the teacher would present a new song; but if the student was not ready, the teacher would correct, encourage, model, and instruct until the piece was learned.  Sounds wonderful – the way teaching and learning should be.  However, in a room of 30 students, how does a teacher sit beside each one and make a judgment about his or her learning and understanding? This is where the art of assessment comes in – to create a method where a teacher can sit beside each student in some way.  In assessment today, evidence of individual learning is collected and recorded through performance tasks, presentations, papers, dialogue, journals, written work, portfolios, tests, etc.

The overall goal of assessment is to improve individual student learning and understanding over time in the content areas.  When students have been assessed, a teacher is able to recount who has learned and understands and who does not.  The teacher knows who has mastered the piece and who needs more instruction.

Evaluation, on the other hand, looks at the bigger broader picture.  The root of this word is also Latin, meaning “value.” Here it is about making a value judgment.  Evaluation is often reflected in an assigned grade based on subjective analysis.  Evaluation reflects the overall quality and talent that a student displays.  Teachers make quick evaluations of their class when they see how many students participate in discussion, the number of hands that get raised following a question, and by looking at the work of a few representative students.

Assessment can be used as part of evaluation, but an evaluation cannot be used for assessment.  Think of assessment as the collection of ongoing information and evaluation as the overall picture of the value of a student’s work.  For example, a classroom of students might participate in a concentration warm-­up at the beginning of class and you evaluate that they can all concentrate; however, when students present their performance pieces for assessment, some of them show they cannot sustain concentration.  They laugh, giggle, and talk to the audience.  Through the assessment, you can now see the ability of each individual student to apply the skill of concentration in practice, and you can collect that information to present to the students as feedback.

Writing the Assessment

Now we turn our attention to how words assist us in collecting data on individual students, painting a picture of how well they are progressing, and providing a vehicle for feedback.   Since we have so many students to sit beside, we often do this in writing (though verbal feedback can also be powerful).   One of the best collection tools for giving detailed feedback is a rubric, which can be used for any type of student performance or product.  The rubric has two parts: criteria and descriptors indicating different levels of accomplishment.  When writing a rubric, the preciseness of our words becomes essential, especially if we want to use it for reliable assessment purposes and apply it in an objective and fair way.

 

Criteria

Let’s start with the criteria.  This is the list of things you want to measure.

First, select criteria that are highly important to the subject area.  Often I have seen teachers select criteria (concepts and skills) that are easy to assess but are not necessarily the most important areas of learning to assess.  For example, in music, I saw a teacher labor over taking each child aside to see if they could identify a loud sound from a soft sound.  This took two days of valuable class time.  Would this have been better to be evaluated rather than assessed?  Was it important to assess all students to see if they could identify loud and soft?  Or is it more important to see if each student can identify or analyze the type of sounds that contribute to creating a mood?  It is for each teacher to think deeply about the criteria being placed on a rubric and not necessarily go for what is easy.  It is to consider what is most important.

Second, is this the criteria you are really assessing?  I read a rubric the other day that had creativity listed as one of the criteria for an art project.  Now, I will admit that creativity is something that should be taught with rigor through our art forms.  It is essential content.  But the descriptors for creativity clearly indicated the teacher was looking at neatness, use of materials, and craftsmanship -­‐ not creativity.  It made me wonder then if creativity as a skill or concept had even been taught.

Third, make sure you have explicitly taught that criteria before you assess it.  Does more need to be said here?

Fourth, have the students suggest the criteria.  If you are wondering if you have fairly selected criteria and adequately taught them, have the students list the things they think should be included in the assessment.  This will provide you with a clear snapshot of what came through in your teaching.

 

Painting the Picture: Selecting the Right Adverb or Adjective

Now let’s turn out attention to the descriptors: those little boxes on a rubric that describe what exceeds, meets, does not meet, and absent looks like (or Academy Award Winner, Lead Actor, Understudy, Back to Acting School as I like to use).  There are so many things to consider here–this gets to the heart of crafting assessments.  A descriptor should be:

  • – written in student language
  • – written so a person outside of your art form could use it – no jargon
  • – free of fuzzy words
  • – focused and not overly compounded
  • – written so frequency words make sense

Let’s take these factors one at a time:

It should be written in student language.  A rubric is for the student.  It sets out what the student should be doing, how they should be doing it, and what it looks like in best practice.  It is there so the students can see a target, understand the target, aim as high as they can, and be able to fairly determine where they have landed until they get to try again.  So it should be written in grade level appropriate language and given to the students throughout instruction.

It should be written so a person outside of the art form can use it.  Assess your rubric with another adult sitting beside you.  When he or she uses the rubric is the result the same? Check the rubric for jargon from the art form that only an insider would know.  Now, if this is a word you use with the students daily and is part of their vocabulary, make an exception.  You will diminish the universality of the rubric, but it will still be fair in your instance.

It should be free of fuzzy words.  This is crucial.  I see many words used in rubrics that make me wonder -­ words like clearly, appropriately, well, etc.  If I read, “He sang the song appropriately” in a rubric, I would ask, “What does that mean, ‘appropriately’?” If the person answers, “It was loud enough for everyone to hear, there were no pitch problems, and the words were all memorized,” I would respond by saying, “Well, write that in your descriptor – that makes sense.” This is another reason to have someone sit beside us as we polish our rubrics, because even the best of us slip in these subjective words that have no substance.  We don’t want to tell a child, “You didn’t sing appropriately,” and have him go away not being aware of what was incorrect and how to improve it.  The whole notion behind assessment is to improve learning.  To do this, we must be clear, concise, complete, and as minimalistic as possible.

It should be focused and not overly compounded.  Let’s return to our music example which is now free of fuzzy words.  Once we have determined what we mean by “appropriately” we now have a list of skills -­‐ loudness, on pitch, memorized – within the descriptor.  The next step is to determine if each of these should be their own criteria, with their own descriptor, or if they should continue to be grouped together.  Think this through.  What if the student is loud and on pitch, but misses a word or two? Does this move her down to the next level? Do all three of these items carry the same weight or value within the assessment? Splitting or lumping is a major decision.

It should be written so frequency words make sense.  First, congratulations for considering a rubric when a frequency rating scale would be so much easier.  By frequency words I mean: all, some, none, most, few, never, sometime, 3 times, 50%, etc.  A frequency rating scale uses frequency words but no descriptors.  Sometimes people like to combine the two.  This should be done with care as sometimes it creates fuzziness.  For instance, sticking with our music example, let’s say we write the following descriptors for memorization: remembered all of the words to the song; remembered some of the words to the song; remembered a few of the words to the song; remembered none of the words to the song.  As a student, my questions would be, “What is the difference between some and few? Couldn’t some be a few?  Could a few be some?”

Words are so important when crafting assessments.  Don’t be afraid to elicit support and work as a team with others.  The writing should be specific and clear to paint a picture for the student of what his work, project, or performance should look like EXPLICITLY.  We want students to understand and to be able to demonstrate their understanding.

Remember… assessment needs the right words, choosing them is an art.

© 2017 Karen L.  Erickson


We know words can be very powerful.  Choosing the right words leads to clear and effective assessments.  Selecting them is an art…but you don’t need to do them yourself.  We have many grade-appropriate assessments linked to national standards.  Join today for a free trial!

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3rd Grade Rubrics & Assessments

Measuring student achievement in drama requires a combination of written and performance-based assessment.  On this page, there are a variety of tools (PDF downloads) for use throughout the school year to assess student learning and the effectiveness of instruction.  These tools were designed to support the Third Grade Curriculum.  Below is a brief description of each tool.

  • Third Grade Drama Rubric:  This rubric was created to address the basic skills taught in the third grade curriculum.  We use selected components of this rubric regularly.  Give students only those parts of the rubric that you cover in a given lesson.  You might want to create additional rubrics and a student record sheet for documenting student progress.
  • Drama Self-Reflection:  This drama self-reflection should be given to students at least three times throughout the year.  Keep each version and have students compare their reflections at the end of the year.  Feel free to read the statements aloud to the students, so nonreaders are not put at a disadvantage.  Explain any statements they don’t understand.  You want to keep this process safe as this is not an assessment and should not be graded or impact grades.  This is simply a way for students to gauge personal growth and reflect on their own learning.
  • Drama Journal:  A drama journal has been included as an informal assessment tool to deepen and extend student thinking about the drama work.  Journal entries can also provide you with formative assessment data.  They can reveal concepts that remain unclear and provide student perceptions about areas of challenge.
  • Third Grade Knowledge Assessment:  A summative assessment covering vocabulary and other basic knowledge is included for use at the end of the year, or whenever you think the students are ready.  Better yet, use it as a pre- and post-assessment to gauge learning.

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Third Grade Drama Objectives  Drama Objectives Alignment to National Standards These objectives cover essential learning in the art form for eight- to nine-year-old students.   This first PDF download above (appears below for members) contains objectives used in our Third Grade Curriculum in …
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4th Grade Teacher Rubric 

4th Grade Student Rubric 

Drama Self Reflection 

Drama Journal 

Performance Assessment: "Emotion Scenes" 

Performance Assessment: "Digging A Hole" 

Performance Assessment: "The Well" - requires The Well story

Fourth Grade Knowledge Assessment 

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Measuring student progress and achievement in drama requires a combination of written and performance-based assessment.  On this page, there are a variety of tools (PDF downloads) for use throughout the school year to assess student learning and the effectiveness of instruction.  These tools were designed to support the Fourth Grade Curriculum.  As an individual purchase, you will receive access to all documents.  Below is a brief description of each tool.
  • Drama Rubric:  This rubric was created to address the basic skills taught in the fourth grade curriculum. I use selected components of this rubric regularly. Give students only those parts of the rubric that you cover in a given lesson. You might want to create additional rubrics and a student record sheet for documenting student progress.
  • Drama Self-Reflection:  This drama self-reflection is most effective if students use it at least three times.  Keep each version and have students compare their reflections at the end of the year.  Feel free to read the statements aloud to the students, as needed.  Explain any statements they don’t understand.  You want to keep this process safe as this is not an assessment and should not be graded.  This is simply a way for students to gauge personal growth and reflect on their own learning.
  • Drama Journal:  A drama journal has been included to deepen and extend student thinking about the drama work.  Journal entries can also provide you with formative assessment data.  They can reveal concepts that remain unclear and provide student perceptions about areas of challenge.
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Fourth Grade Drama Objectives  Drama Objectives Alignment to National Standards These objectives cover essential learning in the art form for nine- to ten-year-old students.   This first PDF download above (appears below for subscribers) contains objectives used in our Fourth Grade Curriculum in a ...
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Measuring student achievement in drama requires a combination of written and performance-based assessment.  On this page, there are a variety of tools (PDF downloads) for use throughout the school year to assess student learning and the effectiveness of instruction.  These tools were designed to support the Second Grade Curriculum.  Below is a brief description of each tool.

  • Frequency Rating Scale:  This tool can be used for teacher feedback (to evaluate the effectiveness of lesson delivery) or as a student self-assessment.  It might need to be read aloud to the students as they mark the circle they think best describes their work.
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  • Final Drama Assessment:  This paper and pencil assessment measures knowledge that students should be able to identify and define by the end of second grade. You may need to read the questions to your students, which is fine. Or you might use this as a guide to create a final assessment most appropriate for the needs of your class.
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2nd Grade Drama Objectives & Standards
Second Grade Drama Objectives  Drama Objectives Alignment to National Standards These objectives cover essential learning in the art form for seven- to eight-year-old students.   This first PDF download above contains objectives used in our Second Grade Curriculum (also listed below) in a handy …
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First Grade Simple Assessment

Assessment Sheet for First Grade Curriculum 

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Measuring student achievement in drama requires a combination of written and performance-based assessment (typically for the older children).  You can use this simple self-assessment with the students after working with them using the First Grade Curriculum.  Feel free to use this document as is, or use as a guide.  You can adjust this assessment to your particular class.

Grade Level Theater Standards

In the documents below, we provide our translation of the grade-appropriate theater standards to specific and easy-to-understand drama objectives.  These were transcribed and adapted from the National Standards for the Arts (also known as the National Core Arts Standards) and condensed into this easy to read summary. We have also done the work to translate the Core Arts Standards for drama to grade-appropriate objectives within each of our curriculum.  Navigate to the "Drama Objectives & Standards" sections within each grade level.

First Grade Theater Standards

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Second Grade Theater Standards

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Third Grade Theater Standards

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Fourth Grade Theater Standards

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Fifth Grade Theater Standards

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Sixth Grade Theater Standards

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Seventh Grade Theater Standards

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Eighth Grade Theater Standards

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