One word I've been hearing over and over again is FEEDBACK. Students need/want feedback on their work. Not grades- but feedback to help them improve their work, increase their skills, add to their tool belts...So, how do we do that?
There are as many ways to give feedback as there are teachers. If we keep in mind that grades in and of themselves, are relatively meaningless (IMHO), then our job is to help our students learn to think, learn to learn. We need to help them understand how to do things differently, how to correct mistakes, etc. Formative assessment is helpful, not punitive. In order to be effective, feedback must be timely and constructive. If you use Google Docs in the classroom, you have a whole variety of formative assessment tools at your fingertips, from Kaizena voice notes to inserting comments.
Richard Byrne recently had a post about 5 assessment tools that you should check out.
There are lots of rubric creators online. The one I learned about most recently is called Orange Slice. This was created by a teacher, Matt Buchanan. He was inspired to create this add-on to speed up grading time and to create more time to provide students with constructive feedback. He has an excellent Google+ site and is always ready to answer questions. One thing I liked about this rubric is that it is a Google Docs add-on. It is designed to show student progress across general areas, although you can get more specific. It can help you document where the student began on a project, and how he/she changed, improved over time. It can be a simple document or a whole term project. You can incorporate peer review. It is not simply a check list: do these 5 things and get an A, do 4 and get a B... You can learn more by visiting the LiveBinder link here. Check it out in the video below.
I've written a bit about Joe Zoo before, but they have made a lot of improvements since it first came out and it is well worth revisiting. JoeZoo is a rubric creator, as well as a feedback and a grading tool. It is both an app and an Google Doc add-on. It is free for both teachers and students.
Joe Zoo also features a "Monkey Checker" to check for grammar errors, writing mechanics, etc and offer suggestions.
They have a whole playlist of tutorials, but this is the one for creating rubrics.
Roobrix is a web site I have used a lot in the past to convert my rubric score into a percentile grade. I remember the first time I made a rubric, a basic 4 point rubric... the students could get up to 20 points with the 5 criteria I used. I thought I could simply add up the numbers and divide it out. Not quite so simple, as I found out. Check out Roobrix to see help correct this all too common mistake.
Rubistar has been around forever. It is a free tool to help teachers create rubrics. You can find a rubric for just about anything, use it as is or modify it. Easy peasy. Now that we have had rubrics in classrooms for years, my question would be- is this the best way to provide a rubric for formative assessment? I know the way I have used these in the past was more for summative assessments. I dug down and got really picky on them, especially when I used them for InDesign projects. I thought it was to make me be less subjective. That may have worked, but it did not give my students the constructive feedback that another type of rubric could.