Creating Powerful Product Assignments Part 5 of 7

This is the fifth in a series of posts (1: What They’ll Know   2: Product Choice & Grading, 3: Content Expectations & Grading, 4: Process & Grading)about creating powerful product assignments at the end of a unit of study. Now it is time to scaffold for success.

What kind of scaffolds do you need to gather for your students to be successful? For me, rubrics are always the first on this list. I think having the grading guidelines listed clearly from the beginning in very clear and specific language really helps guide students to be successful. Additional ideas could be a variety of brainstorming graphic organizers, timelines, goal sheets, progress monitoring calendars, revising and editing schedules, etc. These will vary based on what your final product is and what your class has used. You don’t always have to build these from scratch, there are lots of free options online. Find what works for you and your students and run with it.

Creating Powerful Product Assignments Part 4 of 7

This is the fourth in a series of posts (1: What They’ll Know   2: Product Choice & Grading 3: Content Expectations & Grading)about creating powerful product assignments at the end of a unit of study. Now it is time to establish your expectations for the process.

First off, will students be graded on the process to create the product in addition to the product itself or only the finished product?

For group projects, I always include a process grade as it is where I cover teamwork. However, I would argue that the process grade is important even for individual projects as it rewards those who create and stick to a plan over those who procrastinate. The goal is to help the students build good work habits.

If you are going to grade the process some things to consider including teamwork, planning, research, editing, communication, ability to stay on the projected timeline, etc.

Creating Powerful Product Assignments Part 3 of 7

This is the third in a series of posts (1: What They’ll Know   2: Product Choice & Grading )about creating powerful product assignments at the end of a unit of study. Now you are going to figure out the content expectations.

First up, the students are showing what they know from the unit of study. So what are the requirements that they must meet for content and how will the inclusion of that content be scored?

I personally like using a rubric to grade as it keeps the grading streamlined and transparent. For example, in a biography project, second-grade students must include a date of birth & death, full name, two details about their personal life and three details about why they are famous. That is all 8 required components for a score of 4 out of 4. A score of 3 out of 4 would be granted for 6-7 required components. A score of 2 out of 4 would be granted for 4-5 required components. A score of 1 out of 4 would be granted for 2-3 required components.  A score of 0 out of 4 would be granted for 0-1 required components.


Creating Powerful Product Assignments Part 2 of 7

This is the second in a series of posts about creating powerful product assignments at the end of a unit of study. In part 1 you figured out what the students must understand, know and/or be able to do after the unit of study. Next up you get to decide how the students are going to present their knowledge or the type of product, the guidelines for that product and how you plan to grade it.

  1. Are you going to set a required product style such as a travel brochure, Haiku or wiki?
  2. Are you going to provide students with a short list of options and let them select their product style from the list using an academic choice board?
  3. Are you going to let students embrace their talents and passions, selecting their product style on their own and then seeking approval from you on their choice?

If you are going with #1 or #2, what are the requirements for the product? How big should it be if it is a physical product? What level of craftsmanship? How many parts will it have? How long should it be (pages, time, number of slides, etc.) if a digital product?

For example, for a fifth-grade slide presentation using the slide medium of their choice students are required to have a minimum of 12 slides in their presentation and every slide should have some sort of visual (graph, chart, image, video, etc.) to earn full credit on this rubric item, 4 points. Students earn 3 out of 4 points for at least 9 slides. Students earn 2 out of 4 points for at least 6 slides. Students earn 1 out of 4 points for at least 3 slides. Students earn 0 out of 4 points for at less than 3 slides.



Creating Powerful Product Assignments Part 1 of 7

This is the first in a series of posts about creating powerful product assignments at the end of a unit of study. Before you can really dive into the product itself you need to figure out what the foundation of the product is by looking to the core of the unit of study. Here are three questions to guide you:

UNDERSTAND: What concepts do you expect your students to know at the end of the unit?

KNOW: What facts do you expect your students to know at the end of the unit?

DO: What skills do you expect your students to be able to demonstrate at the end of the unit?

Professional Development Spotlight: Torsch

Torsch (Today’s One Room School House) is a paid site (~$7-17 per month) aimed at professional development. The idea is that you record yourself during a lesson, upload it from your computer or a number of online cloud services and send it to a mentor, coach, admin, etc. There is automatic transcription service of the videos, places to upload supporting documents like lesson plans or sample work, etc. The individual who receives is able to view all the materials and collaborate with you (without being in the same room) to provide assessment, feedback, coaching logs, live video conference or chat, create video libraries, tag video timeline with keywords linking to rubrics, frameworks, etc. While this may not be for everyone, it is a really fabulous tool for those working with coaches who are farther away.  

Technology Spotlight: School Tube

School Tube was created in 2006 with the idea that students and teachers needed a safe space to share videos. Videos are moderated by approved local educators to ensure a safe experience. It reaches 5 million US teachers, 55 million US students (1.4 billion worldwide students) with over 500,000 videos from around the world. So relax, take a deep breath and feel a little more at ease with this video sharing site.

Technology Spotlight: Class Dojo

Class Dojo is a really cool opportunity for teachers. It is a classroom management tool that allows teachers to track challenging behaviors to locate patterns and help manage, reward acts of positivity, communicate easily with parents through photos, videos and private messaging, including translation into over 30 languages!  Teachers also have a whole toolbox of mini-apps like random student selector, noise meter and group maker to streamline the processes of the classroom. Students can also create a digital portfolio. It is highly customizable for your classroom needs. The only pitfall that I have heard from teachers is that you have to remember to use it, however, that was a few years ago, before the added toolbox of mini-apps which helps integrate the app into more than just classroom management and parent communication, it is a whole classroom app. Dive in and give Class Dojo a try!

Technology Spotlight: BeFunky

I recently was looking for an avatar maker. I wanted one that I could upload my own picture and then work from there. I tried a few out but BeFunky was my favorite to work with by far. There are free filters and paid filters, but you do get to check out the premium styles from the free which is nice. I appreciate being able to test drive anything before paying. I actually found what I was aiming for on the free editor. So if you want to make an avatar based on a picture or just manipulate a photo in a fun way with filters and other free editing tools, give BeFunky a chance.

Curriculum Spotlight: Newsela

My first master teacher just introduced me to Newsela which she uses all the time with her fifth-grade class. It is a free site that cultivates news articles for students to read. The best part, each article is available at a variety of reading levels so you can differentiate for your students without any heavy lifting. Some articles are also provided in Spanish, which can be a great resource for ELL students or even Spanish classes. 1